Learn to Draw a Mermaid Tail: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


Materials Needed to Draw a Mermaid Tail

Starting with Basic Shapes to Draw a Mermaid Tail

Incorporating Texture and Pattern in Your Mermaid Tail Drawing

Coloring Your Mermaid Tail Drawing

Adding Finishing Touches to Your Mermaid Tail Drawing

Drawing a mermaid tail can be a fun and engaging activity for artists of all ages and skill levels. In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through the process of creating a beautiful and realistic mermaid tail drawing, from gathering the right materials to adding the final finishing touches. By following these simple steps, you'll be able to draw a mermaid tail and impress your friends with your newfound artistic abilities!

Materials Needed to Draw a Mermaid Tail

Before you start drawing, you'll need to gather the right materials. This will ensure that you have everything you need to create a stunning mermaid tail drawing. Let's go through the essential items you'll need:

Choosing the Right Paper and Pencil

Paper: It's important to choose a suitable paper for your drawing. A smooth surface such as drawing paper or sketchbook paper is ideal, as it will allow your pencil to glide easily when drawing fine details like scales. You can also opt for a heavier paper like watercolor paper if you plan to add color later using wet media.

Pencil: A regular graphite pencil (like an HB or 2B) is perfect for sketching the basic shapes and outlines of your mermaid tail. For darker shading, you may want to use a softer pencil like a 4B or 6B. Mechanical pencils are also a great option, as they provide a consistent line width and don't require sharpening.

Colors and Shading Tools

Colors: Depending on your preference, you can use colored pencils, markers, watercolors, or even digital tools to add vibrant colors to your mermaid tail drawing. For a more natural look, consider using shades of blues, greens, and purples. You can also mix in some metallic colors like gold or silver for a magical touch.

Shading tools: To achieve smooth shading and blending, consider using a blending stump or a cotton swab. These tools will help you create soft transitions between different shades and give your mermaid tail a more realistic appearance.

Erasers and Blending Techniques

Erasers: A good eraser is essential for correcting mistakes and creating highlights in your drawing. A kneaded eraser is a versatile option, as it can be molded into different shapes and sizes to erase small details or large areas. A white vinyl eraser is also useful for cleanly erasing graphite without leaving smudges.

Blending techniques: When shading your mermaid tail, it's important to use the right blending techniques to create a smooth and natural look. Try using a circular or back-and-forth motion with your pencil to build up layers of shading gradually. Experiment with different pressures to achieve a range of tones, and don't be afraid to go back and forth between your pencil and eraser to achieve the desired effect.

Starting with Basic Shapes to Draw a Mermaid Tail

Now that you have all the necessary materials, it's time to start drawing your mermaid tail! Don't worry if you're a beginner or if you've never drawn one before. We'll guide you through the process by breaking it down into simple, easy-to-follow steps. The key to creating a beautiful mermaid tail is to start with basic shapes and gradually build up the details. Let's dive in!

Sketching Guidelines for Proportions

First things first, let's establish some guidelines to help you maintain proper proportions when drawing your mermaid tail. This will ensure that your final drawing looks balanced and natural. Here's what to do:

  1. Draw a vertical line in the center of your paper. This will serve as the spine of your mermaid tail.
  2. Next, draw a horizontal line about halfway down the page. This will mark the point where the tail begins to flare out and form the fins.
  3. Finally, draw another horizontal line near the bottom of the page. This will be the widest part of the tail before it narrows back down to form the tip of the fins.

These guidelines will help you visualize the overall shape of the mermaid tail as you draw, making it easier to create a balanced and proportional design.

Creating the Tail Shape

With your guidelines in place, it's time to start drawing the shape of the mermaid tail. Here's how:

  1. Beginning at the top of the spine, draw two slightly curved lines on either side, following the natural shape of a fish tail. These lines should gradually widen as they approach the first horizontal guideline.
  2. At the first horizontal guideline, curve the lines outward to create the flare of the fins. Continue to draw these lines downward, following the contour of the second horizontal guideline.
  3. Finally, bring the lines back together to form the tip of the fins at the bottom of the tail. Your mermaid tail should now have a basic shape that resembles a long, graceful fish tail.

Remember, it's okay if your lines aren't perfect at this stage. You'll have a chance to refine them later as you add details and shading.

