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September 19, 2013
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Sky Shepherd Study by MichaelBeaudry Sky Shepherd Study by MichaelBeaudry
This work serves as the official kickoff for my illustration project called "Exobiotica". The creature pictured is a Sky Shepherd. As its name implies, it carries on an aerial existence - maintaining neutral buoyancy via internal hydrogen compartments. The front appendages serve two functions- they are used to physically herd or corral the species of floating creature they subsist on, and also they are equipped with color-changing tissue that is used as communication between members of their group. Like them, most of their predators and prey are essentially floating gas bags which are highly susceptible to rupture. Thus, the Sky Shepherd evolved sharp appendages for use in attack and defense. Propulsion in any direction is achieved by the intake of air at the ventral posterior end, and then subsequent directional exhalation of the air through any of the four siphons.
The next work will I produce will feature these creatures and their prey in their aerial environment.
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:iconploofwoowoo:
Beautiful piece; it suggested tropical fish to me too.

What kind of planet does this inhabit? Terrestrial? Gas giant? Something else?

Also, could you give us a rough idea of scale?
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:iconmichaelbeaudry:
MichaelBeaudry Apr 8, 2014  Professional Artist
Thank you, I have a lot more work to do in fleshing out this creature and its environment. They reside on a terrestrial planet, although I need to do a bit of research to see if a floating creature would even be feasible. I seem to think it would, given a dense enough atmosphere. Regardless, it would have to have a high volume to surface-area ratio, so it is rather large- about 25-35 feet long.
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:iconploofwoowoo:
I don't see why floating creatures couldn't be feasible, especially in a denser atmosphere.  I found this post with some estimated numbers: planetfuraha.blogspot.co.uk/20…
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:iconmichaelbeaudry:
MichaelBeaudry Apr 13, 2014  Professional Artist
Excellent find, thank you. I remember liking this blog awhile back, but I don't check in regularly. His calculations are based on an earth-like atmosphere, and they don't seem to rule out a ballont type creature, they just make it less likely. However, I've been planning from the start to have the atmo of this planet be somewhere between the density of Earth and Venus, so it might work out better for my creatures. Thanks again
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:iconclawedfrog:
Biologically accurate Flappy Bird comes to mind. Very cool!
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:iconmichaelbeaudry:
MichaelBeaudry Feb 18, 2014  Professional Artist
Ha, nice. The only difference is that I'm not going to remove mine from the public access.
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:iconclawedfrog:
Sorta funny isn't it? All of those flappy birds died and now they're gone forever. Let's hope that nobody builds big pipes between the sky shepherds' wintering and breeding grounds. 
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:iconboazpulu:
boazpulu Sep 27, 2013  Student Photographer
incredible work! love the details
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:iconmichaelbeaudry:
MichaelBeaudry Sep 28, 2013  Professional Artist
Thank you! Detail is what I love to do.
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