How To Draw Sea Turtle

How To Draw Sea Turtle

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How To Draw Sea Turtle

The sea turtle, with its graceful movements and distinctive appearance, has long been a source of fascination for artists and nature enthusiasts alike. Their unique shape and the mesmerizing environment they inhabit make sea turtles a popular subject for drawings. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore how to draw a sea turtle, capturing the essence of these magnificent creatures and bringing them to life on paper. Whether you're an aspiring artist or simply interested in learning a new skill, this tutorial will take you through the process of drawing a sea turtle from start to finish.

Materials You Will Need

Before we dive into the drawing process, let's gather the materials you'll need to create your sea turtle masterpiece:

  • Drawing Paper: Choose a good quality drawing paper to provide a smooth surface for your pencil work. A size of 9x12 inches or larger is ideal for this project.

  • Pencils: A set of graphite pencils ranging from 2H (hard) to 6B (soft) will give you a wide range of tones to work with.

  • Erasers: Have both a kneaded eraser and a standard eraser on hand for corrections and highlights.

  • Blending Tools: You can use blending stumps, tortillons, or even your fingers to blend and soften shading.

  • Reference Image: It's essential to have a clear reference image of a sea turtle. You can find one online or use a photograph you've taken yourself.

Sketch the Basic Outline

Begin by lightly sketching the basic outline of the sea turtle's body. Use a 2H or H pencil for this initial sketch to keep your lines faint and easy to adjust. Start with the main body shape, which somewhat resembles a teardrop with a flatter bottom. This will be the turtle's carapace, or shell.

Next, draw the head and flippers. The head is positioned on the tapered end of the teardrop shape, and the flippers extend outward from the sides of the body. Keep in mind that sea turtles have both front and rear flippers, but the front flippers are larger and more pronounced.

Add Details to the Carapace

Sea turtles have distinct patterns on their carapaces, which can vary among different species. Use your reference image to guide you in recreating these patterns. With a lighter pencil, like an HB, lightly sketch the patterns on the turtle's shell. These patterns typically include a series of irregular lines, circles, and shapes. Take your time with this step, as accuracy in these details will greatly enhance the realism of your drawing.

Define the Head and Features

Now, focus on defining the turtle's head. Start with the eye, which is typically located on the side of the head. Sea turtle eyes are large and expressive. Add a few lines around the eye to give it depth and convey a sense of roundness. Remember that sea turtles also have a distinctive beak-like mouth, which is pointed and curved. Sketch the mouth just below the eye.

To emphasize the head's features, use a softer pencil (e.g., 2B) to create darker lines for the eye, mouth, and any other details you observe in your reference image.

Work on the Flippers

Sea turtles have powerful, paddle-like flippers that help them navigate through the water. Begin by sketching the front flippers, which are more prominent than the rear ones. These flippers have a slightly curved shape and can be quite detailed with individual scutes or plates. Use your reference image to guide your depiction, and don't forget to indicate the texture and creases on the flippers.

After completing the front flippers, move on to the rear flippers, which are smaller and more rounded. These flippers are typically simpler in structure compared to the front ones.

Add the Tail

Draw the sea turtle's tail, which is usually tucked under its body and extends backward. The tail is relatively short and can be shaped like a rounded triangle or an elongated teardrop, depending on the species. Make sure it is correctly positioned beneath the carapace.

Create a Realistic Texture

To make your sea turtle drawing more realistic, you'll need to add texture to its carapace and flippers. Start by gently shading the shell's patterns with a series of parallel lines. These lines should follow the curvature of the carapace and can vary in thickness and spacing. Using a 2B or 3B pencil can help you achieve a deeper, more realistic texture.

For the flippers, focus on creating the sense of scutes, which are the bony plates covering the flippers. Add small, curved lines and shapes to represent the scutes on the front and rear flippers. Be mindful of the direction and arrangement of these lines, as they should follow the natural contours of the flippers.

Refine the Details

Now that you have the basic structure and texture in place, it's time to refine the details. Pay close attention to the head, eye, and mouth. Add depth and shading around the eye to give it a more lifelike appearance. Darken the mouth and create a sense of depth by adding shadow beneath the beak.

Refine the patterns on the carapace by adding darker lines and shapes where needed. The key is to maintain the balance between contrast and subtlety, ensuring that your sea turtle looks both detailed and harmonious.

Shading and Blending

To bring your sea turtle drawing to life, work on shading and blending. Pay attention to the lighting in your reference image to determine where shadows and highlights fall. Typically, the top of the turtle's shell and head will have highlights, while the underside and areas between scutes will have shadows.

Use a soft pencil (4B or 6B) for shading the shadows. Start with a light layer of shading and gradually build it up to achieve the desired depth. Use blending tools like blending stumps or tortillons to soften and blend the shading for a smooth transition between light and shadow.

Add Water and Environment

To complete the scene and give your sea turtle context, you can add a watery environment. Sketch the water surface around the turtle using wavy lines and gentle curves. You can also add some underwater plants or rocks to create a natural habitat for the turtle. Lightly shade and blend these elements to make them appear submerged.

Final Details and Highlights

Lastly, add any final details and highlights to enhance your sea turtle drawing. Use an eraser to gently lift areas of the carapace or flippers to create highlights where the light hits the turtle. This will give your drawing a sense of dimension and luminosity.

Take a step back and review your drawing. Make any necessary adjustments or refinements to ensure that your sea turtle looks as realistic as possible.


Drawing a sea turtle can be a rewarding artistic experience. By following this step-by-step guide and using a reference image, you can create a stunning representation of these magnificent creatures. Remember to take your time, pay attention to the details, and practice your shading and blending techniques. With patience and dedication, your sea turtle drawing will come to life, capturing the beauty and grace of these oceanic wonders on paper. So, grab your pencils and get started on your sea turtle masterpiece today!

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