Cartoon Snail Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

A cartoon snail drawing is one of the easiest animals to draw. With body that is like a blob and a hard shell, this basic guide on this animal will allow anyone to make a snail cartoon confidently throughout a simple to understand drawing process.

If there is one thing that is difficult, it would be the shell as there is some texture that follows a natural pattern. Fortunately, there are always ways to make it easy. The trick is to pretend the shell is a natural ball and create the curves around it.

As the snail is very simple to draw beyond the shell, think about ways to make the animal stand out. Since it is a cartoon, find a method to make it look cute like shortening the body or enlarging the shell to give a new set of proportions.

What about the eyes? Pupils can be drawn to give a certain expression. These are just some of the ideas that can be done with such a simple looking animal. What unique style and interpretation can you add to it?

Sketching the cartoon snail drawing

The first step is to be able to see a silhouette of an animal. As mentioned before, since this is a very easy animal to draw, the outline is a very basic circle on top of a flat oval. Draw these two shapes first to get the basic proportions down.

After that, there are only two things to add: the eyes and the feelers. Just an antenna for the eye stalk is enough while the feelers are two prongs at the front of the head. If you haven't already, decide on the direction of the spiral on the shell.

cartoon snail drawing step 1 from cgattic.ca

The shell will have a natural stripped pattern that will need to be sketched in. Depending on the complexity and detail of the snail cartoon, this can be optional. Otherwise, the easiest way is to draw a series of parallel curves that meet from one end to the central point of the spiral.

Once all these major features are in place, draw some round circles for the eyes and then finish off the outline. There is a subtle indent near the front to show the division between the head and the foot. At this stage, start cleaning up the silhouette.

Cleaning up the cartoon snail drawing

The cleanup process requires using brushes that have a hard edge to create a thick natural black line. As the artist, the black lines can be drawn or erased from the sketch line by line. If the sketch is still required, a new layer can be created over it and then have the line drawing traced on top.

The alternative is to use the Photoshop pen tool to trace the outline to create a path. Doing so will create a very good line drawing that can also be filled in or imported to a vector drawing program. Either method is perfectly fine.

cartoon snail drawing step 2 from cgattic.ca

The major visual cue to look out for is that the lines are connected to create areas that are closed off. For example, the shell in this guide has three areas that are its own defined borders. This will be very helpful when adding color.

As it is a land snail, there will be some sort of shading underneath. Since the bottom of the animal is flat, a clever technique is just to thicken up the lines at the bottom to incorporate the shadow right into the line drawing.

Coloring the cartoon snail drawing

Now that the meticulous part of drawing is done, it's time to add in the flat background color to give the snail to bring the animal to life. The shell can be filled in with a lighter brown while the main body can be filled in with a darker brown.

Depending on the simplicity of the cartoon, having flat colors may be just enough. However, since the shell looks kind of barren, it's a good idea to generate at least some shading to make the cartoon lines stand out a little. Now that the object is solid, lock it down and start to work on the shading.

cartoon snail drawing step 3 from cgattic.ca

Use the chalk brush head, set it to a darker brown and begin working on the lines of the shell. When that is done, proceed with the rest of the body. The only thing to look out for is to lighten up the bottom of the snail to indicate some mucus.

If the snail is in motion, this can be indicated by some folds in the main body near the head. Again, using the chalk brush, draw a few vertical lines with a lighter color to indicate these folds as the animal compresses itself to move forward.

Shading the cartoon snail drawing

Even though the cartoon snail drawing is done in the previous step, there's always room to adjust some colors around. This is an optional step and is not required. However, it does bring make the snail drawing a lot more vivid.

There are a few methods for enhancing color: global and local. Global means having one setting change the entire composition while local means to work on areas of the snail drawing individual. The latter will give far better control.

cartoon snail drawing step 4 from cgattic.ca

To do that, the major tools to use are the dodge and burn tools. Once applied to an area, it will enhance all the colors without altering the texture too much. These tools are best combined with a soft round brush to fade in the colors to the surroundings.

On the flip side, the 'brightness/contrast' adjustment layer option found on the layers box is a great way to enhance the entire drawing without touching any of the pixels on the snail drawing. It's just a slider that lets the artist play around with multiple brightness levels of color enhancement.

The final step would be to add in a rim light and/or a gradient fill to create a smooth transition of color from light to dark. A Photoshop layer style is perfect for this. Just double click on the layer to bring it up. Use the 'gradient overlay' and the 'drop shadow' to create the rim light.

Overall, it is an easy drawing to finish. In summary, draw out the silhouette, refine and create a line drawing out of it, fill it with simple colors, and then use color correction at the end is an optimal way to create a cute cartoon snail drawing.