How to Draw a Realistic Honu (Green Sea Turtle) Underwater in Colored Pencil

How to Draw a Realistic Honu (Green Sea Turtle) Underwater in Colored Pencil

Today I am going to show you how I drew this
honu (which is the Hawaiian word for green sea turtle) in colored pencil. For the materials, I used mainly prismacolor colored
pencils, but some Faber-castell Polychromos pencils for finer details. The paper is Strathmore Bristol smooth paper
300 series 100 lb. this is important to use a good artist quality paper because with colored
pencils you are burnishing a lot and using many layers of color and also solvent that
will damage or warp thinner and low quality paper. For the full list of materials used, please
see the desecription box below For bonus real time clips of me working on
this piece, please watch until the end. You will be able to see in better detail how
I work on the scales and neck wrinkles of the honu, as well as a part of the coral
Now that we got all that info out of the way, let’s start with the tutorial. So going back a little, I started off with
the eyes of the honu. With eyes, I try to use an indigo or dark
blue, and mix it with a dark brown to get varying tones of black. This way, the parts of the eye won’t look
so flat. With colored pencil, you always want to mix
a lot of different colors to get different shades and tones to achieve a more three dimentional
and realistic look. So even if something appears to be a certain
color, take a closer look at your reference photo and you will see there are many different
colors in there. Next I go over the parts around the eyes and
the scales and the mouth. When working on different parts of the honu,
you always need to consider a few things: What colors make up this section I am working
on? What texture am I trying to replicate? For colors, you want to again look at your
reference photo and pull several matching colors to mix. Use a scratch piece of paper as your palate
to see if the colors work well. Then also consider the texture. What kind of strokes you need to make, and
how hard you need to press the pencil down to create the different textures. For example, here I am working on the mouth
and neck of the honu. There are whites, cream colors, yellows, oranges,
browns, grays, and even blues on the reference photo. Because this is the light part of the honu,
I can’t press too hard on the darker colors or it will look too dark and I won’t be
able to fix these parts as easily. I
start by lightly shading the honu with a cream color, then adding a slightly darker color
like a brownish green color, and adding the mid-tone shadows using a darker gray, then
adding the fine details of the wrinkles using a very sharp pencil. With prismacolor pencils, Fine details are
harder to achieve once you have a lot of layers down because they are waxed based pencils,
and the surface becomes too slick to add more layers on. I switch to Polychoromos pencils later for
fine details in the wrinkles because this is an oil based pencil and have a harder lead,
and can layer on top of the wax with no problem. Polychromos pencils are more expensive, so
I do not have a ton of colors available. Next I start to work on the scales on the
honu’s fin. I actually used a lot of different methods
for the scales on this turtle. For the scales on the head, I burnished the
base color immediately by pressing the pencil hard into the grooves of the paper right away. Then I added other colors on top. This method worked alright, but because of
the wax build up it was harder for the different layers of colors to show up. The end result was a less realistic scale
in comparison to the other methods I used. What worked best was lightly shading the scales
with the base color (in this case, a dark grape color), using different pressure on
my pencil depending on the shading or texture of the scale, and then adding more layers
of color on top, and burnishing with the top layer colors by pressing hard. Then I go in with the electric eraser to pull
highlights, and textures, and going over the erased parts with various colors. It is also good to add colors from the ocean
onto the piece, and they do reflect off of the honu. Moving on to the shell, I lightly outline
the plates of the shell with the base color of the grooves that are between each plate. Then I begin to color the shell starting with
the dark parts near the neck. I slowly build up layers of color, as I move
to the top of the shell. The various colors selected offer a good transition
of shade. Be sure you are selecting colors that will
help you achieve the illusion of depth and dimension. So in this case, the darkest shadows under
the shell I use the dark grape color, then as I transition into the lighter areas, I
use a mixture of browns, greens, reddish browns, and as the shell gets into the light areas,
I use yellows. There are also greys and blues mixed in there. Again, always keeping in mind the textures
you are trying to achieve. The shell is a smooth surface, but realistically
there are a lot of blemishes and bumps on there. Always check that you are copying your reference
photo accurately. Now I’m continuing on with the scales on
the fin again, as I got a little side track with the shell. You will notice I used the pencil eraser to
erase some of the scales on the edge of his fin. This wasn’t a method I was using. I just realized I had colored too far onto
the fin where it was supposed to be a lighter peachy yellow color. It worked out because it created a soft transition. So I just continue on to the rest of the scales,
and work on the back fin, and the front fins using the same methods previously mentioned. Also want to point out that I left the parts
that are reflecting sunlight completely white. So the top of the head, shell, and top of
the fin, and some other random parts are all still white. It might look strange, but will make more
sense as the whole piece comes together. I outlined where the edges should be with
the color I use for the ocean, just so that I can keep my place when I erase the pencil. This way I don’t accidentally color parts
that should be left white. So here I’m working on the under part of
the right front fin. Again, using lots of different colors to create
depth, shape, dimension,and realism and using the pencil eraser to pull highlights and textures. Always be aware as to how the pressure of
your pencil is affecting the results you are trying to achieve. Also, the sharpness of the pencil matters. Fine point for fine details, and a more blunt
point or use the side of the pencil for shading. As you start completing more and more sections
of your drawing, you may see that you need to go back and make adjustments. It’s good practice to take a step back from
