Megafauna Art: Capturing the Excitement of the Prehistoric

An artist’s representation of a megafauna cave bear. Courtesy of Marcos Carvalho.
More drawings by Carvalho can be found below.

As a kid I was really fascinated by dinosaurs, and copying their gargantuan figures from books was what first got me drawing. I think one reason that kids are so mesmerized by dinosaurs is that they were real animals, not mythological creatures, and because when you are a kid, you are tiny, and they are enormous. I’ve been drawing ever since, currently working as an illustrator and graphic designer and having previously worked as an animator as well, but I hadn’t drawn any prehistoric animals in a really long while.

Although my background isn’t in science, I went to art school, I always read any article I can get my hands on about dinosaurs. Recently, I started focusing on articles about megafauna, the super-sized animals that roamed the Earth not long ago. Smilodon, the saber-tooth cat, went extinct only about 10,000 years ago! I started researching these gigantic animals, some which coexisted with our own ancestors and slowly they crept into my artwork. Extinction is currently occurring in our planet at such a fast pace, I can’t help thinking what will the next big animal be? The Moa of New Zealand were birds that stood several meters taller than an ostrich; the last reported sighting of these amazing birds was in the 1850s.

In drawing these animals, I decided to focus on their heads, often with the jaw open and expressive eyes. I kept the background white, so the colors would stand out. I first used to color pencils to create a very vibrant line quality, full of motion and life. And then brought the color pencil drawings into the computer where I created different layers of line-work. I looked at a couple of “renderings” created by other artists, but I tried to focus more on photos of their craniums and written descriptions for the inspiration for the drawings. My goal was to show them alive, roaring or biting. I was searching for that excitement I felt so long ago as a kid looking at my dinosaur books, I think I captured it with these drawings.

Dire Wolf



Terror Bird


Giant Boar