How to draw a mermaid: step by step

Learn how to draw a mermaid. An easy step by step tutorial to draw a beautiful cartoon style mermaid with long flowing hair basking on a seashell.
How to draw a mermaid: step by step drawing tutorial

The mermaid we will draw today is a beautiful young lady, sitting nonchalantly on a giant seashell somewhere at the bottom of the sea.

What turns a young girl into a mermaid? Certainly, the bottom part of the body being a fish tail! We draw a beautiful fin that looks like a fancy dress. The next “mermaid feature” is her long flowing hair, that dances around like sea waves. A nice seashell bra is surely the latest in mermaid fashion.

We start sketching our mermaid from few simple shapes. Then we add the details to end up with a beautiful drawing.

Let’s start drawing
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How to draw a mermaid: step by step sketch

Step 1: Sketch the base head and body shapes

Sketch the base head and body shapes

Start with a circle for the head, and a face cross to help us place the facial features.

Then, a little way down from the circle-head, add the mermaid’s body. This will be made from two lines – a “C” shaped curve at the top – starting from the shoulder down to the waist. Complete the body with a lower “S” curve – bent in the back and curved at the waist.

Step 2: Sketch the jaw, neck, and tail

Sketch the jaw, neck, and tail

Add the chin to the face. Add a “bump” that goes slightly into the head circle at eye level. Extend the round head with a curve on each side to form the chin.

Now, start sketching the tail. First, draw the outer “S” shaped curve at the bottom, starting from the waist. Notice how the “top” curve of our “S” is much larger than the bottom one. Next, add a flipped “C” curve that starts near the middle of the first “S” curve, covers up a bit of the body, and joins up to form a nice mermaid’s tail!

Step 3: Sketch the tail fins

Sketch the tail fins

Let's learn how to draw a mermaid's tail. This is a pretty simple step since all we’re doing is drawing a bunch of “S” curves. The trick is to make some curved and some flat.

Draw the lower more bent “S” curves first. These start at the tip of the tail and extend out to the sides in a nice flowing stroke.

Then, complete the tail fin with two more flatter “S” curves. These start a bit above the tail tip and connect at the fin tips.

That was a pretty easy way to draw a mermaid’s tail, wasn’t it?

Step 4: Sketch the arms

Sketch the arms

First, connect the neck to the shoulders with two curves. Then, draw the arms going straight down, a bit under the waist line. The outer line is straight. For the inner arm lines, suggest a bit of an elbow bend. Then add two simple hands – two incomplete ovals, pointed at the fingertips.

Step 5: Sketch the face and shell bra

Sketch the face and the shell bra

Here we mark out the positions of the eyes with two large ovals, sitting on the horizontal face line.

Add the smiling mouth – drawn as a small triangle.

Next, mark out the position of the shell bra with two circles on the chest.

Step 6: Sketch the mermaid’s hair

Sketch the mermaid's hair

Sketch the hair by drawing lots of bouncy curves! It is hard to describe in detail, but we are drawing long, flowing hair that dances around like sea waves.

Notice the tricks used to add volume to the mermaid’s hair: The front curls starting at the forehead fringe, that go in front of the shoulder on one side and behind the shoulder on other. Then we add another layer of hair using the outer outline.

Step 7: Start adding details

Start adding details

Here we add few smaller details, starting with the face.

We improve the eyes shapes by changing the bottom of the oval to a flatter line. Then add two smaller inner ovals for the irises and pupils.

Add a short line to the middle of the face for the nose, and a curve to the mouth for the tongue.

Then, add three V-shaped stripes to the chest-circles – these mark the shells’ ridges and will help us draw the shell bra.

Lastly, add fingers to the hands. Draw a line about halfway down the oval, then add three straight lines to each hand, to separate the fingers. Add small, curved bumps at the bottom of the hands for the thumbs.

Step 8: Draw the shell the mermaid is sitting on

Draw the shell the mermaid is sitting on

Next we draw a shell for our mermaid to sit on.

Start drawing the shell from the middle segment- draw two curved down lines from under our mermaid’s tail, and connect them with the short bottom edge. Then, draw the next segments, one on each side. This time you just need a single longer down-curve for each part, closed by the short bottom edge. Repeat for the third time for the last outer shell segments.

This is very similar to adding the ribs to the pumpkin in our how to draw a pumpkin tutorial. Check that out if you want a bit more of an explanation on how to build up your shell.

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How to draw a mermaid: step by step outline

Step 1: Draw the mermaid’s flowing hair

Outline the hair

This step is pretty simple since you just trace over the hair that you’ve drawn in the sketch. If you want to add a few curls or make some larger, this is the time to make some final improvements on your hair.

Step 2: Draw the eyes, mouth and nose

Draw the eyes, mouth and nose

Again, simply outline what’s on your sketch.

Outline the eyes. Notice we have not closed the inner bottom corners of the eyes completely.

Then draw out the nose, mouth and chin.

Step 3: Outline the mermaid’s body and tail

Outline the body and tail, add details

Here is where we start improving on our sketch.

First, draw out the shell bra. Draw out the sketched ridges. Then add the curls at the top between them and round off the outer lower part.

Draw the waistline, where the tail meets the body, with some little curves to indicate scales. Do not forget the important little detail – add a dot for a bellybutton!

And then, simply trace over the remaining parts of the tail and body.

Step 4: Draw the arms and neck

Draw the arms and neck

Outline the neck and arms. Join the neckline, shoulder and arm in a smooth line. Add a little bend to the inner arm at the elbow. Draw out and round off each finger separately. Join the thumbs to the rest of the hands.

Step 5: Outline mermaid’s tail

Outline mermaid's tail

Outline the tail sketch with nice smooth curves.

We’re almost finished drawing the mermaid!

Step 6: Outline the shell

Outline the shell

Outline the shell, making sure to leave out the bits that are hidden by the tail.

And another improvement to the sketch: Add a wavy bit at the bottom. This is where the flesh of the mollusc within the shell is showing!

Step 7: Add final details

Add some details

And as usual, we can always improve our drawing by adding a few extra details. We start by colouring the pupils, leaving a little white spot blank to indicate a shine.

Next, we add some wiggly lines to the tail to indicate scales.

Then, we add wavy lines to the tail fins.

And finally, we brighten up our mermaid with some water bubbles in the background.

How to draw a mermaid: completed outline

How to draw a mermaid - completed pencil outline

Here is our completed mermaid drawing, with the sketch lines erased.

How to draw a mermaid: complete colour drawing

How to draw a mermaid - complete coloured-in drawing

As usual, we like to finish our drawing off with some colour pencils.

We’ve made our mermaid’s hair, eyes, bra, and tail a few different shades of ocean green.

Our clam is purple, with a pink lining. The water is, of course, blue, with the bubbles floating around coloured in a light blue to make them stand out.

Now you know how to draw a mermaid. How did you colour your mermaid in?

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