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Turtle Drawings

Before you start your turtle drawings, ask yourself how you want your end result to appear.

  • Do you want a sketch?
  • Do you want a detailed drawing?
  • Or, do you just want a reasonable likeness?

Once your mind is set on a certain course, your drawing goes down on paper easier.

I keep saying this but I just have to repeat it... do what you want to do, do what is right for you!

You have to feel keen to draw or you just won't pick up a pencil, particulary if you don't like a certain topic. It's amazing the excuses we can come up with when we don't want to do something!

You also need to find a space where there's plenty of light and where you feel happy and comfortable. Once you feel at ease, you enjoy your drawings a lot more.

This outline of a turtle is drawn from the perspective of looking down on a Green Turtle.

Turtle Outline

Keep in mind that the shell of a turtle is more oval than round. It might help you to draw a light center line first, then draw the oval around it, to end up with a consistent shape.

The first marks I made inside the oval shape were the hexagons (6 sided figures) that you see in the center of the back.

I wanted 3 hexagons so I roughly put in 4 short vertical lines first (see diagram below).

Vertical Lines

Then I put a shallow roof-like structure on the top and bottom of those lines.


My hexagons aren't exact and you needn't worry either, we are drawing a turtle shell - not a building plan - and the pattern often varies.

Once the hexagons are in place, the rest of the shell is easy to complete and you are well on your way to a fine turtle drawing.

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Rapid Drawing

For this next turtle drawing, I decided to test what I could produce in a short amount of time.

I used a 2B mechanical pencil on photocopy paper. I like this paper because my pencil glides easily over the smooth surface. I also have a sheet of paper under my hand to keep my drawing clean.

Turtle Drawing

I drew this one from a photo where the turtle was swimming in clear water.

You can see I didn't go into much detail, I just drew in the main lines that got my attention and I declared the drawing finished after a few minutes. This is what I want, I don't want to labor over every drawing for hours and hours.

Turtle Drawing Tips

  • Once your rough outline is done, make your good lines darker before erasing incorrect light lines.
  • Make sure your eraser is clean otherwise it can mess up your drawing.
  • Use a small, light paint brush to dust the eraser residue off your paper.

What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?

A Turtle

There are many varieties of turtles.

Turtles are reptiles with short legs and a shell which is like a box with holes for the turtle's head, limbs and tail. A turtle retreats into its shell for protection.

The turtle is the only reptile with a shell.

The legs of sea turtles are like paddles and their feet are like flippers. Most fresh-water turtles have longer legs and webbed feet.

All turtles lay eggs on land.

This amazing animal can live for more than 100 years.

Turtle Drawings

For the above turtle drawing, I shaded the whole turtle with a H pencil, then I used a 2B for most of the detail and a 5B for the darker markings.

My pencil set contains all of the different grades that I need, so it goes everywhere with me.

A Tortoise

A Tortoise is a turtle that lives on land only. They are slow moving and their shell has a high dome. Tortoises have stumpy back legs like an elephant.

I really like my finished drawing of a tortoise - I still feel amazed that I created that!

Tortoise Drawing

I only wanted to suggest the detail on the shell so I roughly placed lines here and there, following the pattern on my reference picture.

I applied stippling to the head and legs.

I finished this fellow in about 15 minutes.

You can see that tortoises have great character and they make an interesting drawing topic.

To draw a tortoise is not as difficult as it appears at first glance and even though my eraser continues to be my best friend, I love my drawings of turtles.

Erasers are also handy for creating highlights and to clean any smudges on your paper.

If you like this page, I'd really appreciate it if you share it with your friends. Some people just need a little nudge in the right artistic direction and you just never know whose life you will change for the better.

Happy turtle drawing!

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