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How to Draw a Dolphin in 6 Steps

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Posted by Anastacia Haiduk
Anastacia Haiduk is a teacher of fine art and drawing for both children and adults. She specializes in illustration, children's illustrations, character drawing, and has skills in classic academic drawing and painting. She excels at working with colored and drawing pencils, art markers, acrylic, watercolor, and gouache.
How to Draw a Dolphin in 6 Steps

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Dive Into Dolphin Drawing

How to draw a Dolphin? Dolphins are one of my all-time favorites to draw! They are so lively and have great personalities. They are also sleek and beautiful animals making them ideal for using with watercolor pencils, which happens to be a medium I like best. In this simple tutorial, I’ll show you how you can draw and color a realistic dolphin in just six steps. It’s a great way to start using watercolor pencils and once you finish this drawing, I know you’re going to want to do more!

My preferred watercolor pencils are Arteza’s Professional Watercolor Pencils because they are highly saturated with pigment and come in a wide range of shades. They are easy to draw small details with, as well as enable me to use various pencil-drawing and watercolor painting techniques. I highly recommend them!

List of Supplies

How to Draw a Dolphin Step-By-Step

How to Draw a Dolphin - Step 1

Step 1. Draw the general shape

I start by drawing an oval at an angle.

How to Draw a Dolphin - Step 2

Step 2. Define the dolphin’s body and fins

Next, I place a curved parallel line near the upper part of the oval to divide it in two. This creates the body of the dolphin. Notice how the space created by this line makes the area wider on the left, tapering down to become narrower on the right. 

Where the lines meet on the left side, I draw a small oval that will become the dolphin’s nose, then I add two more ovals along the lower part of the body for the fins. I make the dorsal fin on his back and his tail fins by drawing them as simple triangle shapes.

How to Draw a Dolphin - Step 3

Step 3. Refine the drawing

Now that my general shapes are in, it’s time to get more specific. I start by adding an eye parallel to the fin in the middle of the body. I make the tail fins pointed to give them a more accurate shape. Then I round the lines over the nose and mouth to create the folds over the nose and the mouth line. I define the thickness of the upper fin by making it more of a small strip in shape. I refine the shape of the dorsal fin as well. Once these details are finished, I go over all the contours of the dolphin, smoothing out my lines to make them continuous. Lastly, I erase the preliminary or unnecessary lines.

How to Draw a Dolphin - Step 4

Step 4. Add color

To begin the process of adding color, I use light hatching to go over the dolphin’s entire body with A008. Then I use A088 in the areas on the body that would be in shadow—the lower fin and around the upper one, on the forehead, in the fold above the nose and on the tail. Darkening these areas, where there would be the least amount of light, will give the feeling of volume to the dolphin and make it look more realistic.

How to Draw a Dolphin - Step 5

Step 5. Add water

To blend the colors together, I dip a small paintbrush in water and use soft strokes across the hatching marks I’ve already made to dilute the pencil marks. 

How to Draw a Dolphin - Step 6

Step 6. Strengthen the shadows

I make my dolphin come to life by adding more contrast. This means I need to strengthen the shadows, which I do by adding A088, A070 and A020 in the nasal fold, forehead and fins as well as in the eye, and to create a more accurate shape of the mouth and reinforce the thickness of the fins.

There you go! You dove right in and now you have a beautiful dolphin!

Recommendations

  • To ensure your colors will blend smoothly and be uniform, use light hatching by not pressing too hard on the pencil.  
  • It is better to erase a watercolor pencil in one approach to evenly blur the tone.
  • To wet the colored pencil to turn it into the paint, you can use a paintbrush dipped in water and go over the pencil on the paper or you can dip the pencil into the water first before applying to your drawing. 

For me, watercolor pencils are like magical drawing tools because they can transform right before my eyes from pencil to paint! There are few art tools that are as versatile, too. I use mine like regular colored pencils, for making sketches or more elaborate and colorful drawings, and I use them like watercolor paint. I use them in my sketchbook or on thicker watercolor paper to create frameable artwork. I encourage you to experiment with them and see what you can do! Have fun and let me know how you like them in the comments section below. 

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