your piece and look at how the shades and tones are working together in comparison to
the different sections you worked on. You may need to adjust colors, or even darken
up some areas as they appear too bright in contrast to another part. For example, my honu’s neck needed to be
darkened a few times as it looked too bright in comparison to some parts of the turtle
that were in shadow. Now I start working on the water, starting
at the top where the light is reflecting through some waves. First I erase my pencil markings. You can tell I drew a grid on the paper. I usually use a grid to scketch out my drawing. What you do is draw a grid on your reference
photo, and then you draw the same grid on your drawing paper. Then using the grid as a map, you map out
the drawing onto your paper. It’s just a way to break down the drawing
into simpler shapes for you to follow, and helps to maintain your proportions and accuracy. So back to the ocean, I started off by using
a light sky blue to shade the top of the water, making sure not to color over the white parts
that are supposed to be light shinign through some ripples and waves. Then I used a slightly darker shade of blue
around the light areas to create more depth. Then I began with the darkest blue (this is
like a greenish blue color), and pressed hard to shade the whole bottom section of the ocean. I actually was testing out several methods
to achieve the look of the water, and failed at the first attempt. The attempt was to make a gradient look from
dark to light by pressing hard with the dark color, and then adding the next shade beside
it and a blending it a little together too. This however did not work well for me even
with using paint thinner. So I ended up coloring over everything in
one base color, and blending other colors on top as needed. As I work on the top of the water, I blend
out the dark parts with lighter shades. I also burnish the edges of the white sections
so they blend more smoothly into the light blue areas, as well as add a slightly darker
blue in between to add more depth. I also use a white or a sky blue to add tiny
water ripples where the water begins to darken, and use a dark blue to add some shadow ripples
as well. The blue Polychromos shows up better since
the water is pretty waxy at this point. Now I start to add the sun rays shining through
the water. I use a ruler to make straight lines where
I want them. Be sure you are using proper angles, as I
messed mine up and it was hard to fix. It still is a bit crooked, but I did the best
I could to recover. Then pressing really hard, I shade with the
white. The white prismacolor is pretty opaque, but
still is very hard to achieve the whitness I wanted so I tried using a pencil eraser
to pull some color off. It worked okay, but not as well as I wanted. I just kept working at this for a while, and
even used some odorless paint thinner to blend out the strokes and pull some wax off. As you can see it took a lot of refining and
fixing, especially when trying to pull the rays from the white parts of the water as
it just smeared downwards. I would have to erase the smears, and constantly
fix. It probably would have been better if the
rays were left white to begin with. With the ocean water complete, I can go back
and make more touch up s on my turtle. Darkening up various parts as needed. Now I can start on the coral. I work on the coral in the background first. I map out the different coral first, then
coloring in the base colors. I use small circular strokes to replicate
the texture of the coral. Since this coral is in the background, I’m
not going to worry about too much detail. Also, the color of the coral in the background
will look more like the color of the ocean. I add darker shades to draw the general shapes
and shadows in the coral, but again not trying to make a whole lot of detail. I use a dark gray color in the very background
to just draw outlines of more coral. The prismacolor gray was just looking awful
at this point because of the wax build up, but the polychormos worked well. I just continue on to the next section of
coral. Just keeping in mind how close the coral is
to the viewer, so I know how much color and detail should be showing through. As I say, always check your reference photo. As you get to the coral in the foreground,
you will be adding a lot more detail so build up shapes using various colors and shades
of colors. Remember, things are never lined with harsh
lines. I draw the shapes of coral by building up
the shadows. Even though I am using a lot of different
color pencils in the coral, it still actually looks too uniform and makes it look really
flat. This piece of coral looks like it’s photographed
in a perfectly lit studio, which is not how it should look. There should be a lot more varying shades
and shadows on different parts to make it look more realistic. I should have gone back and did more touch
ups. I move on to more sections of the coral, and
one technique I used for the background coral making small circles in dark gray, then burnishing
over the circles with the ocean color by pressing hard with my pencil. This method works well in getting the out
of focus, and faded look. You will also notice I am lining the shapes
of the coral in the foreground, but I’m not intending to leave it with the harsh line. The color I’m using is the base color, and
I will add shadows and highlights to blend out those lines better. I also go in several times with the odorless
paint thinner, and use a very fine tip round brush to brush onto the inside parts of the
coral. This helps remove the crayon look and burnish
the colors better. Drawing all of the coral was pretty tedious
and boring for me, so it was hard to keep going without trying to just rush through
it. So you will notice as I get further along,
I did get really lazy especially on the two sections of coral on the right. I began drawing really quick circles all over
the place, when really I should have been making the details better since they are sitting
in the front of the viewer. I saw the end in sight, and I just wanted
to get it done. This was a mistake, and made the piece look
awful. It’s never a good idea to rush a piece because
it is such a long process, and you don’t want to throw away all your hard work and
mess up your drawing just because you got lazy on one little section. I went back the next day and looked at it,
and had to redo that section of coral, fixing the details up. Lastly, going in and touching up the other
coral more to add more shadows to make it look less flat, and then touching up the turtle
in the very end as well Alright, well here is the final piece. I hope you found this video helpful. Stay tuned for bonus real time clips, and
don’t forget to check out the other videos on my channel. Thanks for watching!

