Drawing mermaids is more of an obsession at this point.
And with May coming up soon, a lot of artists are getting ready for the Mermay challenge.
So, if you’re just as excited as me to draw mermaids, you’re in the right place.
In this post, we will learn how to draw a mermaid tail.
Mermaid tails can be tricky because they do not follow the anatomy of human legs.
They’re close to fish.
The best way to draw a mermaid’s tail is to study the anatomy of a shark or a dolphin.
I will also teach you how to color it with Procreate.
I know it looks complicated.
But trust me, I will break down each step for you so that you can draw this mermaid tail accurately.
If you notice, the tail fins are transparent and it is possible to color it using any digital software. You just have to manipulate the layers.
I’ll explain further on.
I will also be teaching you how to color the mermaid tail using Procreate. You can use any digital software or you can even use color pencils, copic markers or glitter pens.
The choice is yours.
Let’s begin, shall we?
How to draw a mermaid tail? Easy Step by Step Tutorial
I’m going to break this down into multiple stages so that we can learn how to draw a mermaid tail step by step.
Let’s focus on the outline first.
How to draw the outline of the mermaid tail
Let’s begin with a nice S shape. We’re drawing the S shape so that it’s easier for us to draw the mermaid tail.
Take your time and draw the S shape.
It doesn’t have to be perfect because we are just going to use it as a guide to draw the mermaid tail.
Next, let’s draw the torso of the mermaid. I am using the dry ink brush in ProCreate.
Take your time with this because the tummy of the mermaid can be a little tricky to draw.
All-female bodies go inward toward the belly button and then go outward toward the hips as you draw the torso.
Next, let’s add the navel of the mermaid.
Next, let’s draw the transition of the mermaid from the body to the tail.
Now, comes the fun bit.
Draw the fins around the mermaid’s stomach.
Let’s start with 1 fin first. It’s a small curve that comes from the back of the mermaid to the center.
Try to align the end of the fin to the S shape we drew earlier.
And now, let’s draw the other fin.
They’re like small C shapes that curve around the belly of the mermaid.
They’re two individual fins so we have to draw them separately.
Think of it like petals or ears.
Next, comes the major portion of the tail.
We’re going to use one long sweeping motion to draw the huge S shape curve. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, you can always erase it till you feel it looks good to you!
Remember, the tail is broader near the hips and slowly narrows down as we reach the end. So, while you’re drawing your curve, slowly move the curve towards the S shape we drew earlier.
This guide will really help you draw the mermaid’s tail.
Once you’re done, let’s draw the other side of the tail.
In the same sweeping motion, draw the other side. Remember to make the mermaid tail narrower as you go down south.
Now, we are done with the major portion of the tail.
I’m going to erase all these rough lines so that we can see the tail clearly.
Oh, that looks much better!
Okay, let’s draw the fins at the end – otherwise known as a the tail fins.
This is slightly tricky because the fins of the mermaid are extremely expressive and flowy. So, it’s okay to take your time with this.
Let’s draw 1 tail fin at a time.
Think of drawing petals on a flower.
This makes drawing the tail fins of the mermaid much easier! Okay, now, let’s draw the other.
I’m going to overlap the second fin over the first just to make the mermaid tail look more organic.
Remember to attach the tail fins to the tail! Otherwise, your mermaid tail is going to look very odd.
And would you look at that, we’ve finished drawing the outline of the mermaid tail.
Let’s move on to coloring it!
How to color the mermaid tail in Procreate – step by step
Okay, we have the outline ready.
Let’s begin with the torso of the mermaid. I’m just going to go with nice peachy skin tone.
I’m going to add a slight shadow to the torso. So, I’m just going to go with a color a little darker than the skin tone and color the side of the torso with it.
Next, I’m going to color the tail a nice green. It’s between green and blue.
You can go for any color. Let your imagination run wild!
Notice that I colored the part of the tail underneath the fins (near the torso), that’s because the fins are going to be transparent.
So, remember to color the tail till the torso!
Next, let’s color the tail fin. I’m going to go for a brighter green.
Now, whether you’re on Photoshop or Procreate, it doesn’t matter.
Simply change the opacity of the layer to 40%. By decreasing the opacity, we make the layer transparent.
Now, I’m going to do the same thing to the next tail fin of the mermaid.
Remember to color the other tail fin in a separate layer over the previous layer.
I’m going to adjust the opacity now to 40% and I’ll get this result!
