How to

Draw a Scallop Shell in Six Steps

Are you interested in drawing but unsure where to start? Don’t worry! I’ll show you how to draw a beautiful scallop shell using just a few supplies. Even if you don’t have the exact tools, I’ll guide you on how to make do with what you have. Let’s get started!

Supplies You’ll Need

To draw this scallop shell, gather the following supplies:

  • Drawing Pencils: 2H, B, 2B (If unavailable, a regular writing pencil like No. 2 or HB will suffice)
  • Sketching paper labeled “medium” or “smooth”
  • Kneaded Rubber Eraser
  • Paper Mate Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick

Drawing in Proportion

Before we dive into the steps, here’s a helpful tip for beginners. It’s best to draw subjects at a one-to-one ratio, meaning you draw them at their actual size. This method makes it easier to measure accurately and identify any discrepancies in your drawing. For this tutorial, you can place the shell directly on your paper for convenient measurements.

Step 1: Outlining the Shell

Start by taking four measurements from the shell – its width, height, the point where the “fin” shaped joint flange meets the shell, and the curve break. Transfer these measurements to your drawing paper and use them as guides to outline the shape of the shell.

Scallop Shell Medium Fill

Step 2: Creating a Base Tone

Now, erase the guidelines and lightly tap the line drawing with a kneaded eraser to lighten it. Add a small guideline at the center top of the shell for reference. Using the tip of your pencil, fill the entire shell with hatching to create a medium value. Choose a value that falls between the lightest highlight and darkest shadow on the shell. To achieve a realistic texture, radiate the hatching from the bottom center, following the direction of the ridges.

Step 3: Adding Highlights and Shadows

Measure the distance between the top center downward ridge and the two lowest upward ridges of the shell. Mark these measurements on your drawing. Use a stick eraser to lift out the main highlights of the shell’s ridges. Make the ridges wider near the upper edge and gradually taper them thinner as they merge at the center bottom. Pay attention to the slight curves in the ridges and replicate them using your pencil as a straight edge. Draw the shadow lines alongside the ridges and along the bottom edge of the shell using the sharp point of your pencil.

Scallop Shell Gradation

Step 4: Observing the Light and Shadows

Take a moment to observe the overall shadow pattern by squinting your eyes at the shell. The light source is above and slightly in front of the shell, resulting in lighter details at the top and darker ones at the bottom. To mimic this value pattern, use short strokes with a stiff brush to darken the bottom part of the middle of the shell in an arc shape. Notice how the brushing doesn’t erase the previous details but darkens them, creating a realistic lighting effect.

Step 5: Creating Realistic Details

To make your drawing more lifelike, focus on drawing sharp and soft edges. The ridge edges near the top and sides of the shell should appear softer and less distinct. Lighten these edges using the tip of an eraser or by tapping the edges with a kneaded eraser. Soften the edges of the ridge highlights at the center of the shell and add some smudgy and indistinct dark details. For the shadows cast by the ridges near the bottom of the shell, use a sharp pencil tip with medium pressure.

Scallop Shell Final Details

Step 6: Finishing Touches

To complete your shell drawing, add shadows to the joint flange and darken the shadow cast on the paper. Introduce some nicks into the bottom of the shell’s fin using the eraser. Next, draw parallel detail stripes on the sides of the shell near the fin. Darken the ridge details near the bottom, add arcing details across the middle fan of the shell, and make the edge uneven and scalloped. Finally, erase the lightest highlights across the highest part of the shell at the center.

And there you have it! You’ve successfully drawn a stunning scallop shell. Feel free to adapt these steps to draw shells you encounter in reality. Now, go ahead and showcase your newfound drawing skills!

(Note: The images used in this article are property of

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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