Colouring a Mermaid: Step by Step Tutorial



Hi everyone, today I would like to show you step by step how you can colour an A4 sized project using only 15 Spectrum Noir coloured pencils in combination with a white drawing pencil. By mixing colours you can create different tones and hues to create the result you are going for!

Let’s get started!


Step 1:

I started my project by printing a digital image by Kellee Art (available on Etsy) called “Fishy Friends” onto Strathmore “Toned Tan” paper. Next I figured out where I generally wanted my highlights to go, pretending that my light-source is in the top left hand corner, and applied a white drawing pencil in these area’s. Not to heavy handedly so that I can not correct this later on if I would wish so, but to create a general plan of what I wanted my project to look like.


Step 2:

There is about 30 hours of colouring involved in this project, using 15 coloured pencils and a white drawing pencil. This is a large project, if you don’t want to spent that much time on one image you can print it smaller or leave out the details.

I felt like starting with some bright colours and therefore I began colouring the tail fins: for this I used the Spectrum Noir ColourBlend coloured pencils in “Pink Violet” and “Velvet” (later on I will also add in some “Lake Blue” to deepen the shadows creating more contrast).

I kept the highlights in mind and started adding several layers of the pink and the purple, mixing the colours on the paper and also keeping my highlights in mind. I always test the colours that I want to use on a piece of scrap paper, this is how I know that the colours I use on the actual project will blend nicely together and create the effect that I’m going for.


Step 3:

After the first fin I started colouring the smaller tail fins adding in some “Lake Blue” in combination with “Jade”. I worked upwards on the body, mixing the four colours that I have used until now together, adding more and more thin layers until one side of the body looks like I want it.


Step 4:

I wanted the body to have a rounded feel, the shadows will therefore have darker colours and the area’s where the sun will hit the body will have lighter colours. After colouring for a while take a brake and start with fresh eyes or take some distance to your project, this way you will notice area’s that need more work until you feel it looks like you want it to look!

Here you can also see that I have missed the lower part of her body (beneath the hip fin), until I have started colouring the corals/reefs that she is sitting on. I missed it the other times I was working on that area. It’s okay, I added the right colours in later on!


Step 5:

Still using the same four coloured pencils that I used before I mix and match until all the fins on her body (not the face) are all coloured in. If you feel an already completed area of your project needs adjusting then please do!


Step 6:

Your coloured image will look more put together if you don’t add any additional colours that are not necessary. Her eyes will be the same green shade that is in the tail and her lips will be the same pink colour as I used on the tail. Use the same colours in different area’s of your image and the image will feel balanced!

Her skin will almost look the same as the colour of the paper: for this I used “Snow” and “Rose Peach” mixing the colours on the paper.


Step 7:

Add in some of the “Lake Blue”, with a very light hand, to create the deeper shadows in her skin (and the feel that her body is actually in the water).


Step 8:

Next I’m working on the fish, the flower and the bracelet, again, repeating some of the same colours in different area’s of my project: for the yellow parts I used “Bumblebee” and “Nectarine”, and for the black in the fish I used “Taupe” and “Black”. I also added in some of the green “Jade” colour in the bracelet.

For the coral/reef she is sitting on I first added some bright colours and in my next step I will mute them down using some darker tones. The pink and orange tones that I use in the brighter shades I will also use for the seashell in her hair. For this I used “Bright Red” and “Nectarine”.


Step 9:

Here I have toned down the brighter coral/reef colour with “Auburn” and “Lake Blue”. You can only add more layers on the paper if you didn’t push too hard on your pencil in the first layers, once you start adding a lot of pressure to the pencil you can’t add any more layers, wait with the ‘burnishing’ part until you are sure you have reached your final layers!


Step 10:

Before colouring the hair I coloured the area around the mermaid as well as the air bubbles using the “Lake Blue” colour once more in combination with the white drawing pencil. This puts the image more in the foreground.


Step 11:

This image had gorgeous elaborate hair but hair is not always the easiest part of an image to colour. I started by choosing the shadow parts first: here I used a combination of “Cinnamon”, “Bark” and “Black”. Colouring each strand of hair separately!


Step 12:

Next I’m colouring the remaining parts, strand by strand, but this time adding in more of the “Yellow Ochre” coloured pencil. This took quite some time, and it helps to step back once in a while to keep focused!


Step 13:

When all of the hair is coloured the only part that remains are the rocks, for which I used a combination of the same brown tones that I used for the hair. If you felt you lost some of the details of the black printed lines you can go over them using a Spectrum Noir ArtLiner. And than my project is finally finished!


Detail picture:


You can find all the Spectrum Noir ColourBlend pencils that I used on today’s project in the following sets: Primaries, Essentials, Florals, Naturals and Soft Tints.


I’m really happy with how this project turned out, I think I will save her in my art journal!

I wish you a creative day!

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