How to Draw a Cartoon Crab
In this tutorial we are going to learn how to draw a cartoon crab!
Before we begin, if you need information on what equipment to use for cartooning, check out my Recommended Equipment page.
Also, if you are interested in more detailed step-by-step video lessons on how to draw cartoons, check out my Online Courses page.
So how do you draw a cartoon crab? First start with the body by drawing a big circle. Then add in the eyes, legs and claws, all connecting back to the body. Finally give the crab a big smile! Follow the pictures down below for more information.
This tutorial is broken up into three parts:
- the Pencil Sketch – laying down the foundation of our crab using basic shapes
- the Inking Stage – Once we have a confident foundation sketch, we will then get out our black pens and commit to some ink!
- the Coloring Stage – Once the inking is done, we will take things a little bit further and add in some color!
You can use whatever medium you like, but the materials I used here are as follows:
- Really boring and generic printer paper
- Pencil (HB or #2)
- Thick Black Pens (I used a Posca PC-3M and PC-5M)
- Thin Black Pen (I used a UNI Pin Fine Line 04mm)
- Colored pencils (Prismacolors)
For more information on my equipment, visit my Recommended Equipment page
Okay, let’s do a crab!
How to Draw a Cartoon Crab Part 1: The Sketch
Grab your pencil and let’s build up our crab! Remember that it is okay to make mistakes. Just sketch lightly – once you are happy with your design, put in a more solid line to guide you later on in the inking stage.
1. Let’s start with a nice big circle! This is going to be the foundation for the crab’s body. If you are anything like me, you’ll need to lightly draw 50 circles over and over, until you’re happy with your messy circle :). Don’t worry, it’ll become a crab soon.
2. Once you’ve drawn the large circle, draw two more small circles above the large circle. These will become our crab’s eyes! I decided to draw them different sizes to make him look a bit less symmetrical.
3. Let’s now connect the crab’s eyes with his body. Simply draw two parallel lines going from each eye to the crab’s body.
4. I always find angular shapes more interesting than curved shapes, so in this step, I have drawn in some straight lines to turn the circle into a more angular object.
5. Now let’s add some pupils to our crab’s big eyeballs! Simply draw a small circle inside each eye. I’ve drawn them right in the center of the eyeballs, but feel free to put them wherever you want to (eg. looking left, squinting, etc.).
6. Time to put in some little crabby legs! Crabs usually have eight legs (excluding their claws) – but I’ve just given this dude six legs because I didn’t want him to look too overcrowded down below! I have drawn the legs quite lightly for now, but we will add more detail and definition to them soon.
7. Let’s now move onto the claws! Start by drawing a large, upside down apostrophe.
8. I hope you enjoy drawing apostrophes because you need to draw another one now 🙂 This time, draw a smaller upside down (and back-to-front!) apostrophe poking out from behind the large one.
9. In this step, we connect the claw to the body. Draw in a jointed arm starting at the bottom of the large apostrophe and ending at the top of the crab’s side. Like the legs, we will refine these later on with some sweet, crabby details.
10. The best thing about drawing a crab’s claw is that you get to do it again on the other side! Just draw a mirror image version of the first claw.
11. Now he’s clearly a very happy crab because he hasn’t been eaten yet, so we need to give him a nice big smile. If you’re having trouble drawing the mouth in this step, try starting by drawing a big semi circle and then manipulate it into the shape you want.
12. In this step, I have refined the crab’s arms to make them look less geometrical and more organic. I have also added some lines to the crab’s legs. These will act as guides when I ink him in later on.
13. Now let’s put a shell on our crab’s back. simply draw a whole bunch of wavy lines going around our character’s perimeter. Remember that this shell is behind everything else, so make sure not to overlap your wavy lines with his arms and eyes.
14. Our crab’s mouth is looking very empty, so let’s give him some teeth and a tongue! Just draw a whole bunch of teeth hanging from the top of his mouth and a wavy tongue down below!
15. This is our final step of the sketch phase! All that’s left to do in this sketch is add some little, pointy, spikey toe thingies at the ends of his legs. Oh, and don’t forget some nice, big floaty eye brows!
How to Draw a Cartoon Crab Part 2: The Inking Stage
In the inking stage, we are going to start inking in the general shapes with a thick pen. Then we will ink in some black shadows followed by putting in fine details. This will be done with a thin black pen. Let’s go!
16. First let’s get out the thick pen and ink in the major shapes. I am mostly happy with the sketch, so I’m tracing over the majority of my pencil work. However, the pencil lines on his legs are too simple, so in this step I am drawing over them with the pen to make them look more like working limbs.
17. Time to drop in some solid blacks! This is always a fun part of the process. First, fill in the area in the mouth surrounding the teeth and tongue. Then pick areas where two shapes meet – this will make your shapes pop out more to the viewer. For example, the area under his eyeballs, or where his shoulders meet his main body.
18. Another fun part of the process is to add in the little details. Get out your thin pen and draw in some random spots and blobs. Also draw in some teeth on his claws and ink in his pointy toe thingies at the end of his legs!
How to Draw a Cartoon Crab Part 3: The Coloring Stage
We’re in the final stage! Get out your coloring pencils and let’s have some fun. Remember to never stop at one layer of color. If you only color in one layer, your drawing will look washed out and weak. But if you add two or three layers of color, you will be amazed at how vibrant your cartoon will look!
19. This is going to be a very red crab, but let’s start by adding in patches of yellow. Fill in all of the blobs you added during step 18 with yellow, then add yellow to the crab’s limbs as well. In the next steps we will draw over this yellow layer with red. Blending in red with the yellow will give us different shades of orange!
20. Finally we are adding some red! Apart from the crab’s eyes and teeth, you can color in all other areas with red. When coloring over the yellow areas, feel free to color over them with different pressure levels. This will add more variety of tone to the cartoon. In the photo above, I had already colored in two layers of red. I will add third layer in step 22.
21. In step 17 we added in black shadows with our pen. Let’s now add in some subtle pencil shadows. Get out your purple pencil, draw in the areas you want to be in shadow and then shade in those areas. This step will make our character look a bit more three dimensional. Notice the subtle shading on his eyeballs – not too noticeable, but it is a nice touch.
22. Congratulations! We have reached our final step in how to draw a cartoon crab! I was 95% happy with the drawing in step 21, but it still wasn’t vivid enough. So all I’ve done here is add one more solid layer of red pencil, and now we are done!
Crabs are fun and relatively easy to draw. All you need is a body, surrounded by eyes and limbs! If you have drawn alongside me in this tutorial and would like to draw some more crabs, take what you have learnt here and improvise! Jump onto Google Images and take a look at the different types of crabs that exist. Find a few photos that you find interesting and use these as inspiration to design your own crab.
Don’t forget to…
Whatever you do… whether you’re drawing crabs or something else… I hope that you will always find the time to practise drawing and have fun!
I hope you have enjoyed learning how to draw a cartoon crab, if you are ready to get started with cartooning, feel free to check out some of my online courses here: https://www.discovercartooning.com/courses/