Paleontology Technical Illustration


Due to the Covid19 pandemic, all of our 2020 in-person camps have been cancelled. We have transitioned to online-based summer camps with our instructional teams. To learn more, click here.



Infographic by camp instructor Reid Psaltis

Through paleoart an artist can bring prehistoric life back from the dead. It is a discipline that combines an understanding of science, skill in the arts and the use of one’s imagination. In this course students will learn how to draw specimens accurately from life, to rebuild imperfect or incomplete fossils, and how to reconstruct an entire extinct animal from its skeleton, while becoming well-practiced in multiple types of digital and traditional media. Use of these techniques and concepts are crucial for accurately visualizing long-extinct, often incomplete organisms, and communicating scientific findings in understandable, accessible ways. 

Students will work on multi-stage projects as they follow the planning and completion practices used by professional paleoartists for publications. These projects will integrate multiple types of artistic media, and include work in studio spaces, computer labs, and field trips to sharpen skills in new and interesting settings. 

Infographic by camp instructor Reid Psaltis

Skills and Concepts

Infographic by camp instructor Reid Psaltis

  • Sketching from specimens and live animals
  • Extrapolating an incomplete fossil animal
  • Life-reconstructions of fossil animals (bones/teeth. muscles, skin, feathers or hair, etc)
  • Basic tetrapod anatomy
  • Model-building from a skeletal reference
  • Creation of scientific infographics, as used in science articles and research publications
  • Collaborating and communicating with research scientists
  • Use of digital illustration software and tools
  • Professional practices

Conditions Summary

These categories are presented to help applicants determine if a program is a good match for their preferences. We have set up a separate page here outlining how to interpret each category, and how to interpret the respective scores.  

Physical Exertion: 3
Academic Pace: 7
Outdoor Intensity: 2
Computers and Mathematics: 7
For clarification, there will be a focus on translating physical illustrations into digital form, where they can be edited in specialized software. Training on use of this software, as well as digitization of physical artwork, will be included in the curriculum. 
Art and Graphics: 10
Should be self-explanatory, as this is the focus of the entire camp. 
Writing: 4

Projected Number of Field Days: 3 
Projected Number of Indoor/Lab Days: 10

Art media and techniques

Illustration by camp instructor Reid Psaltis

  • Graphite
  • Ink
  • Digital (Photoshop drawing tools)
  • Acrylic paints
  • Subject lighting
  • Specimen photography basics

Additional Information and Logistics

Infographic by camp instructor Reid Psaltis

Drop off is 8:00am on the first day at the University of Oregon. Specifics on the drop-off location will be provided to admitted applicants.
Pick up is by 5:00pm on the last day, unless other specific arrangements are made well in advance with Camps staff. 

Please see Frequently Asked Questions for information about attending the camps for out of state students.

You can follow along with our camp programs on Twitter and Instagram at @SternbergCamps.

Application Requirements

  • All application materials must turned in by May 2, 2020. (See the Admission Decision Schedule tab below for our five application and admission periods from January to May.) 
  • Student applicants must be ages 14 to 18 as of June 2020.
  • Complete online application.
    • To do this, you will need to set up an account with CampDoc. You can do this by clicking the link above. Once this is done, you’ll be able to log back in to your account as you complete the application process.
    • If you already have an account with CampDoc, simply log in. Your personal information should all be saved from your last application.
    • The waiver can be found in the online application.
    • The financial aid application can be found in the online application.
  • 2 page (5-7 paragraph) letter of interest from the student applicant.
    • You can find suggestions for writing your letter of interest here.
    • This must be submitted through the CampDoc application system.
  • Letter of recommendation from the non-family member for the student applicant.
    • This must be submitted through the CampDoc application system.
    • You can find instructions for recommendation letter-writers here.
    • Returning students in good standing do not need to submit a recommendation letter.
      • Standing is determined by staff. A student not in good standing will be expressly notified by the Camps Director.
  • Portfolio of artwork, which must be submitted as digital files through the CampDoc application system.
    • Students must upload four images of their own works before their application will be considered complete and ready for review. 

Admission Decision Schedule

We run on a rolling admission schedule from January to May. Each month, we will evaluate students with complete application files to determine admission and scholarship award decisions. If your student is denied admission to a camp, you will be specifically notified. Below we have listed evaluation period cutoff dates, and notification periods.

Please contact us at if you have any questions about this process. 

  • Application period 1
    • Cutoff: January 11
    • Admission notifications: January 20-24
  • Application period 2
    • Cutoff: February 15
    • Admission notifications: February 24-28
  • Application period 3
    • Cutoff: March 14
    • Admission notifications: March 23-27
  • Application period 4
    • Cutoff: April 11
    • Admission notifications: April 20-24
  • Application period 5
    • Cutoff: May 2
    • Admission notifications: May 4-8

Program Cost

Tuition is $1987 for Sternberg Museum of Natural History or Dinosaur Ridge members, and $2,207 for non-members. Tuition includes food and lodging costs during the camp.

A 10% deposit is paid at the time of registration. Students who are accepted into the camp must then have the remainder of the registration fee paid by the May 16, 2020 payment deadline.

Q: What if my student is not accepted into the camp they applied for? Do you refund tuition?
A: 100% of paid tuition is refunded to any students not accepted to a camp they applied for. This includes the initial deposit paid at the time of initial application.

Q: What is your cancellation and refund policy?
Refund Policy:
Cancellations must be submitted in writing, via email or typed letter. Deposit fees for camp(s) applications are fully refundable until the applicant is officially accepted for admission. Prior to admission, the deposit is fully refundable in the case of cancellation submitted in writing. Denial of application acceptance will result in a full refund of the deposit payment for each camp the applicant was not accepted to. Following application acceptance, the deposit is no longer fully refundable, and each camp registration is held to a minimum 10-percent cancellation fee. For cancellations 30 to 10 days prior to the start of a camp, half of the total fee is refundable. For cancellations made 9 or fewer days prior to the start of the program, no amount of the fee is refundable. Registration fees are non-transferable between applicants or to accepted participants. Funds provided Sternberg Science Camps in the form of any financial scholarship to the participant will be withheld in any case where a scholarship awardee or their parent(s)/guardian(s) cancels an accepted application.

Cancellation Policy:
In the event of a trip being cancelled, either due to insufficient enrollment, sudden onset of extensively unsafe travel conditions, or other unforeseeable impairments, the Sternberg Science Camps will provide a refund of all tuition and/or deposit fees paid up to the point of cancellation. Any scholarship funds awarded to the applicant to aid in attendance will be retained by the Sternberg Science Camps program. We are unable to reimburse the cost of any travel expenses paid to transport successful applicants to and/or from their camp(s). We strongly recommend attendees insure their travel to and from their respective camp(s) being attended.


For answers to more possible questions, see our Frequently Asked Questions page!


Contact Us

For questions about the Sternberg Science Camps programs, contact us at or 785-639-5249.

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