How to Draw a Shark: Step by Step

how to draw a sharkMaybe you are taking your first steps towards developing your artistic skills. Maybe you love marine life and want to learn more. Or maybe you just can’t get the theme music to “Jaws” out of your head! Whatever the reason, you want to learn how to draw a shark step by step.

Learning to draw a shark is a fun way to develop your artistic skills. It could be you just picked up a pencil for the first time – or possibly you are already doodling like Leonardo da Vinci. No matter what your skill level, you can learn to draw a shark in a number of steps.

Developing your skill with pencil and paper is something that will come with practice. After you learn the basics of how an image is illustrated, you just need to keep working. Try drawing from life and from your imagination. Try drawing animals, objects, and people. Soon you will be drawing with confidence!

Seeing the Shapes

Drawing entails transferring what the eye sees onto the paper in front of you. This can be a frustrating endeavor when you first starting out because the difference between the reality and your rendering of it is so stark! But the first thing to do is to break each object down into its basic geometric shapes.

Look at something nearby – say, your keyboard – and notice how it is comprised of different shapes and lines, visually speaking. The entire keyboard is a rectangle. Each individual key is a square or a rectangle of some size. Notice smaller details, like the rounded corners. Notice, too, the comparative size of the smaller elements, and the height of the keys. Drawing a keyboard would entail sketching out the first large rectangle, filling in the smaller details, and then adding shading and detail to add realism.

Drawing a shark starts with being able to draw circles, triangles, and lines. Learning to break down the image visually will help you assemble these simpler shapes into the final image. With practice, what you see will be what you get – on the paper.

As a beginner, you may want to start by drawing from a model or photograph. This will help you see the shapes, understand the relative size of each element, and gives you a source so you can refer back to something when you have a question. More advanced artists can draw a shark from their own imagination.

Choosing Your Art Supplies

Naturally you will need some sort of writing utensil and writing surface in order to draw! But you may be daunted by the number of choices. Go to an art supply store and try out different materials to find your favorite. You can also ask a store employee for recommendations. Beginners will want to start with a pencil and eraser. That is more forgiving than drawing with pen and ink.

The most important factor in deciding what to get is what feels comfortable to you as you draw. You can start with a pencil and a sheet of printer paper and then, as you get more skilled at drawing, work your way up towards more sophisticated supplies.

Drawing from a Photograph

One of the secrets to drawing is that copying from a photograph is an easy way to learn. Some people would not have the skill to draw their own little simple sketches but can still reproduce a photograph with pencil and paper. (The reverse is also true, of course. Some others can doodle all they want and create their own characters but never come close to realism.) Fold a photograph into fourths. Then focus on just one quadrant of the image at a time to make the task easier to handle. Do not try to draw or trace the outline – try instead to break it down into shapes.

For instance, a shark breaks down into ovals and triangles quite easily. Each fin is a triangle, and the long sleek body – with some tweaking – is an oblong oval. Sketch out the shapes as they relate to each other. Then erase the interior lines that connect those shapes – for instance, the line between a triangular dorsal fin shape and the oval body shape – to make it one whole image.

How to Draw a Shark Step By Step

  1. Draw a triangle with the point towards the right and the base at the left. This will be the head.
  2. Draw a slightly ballooned-out rectangular shape extending to the left from the end of the triangle. This will be the body.
  3. Draw a curved triangular shape the slopes downwards at the end of the rectangle, on the left. This will be the tail.
  4. Next, draw triangles to be the fins. You need the dorsal (or back) fin, which does not curve. (A curved dorsal fin is what dolphins have!) You also need a pair of pectoral fins – the “arms” of the shark. Depending on the species of shark you draw, there may be smaller fins along the underside and top of the shark as well. A great white shark, for instance, has a small anal fin on the underside of the tail, and a smaller secondary dorsal fin on the upper side.
  5. Draw triangles pointing in opposite directions as the tail fins next. One points up and one points down at the left-most tip of your shark.
  6. Add detail to the head. Add a line for the mouth, and round out the line of its jaw. Add a nostril and an eye.
  7. Darken the outlined lines that you need for the shark’s basic shape and erase the interior lines.
  8. Add five gills to the side of the shark, behind the eyes but before the pectoral fins. The gills run vertically and are evenly spaced.
  9. Next, add a line curving along the length of the shark to divide the pigmentation. The shark tends to have a white belly and mouth, with a bluish gray upper body.
  10. If you choose to do so, you can now use colored pencils to color in the shark.

The more your practice the better you will get! And of course this is just one take on one angle of a shark. You can study photographs, live sharks, or specimens in a museum to learn more of the details of a shark’s appearance. Bring along a sketch pad or snap photos with your smartphone. This way you will have the visual reminders when you sit down to draw once again!

Maybe you want to try drawing a shark with its mouth wide open, baring its teeth, as it lunges towards prey. Maybe you want to show a shark jumping out of the water. Or maybe you want to try taking on a drawing challenge by illustrating a more obscure species of shark, like the hammerhead or goblin shark.

Just practice what you already know. Observe the shark or the image and break it down into shapes. Then sketch those out in relation to each other. Start with the basics and add detail as you go along. Erase the connecting lines at the end. Then color it in or add scene details if you want.

Drawing well requires plenty of practice but you can perfect your skills over time. Because once you start assembling the different elements of your drawing, you will become a better artist and will be surprised at what you can draw. Smaller basic elements – like circles and triangles – come together to compose a larger image. Keep practicing and you will be drawing sharks like a pro.