Drawing and Coloring a Mermaid for MerMay 2017

Happy MerMay everyone! Earlier in the month I discovered the wonderful hashtag MerMay. MerMay was created by Disney animator Tom Bancroft, much like Inktober was started by artist Jake Parker. The hashtag has taken off and I’ve seen a lot of people participating. We wanted to jump in with our own mermaid inspired by a leafy sea dragon. 

Colorful leafy sea dragon


Once you’ve found your reference photo, it’s a good idea to practice some sketches of your chosen fish. Sketch the shapes and details. Try to think of which pieces you want to pull out and incorporate into your mermaid figure.

Use your fish reference and any pose references you need to start sketching your mermaid. Pay attention to the fin characteristics of the fish and how much of that you want to add to the tail of your mermaid. 

Refine the line work on the mermaid. Finalize the details and add line weight.

Add an initial underlayer of color with watercolor. Paint the general shapes of the shadows to create a good foundation. Then start adding the first layers of color onto the body.

Continue to work the piece and add more layers of color. Work from light to dark, being careful not to cover up the light tones with the darker ones you’re dropping in.

Use a white ink pen to add highlights on the body and the fins and you’re done! Now you have a mermaid inspired by a colorful leafy sea dragon.

Just because May is close to ending doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy MerMay! You can still follow along with Tom’s official list for #MerMay2017 or create your own and practice during the month of June or July. Or try using the list for this year’s Inktober! 

Mermay 2017 list

Watch this interview with Tom discussing his animation work for Disney and how he created MerMay:


Besides the mermaid instruction in the video above, make sure to check out our other mermaid posts on the site:
How to Draw a Mermaid: Proportions and Tails and How to Draw and Paint Mermaid Scales

You can find more mermaids, unicorns, dragons and other fantasy creatures in Dreamscapes, Dreamscapes Myth and Magic and Dreamscapes Magical Menagerie by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.

Dreamscapes | North Light Shop Dreamscapes Myth and Magic | North Light ShopDreamscapes Magical Menagerie | North Light Shop


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