Dinosaur Wall Art

If you need a project idea for a new laser, try out our DIY dinosaur wall art! Dinosaur room decor is always a popular choice for decorating a kid’s room or nursery. 

Last week we showed you how to troubleshoot and set up a laser and inline fan with our xTool P2 Co2 Laser Beginners Guide. Now it’s time for our first wooden laser project and it turned out SO cute!

A special thank you to xTool who sent us this P2 laser machine to review. The opinions we share are honest and based on our own experiences. Our posts may contain affiliate links, but we only recommend things we’ve actually used and love. While we do earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you, we proudly donate all earnings from this blog to Alzheimer’s research annually. See our full disclosure

A Tale of Two Dinosaurs

This is a tale of two dinosaurs. One wasn’t quite what I had in mind. So I created two different versions – each amazing in their own right. The first dinosaur is a single layer of basswood. You can colour it in just like a colouring book. The second dinosaur is also basswood but has two layers. With a backer and an outline, you can paint and reassemble the pieces right onto the backer. The beauty of the second version is that you don’t have to be as careful colouring inside the lines with these Posca Paint Pens.

2 packages of Posca Paint Pens

Watch this video to see how our dinosaurs are done!

Creative Craft Hop

It’s time for another Creative Craft blog hop! So if you are visiting from Gail at Purple Hues and Me, welcome! Wasn’t her basket upcycle clever?! At the very bottom of this post, we’ll be directing you to the next stop on this venture. But don’t forget to check out the other stops too because you’ll find plenty more ideas. Be sure to drop back in throughout the week to visit them all!

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DIY Dinosaur Wall Art

I had an idea to create something appealing for kids, so I sketched this adorable dinosaur using Procreate on my iPad. One of the fantastic aspects of Procreate is its flexibility; you can easily refine and tweak your drawings until you’re happy. Moreover, you can experiment with different color combinations by dragging colors onto the canvas, which adds to the fun! However, for the subsequent step of transforming the drawing into a vector for cutting on the xTool P2, I only exported a black and white version as a PNG file.

Dinosaur wall art shown as a drawing in Procreate in the process of trying out blue and purple colours

Then I opened the PNG file in Inkscape. Inkscape is a free program that can trace and turn your artwork into vector art. Personally I find Inkscape far superior than the tracing options in my older version of Illustrator.

Following the tracing process, my intention was to delineate the stripes on the t-shirt, hat and socks, as shown below in blue, to score on the P2 laser. Then I would cut along the outline and create a solid backing, enabling me to assemble the pieces like a piece of stained glass. Given that this marked my inaugural attempt at designing for laser cutting, I have to admit that I grappled with understanding the necessary steps to achieve my goal.

Mistakenly, I assumed that merely colour-coding the areas designated for scoring and cutting would do the trick and that the XCS software would interpret this. However, after a trial run I learned that I need to separate the layers, and subsequently stack them back together again in XCS, for the results I was looking for.

Dinosaur wall art drawing shown in the free Inkscape program after using the tracing function

I exported what I thought was finished artwork as an SVG, ready to bring into xTool’s XCS software.

Cut Dinosaur Wall Art

For the cutting and scoring process, we’ve opted for 3mm basswood supplied with the P2. Ensuring the material lays perfectly flat is important for accurate results. Fortunately, the magnetic clips accompanying the honeycomb panel adhere flawlessly to its sturdy steel construction.

The honeycomb panel is an additional accessory. Given my intention to work with numerous small pieces, the honeycomb bed proves a better option to the slats. Its design prevents any pieces from inadvertently slipping in a way that could potentially interfer with the laser head’s movement. However, if you only have slats available, I believe you can mitigate this issue by incorporating tabs into your project. We’ll have to explore this further in a future post.

You can rotate both the wood and your artwork as needed to best fit onto the honeycomb panel.

finger pointing to 3 mm basswood clipped down at the corners to a honeycomb panel inside the xTool P2 laser

In XCS, I connect the device through the USB cable.

By the way, we’ve implemented a precautionary measure by connecting both our computer and xTool P2 to a battery backup equipped with surge protection. Given the value of these pieces of equipment, investing in a reliable backup system is an obvious choice for us. As I lay in bed tonight with lightning lighting up the sky, I was not worried about our electronics at all.

Battery backup with plugs in it sitting on the floor under a desk area

xTool Creative Space (XCS)

Import the SVG file into XCS and adjust its orientation to fit onto the wood. Next, drag the design onto the 3mm basswood. If you can’t see your wood the inside the P2, simply refresh the screen by clicking in the top right-hand corner.

Moving the dinosaur wall art file onto the canvas in the xcs software

I select score and manually put in settings of 50% power and 80 speed. There is also a pre-set for scoring 3mm basswood in the software that you can use if you prefer.

