Dig Deeper at Home: Introduction to Hell Creek and Planning Your Mural
Watch the Webinar
In the webinar video above, you’ll learn about the Hell Creek environment in the Late Cretaceous from Paleontologist Dave DeMar and get tips for how to start your mural from Paleo-Artists Bob Walters and Tess Kissinger. They’ll show you how to block out your mural, using irregular shapes to sketch out where major plants, animals, and landscape features might be without drawing in any details. Artists use this technique as a first step to set the direction for their mural.
(This page is Part 1 of 5 in the activity, "Paleo Art – Edge of Extinction: Make Your Own Dinosaur Ecosystem Mural.")
- Use your imagination to walk through the landscape you are going to draw. Fossil evidence and the geology of the area tell us that Hell Creek — which is dry and almost barren today — was like a swamp during the Late Cretaceous. It would have been filled with all kinds of plants and animals, rivers, and lakes. Think of swampy places you’ve visited or seen on television or in movies and imagine what it might have looked like.
- With that image in mind, you are ready to start Blocking Out Your Mural.
- Use printer or notebook paper to block out your mural before committing to a layout on your bigger paper.
- Orient your paper landscape, or long side down.
- Draw your horizon line first across the middle.
- Add in a water feature like a river or pond.
- Create some figures to represent trees in the background, larger ones along the sides.
- Sketch in spaces to represent plants in the foreground, around the trees, and along the water.
- Sketch some blocks for small animals and large animals throughout.
- When you’re ready, transfer the sketch to your large paper. For this, you can tape together two pieces of printer paper either along the long edge or short edge.
- Now you have the rough outlines of your scene to fill in with more detailed drawings of plants and animals. You can always change your mind later as you learn more.
- Watch Video: Solving the Dinosaur Extinction Mystery with Kirk Johnson
- Watch Video: How Do We Reconstruct an Ancient Ecosystem with Mary Parrish
- Consult David DeMar’s Fossil ID Guide: An Illustrated Guide to latest Cretaceous Vertebrate Microfossils of the Hell Creek Formation of northeastern Montana
- Watch Video: What Do Fossils Teach Us?
- Watch Video: How Bones Fossilize ... or Don't with Paleontologist Kay Behrensmeyer