Turtle Drawings
(Sketching + Vector)

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I will show you how to create turtle drawings made with cute designs and great colors. Using a few basic tips, you will learn how to enhance a simple 2D cartoon character into a superb illustration that almost looks 3D.

You can create your sketches with a pencil and a piece of paper. You can also use a tablet and create a digital version of your character. Either way, you will need a digital file to move forward and create your turtle using a vector application.

Step 1

Turtle drawings

Let's start this tutorial with the creation of the template that will be used to create the polished version. In my case, I used a basic pencil to sketch the turtle. Don't hesitate to try a few things before choosing the perfect design. 

Also remember that it doesn't matter if the cartoon character is not 100% similar to the character used for this drawing lesson. The goal is to apply all the effects properly.

Step 2

Turtle drawings

Great! Now make sure that you can import your picture into a digital software, either by taking a picture, by scanning the illustration or simply drawing the character directly on your computer. 

Once this is done, import the illustration into your vector software. Then, create a new layer and add the outlines using pointed lines (on both ends if possible). I like to use irregular lines. Somehow the drawing looks more interesting that way.

Step 3

Turtle drawings

Now it's time to add plain colors. As you can see, you will need to select a wide variety of green tones. I like to create these solid shapes below the layer created in the previous step. By doing so, it will be easier later on to create the shadows on the turtle drawings.

Step 4

Turtle drawings

Proceed with the addition of a second color on most shapes of the cartoon turtle. To do so, you need to select the gradient tool. With this tool, you can already add a simple effect that will give the illusion of shading. 

Just select each solid shapes one-by-one and add a darker tone of color on the bottom. For example, select the tail and add a darker tone of green, making sure that the lighter one is placed on top. You now have a simple effect that already gives more depth to the illustration.

Step 5

Turtle drawings

Using the gradient tool did provide a nice result, but we can do better by adding additional shapes to create darker areas on the turtle drawings. Create a new layer between the one filled with the plain shapes and the one that contains the outlines. 

As seen above, you need to draw new elements on areas that are least affected by the (virtual) light source. If you are not sure where to place these new shapes, you can always compare this illustration with the one used previously.

Step 6

Turtle drawings

The new shapes are great, but probably too dark and visible. Most vector software can add (or create) transparency through an individual tool or simply by adding a second color that is not really one, transparency. 

Your goal is to make sure that the shapes added to create shadows are now subtle and easier to read. Of course, we can do one last thing to make the illustration even more interesting. 

Step 7

Turtle drawings

Adding reflection on your cartoon character is a great idea to give more volume to the image. After all, the sun is not only creating darker areas on your subject, but it also creates bright areas that are colorful and bright.

Simply duplicate the various elements of your turtle drawings and change the color to white. You can also scale down the shapes a little bit for a greater effect.

Step 8

Turtle drawings

Once again, you can use transparency to partially hide the white shapes created earlier. The goal is to keep the top part slightly brighter. This way, combined with the dark shadows created in earlier steps, your cartoon character should look fantastic and close to a 3D character (a simple one, of course).

Step 9

Turtle drawings

One last adjustment you can try is modifying the colors of the outlines. Instead of black, you can try a few tones of green and see how it looks. Be careful because a lighter tone of green might look weird if it's near a darker area. 

I hope you had fun with this drawing lesson. Don't hesitate to create more turtle drawings to improve your style and try a few things. Enjoy!


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