Draw your own Trilobite!

an imagined low tide moment....

an imagined low tide moment….

As our Ancient Landscape project tides run out quietly, we thought we would keep ideas and activities going out there in the wider ancient seas of everyone else’s lives.


We are going to produce several activity blogs to encourage you to explore fossil worlds creatively!


Drawing trilobites

This might seem silly but we’ve found this little activity a useful one to encourage people to really look at and examine their fossils closely. The apttern given here is for a very general trilobite. There are so many different types that your personal one might be a very different shape. We suggest trying this pattern to give you a good sense of trilobitedness and confidence in your pencils. Then look at other trilobites and think about how proportions change….


Tril-11. Draw a cross: if the main line is 3 units long, put the crosspiece at 1 unit with arms of 1 unti each. Make a mark at the halfway point


2. Draw an oval using the tips of the cross as guide


3. Trilobite details

Tril-2 1head: use the tips of cross-piece as guides for the curve of your trilobite’s head and that crosspiece or the half way point as a guide for the back edge of the cephalon (trilobite head)


4. Draw in segments across the thorax – 10 is a good number but on smaller drawing slook crowded 9xercise some artistic license). Look at the symmetry and try to make that what you do on one side you also do on the other


5. Trilobite features: head shield is a cephalon, middle bit: thorax, tail pygidium. Trilobite bean-shaped eyes are compound (lots of small facets)

Underneath: lots of legs and gills

Tril-2 3

6. And just how colourful was a trilobite? Who knows? We do know that on our workshops, groups of Rainbow Trilobites often appear. The originals were probably – possibly – maybe – shades of grey or, like some modern crustaceans, they might have been reds and purples or coloured to suit their preferred habitats….


Developments: try adjusting the intial cross to get a trilobite from different angles. Once you feel confident with quick drawings of these trilobites start shifting the proportions to extend those side spines on the head (look at Fallotaspis and others)

Trilobite fingers

Fingerpuppet trilobites

These can start with either a drawing like the one above or half a drawing, drawn onto a piece of folded card with the fold corresponding to the main line of the cross

Tril-4 1

Cut it out, cut a line in from the edge to the side of the eye (the longer the better usually). Fold thecephalon along this line, folding front over the sides. Staple in place. This will pull the head into a nice curve and the original fold will help shape the rest of the animal.


Tril-4 2Add a ring of card to the underside, slide the puppet onto your finger and off you go! (Why not make one for every finger and have a family of them?)


Other models: the Australian Geological Survey Association do a lovely trilobite model printout. Trilobite sheet:





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