Whales can come in many shapes and sizes. A whale cartoon drawing will look very different depending on the specie and the type of style. This following guide is series of advice and general tips to look out for when drawing a cartoon whale.
Blue whales, sperm whales, beaked whales, narwhals, and orcas have very different adaptive designs even though all of them are part of the same order called Cetacean. Even then, whales can be split between toothed and baleen whales.
This is why knowing the exact anatomy of the specie you are drawing is very important. For example, baleen whales can be drawn with a circle for the front part where as a sperm whale is drawn with a large rectangle.
Details are also found mostly on the front half through jaw shape and or flipper size. Even the dorsal fin size will vary different between specie. As a rule of thumb, the larger the whale, the smaller the dorsal fin is in relation to the entire body.
While this guide aims to create a cute cartoon blue whale, the same method can be used for drawing all sorts of species. Always start off any drawing with a rough sketch. For the blue whale, a large oval will be the key shape that defines the entire front portion.
After drawing the large oval, create a series of triangles indicating the tail, flippers, and dorsal fin. Then, connect the large oval to the tail fin in a wavy curve to build the entire body. The head can be blocked in with a triangle to indicate the pointed nose.
Baleen whales, like the blue whale, also have one defining feature that makes it unique: the expanding flab of skin underneath its chin to gulp in large quantities of water and food. This can be signified with simple curved lines running down the belly.
When all these major features are created in place, erase parts of the sketch to finalize the proportions. As this is a cartoon, the head is much bigger than the rest of the body, which creates a short body instead of a long streamlined body.
Using the simple sketch, it's time to create a stylized cartoon. First, start by going over the contour of the entire body. There is only one area to note on the head. There should a small bump in the drawing to show the blow hole.
The other area to be wary of is the tail. Since the tail is horizontal instead of vertical in this drawing, drawing it in a way to show both fins can be difficult depending on the perspective. If the angle doesn't allow it, then just a small horizontal line to show the fin is enough.
Since the mouth of the whale is very wide, it is a good opportunity to give the cartoon a happy expression. Of course, draw the large baleen plates in the mouth if it is wide open. Again, the mouth will depend on the specie being drawn.
Near the ends of the mouth, draw in the flippers near the mouth and the eyes. To finish off the drawing, add in some bubbles if the animal is aimed at being under water. For whales that are at the surface, a spout of water can be drawn in its place.
There will be a few shades to consider when coloring the whale cartoon drawing. First, create a new layer and fill it in completely with a deep blue color. This is done by going to Edit > Fill in Photoshop. Other colors to consider are a dark grey or a dark green depending on the type of whale.
In order to get the fill of the whale correctly, go back into the line drawing and use the magic wand tool to select an area outside of it to generate a lasso. Then, return to the colored layer and hit the 'delete' key to erase the lassoed selection.
Since the cartoon is simple without any markings to show where the textures should be, fill in another color that is slightly lighter than the base color. The purpose of this lighter color is to help divide the whale between the upper part and the lower part.
There's only a few more part to fill in: the eyes, the bubbles, and the baleen plates (which looks like the upper set of teeth in a mouth). Use a very light grey for these colors. Though hard to see, I did fill in the bubbles with a white color.
This is probably my favorite part of drawing a whale cartoon drawing: shading the cartoon with textures to make the whale feel lively. How much to shaded details to add is up to the artist. I like to go for a bit of realism with textures but others may like simple textures.
Anyway, shading can be done just by blocking in areas where the light is using a chalk brush. Blend the two different blue colors together to make a nice transition between the top half and the bottom half of the whale.
For the chin, work on adding round curves arched in a upside down rainbow, one by one, to create the expanding area on the belly side. Any colors that do not transition properly can be manually painted in using a soft round brush. Use this to link the ridges of skin to the rest of the body.
Near the top, draw in some water ripples to reflect off the whale's back. These ripples are done through a regular random 'S' swirls that intersect one another. At the same time, add in a small rim light to outline the whale a bit better.
For everything else, use a gradient layer style to fill in the background. This is an easy way to present an underwater environment. As for the bubbles, since it was originally filled with white, lock the layer down and detail it with a lighter blue to match the background.
In conclusion, make the outline first, fill in the outline with the right background color depending on specie, and enhance it with textures or proper shading. It's a very simple process that can be used for any cartoon drawings. I hope you had fun following along!