Learn how to draw a complex octopus drawing filled with shadows, reflections and personality! For some reason, I really like to draw an octopus. It's an animal that is loaded with curves, irregular lines and made with a strange shape. They could almost come from another planet!
Using Painter from Corel, I will create a complex character that is obviously very cartoonish and weird. My goal is to come up with a funny character that feels alive and almost real.
First, I need to sketch my character using a regular pencil. This illustration is only a guideline. In fact, the lines that are visible on the tentacles won't end up in the final result. However, the general shape and most details will be used to illustrate the octopus.
The final drawing should be quite similar to this picture. I like to create my sketches on a real piece of paper. I feel like I have more control using a real pencil than using my tablet for this part of the process.
Create a new layer and add a pink color to form the body and head of the character. For the tentacles on the back, it might be a good idea to draw these shapes on a new (and different) layer. By doing so, it will be easier to work on both elements.
It's now time to draw the eyes on your octopus drawing. For the white portion of the eye, create a new layer and use the "Lasso selection" tool to come up with round shapes. Repeat the same process on a different layer to create the pupil and the small white reflection.
Since the pink patch below the eye won't be affected by the pupils and the eyes, I prefer to draw this element on the body itself. I will be easier to blend it with the shadows and reflections that will be added later on.
All details that were added on the tentacles were also added on a new layer. Once again, it will easier to work on these elements separately later on.
Select the layer with the front tentacles and create a darker area on the bottom of the shapes. You can also add a few subtle shadows on the small circles visible below the tentacles.
Go back to the body layer and start adding a few shadows on top of the head of the octopus drawing. To create a good shadow, remember to work with a color that is slightly darker than the original pink color and set the transparency to 5% or 6%. It's better to add a few strokes gradually and see how it goes than filling the whole area with one single color.
You can also use the "Polygonal selection" tool or the "Lasso" to protect the areas outside the shadow. Otherwise, you will end up with virtual paint all over the place! I did use the "Polygonal selection" tool over the left eye and that's why the shadow is made with a rough (and pointed) outline.
Select the layer that contains the eyes and draw a subtle grey shadow on the bottom of each eye. You can also select the pupils and hide the white reflection partially using a light dark tone that is slightly transparent.
Go back to the body layer and work on the patch that was added below the eyes previously. The goal is to create a deeper area around the eyes and play with shadows to give a sense of depth. The rounder shape that is now visible around each eye might seem ridiculous, but these shapes will be partially erased later on.
Now the toughest part begins! We need to illustrate the irregular shapes that are visible on top of the head. To do so, you must use darker tones of pink to represent the darker areas like shadows and switch to a lighter tone of pink (and sometimes white) to form the reflections on your octopus drawing.
It's perfectly normal if you don't get it right in your first attempt. Sometimes, the area you create is too dark and you need to go back and use a lighter tone of color. Sometimes, the chosen color is too bright or not quite as pink as needed. It could easily take an hour or so to create this single step!
Repeat the same process on the portion below the eyes. As you can see, the round shapes that were visible below the eyes are now partially hidden. A long white line that represents reflection is drawn from the top of the eyes all the way down to the tip of the middle tentacle.
Your octopus drawing is almost finished now. All shadows are done and the cartoon character seems to be alive, almost as if it was made with a 3D application!
We just need to add a little bit more of depth to the front tentacles. I also tried to blend the little circles so that they don't look misplaced or irrelevant.
Now that the character is finished, it could be fun to add a little background. Using a light tone of blue, just add horizontal curved lines. However, I feel like this color is now the best one for this illustration. The octopus is hard to read and this background is more annoying than interesting.
Using a darker color could be a better idea. After all, we don't want to see the ocean, we want to see a cute octopus drawing filled with a great character and some nice (and simple) effects.
I hope you had fun creating this cartoon character. I know it's not an easy tutorial, but you can only create something like this by practicing and practicing again. Enjoy! :)