Adjusting the settings in the xcs software with the dinosaur SVG showing on the 3mm basswood inside the xTool P2 laser

After clicking process, hit the process button again and then you can press the start button on the xTool P2.

Processing the dinosaur artwork in the xcs software

xTool P2 Results

Positioning the dinosaur wall art backer onto the previously scored material in the xTool P2 laser

Just drag the backer onto the canvas, click ‘close view camera’ and zoom in to line it up.

Positioning the diy dinosaur wall art backer SVG file over the previously scored dinosaur

Then we select cut, manually enter the power and speed (you’ll see the settings we use on the video) and hit process once again.

Dinosaur backer in the xcs software

After pressing the start button on the xTool P2 again, watch the magic happen! What a delight to see it cut flawlessly along the outer score line! And the xTool P2 laser cuts so fast!

DIY dinosaur wall art is cut and sitting on honeycomb platform in xTool P2 laser

Our first dinosaur wall art project is perfect if you want something that you can colour in like a colouring book. If you love adult colouring, this is way better than a book! Or cut these out and let the kids have fun colouring them in.

Hands holding cut dinosaur wall art in front of the xTool P2 laser

I did notice that the back has some flashback burns around the edges from the honeycomb panel. That’s not a problem for this dinosaur wall art. But if you are doing a two-sided project, you may want to mask the back to protect it.

Colour Inside the Lines!

Now, since this version of the dinosaur is only one layer, I’ll have to carefully colour inside the lines. I’m more of an outside of the box kinda gal, but I’ll give it my best shot!

I’m using Posca paint pens for this. We bought an 8 pack of bright colours and also a set of Posca Metallics.

I’m enamoured by the purple metallic (my second favourite colour)! It adds a stunning sheen and contrast to the other colours.

Laser cut diy dinosaur wall art beside Posca paint pens

Posca paint pens work brilliantly on just about any surface. However I got the worst migraine shortly after using them. While Posca paint pens are labeled as non-toxic and water-based, I couldn’t find any information regarding Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). It’s likely that the migraine is purely coincidental, but I’ve reached out to the company to inquire about the VOC levels in the paint. As of this writing, they did not respond back, so who knows?

Once you paint your creation, apply two coats of water based varnish to seal and protect.

DIY dinosaur wall art

Dinosaur Room Decor

One of the great aspects of an SVG file is its scalability without sacrificing quality. You have the flexibility to enlarge this file to your heart’s content, transforming it into captivating dinosaur wall art for a child’s bedroom! With the xTool P2 riser and conveyor you can cut dimensions of up to 118”×19.6”, allowing you to create an impressive and impactful piece.

Although the the maximum workspace of the P2 supported by XCS is 24″ x 12″, there are tricks to getting bigger pieces without additional accessories. Just create two halves with a puzzle piece connector to lock two pieces together when you design your project. You’ll have to play around with ‘kerf’ to get a tight fit, but that’s a tutorial for another day.

DIY dinosaur wall art

Dinosaur Wall Art

Lessons Learned

I love how our dinosaur drawing turned out on the P2 laser and learned a lot with this project!

Thanks to my blogger friend Sonja, from Sustain my Craft Habit, I now understand completely where I went astray with the first version. She has a lot of experience in designing SVG files for both Cricut and various xTool lasers so I can’t thank her enough for her guidance in setting me off in the right direct.

For anyone wanting to try designing for the xTool P2 Laser, here are the steps to achieve a cut file that you can assemble in two layers instead. If you cut this in acrylic, it will look like stained glass!

  1. First, I separated all the lines from the dinosaur. Colour your lines for the function you want to achieve on the laser. So for us, blue is for scoring and black is for cutting. I extended each line past the black edge so I could trim them exactly with the Shape Builder tool in Illustrator.

I previously introduced you to the Shape Builder tool in how to design your own fabric. By holding down the Alt key (or Option key on a Mac), a minus sign appears. Then you can remove whatever extends past the black lines. That gives you perfectly even score lines, or what I call the Goldilocks effect! Not too short or too long; just right.

2. Then I dragged all the blue score lines away from the black cut lines. By setting your files up in this manner, you can do anything with it. You can even engrave between the cut lines on the cut image below instead of painting them black if you want to set it up that way in the XCS software.

3. For the backer, make a copy of the cut file and choose pathfinder > unite. Here’s a great video for understanding the pathfinder tool in Illustrator. That leaves you with just the outline of your artwork.

Back in XCS

4. Once in the XCS software, select each item and move it to its own layer. Then give it a cut, score or engrave function – depending on what you want to do. Again, it helps to have standard colours to identify each function in the file so you can move it to the same colour layer. Although the backer is green to stand out in the image below, I can move it to the black layer to give it the same cut function as the artwork in the middle.

