Turtle Cartoon Drawing in Photoshop

Another cute animal to draw is a turtle cartoon. These animals represent wisdom, patience, and lack of urgency. It is no wonder that they are portrayed in almost every culture around the world with some sort of poetical or cultural symbolic importance.

So what is needed to create a turtle cartoon? In Photoshop, just the basic drawing tools will suffice. This means the airbrush tool, an erase tool, managing layers, and simple color correction tools. The only challenge is figuring out how the turtle will look like.

There are many different types of species with unique markings. On top of deciding on the finalized colors, a turtle cartoon can be as simple as drawing a few shapes or as complicated as a realistic drawing.

Regardless of style, so long as the distinguishable parts of a turtle are retained, namely sharp claws, a hexagon patterned shell, a retractable neck, a sharp beak, and a thick short tail, then it is easy to create a cute turtle cartoon.

Sketching the turtle cartoon

In a new layer, begin the sketch. Just to illustrate how important emphasizing key descriptions of a turtle can be, the initial sketch can be a complete distortion of proportions. For example, a large circle rather than a common oval shape.

To design the shell, just draw lines that resemble long hexagons. Again, nothing detailed at this point. The focus is on following word associations that describe the shape of a turtle. From here, the tail or the head can be drawn in.

turtle cartoon step 1 from cgattic.ca

When working on the head, it can be drawn much bigger than the rest of the body to create a cute looking turtle. For now, a square is good enough for the entire shape of the head. The descriptor will be the beak. Make sure to create a point at the tip of the end of the head for this feature.

Lastly, the legs can be sketched out very quickly with a few lines. Since turtles have claws, this can be signified with a few curves. Namely, there are five curves that represent each individual digit. As for the tail, this is just drawn in with a simple curved triangle.

The turtle cartoon line drawing

Now that the general proportions are established in the sketch, it's time to refine some of the details. Again, using the rough lines as a guide, carefully clean up the lines while forming the details used to describe a turtle.

The shell will need the most work. In each section of the shell, manipulate the sketch lines to form warped polygons. Aside from the shell on the back, work on some of polygons around the belly region. After that, move towards the limbs.

turtle cartoon step 2 from cgattic.ca

The limbs present its own challenges when drawing individual digits. The main idea is to use the rough curved lines to form long claws. The palms will be elevated depending on how long the claws are. When finished, work on the head.

Luckily, the head is the easiest part of this turtle cartoon. The only major feature, aside from the beak, is the neck. Since the head is much larger than the rest of the body, taper the neck downwards starting from the turtleneck area. After that, just finish cleaning up the tail.

Flat coloring the turtle cartoon

A layer containing only flat colors is very useful. The idea is to have a location to edit and color the cartoon without interfering with the line drawing that was meticulously made in the previous step. So go ahead and create that new layer underneath.

Using a hard edge brush set to maximum pressure, fill in this new layer with a color that best describes the specie of turtle being drawn. Some colors to consider are green, grey, black, brown, and blue. After that, lock the layer.

turtle cartoon step 3 from cgattic.ca

Having one flat color along with the line drawing allows the artist to quickly visualize areas that need to be painted in. For instance, the areas around the shell can be blocked in to make it pop up. As long as the flat colored layer is locked down, there is no danger of accidentally coloring outside its boundaries.

This is also a good place to stop if the flat colors are enough for the turtle cartoon. If not, proceed with the next step of adding some more realistic textures. Since a turtle is a reptile, the skin is rough and will contain a lot of pigments.

Texturing the turtle cartoon

In order to color the reptile skin properly, a color palette needs to be set up. With the neutral flat color, create different ranges of said color. For example, light brown, brown, and dark brown. Put down blotches of these color variations somewhere else on the canvas.

To select the right color, use the eyedropper tool. The keyboard shortcut is the ALT key by default. Press and hold on it to bring it out to select the right color variation quickly when coloring with the regular airbrush tool.

turtle cartoon step 4 from cgattic.ca

The darker browns are found on the underside, the crevasses between the shell polygons, the claws, and limb openings. Just block that in as normal to show shading and shadowing. The lighter browns are found under the chin, parts of the face, and at the center of the shell polygons.

To further refine the colors, there are contrasting tools like adjustment layers (global effect) or the dodge and burn tools (manual color contrast on selected areas). These are used to further enhance the color contrasts to make the reptile textures stand out.

For a cartoon picture, this is a lot of details to work in. It is a style preference at this point in time to decide on how much color is needed. There is no right or wrong answer: just what works for the composition in the moment.

When done, there is a sense of realism, but at the same time, a cartoon is still evident through the thick lines and exaggerated proportions. The main takeaway is that balancing realism with simple shading is a slider that the artist has full control over. Just remember to have fun!