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DRAWING DINOS

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How do artists start with a bunch of bones and turn them into dynamic drawings of living dinosaurs? Here are some tips from one of Ology's paleo-artists, Mick Ellison.

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STEP 1

 
Start with the bones

Find a picture of a dinosaur skeleton. You will use these bones to help you draw a picture of what the dinosaur may have looked like when it was alive. In this example, the artist chose a Mononykus.

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  • Use a picture of complete skeleton so you don't have to make too many guesses about the missing pieces.
  • Select a skeleton picture that gives a side view of the animal.
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STEP 2

 
Give those bones a body

Put a piece of tracing paper over the skeleton. Use the bones to help you draw where the dinosaur's flesh might have been. As you can see in this example, the thigh has a lot of muscle.

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  • Think about where to add flesh and how much you want to add to the bones. Ask yourself: Did some areas on the body have more flesh than on others? Was the dinosaur fat from a recent meal or skinny from starvation? What parts of your body have the most flesh? Why do you think this is?
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STEP 3

 
Shadow time!

Use shading to make your dinosaur look like it will pop off the page! To make this Mononykus more life-like, the artist put shading on the belly and on the backs of the legs.

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  • Pretend that the Sun is shining on your dinosaur. Where would the shadows be? This will help to "round out" the animal's form.
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STEP 4

 
Scaly skin and maybe feathers

Add details such as feathers and skin texture. Fossils of Mononykus show that this dinosaur had feathers, although it couldn't fly. Although fossils don't tell us anything about skin color, pick a skin color (or colors) that you think this animal may have had.

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  • Artists think about where birds have feathers and what kind they have on different parts of their bodies to help them decide how to feather their dinosaur drawings.
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STEP 5

 
There's no place like home

To make the drawing more lifelike, put it in an environment with other prehistoric plants and animals. Mononykus lived in a desert with many other kinds of dinosaurs, lizards, and small mammals.

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  • Think about fossils of other living things that lived with the animal you are drawing. You may want to add them to the background
  • Find out what the environment was like when your dinosaur was alive. Was it a forest? A tundra? A swamp? These details will give you an idea of what your dinosaur's home looked like.

Now it's your turn! Print out this PDF and try drawing these dinos following the steps you just learned.