Cartoon Shark Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

A cartoon shark drawing is a fun little exercise that looks at the basic building blocks of creating an animal. Specifically, it's using basic triangles and arranging it in a way to form fins, jaws, and the pointy snout. It really doesn't get any more simpler than this.

First, let's look at the basic anatomy. There is a primary dorsal fin coming out its back. This fin is special as it is a sign for swimmers to be aware! Sometimes, it is enough to draw the dorsal fin correctly to depict the shark without having to draw anything else. 

Besides the commonly seen dorsal fin, the shark has two pectoral fins, two pelvic fins, one secondary dorsal fin, one anal fin, five or six gill slits (depending on specie), and caudal fins (4) to help the animal move faster.

Since the drawing is a cartoon, it does help to distort the shape a little bit. Normally, a shark's body is streamlined and elongated. In cartoon form, let's try to make the body a bit more stubby for 'cuteness' sakes. That means emphasizing a larger than normal head.

Making the cartoon shark drawing

The best way to get the ball rolling is to use the triangles as the primary shape to make the cartoon shark drawing. Start with a simple elongated triangle for the body: the nose and the tail being the furthest point. With the mouth gapping wide, use the bottom of the chin to complete the triangle.

After that, draw a series of triangles to indicate the fins around the body. There should be a total of nine fins drawn. Then, make one last triangle to indicate where the mouth opening is. It almost looks like an origami shark!

cartoon shark drawing step 1 from cgattic.ca

Having completed the basic shape, create a new layer on top of it and begin drawing the actual cartoon shark drawing. Use the base shape and follow it as best as possible. For this part, the challenge is to curve the body a bit to form the belly region.

Start to block in some simple facial features as well. Noticeably, place a black dot as a placeholder for the eyes. For the jaws, just create some jagged lines to suggest teeth. Finally, draw in some lines to signify where the gills are located.

Cleaning up the cartoon shark drawing

As with all cartoons, there is a dark outline. In other words, take the messy sketch lines and turn it into an easy to recognize clean line drawing of a cartoon shark drawing. Start with the simple and broadest part first and work down to the specifics.

In order, start with the curves of the body first. This can be done by erasing bits of the sketch and then trace around the messy gesture line little by little until the body comes alive. The next step would be to work on the fins.

cartoon shark drawing step 2 from cgattic.ca

The fins are not perfect triangles. There is some curvature in it. There are even bits of flesh weaving in and out to create jagged lines on the fins. Just take the time to perfect the shapes of those flippers as we don't want it to be mistaken for another type of fish!

Saving the hardest bit for last, the jaws will require some attention. Start with creating the rough opening first. After that, add in the teeth through a series of zig-zag lines running the course of the mouth opening. When done, add in the eyes and clean up the gill slits.

Coloring the cartoon shark drawing

A cartoon shark drawing is easy for beginners to color as there are only two or three shades of grey to fill in. i recommend starting with a neutral or deep grey. The first thing to do is to color the entire shark cartoon with that color.

Ideally, it will be done on a separate layer created underneath the line drawing. The quickest way to do this is to fill it out completely disregarding the line drawing's boundaries. Then, go back to the layer that has the line drawing and use the magic wand tool.

cartoon shark drawing step 3 from cgattic.ca

You can click on anywhere outside the line drawing to highlight the borders. From there, switch back to the flat grey layer and hit 'delete' on the keyboard. This will automatically cut the grey color into the shape of the shark.

After that, lock the color layer down (to prevent accidentally ruining the shape of the shark) and add in a brighter grey for the belly region. It is also a good idea to color in the mouth with a maroon red and to whiten the teeth with a simple white color.

Shading the cartoon shark drawing

Once the flat colors are done, it is OK to stop here as it is ready to be used anywhere online. However, we can continue on to the next part. As part of enhancing the drawing a bit more, drawing a shark cartoon in water would be the next step.

Adding a watery environment does challenge the drawing a little bit. Unlike simple lighting found on land, water makes neat ripple designs on the back of any sea creature. The challenge is to draw these ripples where applicable.

cartoon shark drawing step 4 from cgattic.ca

Using just a small brush, create small circular lines that branch off one another. Think of these swirls as part of a large honeycomb. Again, make sure that the color layer is locked to prevent any weird lines moving out of the shark's body.

As we are still dealing with lighting, the upper parts of the shark will be slightly lighter than the bottom part. That means a simple gradient will be needed. Try to lighten up the pectoral fins as these are in direct contact with the light source above.

The last part would be adding a blue background. This can be achieved by just filling it with a blue color and then use the 'gradient overlay' layer style to automatically generate a quick environment showing the depth in the water.

At this stage, there's very little to do except to enhance the colors. Color contrasting options like adjustment layers or going to Image > Adjustment options at the top can make quick work of creating contrast. When this step is done, there will be an awesome shark cartoon to be proud of!