Merfolk are a sea-dwelling fantasy race. Their upper bodies closely resemble that of humans, while their lower halves are more fishlike. And, of course, they have the ability to breathe underwater. In Greek mythology, some variations of sirens were described as being very mermaid-like. (Though the majority of siren description is that of a bird, lion and woman combined.) Like the siren though, mermaids do have a beautiful song.
This tutorial is just our version of a mermaid, but feel free to tweak characteristics of your mermaid to make it more your own. Your mermaid can be more human or more fish-like! Experiment with different combinations.
How to Draw a Mermaid
Step One: Place shapes to indicate the head, chest and hips. Draw an extended line of motion so that you’ll have a guide to follow for your mermaid’s tail.
Step Two: Sketch out the general positioning for the arms. A simple line and ball joint arm is enough. If you decide that you’re unhappy with the way the arms are positioned, simply erase them.
Step Three: Fill out the torso. Using the line of motion as a guide, draw a flowing tail that is the same width as her hips near the top. Taper it to a point towards the end.
Step Four: Define the hands and arms. Wherever an arm has a sharp bend in it, there will be overlap. If the arm is coming towards you, the lower arm will overlap the upper.
Step Five: Lay down the bare bones of a face within the head shape. Keep in mind the proportions.
Step Six: You can simply put a fin (see DragonArt: Fantasy Characters for more fin examples) at the end of the tail and call it done, or, you can go a little crazy. Perhaps a fin running down her back would be neat? How about a pair of frills running down either side of her tail? Fins on the shoulder blades?
Step Seven: Since this mermaid is underwater, her hair will be a riot of weightless motion. A series of twisting lines will help give you this look. Each chunk of hair can follow these guides.
Step Eight: Add detail to refine your piece, such as strands of hair and ripples in the fin. Adorn her hair and body with pearls and seashells.
Step Nine: Throw in more areas of interest that place her in a specific environment. When you’re happy with your drawing, erase any stray construction lines.
Step Ten: Mermaids, like fish, come in a variety of colors. Perhaps you’d like to model your mermaid’s coloring after a specific fish, like a clownfish, orca or lionfish. Maybe your mermaid is one solid color. Think about if you’d like the human half to be a different color than the fish half.