How to Draw a Cute Mermaid

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STEP 1. Welcome to How to Draw A Cute Mermaid. Now let's get right into it and get to work. We're going to start with a cherry. Yes, I said we're starting with a piece of fruit. We're actually starting with the letter 'I'. The 'I' shape is great for making the base of the torso. The base of the 'I' will represent the angle of the hips, the top with be the angle of the shoulders and the vertical line of the 'I' will act as a guide for the curve of the body. You can twist and angle the 'I' as you need until you have the curve and shape you want for your torso. Now for the circle. Since we're drawing a mermaid, we really don't have legs that we have to draw. The circle represents the hips and the upper part of the thighs. Onto the next step.   STEP 2. Now we're going to build up the shape of the body. Following the angle of the shoulders, draw an oval, on its side. Draw a line down the center of the oval where your clavicle would be, this will be the little divider so that when we start building up the muscles we know where to place the breasts. Coming up over the bottom of the oval slightly, we'll draw the center of the torso, or the stomach. You want to keep this circle smaller than the oval you drew for the chest. From there we'll work down the tail. You'll want to make a 'u' shape for a guide for the pelvis because even though she wont have legs, she'll still have a pelvis and hips. From there you'll want to elongate the oval you drew in step 1 so that it covers the full length of the thighs. Under that we'll put another oblong shape, for where the knees and the upper calves would be. We'll being lines down from each side, ending in a point where we will connect the tail fin. Put a line down the center as we did for the chest, notice how it should follow the curve of the tail. Now we'll ad the frames for the arms circles for the join at the shoulders. Then the Head and the line for a neck.   STEP 3. Now we'll really start to flesh her out and start putting some muscle on her. This part is fairly simple. You have a whole lot less muscle to outline because instead of two legs with knees, ankles and feet full with toes. Following the curve of the frame, we're going to fill out to the torso then work our way down. Follow that curve down the tail, leaving the lines open at the bottom where they'll join with the fin. We'll mark off where we'll place the eyes on the face as well as a small line to determine the placement of her lips too. When lining the placement of the fins, go light as they will be translucent when we're all done   STEP 4. Now we'll do the face and the hair. We'll keep the eyes large and soft, giving her a full and youthful face. We'll give her a small pouty smile to finish off that cute face. Now for the hair. Since she's in water, her hair wont be sitting flat on her head and back. It's a lot lighter than the water so it floats and moves in the current. In water, even straight hair curls ever so slightly. Her hair will pool out around behind her. It will also float up above her slightly, and with all that mass of hair, it gives places for all sorts of little friends to hind in among her locks. We'll add them in later, but for now we'll move onto the next step and start really adding in the details of our cute mermaid.   STEP 5. ((Please Click to enlarge to see at the details)) Time for putting on the details. The fins, the scales, and hair. Shells and starfish and sand dollars. This step will cover tips for adding all these little details that will really make your mermaid come to life. First the scales. This will be perhaps the most tideous part of your picture...if you cover the whole tail with them, however, you don't have to cover the whole tail. Patches of different shapes and sizes will work just fine, but you still don't want the scales to be too big. You'll want to zoom in and do all the little scales close up so you don't make them oversized and awkward. For the hair, you'll want to pick a center point and work radially from where the roots would be. This will give her hair a fuller more detailed look, instead of a flat look. You don't have to do the lines all the way through, you really need them at the ends of the strands and at the roots. Shells come in all shapes, from clam shells to conch shells. They also come in different sizes and can be as small as your fingernail, or as big as your head, or even bigger. They are curvy and elegant with no square edges. They come in two types, bi-valves, the ones that open up like a butterfly, and the round shells like the ones that you'd find on snails and periwinkles. Starfish are easy. They are just that, a star, but with a bit of fat to it. It's skin is somewhat spiny, covered in rough little bumps. Sand dollars are easy too, round with a hole here or there and a flower like indent radiating the center. The bottoms are covered with little spines. Fins are thin and delicate, translucent. Notice how you can see through it to the body behind it ever so slightly. Also there are very thins structural veins that support the fins. It's like the veins in a leaf or a bug's wing.   STEP 6. Now for the lines. I like to go for the more pen inked look, so that's what I'll show you how to do. Notice how the lines get thinner and thicker, this is called line weight. Light weight can be determined by pressure put on the pen, or by the speed at which the pen is moving. I use the paintbrush tool to get this effect on one of the pen pressure settings. Places where the lines get heavier is under the arms, chin and places where the skin creases, like under the breasts. On the hair the lines will generally be all the same weight, not really getting heavier or lighter. Same goes for the fins. Notice how thin the lines are for the fins. This will add to how translucent they look later on in the process. Also as you see I've added a couple fish to the picture, she looked lonesome.   STEP 7. Now that we have the lines out of the way it's time for coloring. We're going to start off by filling in the background with a solid color. I chose blue for this piece, but feel free to use any color that you like. We're going to block off the colors one by one, each on a separate layer to use for shading later. We'll start with the skin so that we can pile on the layer on top and not have to worry about erasing too much. Notice how the fins aren't a solid color. This is because I changed the opacity of the layer to give them a transparent look to them. Opacity between 80 and 50% should be just enough to still give you the color and let you see through onto the layers below. Now we'll get to shading and start bringing her to life.   STEP 8. For shading we're going to work, as we did during coloring, layer by layer starting with the skin. Using a tone a bit darker than the base, we're going to block shade the features. Once that is done, we're going to go slightly lighter, just between the base tone and the shadow tone and use a feathered or soft brush to smooth out and blend the shading in. We'll do this on all layers but two, the layers for the fins and the hair. The fins will get no shading at all. The hair however will just get hard shading. You want to follow the curve and sway of he hair, trying to make it look like strands. On the tail, notice how there is also shading not just on the side, but on the patches of scales as well. This gives it a little more texture.   STEP 9. Now we're going to add the soft highlights, these will just be fuzzy patches of a light color, not white, to show some source of light in our picture. We're not going to add much soft highlights to the hair, like the shading process, it will have hard highlights. The places that will be getting the light will be the cheeks and nose, shoulder and one side of the arm, the chest and stomach and the front of the tail. We'll also put some patches on the fins, very lightly. Already she is starting to really come to life. One more step and she'll be done.   STEP 10. Now it's time for the hard highlights. These will show how the light reacts on different surfaces, such as the skin and the hair. On the face the highlights will focus on the nose, lips and high on the cheeks. These areas are either normally moist or have a high concentration of oils. We'll also put highlights on the arms on both sides. Now before you say why, it's because there is always a secondary source of light, such as light bouncing off one surface and then back onto the next. We'll add those highlights sparingly in areas that have shading. The highlights in the hair will go with the curve and shape of the hair, following the way it moves. The fins will get highlights following the lines of the veins to really make them stand out even though they are translucent. On the tail and the fish we'll do two kinds of hard highlights. We'll as some small highlight lines to the patches of scales, then we'll take a big rough brush and dab the lighter areas. The rough brush helps give it more texture. We'll add some light to the eyes as well and really bring her to life. And there you have it, a cute anime styled mermaid.   Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Step 6. Step 7. Step 8. Step 9. Step 10.