When Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind #12: The Art of Luis V Rey


Today, instead of looking at a piece of entertainment featuring dinosaurs or art depicting a particular dinosaur, we look at the work of a particular paleo-artist. And that artist is Luis V Rey.

Even if you don’t know the name, if you are into dinosaurs you are familiar with at least some of his work. He’s been illustrating dinosaurs since the eighties, and since the beginning, he’s been trying to change our view on how we look at dinosaurs.

Now, he has a lot of fans, but he also has a lot of haters. Some accuse his work as being too fantastical ans dramatic, coming off more as fantasy pieces and not scientific artistry. Others don’t really like his style, which is very in your face and vibrant. Yet others loved his older work, but don’t think his newer work is up to par. What do I think? Well, I see both sides of the argument, but really, as a kid his illustrations were always my favorites. His art was a great influence on me, and I’ll always respect him for that. But why don’t you look at his work and decide for yourself?

Now, if you have been following my blog you may have noticed that I’ve already used many pictures from Luis already. So, first of, I’ll look through my picture library and see some of the art I’ve already showed off.

Why, hello old friend.

See what I mean by saying his visual style is very striking? This piece depicts a couple of Deinonychus feeding on a dead iguanodont. I remember the first time I saw this picture it blew my mind. I only just discovered that raptors may have possibly been feathered, but the idea that they actually were six foot turkeys made me dizzy. Funny enough, Luis is actually one of the first paleo artists to depict raptors with feathers.

He drew this picture in the late 80’s!!! Now he wasn’t the only artist at the time to propose such a depiction, but such restorations were VERY few and far between. This particular work was criticized for not being scientific and nothing more than speculative fantasy. Oh how they were wrong.

You can tell in Luis’ early work that he saw the bird like skeletal structure in raptors, even before popular science would allow him to feather them.

This depiction of Deinonychus from the early 90’s doesn’t look like the reptilian Jurassic Park raptors common at the time, it instead look like a plucked chicken. You can tell he wanted to feather this guy, but executive meddling probably stopped him. Oh well, at least now he gives us feathered raptors a plenty.


OK, that’s a bit more like it.

Luis’ Spinosaurs were always very interesting, especially his Spinosaurus. Now, personally, his Baryonyx is one of my favorite depictions of the animal.

Look at that magnificent creature!

His Spinosaurus, however, has always been different from the norm. First, we have this guy.

Once again with the ‘right in your face’ look his illustrations often had. He doesn’t look as clean and slick as many depictions of this dinosaur are, he’s pretty ugly and weird looking, not majestic and terrifying. This is most evident in his most recent restoration.

Majestic? Try lazy.

But that’s not a bad thing. Luis has always been trying to push our perspectives on how these animals may have actually looked liked, especially the famous ones. I feel that’s very innovative.

Luis’ Oviraptors have always been some of my favorite. He’s also one of the artists to push the image of Oviraptor from being a reptilian egg stealer to being a bird brooding it’s eggs. It’s an image he helped to popularize, and the pictures still stick with me today.


His Carnotaurus is another one of my favorite works from him. I really love the detail he’s put into the head. You can really tell he’s not content with just adding a layer of skin lazily on top of a skeleton. He really think s hard as to what an animal may have actually looked like.

Now, Luis’ depictions of T. rex are among my favorites.


Even his older pictures of the beast have aged incredibly. However, he has recently been adding feathers to the Rexes, and the results have been, mixed.

It’s a Porcupine-osaurus!

I don’t have a problem of the tyrannosaurs being feathered, heck no. I love depictions like that. What I don’t like is when the feathers are just kind of blandly added on. I don’t want to see a reptile with feathers lazily glued on to it. I want to see the feathers look natural, like an actual extension of the creature. He’s been able to do this with other dinosaurs, but tyrannosaurs still seem to elude him.

But really, I think some of Rey’s best work comes from herbivores, especially big ones. Not only do we have the great looking Iguanodon and Amargasaurus I’ve already showed off on my blog…


.. but he’s also done many many more.

Luis’ Triceratops’ have always been my favorites. They always have such weight to them, such ferocity. This one looks like he’s going to come right out of the computer screen and destroy you in real life.

He has since changed the look if his Triceratops in recent years, however. Since new evidence suggests that Triceratops had quills, this has been added to all his reconstructions of the dinosaur.

Well, that’s different.

Luis is always incorporating the newest theories and pieces of evidence in his work. Not many people today are comfortable portraying Triceratops like this yet, but because of people like Luis, this image may become commonplace in the future.

From this point onward, I will give you my top 5 favorite pieces from this artist (excluding the ones I’ve already mentioned). I think the list will give a good all around perspective at what exactly this artist does best.

5. Feathered Allosaurus

Although they are subtle, feathers are present on this depiction of Allosaurus. This illustration is from at least 2007, a number of years before such dinosaurs as Yutyrannus were discovered. I remember when I first saw this pic, it blew my mind the same way feathered raptors blew my mind when I was 5.

4. Therzinosaurus

This is one of the earlier reconstructions of Therizinosaurus as we know him today. The feathers may be lacking, but this pic does show just how truely strange this dinosaur was. The Tarbosaurus was a nice touch as well.

3. Utahraptor pack.

I find this pick very dynamic and exciting, with the raptors mercilessly taking down the small sauropod. I like how even before Luis put feathers on all his dinosaurs, you can still tell that he put a bird like skeleton on them, showing how much he studied references. He updates the picture in a later work, this time giving the sauropod the upper hand.

Yeah! GET SOME!!

2. Suchomimus vs. Sarcosuchus


The crocodile mimic goes up against the real thing in this exciting piece. It shows off just what Luis does best, dramatic poses. Everything is moving in the illustration; the roaring Suchomimus, the lunging crocodile, the panicking/fishing Pterosaurs, Rey’s pictures always have so much going on.

Now, before we get to number 1, here are a few honorable mentions.


Notable for sporting a probable color scheme before the science to back it up existed!

Dinosaur Herd


Amargasaurus Hunting

And now, my favorite Luis V Rey pic.

Dinosaur Feathers

If I’m truly honest with myself, my favorite illustration of Luis’ is probably somewhere else on this page, but this picture I remember really stuck with me as a kid. I was young, and the idea of feathered dinosaurs was still new to me. One of the first artists to truly advocate this idea was Luis, and this illustration made the notion really click to me. The idea that dinosaurs really looked more like birds than reptiles was a scary one, and a world that was hard to visualize. This picture helped me see that world. it may not be as exciting or dynamic as some of his other works, but it really put into mind some of the concepts I was still trying to wrap my mind around back then.

If you want to look at his most recent work and maybe talk to the man himself, please support him at his own blogpost at luisvrey.wordpress.com. I think you may be interested with what you see there.

UPDATE!!! I just found out that Luis posted a new image of what Spinosaurus actually looked like! I would put it here, but I want you to support Luis. All in all, this now means my Dinosaurs Over The Years post on this guy seems a bit too modest.

Speaking of which. join me next time as I do another Dinosaurs Over The Years, this time tackling Iguanodon.

They’re supposed to be the same creature, honest!


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