Allosaurus (“Different Lizard”)

Lived: 150 - 155 million years ago in the late Jurassic period.

Size (average):  9.7 meters long and 2.3 metric tons.


The main predator in the late Jurassic period, the allosaurus’ teeth are large and serrated. So try not to get bit by this guy! The allosaurus also has light bones, which would explain how it can support its ginormous head that is packed full of teeth. The natural enemy of the allosaurus is gravity – if this fellow takes a spill, he’s not getting back up with tiny arms like that.

Determining an Illustration Style Part II

With the release of Pose & Draw Dinosaurs coming soon I thought I’d follow up the piece I wrote almost a year and a half ago now on the dinosaur illustration style for the app (http://flashmapper.tumblr.com/post/75260054182/determining-an-illustration-style).

Here are the finals from January 2014 again for quick reference.




As I programmed through the rest of the spring ‘14 on the functionality I looked at those dinosaurs more and more and didn’t like them. It took me an entire month to do just 3 illustrations and I needed at least 16 for launch. I also didn’t feel like the shadows / highlights were very strong and something felt kind of dead and faded about them. I wasn’t confident I could produce up with the right illustrations for the app.

Through this time I had started following @sketch_dailies on Twitter and sometimes even made a submission myself if I liked the topic. Sometimes I went to the sites of illustrators I liked and came across Anna Rettberg, @aerettberg on Twitter (http://annarettbergillustration.tumblr.com/). She has a character style that reminded me of Bruce Timm and also was a bird fanatic. She had pages and pages of bird art, which of course made me start to think of the dinosaurs, They were in the same kind of style I was looking for. These warblers really stuck and got my attention (http://annarettberg.blogspot.com/2014/01/warblers.html).

Then I also came across some dinosaurs on her page as well and thought I should reach out (http://annarettberg.blogspot.com/2013/02/dinosaurs.html)

We agreed to try a few dinosaurs while I pushed through some updates to Toddler Tap! through paid expansions that would hopefully to pay for her to do all the dinosaurs. I showed Anna the blog post from last year where I outlined what I was looking for, gave her a beta of the app, and she did versions of Plateosaurus and Coelophysis (she’s owns the copyright but allowed me to post).



Compared to my originals they are more vibrant and look more like organic drawings. I was sold. Anna for sure would be the one to do the app. Unfortunately people weren’t sold on the Toddler Tap! expansions. Sales got better but nowhere near enough to have Anna do 16 dinosaurs, so I had to break off the project.

December hit and I had to face the reality that if I wanted this app to happen I would have to go back and do the dinosaurs myself, something I really wasn’t sure I could do, and do even more quickly than before.

I decided to try some changes. I laid out a production schedule, backtracking from when I’d need to submit in order to be in the app store a week before Jurassic World opened. I needed to finish the 16 dinosaurs by middle of March, meaning I needed to do 3 every 2 weeks.

The previous version I tried really hard to do clean, uniform lines. That was gone. Anna’s lines were thicker and more organic. They gave the dinosaur more life and made it look more like an illustration. I started with a quicker, sketchier line.

Already I was liking this more. I also picked up bolder, more saturated colors.

Shading is the area that took the most time in the previous round. I’m not very good at it and I was trying to paint shading and lighting in color with lots of blurring, etc. They didn’t seem very bold or real on the animals. They still felt fairly flat considering all the time that went into them.

I decided to forget color and just paint in black and white against a flat gray version.

I’d just focus on making it look like a 3D rendered model. How round should things look? How dark / light should sections go? I used the same thought of quicker strokes where someone could still actually see my movements.

These went much faster. Then, however, I struggled with how to blend these layers in. Nothing looked right. I went back into Anna’s files to see how she did it and was shocked. Her light layers were a light yellow set to soft light in Photoshop and her dark areas were all purple and multiplied in.

I wasn’t shocked because of how simple it was, I was shocked because it’s EXACTLY what I used to do for shaded relief back when I was a cartographer. I would make the map a flat gray, render light / dark layers, and use the exact same colors and exact same blend modes. I had completely forgotten about this technique.

Now the dinosaurs started popping. Compared to the old ones they looked much more vibrant and alive.

Not only did the dinosaurs look better but I could make them much faster. I was cruising along at 2-3 dinosaurs a week, which meant I could increase my launch list from 16-22 dinosaurs.

While I was disappointed I couldn’t keep working with Anna it was time and money well spent. Her samples helped shift my style and pull off dinosaurs I liked much better for the app.

Pachycephalosaurus (“Thick-headed Lizard”)

Lived: The late Cretaceous period.

Size: 4.5 meters long and 450 kilograms.


The pachycephalosaurus is a bonehead to say the least! The dome-shaped skull is 25 cm thick on top and despite its headbutting potential, it is speculated that in fact, the spine could not support this. Mysterious! This bipedal omnivore is definitely a badass dino with a small-dino complex.

Saurolophus (“Lizard Crest” or “Big Mouth” to any child born in and around the 80’s)

Lived: 69.5-68.5 million years ago in the late Cretaceous period.

Size: 9.8 meters long and 1.9 tons.


The saurolophus is a duck-billed herbivore which could walk both bipedally or quadrapedally (multitalented!). No one is quite sure what the purpose of the crest on its head is, but I suspect it was very fashionable in the Alberta-region during that particular season. The most famous saurolophus is Ducky from the classic film, Land Before Time.

Iguanodon (“Iguana-tooth” or “The Fonzie of Dinosaurs”)

Lived: From the late Jurassic period to the late Cretaceous period.

Size: 10 meters long and 3 tons.


This herbivore has conical spikes for thumbs causing it to have a perpetual state of thumbs up. Its tail is stiff, similar to that of a kangaroo, disproving the previous belief that the iguanodon was strictly bipedal. This dinosaur was probably everydino’s best bud.

Albertosaurus (“Alberta Lizard”)

Lived: The late Cretaceous period.

Size: 9 meters long and between 1.3 and 1.7 tons.


Named for the province in which it was discovered, the albertosaurus is a carnivore a long the same lines as the tyrannosaurus rex, but much smaller. It has a large head with many teeth, and tiny arms with only two digits. If you’ve ever had to survive through an Alberta winter, you’d become extinct too!