Randy Schultz

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10 thoughts on “How to Draw a Realistic Honu (Green Sea Turtle) Underwater in Colored Pencil

  1. Patricia Annabella says:

    thank you so much for making such a helpful tutorial! i really like your drawing!!

  2. Alex Zein says:

    Thank you Artwork in progress 808 i found this video really helpful and i thought that it was very fun that you drew a honu since i was born and grew up on Hawaii myself

  3. Pure Grace says:

    This is beautiful!. I'm shocked you don't have more uploaded. Subscribing in case you do more:)

  4. Alex Zein says:

    I am from maui

  5. Badhoo 123 says:


  6. Artist - Hyperrealistic Art says:

    this is beautiful drawing! that's so good, realistic too, awesome and I liked this….๐Ÿ‘ โ˜บ

  7. Mary BeVard says:

    Your pieces are beautiful! Iโ€™m so inspired by your talent. Hope to see more of your videos

  8. Annika Bergesen says:

    I absolutely love this! Amazzing job! Do you have a video of how you drew out the sketch?

  9. Mika B says:

    Fantastic, especially liked the tips you gave and the fact you pointed out the problems as well as how to avoid them!
    TFS, you're very talented ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Krystle and April says:

    Beautiful! Actually I saw your drawing somewhere else online and I found my way to your YouTube channel because I was really impressed with this picture. Despite the struggles you went through while drawing this, it turned out so nice. Iโ€™m forever seeking out good artists in case I can learn anything new from their methods. (Eventually I will be posting my art properly online and moving forward professionally. Right now itโ€™s practice and learning and gathering as much as I can to add to my portfolio.)

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