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
1. How to Draw a Seahorse
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.
I refine the shape of the head and draw its elongated front element.
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.
I add the dorsal fin to the back of the seahorse. It has two parts, a basis and an addition.
I mark the relief of the head and draw the eye.
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.
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.
I draw the prominent points at the intersection of the lines, including the sides of the body.
I create an external contour of the seahorse, accentuating the waviness of its body.
I add the pectoral fin, which is located behind the head, and refine the dorsal fin.
2. How to Draw the Seaweed and Other Underwater Elements
I add directional lines to the bottom part of the drawing to mark the weed.
I draw the framework of the starfish: five lines that are going from the central point to the sides.
I outline the contours of the starfish.
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.
I draw another type of seaweed; it is similar to a twig with leaves.
I proceed closer to the center of the drawing and add more elements.
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.
I add a small shell to the foreground. Basically, it is a rectangular shape with rounded corners and a ribbed surface.
I add stones of different sizes to make the composition more interesting.
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.
3. How to Draw With Black and Grey Ink Liners
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.
Create samples of cross-hatching, made with grey and black shades.
Draw one layer of parallel hatches with the grey liner, and then add a layer of hatching made with the black one.
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.
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.
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.
4. How to Draw the Seahorse With Ink Liners
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.
With the 0.1 liner of the grey color, I outline the main contours of the drawing.
I create a contour hatching with the 0.05 ink liner of the grey color, marking the hollows on the body of the seahorse.
With the 0.05 ink liner of the grey color, I add hatching to the seaweed and create shadows.
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.
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.
I use the 0.1 ink liner of the black color to accentuate the three-dimensional look of the seahorse.
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.
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.
I create hatches with the 0.05 ink liner of the grey color to cover the blank areas on the body of the seahorse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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