One thing I had always wanted to try after coming across it 5 or 6 years ago was to run some of the evolution! drawings through a GAN (generative adversarial network), and see what ‘new’ images would result. Well, I came across some Google Colabs that let you run the training there instead of on your own GPU, which then dumps images periodically into a Google Drive to let you see how it’s progressing (the one I used is here!

I wanted to do some general tests to see how it would go, so I got 500 or so of the original crayon images and made them all 256×256 pixels, then fed them in and waited, adjusting the model here and there by starting over if I felt like it was going too off course. Here are some examples…

And some closeups of a select few that caught my eye

All in all, not bad! I’ll have to try again later with more ‘ideal’ cleaned up images(and perhaps at a higher resolution) but for this test, the results were very interesting! I’ll try some of the plant images, which should be fun, or maybe even mix them all together in a larger dataset and see how it responds? I’ll keep you updated!

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10 Years of Evolution! – Alex Ries

Continuing with more artworks, here are some from Alex Ries. I had posted some art here from Alex before, and later went back to him again, this time for an underwater scene. Alex picked out a few fish and some sea algae and a trilobite, before arranging them into this amazing image! I especially like the interesting skin patterns and scales on the various fish. Thanks again Alex!

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10 Years of Evolution – Tessa Koumoundouros

Continuing with more artworks, here are some from Tessa Koumoundouros. Tessa picked out one of the ‘mountain turtle’ creatures and a few plants, and came up with a fun scene of the creature being very tiny, bending a flower down to snack on another flower below. The shell design was very colorful in the original drawing, and Tessa modeled her reconstruction on the Tortoise Beetle here on actual Earth! Thanks again Tessa for your amazing artwork!

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10 Years of Evolution! – Julio Lacerda

Continuing with more artworks, here are some from Julio Lacerda. Julio selected a variety of images, a lot of which were direct ancestors of one another, allowing him to come up with some kind of plausible evolution from tree-dwelling lizard to deep sea reptile (not an easy task!). Combined with the plant, insect, and desert dwelling creature, each image either leads into or references each other in a fun inter-connected world. He’s also come up with common and scientific names for each species, as well as some little fact blurbs about them! Thanks again for the awesome art Julio!

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10 Years of Evolution! – Jordan K Walker

Continuing with more artworks, here are some from Jordan K Walker. Jordan has yet another interesting style I sought for the project, in that they paint oil paintings. The creatures they chose had some strange doodles coming out of them (ghosts? arms??) which Jordan took on as some kind of tentacles, with other creatures running around underfoot as the bigger beast browsed among the trees. Here are some progress shots and sketches, as well as the final piece. Thanks again Jordan for the wonderful artwork!

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10 Years of Evolution! – Cathryn Virginia

Continuing with more artworks, here are some from Cathryn Virginia. With Cathryn, I wanted to try something a little different. Up to this point I had a bunch of illustrations of animals running around doing their thing, and a few with plants as scenery, but none with just the plants by themselves. I had always liked Cathryn’s plants in her illustrations, so here’s what we ended up with! Thanks again Cathryn for this very chill vegetation!

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10 Years of Evolution! – Kika Lexová

Continuing with more artworks, here are some from Kika Lexová. Originally one of the ‘ice age’ creature drawings, Kika had arranged their art into a long triptych style image, and I’ve broken it down in 3 closer crops. This fun series has a lot of detailed anatomy, including a labeled skeleton and musculature with some strange and wonderful forms. Thanks again Kika for your wonderful artwork!

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10 Years of Evolution! – Raul Ramos

Continuing with more artworks, here are some from Raul Ramos , with a scene combining some algae-like sea plants with some ‘ice age’ aquatic reptiles. Because Raul had used a 3d model for his image I also had a 3D printed model for the Science Museum of Virginia exhibition back in 2018! The clay model on the left was my interpretation of the same creature, showing the interesting ways things can go, even from the same starting point. Thanks again, Raul, for your amazing artwork!

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10 Years of Evolution!

10 years ago this month I started work on my animation final at college. The initial process I devised for creating the drawings for my fellow classmates proved so interesting that I left it virtually unchanged when I went to try it with various local schoolchildren, beginning the fun and amazing base images that continue the project to this day.

I finished the original animation for my class, and with other groups of kids and adults over the past 10 years, there are now thousands of drawings, not only of salamander-like creatures, but of fish, trilobites, worms, insects and plants. I wanted to thank all the students, teachers, professors, artists, workshop participants and volunteers over the years who helped bring this very rewarding project to life, and hopefully learned something along the way!

Over the years I’ve also had various artists do their own spin on the original drawings in their own styles, many of which(but not all!) I showed for the first time at the evolution! exhibition at the Science Museum of Virginia back in 2018, but have never been posted online before. Over the next few days I thought I would post some of that art for you all to enjoy!

First, I have some art from Stephan Dartevelle, a collection of various creatures, including salamander-likes, trilobites, and fish!

I also had some stickers made from Stephan’s designs(and mushbuh!) last year, if anyone wanted any!

There was also this interesting reptilian bear-like creature.

Thanks again Stephan, and I’ll be sure to post more art from a variety of artists in the next few days!

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MAGfest 2020!


Whew, finally! All the critters from my MAGfest MAGES panel “Teaching Evolution through Art” in a little phylogenetic tree. Thanks to everyone who came out and helped make a bunch of fun creatures!

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