Are you interested in learning how to draw a realistic seashell? This tutorial will show you how to draw a seashell step by step. The different steps are approximately an hour apart.
Most of the techniques that I discuss in this “How To Draw A Seashell Step By Step Tutorial” I also use for my pet portraits. Learning how to draw still life will condition your skill to draw anything you have a passion for.
How To Draw A Seashell Step By Step
Tutorial by Dave Nevue
You can purchase a PDF Digital Download of this tutorial for only $2.00.
Images and text are larger and you can easily access it from your computer or print for a more enjoyable drawing experience. Reference image available for download to print.
How To Draw A Seashell Step By Step BUY NOW
- Tombow Mono Graphite Pencil (Amazon affiliate link) 2H, HB, 2B, 4B and 6B
- Kneaded Eraser (Amazon affiliate link)
- Factis Eraser Black (Amazon affiliate link)
- Tombow Mono Zero Eraser (Amazon affiliate link)
- Strathmore Bristol Smooth Paper Pad (Amazon affiliate link)
- Black ball point pen
You can download and print the reference image below if you would like to draw along or use the techniques described to draw a reference image that you already have.
$2.00 For complete, tutorial and downloadable reference image.
Drawing The Contour – How To Draw A Seashell
1. Graph the reference image into one-inch blocks with a black ball point pen. Use eight one-inch blocks across and ten one inch blocks high.
2. Draw the same grid on your Strathmore Bristol Smooth Paper using your 2H pencil.
- Make sure that your pencil is sharp.
- Draw with very light lines for your grid. The lighter the lines are, the easier it will be to erase the grid after you have drawn the contour of the seashell.
- Angle the pencil at a 45-degree angle and draw away from the tip pencil. If you are right handed, start from the left and draw towards the right.
Note: When you draw the contour use light lines.
I darkened this image so you can see it.
The actual drawing is a lot lighter.
3. Draw the contour of the seashell with a 2H graphite pencil. Contour lines are the outlines of the subject.
Start at the bottom left. You can see that the seashell starts on the third box from the left and the second row from the bottom. Fill out the rest of the contour of the shell using the boxes to help you with the proportion of the shape.
Double check the proportions in each box.
- Use a sharp 2H pencil
- Do not press too hard on the paper.
- Observe all of the curves in the box that you are drawing.
- Double check your lines with the reference photo.
- Use a Proportion Divider (Amazon affiliate link) for more accuracy.
Mapping Out The Darks – How To Draw A Seashell
I darkened this image so you can see it.
4. At this point, you can erase all of the grid lines and darken in the contour lines of the seashell and say that your drawing is finished. If you are interested in realism drawing, you will want to add the values of the subject to give your drawing depth.
Start by lightly shading in the darkest values of the shell with your 2H graphite pencil. Outline any contour lines that you see inside the shell. Start erasing any grid lines that you will not be using with your Factis Eraser Black eraser (Amazon affiliate link)
At this point, you only want to focus on the darkest areas of the shell. By using your 2H pencil, you will be able to start adding value but not making it too dark. This is just the first step. You will be adding many layers of graphite to create a smooth value change from light to dark.
Before drawing the value of the darkest areas of the seashell, use your kneaded eraser and gently tap on the contour lines. Tapping with the kneaded eraser will lighten the line by removing graphite off of the drawing surface. Doing so will allow you to be able to blend in the graphite and not have the contour line of the seashell darker than the values of the seashell.
Contour lines around a subject are used for a cartoon style drawing.
- Use a sharp 2H pencil.
- Do not press too hard on the drawing surface. If you press too hard, you will damage the drawing surface making it impossible for soft value changes.
- Draw darker values by drawing on top of the same line that has been drawn not by pressing hard.
- If a line is too dark, tap it lightly with the kneaded eraser.
5. Still using the 2H graphite pencil continue to draw in where the darkest values are on the seashell.
At this point, you are only mapping out where the dark values are. Do not go too dark. It is easier to add value then to remove value.
6. Working from right to left continue drawing where the darkest values are. Erase any grid lines that you are not using.
You should be looking at your reference image as much as you are your drawing surface. Pay close attention to the placement of your lines. If you need to adjust a line, simply erase the line that is incorrect.
7. At this point, you should be finished mapping out all of the dark values of the seashell. Now you will be using an HB and a 2H graphite pencil to add the values of the seashell.
You will be using different grades in the future for darker areas. For now, you want to use all of the value that a pencil grade has to offer before moving to the next grade.
This method takes longer to finish, but you will not have any imperfections (white spots of paper that the graphite did not reach). Graphite adheres to the tooth of the paper. If the lead is too soft, it will not reach the “valleys” of the paper, leaving little white dots. It gives it a “gritty” look.
Using the harder lead pencils and layering with the softer lead pencils will prevent the “gritty” look, making your drawing look like a photograph.
- After adding value with your HB pencil go over the section with your 2H pencil to blend in the values.
- Use a Q-Tip to soften your lines.
8. Continue adding values from dark to light with your 2H and HB pencil.
9. Start using a 2B pencil now working from dark to light values.
- Always use a sharp pencil.
- After sharpening your pencil wipe off the graphite dust with a paper towel.
- Use the weight of the pencil to draw your values. This will take longer to add the values, but it will prevent you from drawing inconsistent lines.
- Use an eraser to draw the lighter circles that are found on the shell. (bottom right)
- Be cautious of the value changes.
- Continue to compare your drawing with the reference image.
The Final Touch – How To Draw A Seashell
You are now at the final stage of the drawing. From this point on, the drawing should always look completed. You can continue making the seashell darker by hatching the entire drawing. To make the drawing look realistic, you will need to have the lines that you draw connect with each other. The traditional hatching method is lines drawn parallel to each other with little space creating tone or value. For realism drawing, you will not want space between the lines.
Finished drawing “Seaside Treasures”
Purchase Prints of Seaside Treasure.
I hope that you enjoyed this How To Draw A Seashell Step by Step Tutorial.
How did your drawing come out? What difficulties did you have?
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