Critter of the Week: Dimorphodon

Meet Douglas. He’s excited to meet you!  This bundle of energy may not be the best of flyers, but he loves to clamber all over things…rocks, trees, the couch, you… 😉



Quick, quick! Toss this little lizard snack for him.

That’s a good boy! He loves those little dried lizards.  They’re a special treat. 🙂


What’s that? Does he fly? He can fly, but he’s much more comfortable on the ground, or climbing on rocks or trees. He’s a bit heavy for his size, and a 5-foot wingspan is not quite big enough for a pterosaur like Douglas. So he only flies if he really has to.

Short wings, strong arms and legs, and curved claws make for excellent climbing skills though! The wings are just useful if he needs to get up into the branches in a hurry (away from something big and hungry), or for an easier way down to the ground or between trees that are far apart.

Here he comes for another treat!

If you don’t like the look of the lizards, here’s a treat ball you can give him instead. 🙂 Hold it out with your hand flat, that’s good. He snaps it up super fast! Douglas doesn’t have a very strong bite, but those teeth are pretty sharp. Perfect for snapping up small, quick snacks like lizards, beetles, and small mammals.

Not at all like the Dimorphodon in Jurassic Park. 😀 Douglas is like a fuzzy flying lizard/squirrel. I could pet his thick fuzziness all day!

Fuzzy? Yup! Click here to find out more. 🙂


Making progress…


100 posts! Whoot! 😀

I hope you like Douglas as much as I do, he was a lot of fun. 😀

I actually kept track of my progress this time! I even took videos with my phone and did a screen capture of when I scanned him in for coloring…alas, my plan to make a little video about the whole process didn’t quite pan out. There’s a lot of things about the screen capture and movie editing software I still need to figure out first.

Oh, the joys of technology! Hopefully I’ll have that ready by next week. For now, bring on the pictures of progress! If you follow my Instagram @paleopetshop, you’ve probably seen a few of these pictures already.


Step #1: Concept Sketch

I did a little basic research before starting, because I knew nothing about Dimorphodon aside from knowing it had a big head. So I looked at Mark Witton’s skeletal reference while I drew this.



Step #2: Research, research, research!

More research! I read everything on Dimorphodon Mark Witton has written. Since he studies pterosaurs for a living, I trust his judgement more than anything else.

Step #3: The Macquette

I didn’t have what I needed to make a proper macquette, so I just used what I had on hand.  Some non-drying sculpey clay I  had in the closet. The wire in the pictures below is some stuff I bought at Walmart the day after I started the model. So Douglas doesn’t even have a proper armature. The head and body you see below is just clay, without the wire skeleton (armature) or aluminum foil to bulk it up.



Adding the wings…




I used the cheap jewelry wire I bought to add strength to the wings and legs.  Down below is the wire “skeleton” for the legs. I bought what I thought was a thinner, more flexible wire to wrap around the larger craft wire, but the thinner one turned out to be harder to bend than the thicker wire. The thick craft wire was nickel-plated copper, so was really soft and malleable.  I think the thinner wire was actually made of stainless steel, so turned out to be pretty much useless for what I needed.

So I improvised!

Instead of wrapping the thinner wire around the thick one (to help the clay grip onto it). I tore thin strips of duct tape to wrap around the thick wire instead. The rough edges of the tape was enough to give the clay something to hold onto.



Oh no! This is why it’s important to have a wire armature for your macquette’s skeleton. Good thing I could easily stick his head back on. 😀



It also would’ve been really nice to have Douglas’ wing strong enough to set down on. With an armature, the wing his weight is on could’ve been attached to a stand, instead of having to balance the poor critter on various contraptions so he wouldn’t get squished. This non-drying clay is very soft.

Plus even though Douglas had a wire in his tail, it kept flopping over instead of staying where I wanted it to.



A little more clay to his butt, plus a toothpick, and now his tail stays put! Sorta. 😀

Macquette done! I only put a bit of detail on the side we see. The hidden leg and shoulder don’t have any of the form this side has.


Step #4: Revised drawing


Oops! I miscalculated how much space his wing would take. No biggie, I can fix that. 🙂

All scanned into the computer and ready to color!



Step #5: Time for Paint!

First, I did some brief research on ground-dwelling and woodland birds, squirrels, and other critters that would fit in a similar slot in the food chain. I used the buff-banded rail as my inspiration.

