How to Draw Simple Jellyfish

in really easy steps

Before we get into the different techniques for how to create your unique jellyfish art, we need to break down jellyfish into their bare necessities. What do you need to put on your paper to have people seeing “jellyfish” rather than some squiggles? What are the basic shapes that make a jellyfish a jellyfish? 

“Jellies,” as they’re affectionately known, are, as the name implies, soft-bodied animals. This means they have no skeleton! They also have no specialized central nervous system, digestive system, or respiratory system.

So when you break it down, jellyfish really only have two main parts of their bodies: the “bell” and the tentacles. The bell is the umbrella-looking “head” of the jelly, and it is used to move the jellyfish around. It works by drawing water in, then forcing it away to propel the jelly forward.

The tentacles of a jellyfish are used to hunt and to protect it; they sting predators, paralyzing them momentarily and giving the jelly a chance to jet away.

So, as far as art is concerned, a jellyfish is a curved half-circle with long, wavy tentacles. That leaves a lot of room for interpretation! And since there are already many variations on this theme within the jellyfish family, your drawing doesn’t have to adhere to one specific type of jelly. Designing a jellyfish of your own really comes down to the tools and techniques you use to draw it.

Creative Jellyfish

Since jellyfish are varied creatures with lots of artistic flair, it makes sense that the best approach to drawing jellyfish is with some artistic flair. Here are some unconventional ways to illustrate these willowy water wanderers:

Drawing with Straws

The first technique we’re going to use to draw jellyfish will literally take your breath away.

Put a dollop of watery paint on your canvas, but first be sure your art surface is flat so that the water doesn’t immediately dribble down the paper. Then, simply take a straw – it can even be a curly straw if you’re feeling playful! – and hold it close to the drop of paint. Now, angle the tip of the straw in the direction you want your jellyfish’s tentacles to go and gently blow. The paint will spread out in tendrils, and the original dollop of paint forms your jellyfish’s body! 

From there, you can adjust as needed, adding more paint, blowing more strands of color to give your jelly more layers, or adding more drops of paint to form friends for your little creature!

Splatter Painting

The next fun way we’re going to create some jellyfish art might get a little messy! 

This time, start by drawing the half-circle top of the jellyfish. Remember; the edges aren’t perfectly even. Give them some organic squiggles and wiggles. Then, grab a toothbrush.

Dip your toothbrush in some watery paint, hold to toothbrush close to your jellyfish’s head, and aim the tip of the toothbrush in the direction you want the tentacles to go. Ziiiip your finger across the bristles of the toothbrush, starting at the top and going to the bottom. This should send a shower of paint droplets across your canvas. This is the path your jellyfish’s tentacles are going to take! Simply connect the dots, starting at the half circle and tracing the trajectory of the splatter. Create as many individual tentacles as you like. This method helps create an energetic, natural look to the jellyfish’s body.

Balloon Painting

Balloon painting is by far the most abstract form of jellyfish drawing we’re going to do. To start, you’ll need a balloon. Then, carefully, fill that balloon with paint. Don’t overfill it, or it might burst too soon!

You’re going to need a large canvas and plenty of room. Also, a dart, and some aim.

Tack your balloon to your canvas. It should be hung or propped against a wall. Be sure to put a drop cloth underneath to catch any stray paint. Then, take a step back, size up your target, and throw your dart at the balloon! 

The balloon should burst and leave behind a splatter of paint that starts with a large blob and trails down the canvas – the jelly body and tentacles! 

Let the paint dry, and then you can go back in with a second color to highlight the outline of your balloon burst jellyfish! Or, you can leave it as it is, an abstract jelly in a sea of canvas.

String

This jellyfish drawing method is more precise than the others. All you need is a short piece of string and some imagination. 

Again, start with a dollop of paint on your paper. Then, dip the string in the paint and begin to drag it in the direction of your jellyfish’s tentacles. The string helps give the lines that natural under-water appearance, but this method offers you the ability to be more exact than the others when it comes to number and direction of your jelly’s tentacles.

Salt Art

This last artistic tidbit isn’t so much a way to draw jellyfish, but a way to give the jellyfish you drew with the other techniques a bit of texture.

Salt absorbs water. This means if you sprinkle salt on a watercolor painting, the salt reacts with the water and creates a kind of crystalline pattern on your canvas. Once you have your jellyfish painted, sprinkle salt on their bodies while the pigment is still wet. Let to salt sit there while the paint dries, then brush it away. What you have in the end is a beautiful effect, reminiscent of light refracting through water and casting shadows on the sea creatures below. It also mimics the translucent nature of jellyfish!

However you create your jellyfish artwork, have fun with it.

These are stunning animals, like ballerinas of the sea. Enjoy the creation process as much as the finished piece.

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