Critter of the Week: Camptosaurus

Meet Copper & Daisy. These gentle giants are always happy to meet new friends.  They love being part of the group.

copperndaisy update.png

Copper is a strapping young bull, and never leaves the side of his lovely lady.  He’s very much the gentleman with her, and any friend who joins the herd.  Just keep a close eye on your pockets if you have treats!

You can’t hear him, since it’s a picture of course, but Copper is chirping to Daisy.  He’s found a good patch of something tasty, and he’s telling her to follow him.  Many dinos could probably make a lot of noise without ever opening their mouths, like the gurgly hum Copper is making here.  But you can see his lovely red throat all blown up like a bullfrog. 🙂

I imagine him sounding a lot like this…

 

Making progress…

 

I’m making progress like a ninja tortoise on my little project.  If you want to see what that looks like, here’s a surprisingly fast tortoise I found on Youtube. 😛 (I love how everyone in the clip makes such a huge deal on how fast this tortoise is)

So here’s what I’ve got…

  • line work for the comic is complete. (though it needs a couple of updates, I found a paper describing the soft spines on Dippy’s back, and I’ve been drawing them wrong.)
  • first page color nearly complete.
  • thumbnails for front and back cover, and a few other pages are done, so I just need to finish the line work there.

Here’s a quick look at the first page.  I’m going for a simpler style that’s animation friendly later on, so aside from a few tweaks on the background, this is just about done.  Do you prefer the simpler, more suggestive backgrounds, or a little more detail?

dippyvsball_pg1_flatcolor

Personally, I’m thinking of very minimal background, similar to the Wall-e and Big Hero 6 shorts. 🙂  Those short clips have pretty much no background, but the little scene at the bottom of the page is closest to what I’m going for.  Very minimal.

Here’s a look at the Wall-e and Baymax clips, so you see what I mean.

 

What do you think?  I would love your feedback! 😀  Just leave a quick word or two (or three) in the comments. 🙂

 

Coming Next Week…

This little dino is a bit shy, but she’ll come out of the bushes for a sweet hug and a small treat. 🙂

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

Critter of the Week: Diplodocus

Meet Dippy!  A giant with a heart of gold, life is never boring when this big guy is around.  Nothing is out of reach!  He’ll stick his nose into everything until every mystery is solved.

Dippy.jpg

Looks like he’s found a very, very big ball to play with.  That ball is pretty much indestructible, and something that comes in handy when you have curious giants like Dippy around.  He loves food just as much as your average sauropod, but Dippy is…how shall I say?  Easily distracted. 😛

Dippy here loves investigating anything new.  He’s not the sharpest rock around, but when you’re this big, brains aren’t a requirement.  I wonder what he plans to do with that ball?  Pete found his old one flattened out in the pasture a couple weeks ago, so we’ll see how long this one lasts.

What’s that you say?  An accident?  Oh no, I’m sure the ball was squished on purpose.  These guys have an amazing sense of touch.  Dippy doesn’t like stepping on certain things, and he’s very careful where he puts his feet (elephants are like this too).

Dippy seems to like the smooth bounciness.  But who doesn’t like to play every now and again? 🙂

To get an idea on how big the ball is, check out the super-sized balls these horses are playing with. 😉

 

Making progress…

Dippy’s official page is up! 😀

And it looks like I can purchase a domain name (like PaleoPetshop.com instead of PaleoPetshop.wordpress.com) and be able to forward emails from the site for less than $100!  So that’s awesome. 😀

With that in mind, I’m working on the next step- finishing the first collection of mini-comics for an eBook.  This eBook will be available for 99 cents, but you can purchase a physical copy for a few more bucks.

Once this collection is finished, then I’ll purchase the domain name and you’ll get to download and print those free collectible Critter Cards I showed you a couple weeks back. 😀

Dippy.jpg
Here’s Dippy, since he’s the Critter of the Week. 🙂

 

Just a friendly reminder.  If you’re seeing this in your email right now, it would be awesome if you’d click on the post title.  That will take you to the actual page, which helps the Paleo Petshop get noticed by Google, which is a good thing if you like what you read and want to share it with others. 🙂 Thank you so much for being here with me.  I truly appreciate it when we can chat a little together.

If you don’t mind spoilers, here’s a preview for one of the comics- Dippy vs. Ball. 

 

dippyvsball

 

 

Coming Next Week…

A real sweetie who’ll tolerate just about anything, even dress up.  Just be careful not to spook her.