If you’re enjoying this tutorial and would like to learn how to draw hands and legs, you can think of purchasing this book. It really helped me understand anatomy.
Now, I’m going to add some texture to the tail fins.
I’m going to use a light bluish green shade to draw the lines on the fins.
This layer has to be separate and it should be on top of the previous layers.
Only the outline layer will be on the most top.
Once we draw the lines on one fin, repeat it for the next tail fin.
And now, we’ll repeat this whole process for the fins near the tail.
So, I’m going to color the fins first:
I’m using the same green I used for the fins.
Now, I’ll adjust the opacity to 40% so that the fins become transparent and we can see the mermaid tail underneath the fins.
And now, with the same bluish green shade, I will draw some lines on the fins to give it more depth.
Okay, we’ve finished drawing the base colors of the mermaid tail.
Now, you can stop here or you can do a little more to add more definition to the mermaid tail.
I’m going to show you how I draw the scales on the mermaid tail.
How to draw the scales on the mermaid tail
Every mermaid tail you see on the internet will be drawn differently.
Some artists prefer to draw the scales very realistically and make them look like fish scales.
However, if you are drawing a mermaid in a cartoon style, it is best if you keep things simple.
I like drawing everything in a simple cartoon style.
So, what I’m going to do is enunciate some scales on the mermaid’s tail to add some texture to the tail.
First, let’s add a shadow to the mermaid tail to give the drawing more depth.
I’m going to use a medium purple tone on a separate layer over all the other layers (except the outline layer).
Once I’m done with the outline of the shadow, I’ll go ahead and color it in.
It looks weird but I’m going to change the blending mode of this shadow layer to “Multiply” and then decrease the opacity to 40%.
Simply click on the “N” of the layer in Procreate to change the blending mode and decrease the opacity.
Now, we’ll draw the scales.
Let’s start with a light greenish blue shade and I’m going to color some spots on the side like this:
And now, with a darker green, I will add some more spots. Feel free to let some of the spots touch or overlap. It looks more realistic.
And finally, I’ll add some bright green spots to the tail to make the tail pop with color!
And now, I’m going to add some highlights to the illustration to complete the look!
Let’s pretend the light is coming from the left side. So, I’m going to add a new layer and use a bright blue to draw the highlight.
Now, adjust the blending mode of this layer to “Add” and change the opacity to 17%.
This is the best way to add light to your drawings.
We’ve just learned how to draw a mermaid tail!
Doesn’t it look perfect?
I hope you enjoyed this simple tutorial and you found it easy to follow. You can watch this video here to see how I drew this mermaid tail.
Notice how many mistakes I made! That’s the fun part about drawing digitally, you can keep erasing and starting over!
What to do if you are finding it hard to draw a mermaid?
Practice, practice, practice!
Nobody is born with this skill. Drawing is a skill that only gets better with practice!
You can also speed up your learning by getting the following books:
- Figure Drawing: Design and Invention by Michael Hampton
- Morpho: Hands and Feet: Anatomy for Artists (Morpho: Anatomy for Artists)
- How to Draw People: Step-by-Step Lessons for Figures and Poses
I would also suggest, getting this course to help you speed up your learning: It will help you draw people from your imagination.
Keep practicing different mermaid tail poses till you feel comfortable drawing mermaids and their tails!
Conclusion + Resources
I hope this in-depth tutorial was super helpful to you, and that you were able to learn how to draw a mermaid tail from scratch.
Mermaids are definitely a whole new area of drawing because they don’t follow basic human anatomy.
Learning human anatomy itself takes so much time. So, don’t panic if you can’t get the tail right immediately.
You can also take a look at different mermaid poses and illustrations on Google and Pinterest.
Use that as inspiration to keep practicing mermaid tails.
The more you draw, the easier drawing becomes!
You can make things easier by picking up this Character Drawing Toolkit.
If you have any doubts, just leave a comment down below. You can check out my other People Tutorials to learn how to draw people, hair, and clothes.
I will be adding more mermaid drawing tutorials to this blog, so keep a lookout.
If you are looking for books on drawing people and figures, check this out!
If you’re looking to improve your drawings faster and want to really draw as a hobby or even pick up drawing professionally, I highly recommend picking up this beautiful online course that teaches you how to draw female cartoon characters.
Use code STRAYCURLS-10 to get a 10% discount!
This class will teach you how to draw a female character from scratch!
If you are just getting started with ProCreate, I highly recommend this course: Procreate for Beginners: Digital Illustration 101