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How to Draw a Seahorse With Black and Grey Ink Liners

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to draw a seahorse in a marine environment, using ink liners of black and grey colors.

This way of combining ink shades is a relatively rare artistic technique. It allows you to make a soft transition between light and shadow, but at the same time, you can keep the high contrast and draw as many details as you wish.  

Therefore, if you are looking for something new for your creative process, I recommend you try the principles of this amazing technique. 

You may also find useful this great tutorial on fish anatomy: 

What You Will Need

  • a graphite pencil (I recommend using an HB type)
  • ink liners number 0.05, 0.1, and 0.3 (grey color)
  • ink liners number 0.05, 0.1, and 0.3 (black color)
  • an eraser
The art supplies I use

1. How to Draw a Seahorse

Step 1

With a graphite pencil, I draw a curved core line, outlining the direction of the spine. I also add a stylized shape for the head and mark the elongated snout of the seahorse.

Creating a core line and a shape for the head

Step 2

I refine the shape of the head and draw its elongated front element.

Refining the head

Step 3

I draw the body. The belly of a seahorse is the most protruding part of the fish; the tail is long and twisted into a spiral. I also leave some space for the dorsal fin.

Drawing the body shape

Step 4

I add the dorsal fin to the back of the seahorse. It has two parts, a basis and an addition.

Adding the dorsal fin

Step 5

I mark the relief of the head and draw the eye.

Drawing the eye

Step 6

The body of a seahorse is remarkable for the ribbing effect, when prominences and hollows are consecutive. I draw rounded horizontal lines to mark the extruding parts. 

Adding the ribs

Step 7

I add a curved vertical line to the front part of the body. It helps to create some differentiation and reveal the bony plates of the seahorse.

The second border is the existing core line. 

Drawing the vertical borders

Step 8

I draw the prominent points at the intersection of the lines, including the sides of the body.

Accenting the prominent points

Step 9

I create an external contour of the seahorse, accentuating the waviness of its body.

Creating the refined contour of the seahorse

Step 10

I add the pectoral fin, which is located behind the head, and refine the dorsal fin.

Adding the pectoral fin

2. How to Draw the Seaweed and Other Underwater Elements

Step 1

I add directional lines to the bottom part of the drawing to mark the weed.

Drawing the directional lines

Step 2

I draw the framework of the starfish: five lines that are going from the central point to the sides.

Marking the starfish

Step 3

I outline the contours of the starfish.

Drawing the contour of the starfish

Step 4

It’s time to draw the contours of the seaweed. The first type of weed resembles tall grass of varied width.

I create two groups of algae at the sides of the drawing.

Drawing the first groups of the seaweed

Step 5

I draw another type of seaweed; it is similar to a twig with leaves.

Adding another type of the weed

Step 6

I proceed closer to the center of the drawing and add more elements.

Adding more seaweed

Step 7

I fill in the gaps between the existing seaweed shapes. I complete working on the plant shapes based on my artistic flair; the goal is to draw just enough elements.

Completing the seaweed elements

Step 8

I add a small shell to the foreground. Basically, it is a rectangular shape with rounded corners and a ribbed surface.

Drawing the shell shape

Step 9

I add stones of different sizes to make the composition more interesting.

Adding the stones

Step 10

The pencil sketch is almost complete, but the space around the seahorse feels empty. I draw the air bubbles; they are a great final touch. 

Adding the air bubbles

3. How to Draw With Black and Grey Ink Liners

Step 1

Before starting the ink drawing, let’s try the tools. This step is especially important if you don’t have any experience in mixing black and grey colors.

Create basic hatching samples and observe how the shades look together. Then try to feel the difference and imagine how it is possible to apply it to your drawing.

An example of a basic hatching

Step 2

Create samples of cross-hatching, made with grey and black shades.

An example of a cross-hatching

Step 3

Draw one layer of parallel hatches with the grey liner, and then add a layer of hatching made with the black one. 

An example of a varied hatching

Step 4

Sometimes it is great to use rounded hatches that repeat the contour of an object. This method works very well if we need to make an illusion of a three-dimensional look.

Create samples of rounded hatches. Don’t feel bound to make perfect hatching that consists of identical ink strokes; we are just trying the tools.

An example of a contour hatching

Step 5

It’s time to practice dotwork. I create two random shapes that consist of dots.

Try to vary the distance between the dots within the bounds of the sample, and observe what turns out. 

An example of a dotwork

Step 6

Create a sample of dotwork that combines both grey and black colors. Looks interesting, doesn’t it?

Now we are ready to work on the seahorse drawing. 

An example of a varied dotwork

4. How to Draw the Seahorse With Ink Liners

Step 1

I make a clean copy of my drawing, outlining it with light pencil lines. You can use a window during the day or a light table.

Making a clean copy

Step 2

With the 0.1 liner of the grey color, I outline the main contours of the drawing.

Creating the contour with the grey color

Step 3

I create a contour hatching with the 0.05 ink liner of the grey color, marking the hollows on the body of the seahorse.

Marking the shady areas on the body

Step 4

With the 0.05 ink liner of the grey color, I add hatching to the seaweed and create shadows.

Adding the hatching to the weed

Step 5

I use the 0.3 liner of grey color to mark the prominent points on the body of the seahorse. I also apply cross-hatching to accentuate the shady areas.

Applying the cross-hatching with the grey color

Step 6

With the 0.3 ink liner of the grey color, I increase the contrast at the bottom part of the drawing, using short hatches.

I also create the texture of the starfish and seabed with dots.

Increasing the contrast with the grey color

Step 7

I use the 0.1 ink liner of the black color to accentuate the three-dimensional look of the seahorse. 

Applying the black color

Step 8

I create the contour of the seahorse, using the 0.3 ink liner of the black color. 

I avoid making a uniform continuous line here; a combination of grey and black shades in the outline works much better. 

Creating a contour with the black color

Step 9

With the 0.05 ink liner of the black color, I apply the contour hatching to the seahorse, increasing the value and contrast in the drawing. 

Adding the contour hatching with the black liner

Step 10

I create hatches with the 0.05 ink liner of the grey color to cover the blank areas on the body of the seahorse.

Adding more grey color to cover the untouched paper

Step 11

With the 0.1 ink liner of the black color, I increase the contrast even more. Rounded hatches accentuate the three-dimensional look of the seahorse. 

Increasing the contrast using the black color

Step 12

I add a new layer of the cross-hatching to the seahorse, making this figure darker, particularly at the sides. The 0.05 liner of the black color is a great option for this step. 

Making the seahorse more three-dimensional

Step 13

I work on the head of the seahorse. Using the 0.1 black liner, I accentuate the eye and add a shadow to the bottom part of the snout. 

Working on the seahorses head

Step 14

I use the 0.1 ink liner of the black color to intensify the contours of the weed, the starfish, and the shell. I also add black dots to the bubbles.

I avoid outlining the whole contours of those elements; lighter tops of the seaweed will make the composition more interesting and credible. 

Adding the black color to the seaweed and the bottom part of the drawing

Step 15

With the 0.05 ink liner of the grey color, I draw thin broken lines above the seaweed. They will make an illusion of space and slight motion. 

The finishing touches

Your Drawing Is Complete

Congratulations! You finished this artwork. I hope you liked both the process and this wonderful drawing technique.

Thanks for your attention! I wish you much joy, new experience, and many amazing artworks on your way! 

The result of the work
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