Adding Fins and Details

Now that you have the basic shape of your mermaid tail, it's time to add fins and other details to make it more realistic and interesting. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Fins: Add smaller fins along the sides of the tail for a more dynamic look. You can experiment with different shapes and sizes to see what looks best with your overall design.
  • Lines and contours: To give your mermaid tail a more three-dimensional appearance, add some curved lines along the length of the tail to suggest the underlying muscle structure. This will help create a sense of depth and movement in your drawing.
  • Decorative elements: Feel free to get creative and add any additional details that you think would enhance your mermaid tail. This could include things like jewelry, seashells, or even seaweed wrapped around the tail for a more whimsical touch.

As you add these details, keep in mind that less is often more. You don't want to overwhelm your mermaid tail with too many elements, so focus on creating a balanced and visually pleasing design.

Incorporating Texture and Pattern in Your Mermaid Tail Drawing

With the basic shape and details in place, it's time to bring your mermaid tail to life by adding texture and pattern. This is where you can really let your creativity shine and make your drawing stand out. In this section, we'll explore various techniques to help you draw a mermaid tail that's both visually appealing and rich in detail.

Designing the Scales

Scales are a key feature of any mermaid tail, and their design can greatly impact the overall look of your drawing. Here are some tips for creating visually appealing scales:

  • Variety: Instead of drawing uniform scales, try experimenting with different shapes and sizes to give your mermaid tail a more organic and interesting look.
  • Spacing: Pay attention to the spacing between the scales. Too close together, and your tail may look cluttered; too far apart, and it could appear sparse. Aim for a balanced arrangement that complements your overall design.
  • Overlap: To create a more realistic appearance, make sure your scales overlap slightly. This will give the impression of depth and layering, making your mermaid tail look more three-dimensional.

Remember, when designing the scales, always keep in mind the overall shape and flow of your mermaid tail. This will help you maintain a cohesive and harmonious design.

Shading Techniques for Scales

Proper shading can make a world of difference when it comes to making your mermaid tail look realistic and visually striking. Here are some shading techniques to help you enhance the appearance of your scales:

  • Light source: Determine where your light source is coming from and consistently shade your scales accordingly. This will create a sense of depth and dimension in your drawing.
  • Gradation: Use a gradual transition from light to dark when shading your scales. This will give them a more rounded and three-dimensional appearance.
  • Contrast: Play with the contrast between light and dark areas to create more visual interest and make your mermaid tail pop.

As you practice shading, you'll find that it becomes easier to achieve the desired effects and create a more realistic look in your mermaid tail drawing.

Adding Highlights for a Realistic Look

Now that your scales are shaded, it's time to add some highlights to really make them stand out. Highlights can give your mermaid tail a more luminous and lifelike appearance. Here's how to add them effectively:

  • Placement: Add highlights to the areas of your scales that would naturally catch the light, based on your chosen light source. This will help create a more convincing sense of depth and dimension.
  • Intensity: Be mindful of the intensity of your highlights. Too bright, and they may look unnatural; too subtle, and they might not have the desired impact. Aim for a balanced level of intensity that complements your shading.
  • Variety: Experiment with different types of highlights, such as sharp, crisp lines or softer, diffused areas. This can add visual interest and give your mermaid tail a more dynamic appearance.

With these techniques, you'll be well on your way to creating a stunning, realistic mermaid tail that captures the eye and the imagination.

Coloring Your Mermaid Tail Drawing

With the texture and pattern of your mermaid tail drawing complete, you're ready to breathe life into your creation by adding color. The right choice of colors and blending techniques can transform your drawing from a simple sketch to a vibrant, eye-catching piece of art. In this section, we'll explore how to choose the perfect colors, blend them seamlessly, and add depth to your mermaid tail drawing.

Choosing the Right Colors

The colors you choose for your mermaid tail can greatly affect its overall look and feel. To create a visually appealing drawing, consider the following tips when selecting your colors:

  • Theme: Think about the theme or mood you want to convey with your mermaid tail. Are you aiming for a natural, oceanic look, or do you prefer something more fantastical and whimsical?
  • Variety: Use a variety of colors to make your mermaid tail more interesting and dynamic. Don't be afraid to experiment with unusual color combinations—you might be surprised at what works!
  • Consistency: Ensure that your chosen colors complement each other and work well together. This will help create a harmonious and visually appealing drawing.

