2017 wrap-up

Well, another year is almost behind us and it's the perfect time to reflect; in my case on one of the most eventful years of my career!

2017 kicked off for me with a commission from Liverpool John Moores university. I spent the first six months of the year working with Dr Isabelle DeGroote on content for a virtual museum project detailing artefacts from the city of Gloucester and telling the city's story through the ages from Roman times through to the Victorian era. This project required three main components from me: firstly a triptych of illustrated reconstructions of the city in Roman, Medieval and Victorian times. Since these illustrations were destined for display in three alcoves in the virtual space, I designed them to appear together as a faithful reconstruction of the layout of the city (which has retained many roads since its Roman settlement), but with a different treatment from each time period. this took a little detective work: I began by perusing numerous images of artefacts and reconstructions of street-life from each period to get the look-and-feel for each scene and then constructed the city-scape by overlaying maps from various time periods to ascertain the layout and key features for each area and time period (the good ol' Romans helped me a great deal by establishing the roads and fortifications in a grid structure that has been quite faithfully preserved down the centuries).

Reconstruction of the city of Gloucester in Roman, medieval and Victorian eras. Copyright A V S Turner 2017

The second part of this project was the design and animation of three animated shorts on the subject "Growing up in Gloucester"; telling the stories of children from all three time periods and comparing their experiences.
Finally, the third element was the reconstruction of a seventeen-year-old match factory worker from the Victorian era, made from a skull that had been scanned into 3D digital format for display in the virtual museum space. This poor fellow suffered from the condition "fossey jaw", common to match factory employees at this time before the severely corrosive white phosphorous was replaced by the more expensive, but less damaging red variety in the late ninteenth century. As a result this worker's mandible was partially eaten away and living conditions at the time would have made it impossible for him to remove the corrosive chemicals from his skin and clothes.
To illustrate this, I provided versions of the illustration in "lights on" and "lights off" variations, to show both the extent of the damage to the sufferer's face and the indelible chemical pollution of the workers and their environment.

Copyright A V S Turner 2017

Copyright A V S Turner 2017

Later in the year I embarked on another job for LJMU: this time delivering illustrations destined for live exhibits. Working again with the guidance of Dr De Groote and Dr Laura Bishop, I produced both a reconstruction of cave art from various European sites for a new installation on cave art and a reconstruction of Homo erectus (or ergaster, depending on who you talk to), to accompany the university's specimen currently on display.

Cave art composite image incorporating elements inspired by sites in Lascaux, France and Altamira, Spain. Copyright A V S Turner 2017

Neither of these projects are live yet, being the culmination of contributions from a wide range of scientists, communicators, technicians and artists, but the word is both exhibits should be going live in early 2018.

Then, as if that wasn't excitement enough, I then revisited the Cambridge whale animation that I had produced for the e-luminate festival over the past couple of years, in association with the Museum of Zoology. The whale sadly will not be featuring in e-luminate in 2018, but it was requested to feature as part of a digital display in the university's new David Attenborough building, destined to be the new home of the Fin whale specimen upon which the animation was based.

No sooner had I revamped and reformatted the whale animation though than I started in my brand new permanent job with Springer Nature as Multimedia specialist in the marketing team. I've only been in my new role for a couple of months now, but I'm already feeling right at home and excited to be working on projects for one of the largest publishing groups in science and academia in the world!

On top of all that, I've met the awesomely talented Mr Mike Laraman! Together we've already embarked on our own Dino-tours and kicked off a YouTube channel together (hopefully this post will go some way to excusing the recent lack of new videos therein! This is something we intend to fix next year when things are quieter for both of us).

My final achievement of the year was finally completing my anasazisaurus/bistahioversor image, which I had started in 2016 and had to abandon for several months due to all these wonderful commissions! I finally managed to push this one out of the door in early December and have been enjoying a much needed repose to enjoy Christmas, settle into my new job and think of where I want my priorities to lie in 2018.

Right now I'm longing to get back into 3D work again (I trained as a model maker and sculptor at university), so I'm looking forward to exploring new opportunities there and expanding my digital 3D skills. I'm also looking forward to starting a new digital painting again, maybe looking at feathered dinosaurs, but I'll keep my ear to the ground and may let the news headlines dictate my next subjects...

Well, that about wraps it all up for my final blog post of 2017. It only remains for me to extend my best wishes to all my readers (yes, both of you!), colleagues, collaborators, mentors and friends who have helped to make this year so incredible. I wish you all the very best and look forward to seeing you all in one way or another in the year ahead.



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