Introduction: Sculpt a Life-size Dinosaur

About: I am a full time Speech Language Pathologist that loves DIY on the side! My wife and two children provide me with lots of fun ideas and projects to continuously work on. I love 3D/3D printing, Origami, and Pai…

So, you have also made the decision that you want an intricate and realistic sculpture of a life size dinosaur in your home too...well then you have come to the right place. Contained in this instructable, you will find all of the steps and materials in order to create own dinosaur.

The dinosaur I chose to make is a Compsognathus. The name compsognathus means "dainty" jaw. This dinosaur was roughly the size of a chicken and was supposed to have been carnivorous. It lived during the late Jurassic period and was featured in the Jurassic Park films franchise.

This sculpture I have done is not based on their representation of the dinosaur because they generally cartoonize their dinosaurs. I wanted this one to be as realistic as possible so it is based solely on the dinosaurs skull and skeleton.


The first step is, of course, to gather all of the necessary supplies.
Those include but are not limited to:

- clay (I use sculpey but you can use any clay or apoxie sculpt medium that you choose)

- Sculpting tools: you can buy a simple cheap set of sculpting tools online but simple household items also work. You can use utensils, sewing needles, toothpicks, or anything else that works for you.

- wire

- scotch tape

- tin foil

- rubbing alcohol (isopropyl)

- reference images, including skeletal drawings

- cardboard

If there are any other supplies that you see in photos that I forgot I apologize, but that should be a pretty comprehensive list.

Step 1: Starting With the Armature

Commencing with the armature is number one(1).

First, using a reference image, identify large shapes that make up the entire piece. initiate the process with the body, then the legs and arms, and finish with the head and tail.

I used paper and cardboard to make the body afterword bulking out the rest with tin foil and wrapping it with scotch tape. The same is then done on the legs and arms but at a smaller scale due to the shape of each limb.

Step 2: Finished Armature and Head

After finishing the armature you can assemble all of the parts to see how they fit together.

The head of the subject is made of clay and both jaws are made with wire and clay first. Layer upon layer of clay is then built up to create the shape of the head and a glass cabochon is painted for each eye.

Side note: when painting eyes on glass cabochons always:

1. paint the pupil

2. paint the iris and any other colors on the eyes

3. paint the main color of the eye.

If you follow that format you won't go wrong.

After the head is done add some teeth and shape it to taste. After shaping it you can then add the detail with stamps and tools to get the scaled face look.

Step 3: Body and Arms

As you can tell by the reference photos, the next step is to simple detail the body and sculpt the arms. Make sure the arms match where the joints meet the body so the sculpture looks fluid and doesn't have any strange gaps.

Step 4: Detail and Firing in the Oven

Using tools, layers of clay, and rubbing alcohol the finishing of the realism on the sculpture is accomplished. For detailed instructions on how to sculpt there are many instructables, YouTube videos, and classes available all around.

Some simple tips that I will share however:

1. Silicone tipped tools work best for adding detail because they don't stick to the clay

2. metal tools move the clay best and also work in smoothing it.

3. small worms/ snakes of clay create great rolls, wrinkles, and folds in the skin.

Lastly, put the parts separately in the oven. Then after they are all hard put them together, using clay to hide the joints and fire it one more time as a solid piece.

Step 5: Painting and Finishing

Finish the entire piece, painting it in fun colors but avoid super bright colors if you want it to end up realistic.