How to

How To Draw a Turtle: 10 Easy Drawing Projects

If you’re interested in discovering the art of sketching a turtle, you’re in for an exciting journey. Drawing turtles may not be challenging, but it does require a combination of shellfish carapace and reptile scales.

How To Draw a Turtle

Different Turtle Varieties to Capture on Paper

With dozens of turtle species worldwide, here are some captivating ones to add to your sketchbook.


  • Dome-like shell
  • Elephant-like feet
  • Large size

Tortoises, large turtles that spend most of their lives on land and have a remarkable lifespan, make for a challenging subject to sketch alongside a regular turtle.

Box Turtle

  • Resemble small tortoises
  • Long claws
  • Orange eyes (often)
  • Distinct lined pattern
  • High arched shell

Box turtles, although commonly seen as pets, are not named for their popularity as pets. You can enhance the uniqueness of your drawing by placing them inside a box.

Sea Turtle

  • Flippers
  • Unique pattern
  • Green tones
  • Slanted eyes

Sea turtles are marine creatures that possess a streamlined shape, allowing them to swiftly navigate through saltwater. When sketching a sea turtle, pay close attention to their eye shape and coloration.

Snapping Turtle

  • Spiky back
  • Hooked mouth
  • Webbed feet
  • Solid color with a faint pattern

Snapping turtles resemble freshwater sea turtles due to their webbed feet, but they are distinct for their dangerous mouths that can deliver a powerful bite.

Spiny Turtle

  • Spiky shell outline
  • Small size
  • Brown coloration

Spiny turtles stand out with their shell shaped like a sawblade. They are petite in size and have a subtle pattern on their shells.

Pond Slider

  • Tiny size
  • Colorful appearance
  • Thin feet

Pond sliders can be found in freshwater habitats and are often kept as pets in aquariums or terrariums. Drawing them within their natural habitat adds an element of accuracy to your artwork.

Tips for Capturing a Turtle’s Essence on Paper

  • Use ovals instead of circles
  • Imperfect patterns give a realistic touch
  • Remember that scales differ from those found on snakes or lizards
  • Create a 3D effect on the shell
  • Practice drawing a turtle inside its shell

Step-By-Step Tutorial: How to Sketch a Realistic Turtle

Step-by-step tutorial


  • Paper
  • 2B pencils
  • 4B pencils
  • 6B pencil (optional)
  • Blending stump

Step 1: Draw Ovals

Sketch five ovals: one large oval for the shell, one medium-sized oval for the head, and three small ovals for the legs.

Step 2: Shape the Shell

Give the shell a slight curvature, with the bottom being flatter. Maintain an arched shape for the top.

Step 3: Connect the Bottom

Draw the bottom part of the shell, starting from the back and extending down to the bottom of the head.

Step 4: Draw the Neck

Sketch a loose and non-linear neck, connecting the bottom part of the shell to the head.

Step 5: Add Eye and Mouth

Draw the turtle’s eye, which resembles eyes of other animals, a crooked mouth, and nostrils. The eye should have whites and a pupil, without an iris.

Step 6: Draw the Legs

Since one leg won’t be visible, focus on sketching three legs. Create curving lines that extend outwards and then bend downwards, adding wrinkles at the joints.

Step 7: Draw the Claws

The claws should resemble tiny, elongated toenails. Each foot should have four equally-sized claws.

Step 8: Detail the Shell Pattern

The polygonal pattern on the shell can be challenging to replicate. Refer to real turtle photographs or other artworks for inspiration.

Step 9: Add Scales

Drawing the scales on the turtle’s skin can also be a complex task. However, mastering this skill will enable you to draw similar scales on other reptiles.

Step 10: Shade

Use different pencils to shade the turtle. Utilize a 6B pencil for the interior of the shell, a 4B pencil for the crevices, and a 2B pencil for the remaining areas.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sketching Turtles

What is the most challenging part of sketching a turtle?

The most challenging aspect of drawing a turtle is capturing the intricacies of its shell. It requires a sense of depth and is unlike anything else in nature.

What do turtles symbolize in art?

Turtles hold various symbolic meanings in different cultures. However, they often represent wisdom, knowledge, and groundedness.

Why should you learn how to draw a turtle?

Although drawing a turtle may not be a necessity in daily life, it offers numerous benefits. You can use your artwork to show appreciation to a friend who loves turtles, or use the skills learned to draw other reptiles and amphibians.


By mastering the art of sketching a turtle, you pave the way to capture the essence of other reptiles and amphibians. You have now acquired the skills to depict carapaces, scales, and flippers, opening doors to create extraordinary creatures with your pencil and paper.

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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