Remember, the colors you choose can have a significant impact on the final result of your mermaid tail drawing, so don't be afraid to take your time and experiment until you find the perfect palette.

Color Blending Techniques

Once you've chosen your colors, it's time to apply them to your mermaid tail drawing. To achieve a smooth and natural look, you'll need to master some color blending techniques. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Layering: Apply your colors in layers, starting with lighter shades and gradually building up to darker ones. This will help create a smooth transition between colors and give your drawing depth.
  • Pressure: Adjust the pressure you apply with your coloring tool—whether it's colored pencils, markers, or paint. Lighter pressure will result in a softer, more transparent effect, while heavier pressure will produce a more intense, opaque color.
  • Blending tools: Experiment with different blending tools, such as blending stumps, tissue paper, or your fingers, to achieve a seamless transition between colors.

With practice, you'll become more adept at blending colors and creating a smooth, natural look in your mermaid tail drawing.

Adding Depth with Color

Color can play a significant role in adding depth and dimension to your mermaid tail drawing. By carefully considering the placement and intensity of your colors, you can create a more lifelike and visually engaging piece of art. Here are some tips to help you add depth using color:

  • Shadows: Use darker shades of your chosen colors to create shadows and add depth to your mermaid tail. Be sure to consider your light source when determining where to place these shadows.
  • Highlights: Just like with shading, use lighter shades to add highlights to your mermaid tail. These can help emphasize the shape and texture of your drawing, making it appear more three-dimensional.
  • Contrast: Experiment with the contrast between light and dark areas in your drawing to create a more visually striking and dynamic piece of art.

By incorporating these techniques, you'll be able to draw a mermaid tail that not only catches the eye but also tells a story through its depth and dimension.

Adding Finishing Touches to Your Mermaid Tail Drawing

As you near completion of your mermaid tail drawing, it's time to focus on the details that will make your artwork truly shine. By adding finishing touches like background elements, shading, and highlights, you can elevate your drawing to a whole new level. In this section, we'll look at the steps you can take to polish your mermaid tail drawing and make it a piece you're proud to showcase.

Incorporating Background Elements

Adding background elements to your drawing can help provide context and enhance the overall presentation of your mermaid tail. Consider these ideas when incorporating background elements:

  • Setting: Think about where your mermaid tail might be located—perhaps underwater, near a coral reef, or even on a sandy beach. Adding elements that represent the environment can make your drawing more engaging and visually appealing.
  • Scale: Be mindful of the size and scale of your background elements in relation to your mermaid tail. This will help create a more cohesive and believable scene.

Remember, the key is to strike a balance between adding interest and not overwhelming the main focus of your drawing—the mermaid tail.

Final Shading and Highlights

Now that you've added background elements, it's time to revisit the shading and highlights on your mermaid tail to ensure everything is cohesive and harmonious. Pay close attention to the following:

  • Light source: Be consistent with your light source throughout your drawing, taking into account the background elements you've added. This will help create a more believable and visually appealing piece.
  • Refining details: Take this opportunity to refine any details on your mermaid tail, such as the scales, fins, and texture. Make sure everything is well-defined and polished.

By carefully examining your drawing and making these final adjustments, you'll be putting the finishing touches on a beautiful piece of art that showcases your skill in drawing a mermaid tail.

Signing Your Artwork

Last but not least, it's time to put your name on your masterpiece! Signing your artwork not only gives it a personal touch but also serves as a reminder of the effort and creativity you've put into your drawing. Here are a few tips for signing your mermaid tail drawing:

  • Placement: Choose a spot for your signature that won't detract from the overall composition of your drawing, such as a corner or an inconspicuous area of the background.
  • Style: Your signature can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. Just make sure it's legible and represents your personal style.

With your signature in place, you can now step back and admire your finished mermaid tail drawing. Congratulations on your artistic accomplishment!

In conclusion, learning to draw a mermaid tail can be an exciting and rewarding journey. By following this step-by-step guide, you'll not only develop your drawing skills but also create a stunning piece of art that showcases your creativity. So go ahead, grab your materials, and dive into the magical world of mermaid tails!

If you enjoyed learning how to draw a mermaid tail and want to take your skills even further, don't miss the workshop 'Making a Mermaid' by Hope Christofferson. This workshop will guide you through the entire process of creating a beautiful and enchanting mermaid, perfect for beginners and experienced artists alike.