James Gurney’s Dinotopia

When I see a beautifully illustrated book, I feel like a kid again
and I’m filled with seemingly opposing feelings of calm and excitement.
Dinotopia Books ©James Gurney

The set of Dinotopia books by illustrator and author James Gurney make me want to curl up in a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate while having my sketchbook and paints within reach. What a wonderful new world of aged architecture, beautiful waterfalls, exciting pencil work, informative sketches and diagrams, and a solidly created foreign culture. 

Waterfall City

Waterfall City ©James Gurney

James’ work is stunning with a range of styles throughout – all of which I love. Some pages are filled with sketchy pencil drawings that look like he was standing there quickly sketching the houses, machines and dinosaurs in action knowing he needed to rush away to the next adventure. Other pages are fine art paintings that feel as though they were painted on location with the use of a french easel.

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Dinsaur Firefighters

Dinsaur Firefighters ©James Gurney

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Dinosaur Parade ©James Gurney

Dinosaur Parade ©James Gurney

James not only has a beautiful painting, sketching, and writing style, but he has an understanding of machinery and a sense of how a culture apart from modern conveniences would integrate dinosaurs and ingenuity to fulfill their needs. Many times I will just flip through one of the books and take in his mastery and enjoy the inspiration to paint that follows.

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Waterfall City: Afternoon Light ©James Gurney

Waterfall City: Afternoon Light ©James Gurney

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Horned Gardians ©James Gurney

Horned Gardians ©James Gurney

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Needs Dental Work ©James Gurney

Dental Work ©James Gurney

I’ve enjoyed showing my baby these books and for now I imagine that I’m the one benefitting the most from these illustrative treasures, but soon Landon will be as mesmerized as I am.

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Steep Street ©James Gurney

Steep Street ©James Gurney

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Dinosaur Parade ©James Gurney

Dinosaur Parade ©James Gurney

From the cutaway diagrams and handwritten cultural details to the record of a lost civilization and everything in between James Gurney breathes life and realism into this fantasy world that seems too visually solid to be make believe.

And it leaves me just hoping that it is.

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Want more?
Official Dinotopia Website
James Gurney Blog 
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