Critter of the Week: Brachiosaurus

Meet Elmer. He’s a little shy, and likes staying in his comfort zone, but he’ll be your best giant friend if you give him some greens and a big hug.



The best way to a dino’s heart is through his stomach, as they say.  Well, that’s not really the phrase, but I’m sure it’s just as true, especially when it comes to these long-necked sauropods. 🙂  I think the rough estimate is a solid cube- 5ft x 5ft – of vegetation in a single day to feed one of these guys.

Speaking of feeding longnecks…it reminds me of that scene in Jurassic Park.  The one where Dr. Grant and the kids are enjoying a few moments not running away from hungry Rexy, and they get a chance to pat the brachiosaurus (totally my inspiration for paleo pets, by the way).

If you’ve ever watched Jurassic Park, you may notice that Elmer’s head looks a little strange…that’s because the longneck in Jurassic Park is an African cousin of this guy (and until recently the critter with more complete fossils).  There’s a few differences between the two even a novice dino enthusiast like me can easily recognize…

  • Completely different head.  The African cousin (Giraffatitan) has a head like the one in Jurassic Park.  The American Brachiosaurus (Elmer here) has a much gentler slope to his forehead, and longer snout.
  • Body shape is different. The African Giraffatitan has a shorter torso and overall more stocky build.  While Elmer the Brachiosaurus has a longer body, and generally is a bit more slender.  Not skinny, just not as stocky as his African cousin.
  • They live on entirely different continents.  The Atlantic ocean was already forming in the Jurassic period, so Brachiosaurus and Giraffatitan were separated by a lot of water. 🙂  That leads to the same sort of thing that makes a mountain lion (cougar, puma, etc…) in the Americas different from a lion in Africa.


Also on the subject of greenery, I tried experimenting with something different this time.  All these critter profiles are an experiment in style really, as I practice how I want to illustrate the pictures in the book.

This time I really focused on making my shadows dark and my highlights light.  It sounds obvious and hard to mess up, I know, but you’d be surprised how hard it is!  Especially working with color, it gets really easy to let the color do all the work, and not see how dull and gray everything is.   So I changed the whole picture to grayscale, so I could see how it looked in black, white, and gray tones.

It all looked about the same shade of gray.  Not good.  I like it much better now after I added more light and shadow. 🙂 So I’ll do that test from now on.

Another experiment is the vague hint of background.  I don’t generally paint backgrounds, so this is me dipping my toes in the river to see how cold the water is.  I like to ease my way into things.  Baby steps. 😀

Do you like the profile pictures better this way, or are they better with simple painted color?  Let me know in the comments! 🙂


Making progress…

I’m having fun experimenting with new artsy techniques.  As an artist, it’s always a joy and a challenge to improve my work.  Plus it’s an important bonus that I can give you something better and better each time you stop by. 🙂

On a related sidenote, I think I’m getting into the swing of these little profile pictures.  I think I’m getting a little faster at it, or at least not as many starts-&-stops as before. 🙂


Coming Next Week…

Look up to see this critter, before he nabs that sandwich out of your hand! 🙂

Share your guess in the comments! She’s one of the critters over on the critter page. 🙂

10 thoughts on “Critter of the Week: Brachiosaurus

    1. Hi Brownie! Thank you for your comment. 🙂

      I prefer the simple color too, to be honest. Plus it’s easier and faster to do. 🙂 I may add backgrounds to the images on the critter’s main page, when I get to those.


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