Designing Dinosaurs: Lesson 1 CARNOTAURUS | Skillshare Projects

Liz Masters

Professional Illustrator



Designing Dinosaurs: Lesson 1 CARNOTAURUS

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Skeletal System Drawing Demo

Google Doc Class Outline

By taking my class series “Designing Dinosaurs,” you will earn to draw dynamic dinosaur illustrations through daily practice and detailed instruction. Artists of all levels will benefit from breaking down the anatomy of each animal into simple shapes. The importance of understanding the structure of the skeleton in relation to musculature will be emphasized. For the final lesson of this series, you will utilize your knowledge of dinosaur anatomy to invent a new creature from your imagination.

Lesson 1: Carnotaurus Écorché & Illustration 

The first dinosaur we will study is Carnotaurs (the meat eating bull). When the only known Carnotaurus fossil was discovered in 1985, it was nearly complete. This gives us the rare opportunity to examine a well understood specimen. 

Project Stages:

I. Research, Reference, and Gesture Sketches

A. Research

Read up on Carnotaurus, take notes, and begin to use your imagination to visualize how he may have looked in the flesh. Understanding the creature you are portraying will bring believability to your artwork. 

B. Reference

Compile 1-2 pages of reference images to sketch from. You will want to study as many angles of the skull and skeleton as you can. Renditions of the complete dinosaur by other artists are also valuable, but try not to become too influenced by these images. Take a look at the scale patterns, skin texture, and colors of living creatures as well. 

C. Gesture Thumbnails

Submit 1-2 pages of quick volume drawings of Carnotaurus in action. Use your knowledge of Carnotaurus' general nature and physical build to pose your dinosaur character.

For example, powerful thigh muscles connected to a thick, muscular tail suggest that Carnotaurus was a serious sprinter. Carnosaurus could most likely out run Tyrannosaurus Rex (and all other theropods). When you are ready to start sketching, be sure to keep this information in mind.

II. Skeletal Study and Écorché

A. Begin blocking tone over in your gesture thumbnails to test out the quality of the silhouettes. Choose your best thumbnail to build an anatomically sound drawing of Carnotaurus. 

B. Sketch the skeletal system and muscular system of Carnotaurus on layers of tracing paper or digitally. 

C. Begin to add a layer of flesh and surface detail. 

III. Final Illustration

Think about the personality and history of your dinosaur character, to make your Carnotaurus illustration unique. Finish your dinosaur character illustration with color in the medium of your choice. 


Optional Exercise: You may use the attached illustrations to practice breaking down the dinosaur into simple shapes, for laying in the skeleton, and for building the muscular system. Simply print out the drawings and sketch over top with either markers or colored pencils. Please keep in mind that the drawings provided are to be used for practice only (never reproduced for profit). All artwork is protected under copyright (© Liz Masters Studio 2016). Enjoy!  


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