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How to Draw a Dolphin Step by Step

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What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial I will show you how to draw a cute dolphin step by step, from the silhouette and the details of the head to the fins. You will learn how to plan the drawing of an animal body, how to make it look 3D with some basic rules of perspective, and how to shade in a basic way. You can use any tools you want!

Before You Start

It's important to draw what we see, not what we think we see. So let's take a look at real dolphins to prepare for the task:

1. How to Draw a Dolphin's Body

Step 1

Sketch the basic curve of the body.

dolphin body curvedolphin body curvedolphin body curve

Step 2

Find the middle of this curve. Don't use any special tools—just estimate it.

dolphin body divide in halfdolphin body divide in halfdolphin body divide in half

Step 3

Divide each half of the curve into halves. This will help us with proportions.

dolphin body segmentsdolphin body segmentsdolphin body segments

Step 4

Draw a circle in the first quarter of the curve. It doesn't need to be a perfect circle!

dolphin head sketchdolphin head sketchdolphin head sketch

Step 5

Draw an oval across another two quarters. Make it rotated, so that the curve is going right through it.

dolphin torso sketchdolphin torso sketchdolphin torso sketch

Step 6

Draw a row of circles, like beads on a string, until you reach the end of the curve. Make each gradually smaller than the previous one.

dolphin tail thicknessdolphin tail thicknessdolphin tail thickness
dolphin caudal partdolphin caudal partdolphin caudal part
dolphin tail silhouettedolphin tail silhouettedolphin tail silhouette

Step 7

Let's add some perspective to the body to make it more realistic. Don't worry, it won't hurt! Draw an oval on the front of the head, creating a flat "face".

dolphin facedolphin facedolphin face

Step 8

Cross the face in the middle to see this flatness better.

dolphin face perspectivedolphin face perspectivedolphin face perspective

Step 9

Can you see the form of the body? Draw a line along its side. Remember it's you who decides where the side is!

dolphin body perspectivedolphin body perspectivedolphin body perspective

Step 10

Draw a line going through the bottom of the body. It must follow the rhythm defined by the side line.

dolphin body bottomdolphin body bottomdolphin body bottom

Step 11

Outline the whole form of the body, following this rhythm.

dolphin body outlinedolphin body outlinedolphin body outline

Step 12

You can add more form-creating lines along the body. They make it easier to see the depth of the drawing.

dolphin in perspectivedolphin in perspectivedolphin in perspective

2. How to Draw a Dolphin's Head

Step 1

Draw an oval on the front of the face.

dolphin mouthdolphin mouthdolphin mouth

Step 2

Draw a small circle attached to that oval.

dolphin snoutdolphin snoutdolphin snout

Step 3

Find the position of the eye with a curve ending with an oval.

dolphin eye positiondolphin eye positiondolphin eye position

Step 4

Place the eye inside the oval. It should be shaped like an oval as well.

dolphin eye ovaldolphin eye ovaldolphin eye oval

Step 5

Time for the smile! Cross the small circle on the tip of the mouth with a curve.

dolphin smiledolphin smiledolphin smile

Step 6

From here, draw a curve towards the eye, and turn down right before it.

dolphin smile sketchdolphin smile sketchdolphin smile sketch

Step 7

You now have enough guide lines to outline the details of the head.

dolphin head detailsdolphin head detailsdolphin head details

3. How to Draw Dolphin Fins

Step 1

Draw a curve ending with a tiny circle on the back of the dolphin. It should start roughly in the middle of the body.

dolphin dorsal findolphin dorsal findolphin dorsal fin

Step 2

Draw a curve between the circle and the body.

dolphin dorsal fin drawingdolphin dorsal fin drawingdolphin dorsal fin drawing

Step 3

Attach an upside-down "T" to the tail.

dolphin caudal findolphin caudal findolphin caudal fin

Step 4

Draw an upside-down heart in this area.

dolphin tail finsdolphin tail finsdolphin tail fins

Step 5

Draw two tiny circles under the "T".

dolphin tail caudal fin drawingdolphin tail caudal fin drawingdolphin tail caudal fin drawing

Step 6

Outline the shape suggested by the guide lines.

dolphin tail fins how to drawdolphin tail fins how to drawdolphin tail fins how to draw

Step 7

Again, use a curve ended with an oval to find a perfect spot for the pectoral fin.

dolphin pectoral fin positiondolphin pectoral fin positiondolphin pectoral fin position

Step 8

Another curve with a circle will create a part of the outline for the fin.

dolphin flipper sketchdolphin flipper sketchdolphin flipper sketch

Step 9

The fin is slightly wider than its base. Define this width with a flat curve.

dolphin flipper drawingdolphin flipper drawingdolphin flipper drawing

Step 10

Now you can outline the whole fin.

dolphin flipper outlinedolphin flipper outlinedolphin flipper outline

Step 11

Use the same method to draw the other fin.

dolphin pectoral finsdolphin pectoral finsdolphin pectoral fins
dolphin pair of flippersdolphin pair of flippersdolphin pair of flippers
dolphin flippers how to drawdolphin flippers how to drawdolphin flippers how to draw

4. How to Finish the Drawing of a Dolphin

Step 1

Now you have all the guide lines, so we just need to put the final lines over them. You can take a clean sheet of paper and put it over the sketch if you're drawing traditionally. You can also try to erase most of the guide lines and darken the ones you want to keep with a darker tool.

Outline the basic lines of the dolphin body.

dolphin body outlinedolphin body outlinedolphin body outline

Step 2

Fill the oval of the eye with dark shade, leaving a dot of shine.

dolphin eyedolphin eyedolphin eye

Step 3

Use gentler, lighter strokes to show some less prominent features, like wrinkles of the skin.

dolphin detailsdolphin detailsdolphin details

Step 4

Gently accentuate the lines of perspective to keep the body 3D.

dolphin 3d bodydolphin 3d bodydolphin 3d body

Step 5

Let's shade the dolphin now. Imagine the light source over its body and fill the shadowed area with strokes of one direction.

dolphin basic shadingdolphin basic shadingdolphin basic shading

Step 6

To create more levels of shade, change the direction of the strokes.

dolphin cross hatch shadingdolphin cross hatch shadingdolphin cross hatch shading
dolphin simple drawingdolphin simple drawingdolphin simple drawing

Step 7

The perspective guide lines can be turned into rough details on the skin to keep their depth-defining function.

dolphin drawing detailsdolphin drawing detailsdolphin drawing details

Step 8

Finally, outline the silhouette with dark strokes to make it pop.

dolphin dark outlinedolphin dark outlinedolphin dark outline

Good Job!

You have drawn a cute dolphin! If you want to learn more about these beautiful animals, as well as their relatives, check out this tutorial as well:

how to draw a cute dolphin step by stephow to draw a cute dolphin step by stephow to draw a cute dolphin step by step
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