How to Paint a Mermaid

We love sharing easy acrylic painting art ideas, and today we’ll show you how to paint a mermaid!

Mermaids are a fun subject for kids and adults alike and have become more popular over the past few years.

How to Paint a Mermaid

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Oh, and we have even more fun things for all mermaid lovers – print out our Mermaid Coloring Pages or learn How to Draw a Mermaid with our guided tutorial!

How to Paint a Mermaid Canvas Art

You can easily paint your mermaid to reflect your personality by adding colors you love or using your hair color. 

Also, changing the watercolor background to different shades of blue and her tail to your color of choice will make each painting stand out differently.

This painting is great for adults or older kids, younger ones may need a little help, but most can handle it too.

Canvas Art How to Paint a Mermaid

How to Paint a Mermaid

What you need:

  • 16″ x 20″ canvas (or any other size you prefer)
  • pencil
  • eraser
  • acrylic paints (blues and green for sure, plus hair color and accent colors, as well as tail color, body color, and white)
  • paintbrushes (ranging from very tiny for detailing up to about a 1″ width)
  • paper plate or palette
  • cup of water
  • paper towels
  • tablecloth – a  disposable so you can toss it when done
  • tracing and transfer paper (optional – if you’d like to make copies for multiple canvases)

Step by Step Tutorial

The Sketch

You will need to sketch a light outline of the mermaid first.

Use light pressure on the pencil and erase gently if needed.

Draw her tail in a large “U”- shape, add the torso at the bottom half, and then add the top of the head shape.

Step 1

The hair and shoulders don’t need to be necessarily sketched, and this version doesn’t show hands, so no worries with that unless you’d like to add some arms and hands in. 

Optional: Once you have the outline down, if you need multiple canvases, we suggest using tracing paper and transfer paper to make copies on the other canvases to save time and make them consistent sizes.

Trace the outline onto a sheet of tracing paper and then take transfer paper and lay over the blank canvas, then lay traced mermaid sheet over the top and position it where you’d like.

Trace the image, and you’ll have it transferred easily. 

Step 1-1

The Underwater Background

Now you can begin the painting process.

Start by pouring the paints you want into the background and take a couple of coats.

As you paint, wet the brush a bit each time you pull a new, stiff brush and then blot the excess water off. This loosens the brush and helps the paint flow with ease.

You will not need water except to rinse and clean brushes between colors.

Using a thin, longer round brush, paint an outline around the mermaid’s figure in your chosen background color.

This is your watercolor which should be a shade of green or blue. Get around her tail and head well, then down the torso.

Step 2-0

Now, you can switch to a larger brush and paint the rest of the background.

The outlining helps you know where to stay with that color and is a guide.

Depending on the shade you choose, you will likely need more than one coat, but allow this first one a few minutes to soak in before judging.

In the meantime, repeat the process but this time with her tail.

Outline the tail to establish the shape well, then go back in with a medium to large brush and paint it in.

Step 2

The Background Details

Now add some accent streaks to the water in your background.

Choose a similar color; for example, if your water is dark blue, choose a teal or light blue to accent.

Step 3

This is to create streaks of light going through the water.

Step 4

Using a small to medium brush, make some light, random streaks here and there, at an angle, and all at the same angle.

Step 6

They can be short streaks or a few mixed, short, and long.

Step 5

Then, take some of the background color and blend in the edges of the streaks to soften them up some.

It may take you going back and forth between the two colors a couple of times to get the blended look you want.

It should be random but have a nice soft look.

You should leave a few of them a bit brighter than others, but just be sure you don’t have just a solid stripe type of look.

Step 7

The Tail

The color you choose for the tail should go well with the water but also have some contrast. Don’t choose something too similar, or it can get lost in the painting.

Once your tail has a good layer of paint, go back to your background and color in any more layering it needs to make it a solid coat.

Also, be sure to paint around all of your outside edges of the canvas in that same color too.

Step 8

The Torso

Once your water looks satisfactory, you can return and work on the mermaid herself.

Paint her torso in the body color you chose, bringing it up to about mid-way between the waist and top of the head.

You may end up painting over some of it, but depending on the hair you paint, some may show through, so it needs to be covered.

While drying, you can paint the second coat on the tail, starting at the fin instead of the waist, so the body has time to dry.

When you reach the top waist, take a smaller brush and finish that tail top cleanly, you can paint a “V” shape or just straight across. Some people like to add a little belt or flower there later too.

Go around the tail edges and clean any messy lines with a small brush. 

Step 9

The Hair

Now, you can start on the hair. We suggest doing reasonably long hair that comes almost to the waist.

Choose a primary color and one accent color. Start by using a medium brush and paint in the shape of the head at the top and then bring strands of hair down to the length you desire.

It is best to start with the thicker brush and then use a smaller one after first establishing a good coat of paint.

You can make the hair curlier or give it some waves. It shouldn’t look smooth and perfect, as it is underwater. So, add some strands that are loose and floating away somewhat also.

Step 10

The Tail Details

You can add the tail accents. Choose a similar color to the tail that compliments it. Or mix a tad of white with the original tail color and create a lighter shade of that same color.

Using a thin brush, paint in either “V” or “U”-shaped scales here and there, and you can also add accent lines to the tail if you like.

Step 10-0

If you don’t want to do that much, you can add a few lines along the edges to accent the shape, but this is to create a shimmer and movement to the tail. 

Step 10-1

The Water Bubbles

We want to add bubbles to our underwater scene. Paint in some thin, random, and not solid circles in several places in the water. They should be small and not heavy lines.

Do a couple of sizes, and don’t make them all the same, and they will look great.

Be sure you use a tiny and thin brush for this.

The Hair Details

Once you have a good coat of strands, you can add strands in the accent color and then keep layering between both colors until you have the hair you prefer.

It would be best if you were sure it is solid over the head and torso and then have some wavy pieces that go out of the central area too.

Keep adding strands.

Step 12

If you want to add a headband or belt, this is the time to do so. This part is where you get creative and make it your own.

Add shells, stars, flowers, and anything you feel goes well.

Or you can leave her as-is.

Step 14

The White Dots

Lastly, lay your canvas on the table flat, take a medium to large brush, and dip it in your water.

Then put a small amount of white paint on the brush over the water and mix it on the plate. You want a thinned-out version of the white color.

Hold the brush of white over the canvas, tap it gently with another brush, and then move around over the canvas, tapping it to get the splattered effect.

The higher you hold the brush, the finer and smaller the dots will be.

Step 15

This is a little thing, but it makes the painting come to life.

DIY How to Paint a Mermaid

Once you are satisfied with the splatter, you are all set!

Painting a Mermaid Canvas Art

Sign your painting and check to be sure it is well covered, including the edges. 

How to Paint a Mermaid Idea

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