Realistic Dolphin Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

A realistic dolphin drawing is a fun and engaging activity. Most drawings of dolphins will show the animal underwater. Thus, this guide will teach you the basics of creating realistic dolphin with the intent of showing the animal in its natural habitat.

Dolphins have always been good omen for fishermen as well as a source of companionship portrayed in modern media. Furthermore, dolphins have a place in our hearts directly as they entertain us in various theme parks.

Due to the animal's symbolic friendly and playful nature, It is no wonder that this animal becomes a motif that all artists, young and old, can enjoy drawing.

While the animal looks simple to draw, it is always a good idea to study up on the animal's anatomy. You want to focus a lot of where the proportions are and measure where the features are located on the main body.

Sketching the realistic dolphin drawing

The initial sketch is the most important part of any drawing. This is where you determine the pose, perspective, and correct form.

It's easiest to break down the dolphin into a series of simple circles and ovals. From there, attach the body parts as needed: two front flippers, horizontal flukes, and dorsal fin, and a sharp mouth.

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As you continue with your dolphin drawing, separate it into manageable layers. You want to have one layer for the sketch and another layer right below it to fill out the dolphin object in the shape of your sketch (using 100% pressure to get a nice solid object).

After that, block in some simple shading and then merge the layers together. Do not worry about the gesture lines. These will become the foundation for muscle textures.

Smudging the realistic dolphin drawing

With the layers merged together, the first thing is to lock the layer down. By doing so, you are making sure that you won't be able to distort the object's shape from painting and smudging.

Now, with your chalk smudge brush, smudge horizontally across the body. Depending on how hard the pressure is, the gesture lines will start to form long or short muscle mass in the direction you are smudging.

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Next, switch to your paint brush and start working out the smaller details around the face and the fins. Most noticeable, a dolphin's lower jaws are longer than the upper jaw. As well, it will align with the eyes.

As for the fins, paint in some rim light to separate it from the rest of the body. When all is said and done, unlock the layer and then delete the lines around the borders of your dolphin to clean it up.

Detailing the realistic dolphin drawing

Sometimes, it's hard to determine what kind of pattern goes on a dolphin. The biggest hint is to look at the largest types of dolphins: the orcas or killer whales.

On these animals, you will notice a distinct black and white separation of the body. You will also notice a swirly pattern along the side just underneath the dorsal fin.

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For your dolphin, lock the layer down once more and then separate the top and bottom halves of the animals with a similar pattern. Of course, it will not be as dark as an orca, but the general idea is to create a swirl around that area as well.

Once that is done, finish off any additional details like the eyes or jaws. You are now ready to merge the dolphin with the rest of the watery background.

Shading the realistic dolphin drawing

A dolphin is only natural when it's swimming. Water is created using the smudge tool the majority of the time in the background. Just paint a couple of light patches on a dark value and then smudge it to create rays or surface effects.

For the dolphin, it is a good idea to indicate air bubbles around the blow-hole since it is a mammal after all. The best way to do this is to use a splatter brush and set the brush type to a circular head.

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Paint it in a way that pressure affects size and amount of bubbles to appear. I recommend some sort of a splatter type setting to get this affect.

Draw a cloudy effect around the entire composition to give murkiness to the watery depths and to finish off your dolphin drawings. The darker the water, the more murky it is.

For beginners looking to improve themselves, the ideas presented in this guide will help you break down the complexities of drawing a realistic composition. For experienced artists, the ideas here should serve to reinforce the process.

While the shape of the animal is simple enough, it is using a combination of simple drawing tools along with layer management to create the realistic dolphin drawing that you see.