Mastering The Art of Drawing Dolphins A Step-by-Step Guide

how to draw a dolphin


Drawing is a wonderful form of self-expression that allows us to capture the beauty of the world around us on paper. Among the many subjects that inspire artists, dolphins stand out as one of the most captivating and graceful creatures in the ocean. Their playful nature and sleek form make them a popular choice for artists of all levels. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the steps of drawing a dolphin, helping you to master the art of creating these enchanting marine mammals on paper.

Gather Your Materials

Before you begin, ensure you have all the necessary materials at hand. You will need

  • Drawing paper or a sketchbook
  • Pencils of various hardness (2H, HB, 2B, 4B)
  • Erasers (kneaded and gum erasers)
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Reference images of dolphins (online or from a book)

Sketch the Basic Shapes 

Start by lightly sketching the basic shapes of the dolphin. Begin with an elongated oval for the body and a smaller circle for the head. Pay attention to the proportions, as dolphins have a streamlined body with a prominent dorsal fin. Use a 2H pencil for these initial lines to keep them faint and easy to erase if needed. 

Define the Body 

Now, refine the shape of the body by adding curves and contours. Dolphins have a gentle curve from the head to the dorsal fin and another curve from the dorsal fin to the tail. Pay attention to the positioning of the flippers and the tail fin. Use a softer HB pencil to define these lines and add more detail to the head.

Add Facial Features 

Focus on the dolphin’s face. Sketch the eye, which is usually a dark oval shape near the top of the head. Dolphins have a distinctive, curved mouth, so ensure you capture this feature accurately. Use your reference images to get a better understanding of the facial details and proportions.

Refine the Details 

Now it’s time to add more details to your dolphin drawing. Pay attention to the texture of the skin, which is often smooth with a slightly reflective quality. Use a 4B pencil to create shading and texture, especially around the eye and mouth area. Don’t forget to add the characteristic curved line running from the eye to the mouth.

Shade and Texture 

To give your dolphin drawing depth and dimension, focus on shading. Dolphins have a gradient of colour, with darker shades on their upper body and lighter shades underneath. Use your reference images to determine where shadows and highlights should be. Shade gradually using a range of pencils, from 2H for light areas to 4B for darker ones. Blend the shading with your fingers or a blending stump for a smooth transition.

Final Touches 

As you near completion, take a step back and assess your drawing. Make any necessary adjustments and refine the details. Erase any unnecessary guidelines and lines, leaving behind only the most essential features. Add any finishing touches, such as bubbles or water ripples, to enhance the underwater ambiance.


How do dolphins spin?

With their flippers and dorsal fins working together, they can spin once or twice per second, which is pretty impressive in itself. The action quickly speeds up when the creature breaks the surface of the water. From that point on, they can spin as much as seven times per second.

Do dolphins create art?

In some dolphin shows, educated dolphins and beluga whales paint with brushes. The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies has taught several of its dolphins to paint.


Drawing a dolphin may seem daunting at first, but with patience, practice, and attention to detail, you can create a stunning representation of these magnificent creatures. Remember that art is a journey, and each stroke of your pencil brings you closer to mastery. Keep exploring and refining your skills, and soon you’ll be capturing the essence of dolphins with ease and confidence.

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