In this lesson, I am going to show you how to draw a piranha. Well, one way to do it anyway… 😉 As I’ve stated before, one of my favourite things about drawing, is the fact that you have pretty much total freedom in what you do. The only limitations come from your own imagination and abilities. And both of these will grow and expand as you work and practice. (I would argue that this in itself is actually reason enough to start drawing! But that’s a topic for another day! 😉 )
A grain of Realism
Obviously when you’re drawing in a cartoon style, like I do most of the time, you have a greater amount of freedom in how you approach your drawing, than you would if you were to go for realism. But no matter which way you do it though, there has to be a certain amount of realism/accuracy in your drawing for you to be able to claim that you’re drawing something specific. In this case, looking at how to draw a piranha, I can’t just draw any old fish, and call it a piranha, just cause I feel like it… 😉
Enter the Google Search
So to start out, I do a quick google search, and look at some pictures of piranhas. I look at their fins, their general body shape, their colors etc. and then I base my drawing loosely on those observations. I can distort the features as much as I like, but some of the basics still have to be there. You can compare it to those people you often find in tourist areas drawing comic portraits. They take the features of their subject; distort them, and blow them out of proportion to give them a comic look, but you still have to be able to recognize the subject, otherwise it’s just a random drawing of somebody with a big nose and floppy ears…
Now whether I actually succeeded in capturing the features of a piranha, is obviously a matter of opinion. I’ll let you decide for yourself, but here are the steps that I took to get there. My take on how to draw a piranha:
Video first. Written steps down below!
The basic shape of the body.
Remember to draw very lightly in the beginning. Just take it slow, and find the shape you like. And don’t be afraid to erase and start over, if you feel like it. A good starting point makes everything after a lot easier!
Adding on to the basic shape from step one:
1: A guideline from top to bottom. I want to draw my piranha viewed from the front and side. Drawing a line like this, helps me to identify the middle of the body. Guidelines are immensely helpful in keeping the right perspective, which is super important in order to get a 3D feel of your drawing.
2: The basic shape of the mouth. Using the guideline from before, I can place the mouth, so that the top of the curve is right on the mid line of my fish.
3: The beginning of the tale. Coming of the back end of the body.
Adding some fins.
Again I’m starting with the basic shapes, details will come later.
The last two fins. The pectoral fins.
Also, the basic shape of the eyes. Here I am also very much using the guideline, that separates the body in half. This allows me to place the far eye in the right place, to get a convincing 3D effect.
The first few details.
Lower Lip, teeth, eyelids, pupils.
Notice the direction of the curving of the teeth. This also underlines the 3D effect. Very often you will find that seemingly small details make a huge difference. (As an experiment, you could try to draw the teeth all curving the same direction, and see what that looks like. I think you might be surprised! 😉 )
Erasing some of the guidelines, and adding structural lines in the fins.
On the fins, I am adding some cuts and irregularities. This gives him some battle scars, and some personality.
Also, gills, lines under the eyes, and some scales.
Finally, I drew a few bubbles just to give the illusion of being under water. (notice the shading of the bubbles. I just saw that on another drawing, and picked it up. 😉 I think it works quite well… )
Outlining in ink. I used a fine liner for this.
Again, done with a fine liner, and using basic crosshatching. I am trying to keep the lines going with the shape of the fish, to underline the 3D effect.
I used two shades of blue, a Grey, a red and an orange. And then I used a white posca for some highlights along the back and fins.
If you look closely, it’s fairly easy to see where the different colours go. The challenging part is making them blend into each other relatively smoothly.
(One thing I did, which I’ll definitely recommend, is that I took a photocopy of my drawing, and experimented a bit on that, before starting out on my original. This allowed for some highly needed practice! 😉 I still managed to go quite a bit overboard with the orange and reds on the belly of my fish. This was supposed to be a lot more subtle. But that’s the learning process, right?!? )
Now, on a general note, colouring is a huge area all by itself, and I will be adding some lessons around this subject, as I learn some more. (Consider, for instance, the fact that for comic books you often have separate artists doing only the coloring. This says something about the magnitude and difficulty of it!)
And here we are, at the end. This is my take on how to draw a piranha. I hope this made sense to you, and that you learned something from it. If you try it out, I’d love to see the result, or just hear a bit about your experience with the lesson. So please comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
And remember: Drawing is s skill – let’s learn it!