Tutorial – How to Draw an Oyster Shell

I’m going to be visiting family who couldn’t make it to Mom’s funeral, so I’ll be still be missing off and on for a while. When I’m done with the traveling back and forth, the last Weekly Wednesday Giveaways will be launched. It includes a copy of Alice Hendon’s new ‘Tangle Around the World’!

For now:

Pencil to Paint Tutorial

Artwork-Zebra Pen Metallic Brush Pens, and Uniball Signo White Broad pen in a Hahnemühle black book.

Reference photo courtesy of EliasSch on Pixabay.

Postcards for the Lunchbag – Today my hubby took a pearl in his lunch bag. Did you know that oysters are both male and female at different times of their lifecycle?


(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

The Doodlewash prompt was seashell. I thought an oyster with a pearl would be more interesting to draw with my metallic brush pens so that’s where I went.

I roughed in my oyster in pencil (scan contrast punched up to show – you don’t want to draw this dark).

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.


I used purple, copper, gold and silver metallic brush pens to capture the various shades and shadows of the oyster, knowing that I was going to cover much of it with white. I smudge the pearl with my finger to give a shimmer around the outside and applied more color after.

I scribbled my lines in circular motions to get the pitted look of the shell, smudging in some places, to let a little bit of the color underneath show through. That doesn’t show up well in the scan though.

Gel pen ink can take a few minutes to dry completely through, so I let the card sit for about 1/2 an hour before continuing.

Ballpoint pen does a good job of coloring over gel pen. The bad part is that you can clog the ballpoint and ruin it. For that reason, I use whatever cheapo promotional pens I happen to have lying around.

This card took a bit longer than most of my black paper drawings. Partly because I waited for the gel ink to set and partly because I layered a bit more than usual. Still – maybe 25-30 minutes drawing time.


(and where you can buy them)

Hahnemühle Black book

White Uniball Signo Gel Pens

Zebra Pen Metallic Brush Pens

Published by Life Imitates Doodles Art, Reviews & Tutorials

Artist Ambassador for Zebra Pens. I'm a self-taught artist who dances about with all sorts of artistic mediums. My main loves are Watercolor, Zentangle and Ballpoint pen. The subjects of my work are many and varied and change at whim. I'm a little bit crazy, but doesn't that come with being an artist? At my Life Imitates Doodles Blog, I post a list of resource links for Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways two times a week. I also write reviews, hold giveaways and share my art work.

4 thoughts on “Tutorial – How to Draw an Oyster Shell

  1. Maybe I’m looking too hard, but I think there’s a subconscious connection between the grief over your mother’s death, her impact on your life, and all the family stuff going on – extraordinary gems found inside an ugly shell.

  2. Beautiful and luminous. I was spent most of my life on a beach deep with oysters and learned of their lovely interior beauty early on. And I have a little jar full of tiny pearls….most of them found while eating them! Thanks for this sweet and salty reminder. Feeling my own grief for my mom today….she was always the one I collected buckets of oysters with and then the hours shucking them with leather gloves. Hoping your heart is healing.

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