Sea otter tutorial

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Sea otters will hold hands so they don’t drift apart from each other while they rest which might be the most precious thing ever. Did you know when they do this in a group it's called a raft?

Since this month's theme is "Better Together" let’s draw a pair of snuggly sea otters! Follow along with my tutorial and post your result on DeviantArt with the tag #BetterTogetherTutorial to get this adorable badge for your profile!

Seaotters 5x

This tutorial is presented using digital media but can be done traditionally as well.

Start off by drawing a heart! Roughly the same shape as the heart shaped candies you get around Valentine’s Day so not too narrow but also not too squat.


Now inside the upper part of the heart on the left side, draw a big number 3. Do the same on the other side. You’ll have two kidney beans inside the heart. This is going to be the body of the two otters.


Close off the upper part of the 3’s on both sides to represent the head of the otters. Now draw in a few loops at the bottom toward the point of the heart to make the tails. I like to keep everything nice and soft so I’m rounding out the points of my tails!


For the faces, draw two big dots and a “T” shape between and below them for the nose. Draw an arc at the bottom stem of the “T” for the mouth. The other otter’s face will be almost the same but I’ll give this one a sideways “3” for a mouth and closed eyes.


Now we can add the paws! Just a few “U” shapes here and there will represent most of the paws but I want to make sure that they look like they are holding hands also. For that part, draw an “S” shape between them (highlighted in purple). Oh, and don’t forget the ears!


Now that the composition is done, I make my sketch a bit lighter (or you can lightly erase if you’ve been penciling) so that I can do my lineart! Above my sketch, I do my more detailed lineart where I add fur and toe beans.


For color, sea otters are mostly a shade of brown with cute pale faces. I add a bit of blue behind them to make them look like they are floating together. Shading can be up to you but I like making the faces just a bit darker between the eyes and giving just a bit of soft shading around the edges of the bodies.


With the shading done, it’s time for details. I’m adding in sketchy lines to suggest the rest of the fur.


How much detail is up to you! I like to color the lineart by using a transparency lock (this can also be done with a clipping mask). I’m also adding a bit of highlight around the feet and here and there on the fur. Finally, adding a few overlapping lighter blue lines around their bodies gives the illusion that the bodies are slightly in the water and that our otter couple is floating happily!


Be sure to share what you create in the comments! I'm so excited to see them and a big thank you to DeviantArt for sponsoring this tutorial!

Don't forget to include the #BetterTogetherTutorial tag when you upload yours to DeviantArt so you can get the badge for your profile!

Seaotters 5x

Join me back here on this journal for a live Q&A where you can ask me questions about my artwork, process, or whatever!

Day: Monday February 05, 2024

Time: 1PM EST (10AM PST)

If you're looking to use the same digital brush that I used in this tutorial, it's the first brush in my free set! These will work in Photoshop, ClipStudioPaint, and Procreate!

TsaoShin Full Brushes Set

Here's how I draw in a lineless style and how I work with my layers to create the effect you see here!

How to Draw in a Lineless Style - Tutorial
© 2024 TsaoShin
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