How To Paint a Mermaid: An Easy Tutorial for Beginners

Channel your inner mermaid with this easy step-by-step tutorial! If you’ve always wanted to envision yourself in a beautiful, rocky, ocean scenery as a quirky little mermaid, then this tutorial is for you! With a beautiful moonlit, starry sky, and a reflective ocean with your little mermaid friends, indulge yourself in this beautiful scenery featuring your mermaid self!

Step 1: Prep your materials!

For this tutorial you may need the following materials:
- A canvas size of your choice
- For the paints: White, Black, Dark Blue, Magenta, Medium Yellow, and Green
- For your tools you will need: 3/4" flat brush, 1/4" flat brush, Size 6 round brush, 1 Q-tip, pencil, white chalk, a water jar, a palette, paper towels.
- Optional: Silver paint marker, white paint marker, round object (trace the moon shape).

Step 2: Start on your dreamy, moon lit background 

Imagine as if you were stargazing on the countryside, paint your starry sky first by using black at the very top of your canvas, then add your dark blue in the middle, and a bit of magenta to your blue paint to make a purple colour then add that as the last part of your sky where it meets the ocean. Try making it look as if the colours were melting with each other by blending the colours in the middle of each transition instead of just leaving them with sharp lines. Then, use your magenta colour to paint the first part of your ocean, just where the sky meets it. Then follow it with some purple, then lastly blue.

Step 3: Add details to your background

Using some more paint, use a darker purple colour and brush horizontally across the first part of the ocean to create wave-like features on the water. Do this to more areas of your ocean to mimic soft waves. Use some white paint to add on your stars. To do this, use a flicking motion with your brush with another brush by hitting your brush with white paint against another brush to create a scatter of stars. Use a paper towel to cover your ocean area to prevent adding paint on it. Add your moon! It’s up to you if you’d like it to be a full moon, or a crescent moon.

Step 4: Add your mermaid!

Before actually painting your mermaid, use some white chalk to sketch out the frame of your mermaid. Don’t be afraid to add in some mermaid tails in the backgrounds for your little mermaid friends! After that, add some white strokes for the reflection of your moon on the ocean, then add some rocks on the sides and where your mermaid is sitting. Use black paint to paint in the rocks. Then, to make a dark grey color, mix a little white with black and paint it in random locations over your black rocks.

Make your mermaid's skin hue. Mix equal parts cadmium yellow, quinacridone magenta, and ultramarine blue (a warmer skin tone may require more magenta and/or yellow). Then, to lighten the combination to the desired skin tone, add small amounts of white. Using your small round brush, paint the complete mermaid tail and the tail at the bottom left with pure green. If your green paint is thin, you may need to apply two more coats. Add more depth and layers to your mermaid tails by mixing your green shade with some white to make lighter green. Then create scale-like strokes on your mermaid tails. You can also add in some white to highlight the scales. Lasty, paint the hair on your mermaid! Use whichever colours you want to, as this is your very own mermaid!

Step 5: Add in small details

If you want your stars to glow a bit more, dot 3-4 stars in your sky with your Q-tip dot soaked in your thin white paint from the previous stage. Translucent dots should be used (I.e. you should still see some of the sky below it). Remove extra paint with a q-tip if your paint is too opaque. Once the dots are dry, use a fine-tipped white paint marker or your smaller round brush/detail brush to paint in some detailed star bursts through them. Don’t be afraid to add any more highlights with white paint!

We hope this tutorial has been helpful to you, and we hope you enjoyed our simple and quick guide to creating your mermaid dreams! If you enjoyed this tutorial, be sure to check out our other simple step-by-step tutorials for similar paintings!