If you want to cut and score in the same session, move the score file on top of the cut file to stack them back together. Select everything on the canvas and hit process. It looks the same as it did the fist time, but now that the files are separated, the program can understand the cut and score functions in their respective layers.

When I set up this file in XCS, the score layer was above the cut layer, so I moved it down to the bottom thinking it would score first. That didn’t happen. Ideally, I’d want the xTool P2 to process the score first before it cuts. That’s because this thin 3mm wood tends to pop up and warp as soon as it’s cut and can get in the way of the laser head. So it’s always a good idea to score first while the wood is still perfectly flat. How to get the file to score first is still something I need to figure out.

This time it took 10+ minutes to process the scores and cut. And another 5 minutes to cut the backer again. That’s good to know if you’re going to be selling items and need to factor machine time into your pricing structure.

Dinosaur Wall Art – Version 2

The advantage to cutting the file this way is that I can paint the pieces separately with the Posca paint pens again or use an air brush on like-colour pieces. That will make painting go way faster.

Two versions of the wall art dinosaur; one painted and the other cut waiting to be assembled

To assemble, I’m using my last piece of 3M 467 MP double sided tape. It’s much faster than gluing! Ideally, I’d put this onto the wood before laser cutting and cut it all together. But I only had bits and pieces, so it’s old fashioned hand cutting for this step.

Rolled up strip of 3M tape beside the dinosaur wall art backer with a piece of 3M tape on the head

Burnish the tape well and leave as-is until everything is painted.

Wooden backer with 3M tape in the middle of the outline and other cut pieces of wood waiting to be assembled

Then peel the backing off the tape it and stick down the black outline first.

Assembling the second dinosaur. Outline in place on the backer with painted pieces beside it.

Now you can stick down and fill in the rest of the pieces.

Our first dinosaur has a friend! As mentioned, this second version would be awesome cut out of coloured acrylic and assemble on a clear acrylic backer. They may look the same cut out of wood, but cut out of acrylic, you could hang the dinosaur in a window, just like stained glass. Pretty cool, eh?

Two purple dinosaurs facing each other

We love experimenting with our laser and came up with this DIY abstract art idea that you HAVE to check out. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen!

Pin Dinosaur Wall Art DIY

Pinning is always welcome and appreciated.

Pinnable image for Dinosaur Wall Art

Creative Craft Hop

Now it’s time to check out A Wine Bottle Gets a New Life from Ann at The Apple Street Cottage. When you’re done, please remember to visit these other amazing talents below:

20 thoughts on “Dinosaur Wall Art

  1. This is such an adorable piece of art, Sara! The xtool is an amazing machine and it sounds like you’ve got it mastered. I can’t wait to see everything else you’ll be making with it!

    • I can’t wait to explore all the functions and play with materials other than wood! I have some faux stained glass pieces planned; just need to find a good source locally for the colours I want!

  2. Sara, you always manage to introduce us to the most amazing techniques and creations! I am truly blown away! I love the purple dinosaurs, especially the acrylic one! The laser cutting machine is an extraordinary tool – very versatile as to what you can make or create – which seems unlimited! Thanks for introducing us to laser cutting!

    • My pleasure Gail! It’s so fun for me to design with a new tool in mind! It opens up a whole new world of possibilities!

  3. This is so cool, I would love to doing this. I have been wanting an Xtool, thanks for the inspirational push Sara. I love this.

    • Thanks Terrie, You’d have a blast with an xTool! It really is fun to create with!

  4. Wow Sara! My husband has an XTool also, and it is so fun to make things! I love how cute this dinosaur cut out is and using Posca pens was genius. Great job.

    • That’s great Tammy; have you used your husband’s xTool too?

  5. Wow Sara, your skills with tools never cease to amaze me! The dinosaurs are so cute, look fantastic on the wall and how creative! You are going to have a blast with your new laser cutter, I know you will come up with amazing creations! {good idea to use a surge protector} Thanks so much for this monthly craft hop 🙂

    • Thanks Jenna! We’ve been using surge protectors since we were in a Florida vacation property during a lightning store. The TV got zapped and was totally fried. I guess we weren’t there to watch TV anyway lol.

  6. How cute Sara! We have an Xtool – well really my husband has one and they are super cool.Love that you used Posca pens to make your dinosaur super cute! -Tammy

  7. I love how you share everything you learned along the way, it makes this tutorial so helpful! Now, just to create a purple dinosaur for a little man I know…

    • Thanks Kim; it’s definitely bringing out some new skills I’m enjoying learning!

  8. That’s coolest dinosaur I’ve ever seen, Sara. My son would have loved to have something like this on his wall when he was a little one. He’d probably love to have one now too ;-).

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