Watercolor Sea Turtle for Beginners – Quick and EASY!

Follow along step by step and even beginners can paint a beautiful watercolor sea turtle that everyone will want! For more practice, paint several watercolor sea turtle cards and pick different colors for every card. Sea turtles are beautiful in a variety of shades.

Watercolor Sea Turtle Quick and Easy HANDOUTS

Suggested Colors for Sea Turtle for Beginners

  • Blues – any greenish blue – Cobalt, Cerulean, Phthalo (keep it watery and light), Turquoise
  • Burnt Sienna – to gray down the blue
  • Browns – use any browns, if you don’t have dark brown add black or Ultramarine Blue to your medium brown to make dark brown
  • White Gel Pen – Uni-ball Signo UM-153 White Gel Pen

Painting Steps for Quick and Easy Sea Turtle

Reference Photo on Pixabay.com

Reference photo of sea turtle from Pixabay

Step 1 – Draw or trace the outline of your sea turtle onto your watercolor paper with graphite paper. For best results with your smooth wash – use good paper and a soft wash brush.

Quick and easy sea turtle - first wash of watercolor paint

Step 2 – Apply the first wash of color on background.

Mix a light gray watery wash with a little blue and a little brown.

Paint the bottom sand area gray, going over the sea turtle.

Paint the top blue while the bottom is still wet. Mix a wash of light blue and paint the blue from just above the turtle up to the top.

For more color in the sand area, use slightly darker gray and a small brush to dab in some color.

Then dry the first layer VERY WELL.

Step 3 – Paint darker blue in the middle of the top area.

Rewet the paper with clean water and tilt to drip off any excess water. (If your paint smears, you can use a misting bottle to rewet without brushstrokes.)

Mix a thicker, darker puddle of watercolor blue and paint that in the middle of the blue area. Draw some round lines at the top for ripples.

Dry well. If the top is still too light, repeat this step until you are happy with the results.

Watercolor sea turtle with brown color

Step 3 – Paint the watercolor turtle with browns.

Get out some light, medium and dark brown.

(If you don’t have dark brown, mix your medium brown plus black or ultramarine blue.)

Paint the legs dark brown.

Paint the head and shell with your three colors – lighter on the right and darker on the left in a splotchy, mottled wash.

Step 4 – Add white lines to your turtle’s legs and shell with a gel pen, or white paint.

If using a gel pen, be sure your paper is DRY! Working on wet or damp paper quickly ruins the pen.

Draw the lines as you see them on the turtle. This is easier if you put your photo right beside your painting so you can look back and forth.

If you want the lines less pronounced, go over the white with more brown.

Step 5 – Adding more to your watercolor sea turtle painting.

Some great additions to your work might be:

  • a school of fish swimming in the water. (Top left side is best placement.)
  • ripples coming from the turtle as it swims with slightly darker gray paint.
  • or use a damp brush to lift some bubbles coming up from the turtle.
Finished watercolor painting of sea turtle by Deb Watson

Beginning Student Watercolor Sea Turtle Paintings

Some students used Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser to lift out sun beams. Use a damp piece and work from the lighter area to the darker area so you don’t smear paint.

Great art picks up where nature ends - Marc Chagall