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

 

Critter of the Week: Allosaurus

Meet Alfred.  The lion of the Jurassic!  The prince of the Mesozoic! The…oh, there he goes after another butterfly.  All he needs to be happy in life is his food, his chew toy, and a nice long nap.

 

Alfred

Looks like Alfred has found something to chase.  No worries though, that butterfly has nothing to fear, and he’ll give up soon enough.  Allosaurus (ah-low-saw-rus) wasn’t very fast, but he can’t help it- if it runs off, he’s got to chase it!  After a quick sprint, Alfred loves to settle under the shade of a tree and take a nice nap.

What’s that you say?  He’s a fearsome predator?  Well yes, yes he is.  Take a quick look at lions, and tigers, and bears (oh my!), and most of the time you’ll actually catch them napping.  Crocodiles and eagles, Alfred’s closest living relatives, also do a lot of nothing.  Once you have a full belly, why not enjoy a siesta in the sun?  🙂

You can find out more about Alfred at his critter page.

Fun Fact: This guy is the first critter that I kinda found my style.  All the ones I drew before him were very inconsistent, but this one had the sketchiness and detailed painterly mixture I was looking for.  All other critters after him I’ve been refining my technique and getting better.

Now I have to practice on my people!

 

Making progress…

I had a big surprise planned.  The goal was to have Pete’s Postcards from the Shop all set up by my birthday (that’s today.  I just set it as a convenient goal date. 🙂 )

The Critter Cards were done, I got the PDF file sorted out, Mailchimp all set up and ready to go…I run through the motions to test it out for myself and…

Nothing.

I wasn’t really surprised, since I can’t really use my personal email account to send you emails from the Paleo Petshop.  But it was worth a try.  I’m trying to spend as little money as possible until I start earning a little.  This can turn into a really expensive hobby really fast if I’m not careful.

Not exactly what I’m going for. 🙂

So now I’m figuring out the best place to purchase a domain name, so that PaleoPetshop.wordpress.com can turn into PaleoPetshop.com.  Only problem is that so many places offer so many different packages with bells and whistles I’m not ready for just yet.  Like webhosting.

All I need is an official domain name, and the email address I can use with Mailchimp.

Wish me luck!  I’ve got a couple of options I’m looking at, but it’s just a matter of figuring out which one’s a better fit. 🙂

In the meantime, here’s the Critter Card chart with all dinosaurs colored in. 😀

chibi-critters-progress-copy4

 

Coming Next Week…

A giant with a heart of gold, life is never boring when this big guy is around.  Nothing is out of reach!  He’ll stick his nose into everything until every mystery is solved.

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

The Art & Science of Ajax

First up is Ajax (hi there Ajax! Give’em a smile), because really he’s the first critter of the lot I ever drew, and he shows up in my sketch book a lot.  Plus he’s just an all around friendly guy, and anyone knows a brontosaurus (ahem, Apatosaurus) when they see one. 🙂

 

A&S_ajax copy.jpg

 

So what’s science and what’s art?  To keep this post short, I’ll cover three main points (there are always more, but we can save those for later).  All drawings in these posts are quick doodles to illustrate a point, with not as much reference as I usually use, so there are plenty of inaccuracies for you to point out for me.  But I do have this great toy model replica to look at when I’m clueless as to how something looks at certain angles. 😉

 

apato toy.JPG
Clearly I have a lot to learn when it comes to photographing these things, but everyone starts somewhere right?  Hehe, and yes, that’s a toy.  Papo’s latest model of Apatosaurus to be exact, inspired by Sideshow Collectibles’ Apatosaurus, which is double levels of gorgeous and ten-thousand times more expensive. 😛

1. Toothy grin, or soft smile?

For starters, let’s talk about Ajax’s smile in the picture above.  There’s a lot of discussion on dinosaur lips-  did they have a toothy grin like crocs, or closed lizard-type lips?

On one hand there’s the study by Ashley Morhardt (unfortunately I can’t find it, so I’m relying on 3rd party sources).  She compared the skulls of prehistoric and modern animals, and looked at the clues left behind by beaks, lips, etc…and her study suggests that sauropods like Ajax had a face more like a crocodile’s than the fleshy lips of mammals.

But…

This article by Duane Nash on the giant canine teeth of saber-tooth tigers (smilodon & relatives) gives some food for thought.  The blog post has all sorts of cool info of what makes a tusk vs. a tooth. 🙂

Ajax’s teeth, like most dinosaur teeth, have a pretty healthy coating of enamel, the same stuff that coats our teeth and makes them hard.  Enamel does best when it’s bathed in saliva 24/7, which is why mostly all animals that have enamel-rich teeth have mouths sealed shut by lips of some sort.

