How to draw an octopus

In this lesson on how to draw an octopus, you will discover a few basic tips to help you create a realistic skin on this adorable cartoon animal. If you never had the chance to draw this cute character, then this lesson is definitely for you!

Octopuses are a charm to illustrate. This particular creature is mostly made from circles and curved lines. This animal is not too difficult to sketch, but adding lots of beautiful curved lines to create a realistic result can be tricky. Let's see what makes this cartoon character so special compared to other sea animals ...

How to draw an octopus

The head and the body of the octopus are joined together making this creature unique and visually intriguing. Here are a few things to look for when drawing this animal:

  1. The top of the head must be round and large.
  2. Patches are often visible on the animal.
  3. Eyes are large and slightly separated from one another.
  4. Don't forget to draw eight tentacles!
  5. These tentacles are pointed near the end.
  6. The bottom is filled with a different color.
  7. Eyes are surrounded by a mask.

Great! As you can see, this cartoon animal is rather simple to illustrate. Let's start by sketching a basic version and then I will show you how to draw a realistic skin using simple tools that can be found inside any vector application.

Step 1 - A rectangle and a few lines are all we need

Before drawing the character itself, let's create a template to help us get proportions right. First, draw a large rectangle to form the head and the body of the creature. Then, draw eight lines below the body to represent the tentacles. You can see the pattern I have created inside the illustration below.

How to draw an octopus

Step 2 - Drawing the octopus

When you are ready, draw the head and the body using curved lines. Then, let's draw all four tentacles that are attached to the body. The lines filled with a black color will be used in the next step. You can now remove all shapes that are created with an orange outline.

How to draw an octopus

step 3 - Adding more tentacles

In this step, let's sketch the tentacles that are only visible behind the character. Of course, these tentacles are also attached to the body, but we cannot see the junction between these tentacles and the octopus in this view. Once again, you can delete all orange lines once you are done drawing these tentacles. Cool! This lesson on how to draw an octopus is coming along nicely!

How to draw an octopus

step 4 - Sketching Large eyes

Eyes are the most important part of any cartoon character, so make sure you draw them accurately. In this case, large circular shapes were used to form the eyes and the pupils. A small reflection made from an oval shape can also be seen in both eyes.

How to draw an octopus

step 5 - The final details

On top of the head, sketch some patches using a bunch of circles and oval shapes. Then, you can draw a line inside all four tentacles that are connected to the front of the character. That's it for the drawing aspect of this lesson on how to draw an octopus. Let's apply some colors!

How to draw an octopus

step 6 - Purple ... that's the color you need!

Select a simple purple color that you can apply inside the creature. Make sure that the patches, the pupils and the tentacles that are behind the cartoon animal are filled with a darker version of the purple color selected for the body. As for the lines found inside all four tentacles in front, you can use a light purple color to complete this step.

How to draw an octopus

A tough skin to illustrate!

Octopuses are fun animal to draw, but creating a realistic skin can become a nightmare! The texture of this creature can be compared to rubber and this material can be difficult to represent in an illustration. Below, I will show you how to use a few basic effects to end up with a nice texture.

Please note that only the top of the head will be used for this example. This area is huge and easier to read. You can apply these techniques on any part of the character once you are familiar with them.

Of course, these effects are easier to duplicate if you have access to a vector software. Don't worry! If you only have access to pencils, then you can still use these tips to create something that is visually appealing. Ready to proceed with the second part of this lesson on how to draw an octopus? Cool! Let's do it! :)

Let's start with some gradient fills

So far the drawing was filled with plain colors ... that's why it felt like a 2D character. The first step would be to use the gradient fill tool to create some depth inside the illustration. Notice how the bottom of the character is now darker. Tentacles that are behind the creature are also affected by this modification. Finally, all patches were partially hidden on the bottom to complete this step.

How to draw an octopus

more textures please ...

The skin of an octopus is complex and filled with small details that are hard to create. We don't need to draw all these small lines and shapes ... only a few basic additions are needed. First, let's draw more textures on the head using dark shapes.

Inside the small rectangle found on the left of the octopus, you can see the original shapes. I have used transparency to make sure that these new elements are nicely applied into the character.

How to draw an octopus

Adding reflection

Using a large shape filled with a bright pink color, you can now add some reflection on top of the head of the octopus. This is one technique that I really like to use to create depth and volume inside a character. Once again, transparency is used to complete the effect. 

How to draw an octopus

More reflection is needed

This time, a large circle colored in white is added on top of the head of the creature. Combine with the previous effect, we now have a head that feels genuine and almost translucent. Enough with reflections! Let's add some shadows now! :)

How to draw an octopus

One shadow to complete this part of the animal!

If the right of the head is bright and shiny, then it can be a good idea to make the left one dark and obscure. Using a large dark shape (as shown inside the small rectangle), you can now create an effect that will make the whole head visually appealing. We can now feel the depth and volume needed to end up with a more realistic illustration.

How to draw an octopus

It's not over yet!

You can now use all techniques found above to complete this cartoon character. In this case, I have added dark shapes around the eyes, some shiny details below the eyes and small shadows on all tentacles. Pretty cool!

How to draw an octopus

Good work learning how to draw an octopus with volume!

Don't hesitate to use all techniques above to create more characters like this one. It's up to you to decide the level of details that you want to create to end up with something simple and effective or extremely realistic. This lesson on how to draw an octopus was just a guideline to help you play with techniques that can be used anywhere.

Be careful not to "overuse" some of these tips. Too much shadows or reflections can be confusing and hard to read. 

Have fun and don't hesitate to try more characters from the same series now!


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Drawing Toons > How to Draw Cartoon Animals From the Sea > How to Draw an Octopus