How to Draw a Dolphin

How to Draw a Dolphin broken down into neat, easy steps.

Break the creature down when drawing dolphins as you would any other. Normally I would draw very faint guides but I have made them darker so you can see. I used typing paper for the initial drawing and a HB pencil. Also 90gsm cartridge paper for the tonal drawing and a 2B pencil.

How to Draw a Dolphin Stage 1

1, Draw this crescent moon shape. It's a little thicker at the top.

dolphin drawing guidelines 1

2, Now draw a dome in the manner shown. Think of it as a quarter circle or moon.

dolphin drawing guidelines 2

3, Turn the drawing round as shown. Two triangles will give you the dorsal and the one visible fin.

4, This line is where we will site the eye.

5, Draw your dolphin using the guides.

6, This is traced off the original drawing onto cartridge paper 90gsm. You can do this for clarity or simply erase your guidelines if possible. The linework here is reproduced darker than in reality.

dolphin line drawing

How to Draw a Dolphin Stage 2-Adding Tone

Now I'm going to add tone to the drawing. This will not strictly be a tonal drawing. A true tonal drawing is developed without any linework. I will be adding step by step drawing lessons on this subject in time.

7, I add tone with a 2b pencil. I wanted to get the intelligent, and to our eyes, friendly look of the dolphin. The underside of the head is in deeper shadows. For the lighter areas I use less densely laid down pencil and I left the paper free where I judged the light hits more directly.

8, I deliberately make the fin lighter than where it connects to the body so we can see it clearly. It is an identifying feature that I don't want to leave in dark shadow. I continue to add layer of tone until happy.

9, Same idea further down the body. The Central area, I decide, is where the light should hit the strongest so I begin to indicate the likely depth of where my highlights will fall with the line of tone illustrated.

10, Now I add tone to the upper parts of the dolphin. I darken the dorsal to make it stand out but note it is somewhat lighter than the deeper shadows indicated at the bottom of the animal. A similarly strong tone would create the wrong balance, actually making the drawing appear less natural. You'll see I left out a little scrappy area on the dorsal. This allows me to check the strength of tone against the rest of the drawing.

tonal dolphin drawing in pencil

11, I finally add a little more tone to the dorsal and add more tone here and there where needed.

Click on the final image for a larger view (opens in another window)

how to draw a dolphin

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