Anyway, Ajax eats whatever he can get a hold of.  He does replace his teeth every once and a while (unlike our permanent set of adult teeth), but still, it takes a while to get a replacement tooth, so he needs to use each set for as long as he can.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to reconstruct Ajax and the other sauropods with closed, lizard-like lips.

It’s one of those things that we can’t know for sure, because even a mummy can’t give you a perfect picture, anymore than a raisin can tell you what a grape looks like.

 

2. How far can he stretch?

Bronty herd sketch_flat

Oh boy, paleontologists have gone back and forth on this one for over a century.  First thin, graceful necks like swans, then BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs comes out and shows the fruit of research claiming that Ajax & Dippy held their necks out like suspension bridges.  They held their heads and tails in almost a straight line, and were unable to lift their heads higher than their shoulders.

 

ajax neck flex.jpg
He’s really trying to impress you

More recent work has pointed out that if you add space for cartilage between the bones, then the necks of many sauropods had the flexibility to loop in a complete circle.  The brilliant minds behind the SV-POW! team over at svpow.com (always enjoyable to read, but definitely more on the technical side) helped rekindle my love for the long-necked giants by holding their heads high again, and regain neck flexibility by taking soft tissues into account.

 

neutral ajax copy
Ajax noticed something interesting

My latest research just today, I come across a paper studying ostrich necks, and what that means for how far Ajax can stretch.

In short, we don’t really know.  But Ajax would probably have a great deal more flexibility than Walking With Dinosaurs would have you believe.  The bendiest part would be the middle of Ajax’s neck, with the ends less flexible.

I always think that animals are more capable than we usually think, so one of Ajax’s buddies has reached back to scratch at an itch on his leg. 🙂

Oh, and those two in the back with the puffy necks…that’s entirely speculative.  Something weird was going on with Ajax’s neck though, that’s for sure. 😉

 

3. I think we need some bigger horseshoes…

feeding Ajaz sketch copy
Pete bringing Ajax a bucket of fern spores, yum!

Feet, especially the front feet, are usually drawn very, very wrong when it comes Ajax and his relatives.  Many artists will slap elephant feet on them and call it a day.  But take a look at one of Ajax’s tracks…

 

Ajax tracks copy.jpgAjax’s legs are like solid pillers, and all the finger bones are wrapped together to form a fleshy, padded, hoof-like structure.  Only the “thumb” has a claw, which has some limited mobility depending on the species.  Ajax can move his thumb claw up and down a little bit. 🙂

Scientists disagree on how much Ajax could move his wrist.  So how far he has his front foot bent at the wrist is a bit speculative.

I’ve done a terrible thing and made his wrist flexible based on an elephant’s range of movement. 😛

 

Quick Question: Is there anything in the popular media you can think of about Ajax and other sauropods?  What common misconceptions do movies like Jurassic Park and The Land Before Time give about Ajax and his cousins? 🙂  I’d love to hear your answer in the comments!  

P.S.- You can always hop over the the A&S page to pick out who you want to see next! 🙂

Critter of the Week: Dryosaurus

Meet Rosie. She’s a bit shy, and might need a little encouragement to come closer.  A few treats should do the trick.  Before you know it she’ll be perfectly content to snuggle close and put her head on your lap. 🙂

 

Rosie.jpg

Rosie is smaller than your average dinosaur, about the size of a deer.  Like a deer, she can be a bit jumpy, and she feels much better if she has friends to keep her company and watch out for troublesome, over-exuberant types like Opie.  He’s far too excitable, and that makes her nervous.  She’d much rather curl up under the shade of spiky cycad fronds for a little siesta.

Much safer there.  And Rosie always wins at hide-and-seek. 😉

If you take the time to give her treats and coax her out of the thicket, then she’ll get to know you rather quickly.  Then she’ll be your friend forever, and come running when you call. 🙂  I hope you don’t mind having a second shadow…

 

 

Making progress…

I’m working on something super top-secret at the moment.  Well, not really super top-secret, since I told my family about it- but anyway, I want to mention it here too.

Since it may be a while before the picture book is finished, I want to work on a smaller, short term project so that you have something sooner.

