How to Draw a Cartoon Dolphin

Cartoon dolphin drawing

In this lesson, learn how to draw a cartoon dolphin - everyone's number one favorite friendly creature of the sea.

Here, I'd like to show you how to create a dolphin designed closer to a character that I came up with a while back.

As you can see to the right - this dolphin's got a unique 'character' of his own... perched upright with a big smile on his face!

And yes, if you're successful at drawing the dolphin here, then after - you should be in good shape to tackle other similar-looking animals such as a whale or a shark.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet!

On with the dolphin...

First Step - A Framework of Circles, Ovals, and Lines

This particular porpoise is drawn sitting upright in a vertical position - much more 'cartoony' than the traditional swimming dolphin positioned horizontally from head to tail. Take a look at how the shapes come together below to form a framework...

Drawing a framework for a cartoon dolphin Adding details to the dolphin framework

Go ahead and draw a framework of your own. Note the simplicity involved -- two circles for the head and tail, a couple ovals for the body - and some lines to mark the position of the angular parts of the dolphin... snout, fins, and tail.

While your framework doesn't have to look exactly like mine, I do recommend you aim to get a close likeness. Do this and it's on to the second step!...

Second Step - Four Phases to Develop Your Cartoon Dolphin

Now go ahead and using the framework, slowly develop the curved lines that make up the actual drawing. The four phases below are helpful as they illustrate in sequence an ideal way to go about it. Again, take your time!...

Drawing the eye and snout of the cartoon dolphin Drawing the stomach of the cartoon dolphin Drawing the head of the cartoon dolphin Drawing the tail of the cartoon dolphin

Working through each phase, you'll surely notice that I've intentionally left a couple breaks - one on the back -- the other where the tail goes. Whenever you draw with a framework, you have the luxury of slowly bringing your drawing into view. Proportion is the least of your worries, so take advantage of this whenever you draw something in this way!

And yes... the gaps are left open so that you then go ahead and carefully draw in the back fin and the tail. Let's do that next in one last step, along with the side fins and a few details as well...

Drawing of a cartoon dolphin

Final Step - Cartoon Dolphin Complete!

Slowly but surely, your cartoon dolphin comes into form and view as you position the fins and tail according to the framework that you drew.

And much the same as in other lessons, you can now get rid of your lightly sketched framework with a good eraser. Do this and all that's left is the drawing of your cartoon dolphin!

If you like, have a look at the finished dolphin up at the top of the page. It'll help you with the coloring if you choose to go that route. You may even want to change your drawing a bit more... maybe it's a certain type of dolphin? Add the necessary details and/or colors to get the look you're aiming for. And after that - you're all finished!

Good job! :-)