Critter of the Week: Ornitholestes

Meet Opie. He’s a happy little fella who loves to curl up in your lap, so it’s a good thing he’s about the size of a big dog!


Yes, Opie seems to think he’s a big lapdog, and he loves it when you stroke his feathers.  Where is he off to now?  It looks like he’s going to show you his favorite toy…Opie carries Teddy around everywhere.  He’s gone through quite a few “surgeries” to poke the stuffing back in after Opie nibbled on him.

Opie's bed copy.jpg

Oh! That’s Miss Kitty peaking around the corner.  She’s a little shy after Opie tried playing a game of snatch with her.  He’s just a big softie though, and he only wants to play.  He’ll get a little droopy when Miss Kitty doesn’t understand.  So he’ll curl up in his bed to snuggle with Teddy, and he’ll chirp happy chirps when he snuggles.  He sounds a lot like this…

Speaking of soft and cuddly, those feathers are rather like those on an emu or kiwi.  Looks a lot like fur, doesn’t it? 🙂


Stay tuned for progress!  It’s just below this picture…

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Making progress…

Exciting stuff happening over here!  I’m considering making the Critter of the Week post and progress posts into two different ones, published two days of the week.  Not sure about that yet, but I may experiment a bit. 🙂

But that’s not the exciting part.

I now have four colored spreads for the “dummy” book, and things are really coming along!  It’s really starting to feel like a real deal here, since I have something physical to look at, with lots of visual progress instead of preliminary stuff in scattered notes. 😀

Here is an example of the sort of things I’ve been doing…

So I start off with a very rough idea on what I want a page to look like…

Steggy page

This is part of the storyboard.

  • The words at the time were very rough and just there to fill up space.
  • no reference used, but everything drawn from memory to get a feel for what I need reference for
  • get a feel for basic composition, what story does the picture tell, etc…

After research, time, and finagling with the script some more, I’ve finished my storyboarding and I’m ready to start work on the “dummy”.  New here and don’t really know what that means?  That’s ok, I covered all that a few posts back.  🙂

10x10_steggy page_color.jpg

Here are nine things I’ve done with this little color sketch.

1. — I’m practicing drawing and painting with Corel Painter, a new art program I got recently. 😀


2. — The fallen log in the middle of a lush redwood forest is a huge stereotype when it comes to dino art.  I wanted to steer clear of that.

So I put a few large rocks instead, transported by a flash flood 100 or so years ago.  And yes, water can do that.  There’s a small river not too far from where I live that had a whole dam built up with rocks just as big as these.  A year or two ago, after about a month of rain, water from upstream rushes down and pushes the rocks aside.  Now they look like little islands scattered along the bedrock river bottom.


3. — After researching Steggy’s habitat in Jurassic North America, it seems that lush forest is actually not very likely in many areas.

Say hello to the Jurassic Savannah, where scrubby, prickly plants scratch at your legs and scraggy conifer trees provide a few bits of welcome shade…Which is why you see the armored dino in the scrub, and the family is walking along the rocky bottom of a dry riverbed.  There’s a bazillion of these dry little creek beds everywhere.  Some see water every time it rains, some are mostly underground, and others (like this one) see water only when there’s a big “gullywasher” as we call it here in the hill country.


4. — Steggy got a few anatomical updates based on a scientific description of Sophie, a particularly well preserved Stegosaurus.  The paper had a diagram on exactly what the skeleton looked like in situ, or when it was still in the ground.

The diagram provides pretty compelling evidence that stegosaurus tail spikes point up like back-swept Vs toward the tail tip, not out to the sides like my earlier research suggested.

I also made her neck longer, and fixed her “hands”. 🙂



5. — I’m experimenting with a new color pattern for Steggy.  I think I like this better than what she looks like now.  The colors are light and friendly to us, but to predators like Alfred, they say “stay away, I’m dangerous!”


Here’s what her current paleo profile looks like.



6. — I’m experimenting with light and color.  I want it to feel open, friendly, and warm.  It’s actually a bit warm where they are, and I want the reader to feel that.  It’s about midday, and they’ve just come upon Steggy while she’s doing what stegosaurus do.  🙂


7. — I’m not entirely happy with the word placement (or the words themselves for that matter)  I might move all the words to the left page, where there’s more room.  But none of the other double page spreads do this, so I’m not sure if it will feel weird.  It’s things like this that would be awesome to have a professional editor look at!



8. — I’m also not quite happy with the people on the left.  But I think the only way I can figure out where they should be is if I make a little model and move the people around a bit.  Then I can take pictures once I know what I need.


9. — The only other thing missing here are all the little Easter eggs.  Small critters hiding in the brush, Mr. Diggle’s bird, that sort of thing.  I want the kids (and parents!) to notice new little details every time they read it. Plus they’re fun to draw. 😀


Coming Next Week…

This handsome fellow just likes to spend a quiet afternoon near a special friend. 🙂

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

8 thoughts on “Critter of the Week: Ornitholestes

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