In short, I want to create a collection of shortstories, mini-comics, illustrations, what-have-you.  My question is about what topic to cover…

  • Letters to Pete- Frustrated paleo pet owners send letters to Pete with their questions.  What do you do when Big Al keeps tearing up the furniture?
  • Critter cam- So what do dinosaurs do when you’re not looking?  Find out what happens if you give Dippy a giant ball.
  • The Paleo Pet handbook- a small book with all the basics of the care and feeding of your paleo pets.

Please let me know what looks the most interesting in the comments! Thank you for sharing a little of your time with me here on the site, you guys are awesome, and I want to do whatever I can to make your stay better than great. 🙂

 

Coming Next Week…

Food is the first (and just about only) thing in mind for this gentle giant. 🙂

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

The Art & Science of Pete’s Paleo Petshop

So there’s a long and a short way to go about this.  I do something really tedious and boring, and pull out the scientific papers, fossils, diagrams, anatomy jargon, and articles written by people much smarter and more knowledgeable than me in all things paleontology…

 

OR

I can save you the big snore (because the technical stuff is tough to read, and I like this sort of thing!) and have an excuse to draw yet more cute critters, while sneaking in a few quick fossil facts in a bite-size post or convenient picture. 🙂

Why am I doing this?

The truth is that I got a little frustrated.  All the dinosaur books for kids fall into one of two categories-

Super cute story and dinosaurs, but no science.  For example, “Pteradactyls” lumped in with the dinosaurs, and dinos stuck with the appearance of rubber toys from the 80s.

OR

“Educational”, but tough to read.  Because after reading a list of names like Tyrannosaurus rex, Euplocephalosaurus, and Parasaurolophus 20 nights in a row, I know that book is going to put aside for “some other time”.  Plus the computer graphics always look a bit unpleasant to me.

Pete’s Paleo Petshop is the best of both worlds.  A cute story with illustrations based on the latest scientific research I can find.  But I also want to make clear what part of the illustration is something we actually know as fact, or really just an educated guess.  Speculation.  A hypothesis. 🙂

So this is the start of a new series called The Art & Science of Pete’s Paleo Petshop. That’s super long though, so I’ll have to shorten it somehow. 🙂

For your convenience, I’ll keep a list of all posts in the series here on this page, and I’ll update the list with links as we go along.  I’ll begin with the main cast, and we’ll see where we go from there. 🙂

 

chibi critters color.jpg

Main Cast:

 

Bonus Question: Any special requests?  I’ll be going over these critters in no particular order, so if there’s one you really want to see first, let me know.  First one to answer in the comments gets first pick! 🙂

All American Dinos

Happy 4th of July everyone!  I hope you are enjoying the hotdogs, fireworks, family time, and the all around patriotic spirit of the day. 🙂

I really love my country, and everything the founding fathers worked so hard to cultivate in the early years.  So here we have some American dinosaurs to help us celebrate.

From left to right…

That’s all for now!  Thank you for dropping by, and I hope your day is fun and safe. 🙂

 

Behind the Scenes: From Thumbnail to Draft Sketch

It’s time for a behind-the-scenes sneak peak on the first installment in the series of Pete’s Paleo Petshop, where anyone can go to find a prehistoric friend to take home.  Time has stopped in the Jurassic Period, the “golden age” of dinosaurs, and Danny and his family have come to the shop to find a quiet, little dinosaur.  Hard to find in an age of giants!

 

Now here we have a few thumbnails.  Thumbnails are small, quick sketches that are used to give the artist an idea for the composition of an image.  In this case, thumbnails are useful for getting an idea for the layout of the illustrations.  Which characters to use, where words might go, how the picture will help the words tell the story…it all starts gelling together in the thumbnail.  Keeping thumbnails small helps force you to leave out detail, which helps to focus on the basic shapes.

flyers thumbnailssauropod thumbnailssteggy thumbnails

Once I figured out which thumbnail I liked best I made it larger and cleaned it up a little.  These drawings are mostly to figure out exactly what I need to find references for.

flyers page

For example.  I looked at a couple of pictures of flying birds to help me with Tango and his buddy on the left here (learn more about him here).  It’s not known if these dinosaurs could actually fly or just glide, so this is speculation on my part.  Short, broad wings are great for maneuvering thick forest, and you don’t need a lot of muscle for short bursts of flight. 🙂

In this case, I needed pictures to get ideas for poses!  And for Terry and her friends on the right…well I needed a few reference pictures to have a clue what I was drawing.  These critters are tough if you don’t draw the classic “silhouette from above/below” pose. 😛

Which makes a great example of what happens in the sketch stage.

