Realistic Turtle Drawings in 4 Steps With Photoshop

Realistic turtle drawings are a great problem solving opportunity for drawing realistic textures. A drawing of a turtle lends itself to some expert techniques that will help you create the shell. So won't you follow along with me and create a realistic turtle drawings on your own?

While there are a lot of different species, specifically, we are going to draw a sea turtle because these are my favorite types of turtles. If you have one of your own, try to draw that instead. We will be using some basic digital drawing tools here along with the lasso tool to help outline the hexagonal imprints on the shell.

While on the technical side, what you will get out of this lesson is the knowledge of painting within confined spaces as well as making believable textures that blend in well with the rest of the drawing.

As an artist, this is an extremely valuable technique to learn and one that will help you develop a professional and profitable portfolio to get extra income. So fire up your digital art program and learning how to draw turtles with creating a realistic realistic turtle drawings on your own.

Sketching the realistic turtle drawings

The initial gesture drawing is very important for getting the right shapes down to create the animal. I would start with a round oval for the body first. Then, quickly sketch in the shapes for the limbs and head afterwards.

For the shell, reference the diagonal patterns and see if you can sketch it in proper perspective on the shell. There will be the patterns found on the shell itself and smaller patterns found on the outer rim of the shell.

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From there, create a new layer underneath your gesture sketch. In this layer, fill it with a background color at 100% pressure in the shape of the gesture sketch. This layer is important as it will form the general turtle object that will allow you to block in the rest of the form.

Once you have that, lock the layer down and begin blocking in shadows in between the shells and parts around the limbs. This will make it a lot easy in the latter stages of drawing this animal. Merge everything together once you are done.

Smudging the realistic turtle drawings

In this step, you are going to refine all the textures of the sea turtle. First, pick the chalk brush and paint in refined shadows that replicate the fold of the skin and sections of the shell.

Of course, you may need to switch to your smudge tool to smudge in any gesture lines that are out of place. For the shell, switch to the lasso tool. With this tool, you are going to 'connect the dots' and create a path for a hexagonal pattern on the shell.

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Once you have that area selected, gently paint it in with a light color. The trick here is to use a chalk brush and paint strokes in various directions to get the streaking effect found on shell textures.

Repeat with all the other hexagonal patterns until you have a nice formation of the shell with all the shell patterns in place. Again, smudge in any colors or textures that may look out of place.

Detailing the realistic turtle drawings

The small skin textures found on a sea turtle can be a bit tricky to do at first. To make it easy, I recommend doing the textures on a separate layer. This will be a two step process.

First, using a regular chalk brush, set the setting on spatter (brush sensitivity should be set to change the size of the brush) and gently spray areas where there are spots. The areas I would concentrate on are the head and the tips of the limbs on your drawing of a turtle.

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Once that is done, go ahead and work on the skin textures manually by painting in random quadrilateral shapes, using a small brush, to make it look more natural. If necessary, put in some filters like 'sharpen' or 'find edges' to divide the reptilian skin textures out a bit.

As it's on a separate layer, you can erase the edges so it confines to the turtle object. If you have Photoshop, you can change it to a clipping mask which will automatically confine the layer to the turtle object layer underneath.

Shading the realistic turtle drawings

You are almost done your realistic turtle drawings. All that is left is create some light and shadows. There are several ways to do this. Again, you can use the Photoshop clipping mask option to create a separate layer for your light and shadows.

If you don't have Photoshop, then just duplicate the layer, lock it down, paint in the light and shadows, change the opacity level, and then merge it back to the turtle layer. There is a lot of leeway with mistakes in digital painting.

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The light areas should be on the top of the shelf and the dark areas are where the light can't be reached at the bottom of the shell. As the turtle is on a different layer, you can simply paint an optional background underneath it.

Speaking of backgrounds, if the turtle is underwater, then streaks of ripples will need to be drawn on the back. If the turtle is on land, then a simple cast shadow (on a sandy beach texture) will do nicely.

This concludes the lesson on how to draw a turtle. These techniques of isolating parts of the animal will be very helpful to you in the near future when you need to refine details on anything that you draw.

There are a lot of future applications so use these lifelong texturing techniques as often as you can to generate highly detailed drawings. You will be surprised by they types of professional drawings you can generate.