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How to draw a 3D dolphin using basic effects

Learn how to draw a cute cartoon dolphin and then play with colors until you finally learn how to end up with a cool 3d dolphin! This amazing animal is quite interesting to illustrate. Made mostly from curved lines and circles, drawing all shapes accurately can be tricky sometimes.

How to draw a 3D dolphin

In this tutorial, I will show you how to sketch a beautiful dolphin filled with bright blue colors. Then, you will have the opportunity to see a few variations using different colors. Finally, I will convert this simple 2D image into a beautiful 3d dolphin using only simple effects. 

Before proceeding with this lesson, let's take a deeper look at this cool cartoon character using the image above.

  1. The tip of the nose is round and slightly flat.
  2. The eye is round, just like the pupil.
  3. You can use a long curved line to form the head.
  4. The back fin is large and sharp.
  5. Don't forget to use a bright blue color!
  6. A lighter patch is visible on the chest of the animal.
  7. The tail is drawn using complex lines.
  8. Both front fins are smaller and pointed.

Great! Now you are ready to learn how to draw this dolphin! You can start with the video lesson below. Once you are familiar with the character, you can proceed with the written version of this tutorial. :)

step 1 - create a basic template!

Let's draw a few basic shapes to start with. The head is made from a large circle while the mouth is done using an oval shape. The body is represented by two irregular rectangles while the tail is created using small oval shapes.

How to draw a 3D dolphin

step 2 - drawing the cartoon dolphin

Using mostly curved lines, you can now draw the body, mouth and tail of the character. Once you are finished, you can erase all orange shapes drawn in the previous step. Cool! We are getting closer to that 3D dolphin now! :)

How to draw a 3D dolphin

step 3 - triangles to create all three fins

Simply sketch three triangles made from curved lines to form all three fins found on the character. Just make sure that the one found on the back is larger than the others ...

How to draw a 3D dolphin

step 4 - drawing the eye and the long patch

The eye and the pupil located on the front are created from small circles. You can also draw a long line on the body of the cartoon dolphin to illustrate the patch visible on the chest. Simple, but quite effective! :)

How to draw a 3D dolphin

step 5 - time for some colors!

The whole illustration is filled with different tones of blue colors. Only plain colors are used for now. We will use gradient colors for the 3D dolphin only. Make sure that the patch is brighter, but the back fin and the one located behind the animal must be darker.

How to draw a 3D dolphin

Here you go! a cute cartoon dolphin!

These are all five simple steps needed to create the dolphin. Simply pay attention to the mouth and the tail (which are the toughest elements to sketch) and you will be fine. Ready to draw that 3D dolphin? Let's play with colors first!

How to draw a 3D dolphin

adding a grey color for a more realistic look

Dolphin are not really blue, but rather filled with a light grey color. The version below is closer to reality even if this is just a cartoon illustration. It's cool, but the blue version is definitely more enjoyable to look at!

How to draw a 3D dolphin

Cyan is ok, but not recommended!

Another interesting version colored in cyan. This cartoon dolphin is also visually appealing, but somehow the illustration feels a little bit childish. 

How to draw a 3D dolphin

A brighter version of the original color!

This other alternative is also interesting. Colors are brighter and the patch is simply colored in white. The first version is still my favorite, but this other character is also worth trying.

How to draw a 3D dolphin

welcome to the dark side!

In this other example, colors are dark and saturated. Even the patch found on the chest is darker. It's definitely another appealing version if you like plain colors that are rich and hard to miss!

How to draw a 3D dolphin

A nice option!

This color is perfect! Not too dark, not too bright, not too grey and not too blue. It's not as close to reality as the grey version was, but it's close enough! Let's take this illustration and turn our animal into a cool 3D dolphin using simple effects.

How to draw a 3D dolphin

Finally ... a cool 3D dolphin! :)

How can you turn a simple 2D character into a nice 3D dolphin? Simply use gradient colors inside each part of the illustration. You can also add reflection (the brighter areas) on top of the head, on top of the tail and on top of all three fins. A small shadow was also added below the eye. 

How to draw a 3D dolphin

Good job! Don't hesitate to try more character from the same series here and remember that selecting the proper color for your character can be a long, but rewarding process! :)

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External resources: How to draw a dolphin