In the thumbnail, I had one pterosaur (teh-roh-saw-r) flying past the corner of the page.  An overhead flying view is so overdone I decided to have them perch on the branch instead.  I also changed the species to pterodactylus (teh-roh-dak-tih-lus) since they worked out better for what I needed.  Bonus that these guys are the poster children of the pterosaur group. 🙂

sauropods page

Here we have three famous giants of the Jurassic.

  • Ajax the Apatosaurus (ah-pat-oh-saw-rus)
  • Dippy the Diplodocus (dip-loh-dok-us)
  • Elmer the Brachiosaurus (brak-ee-oh-saw-rus).  Yep, his head is the right shape.  The critter in Jurassic Park is actually a Giraffatitan (giraffe-ah-ty-tan).  I’ll write a post on that at some point.  For now, let’s just say that the Jurassic Park variety is the African breed, and this is the American breed.  They’re completely different species, and have lots of things that make them unique, not just head shape. 🙂

I’ve been doing lots of research on the necks for these guys, so that awesome snakey neck is not random.  And yes, it is an awesome python neck (though this is about the limit of its bendiness.)

Also, can I just say how awesome it is to use a toy as a reference?  Yes, you heard me.  I went out and got a few toys (as accurate as possible) and I’m using those for pose reference.  I don’t have the dippy, but for that one I got pictures of the toy online. 😛

Steggy page

Here we have Steggy the Stegosaurus (steg-oh-saw-rus).  Original name, I know 😛

I used a toy I have for reference here too, but this one isn’t the best model, so I’ll be doing research to make sure I correct those inaccuracies.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak preview!  I’m starting to get an idea of what things will actually look like, and that’s pretty exciting after it’s been stuck in my head for so long!  The words need a lot of work (they kinda suck at the moment), but the gist of the story is there.

I’ll never be fooled into thinking a picture book is easy again! 😀

Now my question for you is…Do you have any questions?  Anything you want to know about what happens behind the scenes? Let me know in the comments!  I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Critter of the Week: Diplodocus

Meet Dippy!  A giant with a heart of gold, life is never boring when this big guy is around.  Nothing is out of reach!  He’ll stick his nose into everything until every mystery is solved.

 

Dippy.jpg

 

 

Looks like he’s found a very, very big ball to play with.  That ball is pretty much indestructible, and something that comes in handy when you have curious giants like Dippy around.  He loves food just as much as your average sauropod, but Dippy is…how shall I say?  Easily distracted. 😛

Dippy here loves investigating anything new.  He’s not the sharpest rock around, but when you’re this big, brains aren’t a requirement.  I wonder what he plans to do with that ball?  Pete found his old one flattened out in the pasture a couple weeks ago, so we’ll see how long this one lasts.

What’s that you say?  An accident?  Oh no, I’m sure the ball was squished on purpose.  These guys have an amazing sense of touch.  Dippy doesn’t like stepping on certain things, and he’s very careful where he puts his feet (elephants are like this too).

Dippy seems to like the smooth bounciness.  But who doesn’t like to play every now and again? 🙂

 

Making progress…

Hmm, not a whole lot to say this time around.  Just putting one foot in front of the other.  One step at a time.

Moving forward is the most difficult part.  I can’t even begin to say how frightening this is, leaping out into the unknown.  And if I start to think about it for even a moment, the overwhelming list of things I still need to do threaten to bury me.  It’s suffocating actually.

The fear of my family reading this is worse than if you’re a stranger.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because that position is particularly vulnerable.

Anyway, I’m not saying this to mope, because I hate mopey.  But I’m no Pollyanna either.  Life has both ups and downs, and you’ve got to roll with the punches right? 🙂 Perhaps someday I’ll read this and remember how scared I was at the beginning.  Perhaps I’ll realize then that I’m still just as scared, and still take one step at a time.

Even more important, I hope that this will encourage you.  If you are thinking of leaping out into something unknown.  You’re not alone.

Listening to experts who truly know their stuff is very encouraging.  So I’m just going to share a lovely piece of advice from T. Harv Eker, who I was listening to this morning.  (I don’t get anything for this, BTW, it’s just awesome advice I hope you’ll find as helpful to you as it is for me)

“Fear is the anticipation of pain.  Act in spite of fear.”

 

And another awesome quote I’ve been hearing a lot lately…

 

“Just do it.”

 

 

Coming Next Week…

A real sweetie who’ll tolerate just about anything, even dress up.  Just be careful not to spook her.

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