How To Draw The Oceans

How To Draw The Oceans

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How To Draw The Oceans

The vast, mysterious, and mesmerizing oceans that cover over 70% of our planet have captivated humanity for centuries. Their vastness, beauty, and ever-changing character have inspired artists and creators throughout history. Drawing the oceans can be a challenging yet rewarding artistic endeavor. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the techniques, tips, and tools you need to master the art of drawing oceans and create stunning marine landscapes.

Gathering Your Materials

Before you dive into the world of ocean drawing, it's essential to gather the right materials. Here's what you'll need to get started:


Choose a good quality, acid-free paper to prevent yellowing and deterioration over time. A heavier paper, like watercolor paper, can handle the weight of wet media if you plan to use them.


A set of graphite pencils with varying degrees of hardness (2H to 8B) will allow you to create different textures and tones in your drawings.


A kneaded eraser and a white vinyl eraser are essential tools for correcting and highlighting areas in your ocean drawings.

Drawing Tools

Charcoal, conte crayons, or pastels can be used to create more expressive and textured drawings.

Blending Tools

Tortillons, blending stumps, or your fingers can help you smooth out and blend pencil, charcoal, or pastel marks.


If you're working with wet media, such as watercolor or acrylic, you'll need a selection of brushes.

Watercolors or Acrylics (optional)

These can add depth and color to your ocean drawings.

Fixative Spray

To preserve and protect your finished drawings from smudging or fading.

Understanding the Basics

Before you start drawing oceans, it's crucial to understand some fundamental concepts:


Spend time observing real oceans and studying photographs of them. Pay attention to the colors, shapes, and the way light interacts with the water.


The ocean's vastness means you'll often need to incorporate perspective into your drawings. Objects closer to you appear larger, while those farther away seem smaller. Horizon lines are essential for creating realistic ocean scenes.


Think about the composition of your drawing. What elements will you include? Waves, rocks, ships, or marine life? Plan your composition to create a visually pleasing and balanced artwork.

Sketching the Ocean

Now, let's start creating your ocean drawing:

  • Horizon Line: Begin by drawing a straight line across your paper to represent the horizon. Make sure it's level and positioned where you want it in your composition.
  • Sky and Water Division: Divide your paper into the sky and water areas. Sketch the sky above the horizon line and the ocean below it. Consider the time of day and weather conditions, which will affect the colors and mood of your scene.
  • Depth and Perspective: Create depth by adding elements like waves, distant coastlines, or ships. Use diminishing sizes and muted colors for objects in the distance to convey perspective.
  •  Waves and Water Texture: To draw waves, use curved and flowing lines. Pay attention to the direction and size of the waves. Use softer pencil grades for subtle waves and harder grades for crisp, defined waves. Add details like foam or spray where waves break.
  •  Reflections and Highlights: Water reflects the sky and any objects above it. Capture this by using lighter shades or white to indicate reflections. Also, highlight the waves' crests with softer, brighter marks.
  •  Rocks and Coastal Features: If your composition includes rocks or a coastline, carefully sketch these elements with texture and attention to their three-dimensional form. Shadows and highlights can add depth and realism to these features.

Working with Wet Media

If you want to enhance your ocean drawing with watercolors or acrylics, here's how to get started:


  • Start by applying a light wash of blue or turquoise for the ocean, leaving areas for highlights.
  •  Add layers of different blues and greens to create depth and variations in the water. Use a wet-on-wet technique for blending.
  •  Let each layer dry before adding another to avoid muddying the colors.
  • For the sky, apply washes of the desired colors, starting from light at the horizon and deepening as you move up.
  •  After the layers are dry, add details like waves and reflections with a fine brush.


  • Begin with an underpainting, using a mixture of blue, white, and a touch of green for the ocean.
  •  Once the underpainting is dry, layer on colors to build depth and texture. You can use a palette knife to create impasto effects for waves and foam.
  •  For the sky, start with lighter colors near the horizon and deepen the hues as you move up. Blend them smoothly to create a natural gradient.
  •  When the layers are dry, add fine details and highlights with a smaller brush.

Adding the Final Touches

  • Highlights and Details: Once your drawing or painting has dried, add final highlights with a white pencil, pastel, or acrylic paint. Emphasize areas where light touches the water and waves.
  • Fixative Spray: To protect your artwork from smudging, apply a fixative spray according to the product's instructions. Use it in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.
  •  Framing: Consider framing your completed ocean drawing to showcase your masterpiece. Choose a frame that complements the artwork and protects it from damage.

Tips for Better Ocean Drawings

Here are some additional tips to help you improve your ocean drawings:

  •  Practice:Drawing oceans, like any other subject, requires practice. Keep a sketchbook and regularly create studies of waves, skies, and coastal features to refine your skills.
  •  Use References: Don't hesitate to use reference images for inspiration and accuracy. They can help you understand the details of waves and the behavior of light on water.
  •  Experiment: Try different techniques and materials to discover what works best for your style. You may find that you prefer the expressiveness of charcoal or the precision of colored pencils.
  • Be Patient: Ocean scenes can be intricate and time-consuming. Take your time and pay attention to details. Don't rush the process.
  • Seek Feedback: Share your work with other artists or mentors to receive constructive criticism and improve your skills.


Drawing the oceans can be a captivating and rewarding artistic endeavor. With the right materials, an understanding of fundamental concepts, and a willingness to practice, you can create breathtaking ocean scenes that capture the beauty and majesty of these vast bodies of water. Whether you choose pencils, charcoal, pastels, watercolors, or acrylics, the art of drawing oceans offers a wide range of creative possibilities. So, pick up your tools and embark on your artistic journey to master the portrayal of the boundless and mysterious oceans that have inspired generations of artists before you.

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