All ready for the base color. No shadows or anything here. Just flat color. 🙂


I got rid of my color inspiration photo as soon as I started getting somewhere I liked with the color. I wanted to avoid copying the color scheme outright, especially since it wouldn’t really work with the fuzzies anyway. I’ll have to make a post about that at some point. Different kinds of color patterns work with different kinds of integument. Fur, scales, feathers, or skin have different patterns of coloration.

Some patterns are universal, but the patterning of that rail is unique to feathers and scales. The fuzzy integument of pterosaurs may have behaved more like fur.

Now that the base color is down, I set up my light reference photo and start painting in shadows. I’ve been using the same watercolor brush in Photoshop all this time.



First layer of light. Since the fuzzies absorb a lot of the light, it takes on a softer glow than it does on the white clay.



Next come the brightest highlights, where the light is strongest. The brights of the eyes, a touch of yellow-green on the neck and shoulder…at this point if I do any more I’d just be fussing over it forever, so it’s time to set him in his background!



Step #6: Complete Profile!

And here we are! A new critter to add to the shop. 🙂

I got the name Douglas from the movie The Croods. One of the critters the Croods pick up along the way is something that looks like a dog-sized alligator/skunk. A skunkigator. 😛 The boy of the family calls him Douglas, and I rather liked the name for this little guy. 😀

Pterosaurs have fun, totally wacky anatomy. I should add some more to the shop, or perhaps one of those weird croc cousins…hmm…so many cool Jurassic critters, so little time!



Coming Next Week…

This little guy loves to curl up in his bed with his favorite teddy. 🙂

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

9 thoughts on “Critter of the Week: Dimorphodon

  1. Woah! Did not expect this! So that’s all the fuss i have been seeing in Instagram.Now i have a new favorite creature on the petshop! (Sorry Picasso,really sorry) I thought the maquette is something you are making out of fun,but you went through all that process just to get something special for post #100? That’s pure dedication! And are you planning to paint that? Would look amazing.And another question,(A comment from mine wouldn’t be complete without a question as always) 😀 When is the book coming out again? Last time i asked you said about next year’s fall,but most of your progress is done,surely it must have been changed right? I feel sorry for Opie,he wasn’t the COTW train passenger,hope he isn’t angry at Pete! But he is going to ride it next week,so that may somehow make Opie happy?


    1. Hi Kaprosaurus, it’s awesome to see you here! 😀

      Hehe, I just had to do something special for post #100! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to paint the macquette, because the only clay I had was a nondrying, unbakeable kind. I got some bakeable sculpey at Walmart though, and I’ll be ordering some armature wire, so the macquettes I make for the illustrations will be more solid. Plus I’ll get to keep and paint any new COTW I add to the shop’s inventory. 😀

      Unfortunately it’ll still be a while before the book comes out. I think I’m about the midway point. The next step is making a few (hopefully) quick macquettes and mini-sets for the illustrations. Since the light and shadow is a big part of the illustrations, the macquettes will really help make sure I get that right. And help with any perspective issues in the shop or environments. I have a lot of difficulty visualizing shape and perspective in my minds eye (comes from not being able to see in 3D until very recently). So macquettes really help!

      One thing I discovered about Douglas’ macquette…drawing and coloring the revised illustration goes faster, because I’ve already practiced it once, and I know exactly what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it. 🙂 So I’m hoping that means the final illustrations for the picture book will be completed faster too.

      I’ve been waffling between two decisions…prep Dippy vs. Ball now and get that ready before Baby comes, or focus on prepping for my little gallery show in February. If I choose option B, then I’ll be working on one complete book illustration, macquettes and all. Because the gallery show will be featuring my process for how a picture book is made, from concept art to complete illustration.

      If I choose option A. I’ll have something ready to put up on Amazon sooner. But if I choose option B, then I’ll be that much closer to finishing the main event (and be fully prepared for the gallery).

      So many choices! 😀 But I’m leaning towards option B. Better be prepared for the gallery, and that’s the faster of the two projects.

      Yeah, Douglas beat Opie to it. He actually took a flying leap to get in the door, and took Opie completely by surprise! Opie got distracted though, so he wasn’t too upset. He was too busy chasing Rosie round the paddock!

      Liked by 1 person

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