Penguin Cartoon Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

Build on very basic shapes, a penguin cartoon drawing is a fun exercise that pushes the artist to be creative using a very limited color palette and form. This drawing guide will go through the thought process needed to create a neat cartoon penguin.

Simplicity is what makes it possible to experiment with a penguin's proportions and different cartoon styles. In the most basic form, the initial sketch will have two circles: one for the head and one for the body.

Another variation will just have one long vertical oval for the body and the head. Regardless of the initial proportions, triangles will make up most of the features. The rest is figuring out the black and white patterns.

Even that is easy simply by studying the different types of species available as this will also hint on some of the physical features that is unique to that type of penguin. Either way, It truly is a simple and fun animal to draw.

Sketching out the penguin cartoon drawing

The Emperor penguin has a great figure that works well with two circles since the shape of the head doesn't flow directly to the body. Another defining feature is its very long and pointy beak. As a cartoon, this is one area to emphasize.

When sketching out the penguin cartoon drawing, use triangles for the beak, flippers, tail, and the feet. It is also at this stage that the coat pattern is determined. On an Emperor penguin, there is a swirl near the ear region while the front chest is completely white.

penguin cartoon drawing step 1 from cgattic.ca

Once the separation between the black and white patterns is done, split up the feet into recognizable toes. The beak will have a small strip of color on the lower beak. make sure that this is drawn in.

When all the main features are in place, thicken up the lines of the silhouette while erasing any messy intersecting sketch lines caused by the basic shapes. The purpose is get all details down as much as possible to be refined in the next step.

Cleaning up the penguin cartoon drawing

The cleanup process is focuses on isolating zones for coloring as well as for discretely showing off the details of the penguin. While there are many ways to do this step like the Photoshop pen tool, a simple eraser and a solid edged brush will do just nicely.

Smoothing out the lines is the main objective of this section. For the head, smooth out the transition between the head to the beak. On the underside, smoothen out the lower jaw to the neck and to the rest of the body.

penguin cartoon drawing step 2 from cgattic.ca

Round out the circular pattern found on the side of the head and have it connect down to the front flippers. While on the flippers, curve the tips at the end sharply as it waves upwards back into the main body.

Continue with smoothing out the lines as it transitions into the feet and tail. The challenge for the feet is to draw in a division that separates the fur from the rest of the feet. As well, smoothen out the claws at the end of the toes to complete the line drawing.

Coloring the penguin cartoon drawing

If the zones are separated properly, coloring the penguin is very easy. The initial process will require a flat background layer to be filled in. Using the magic wand, select a zone from the line drawing to highlight it.

Then, create a new layer and fill it in using the Edit > Fill option on the Photoshop ribbon. There will be two main colors: a darker grey and a lighter grey for the belly region. Never fill in the belly with a pure white color for texturing and shading reasons later on.

penguin cartoon drawing step 3 from cgattic.ca

As it is an Emperor penguin, the feet and the beak are typically black. On other species, there may be an orange beak and feet instead. Having said that, there is a strip of orange that will need to be filled in.

Hopefully, this region is easily selectable if the zone has been divided properly on the original line art. As soon as all the areas are filled in, lock the layer containing the flat colors. This is to get it ready for the texturing and shading phase.

Texturing the penguin cartoon drawing

The best tool for shading the penguin will be the dodge and burn tools. using a large round brush, these tools can enhance the dark and light colors over a course of a few passes.

The biggest area to use the dodge tool will be on the chest area to lighten up the grey. For the black regions, use the burn tool to darken the neutral grey color. When this is done, switch over to an airbrush.

penguin cartoon drawing step 4 from cgattic.ca

This will be used to paint in the small yellow patch around the neck and ear region. Ideally, use the wand tool on the line drawing to isolate the zone first, before coloring it, so the color doesn't spill into the black areas of the head.

Depending on how the cartoon eyes are drawn in, it may be difficult to make it stand out since the head is primarily black. The easiest to fix this issue is to draw in a lighter outline around the eyes.

The next step would be to include a faint rim light around the penguin to define anatomy lost to the dark areas blending with the line art. Apply this rim light to outline the flippers, parts of the beak, and the individual toes.

After that, the final step would be to create a contrast filter to brighten and enhance the colors on a global scale. The 'Brightness/Contrast' adjustment layer can do this easily. Just use the slider to get the right colors to finish off the penguin cartoon drawing!