Hello and welcome to the latest installment of cute drawing ideas… and this time it’s an octopus drawing (easy methods) party!
I’m particularly psyched because octopi cartoons are my #1 favorite of all animals to sketch during my art time — just ahead of drawing sea urchins. There’s something about their curves and tentacles that’s so adorable! Let’s explore four different methods of how to make these 8-armed creatures.
How to Draw an Octopus: Easy Steps
To create the simplest octopus drawing, I follow these steps:
1. Start with the eyes, making two ovals that touch for the outer lids, then adding black circles in the middle with cute little white shines for the pupils. Add two lines over the eyes for eyebrows. (We’ll discuss mouth placement in a subsequent section, because it’s more fraught than you might think for the category of easy animals to draw.)
2. Begin your octopus’s body line in the left corner of the neck, then move upward to create the head, pulling it back inward for the right side of the neck. (Think of the graceful curves of our mermaid tail drawing.) Next, go in and out eight times for the tentacles! You may want to trace these lines with pencil, first, so you don’t run out of room.
3. Add a color for the skin — be creative! It doesn’t need to be realistic. We’re drawing a funny octopus cartoon, after all, not an encyclopedia entry! Next, put in some circular-shaped texture lines along one side of each leg to indicate the suction cups on the tentacles.
4. Color the ocean behind the octopus, adding lines for the wind-blown current, and bubbles to show movement. Great job — you’re done! Now, let’s address some questions about what octopuses actually look like in real life.
Where is the Octopus Mouth?
Ok, so remember in my tutorial about snail drawing, it turned out that I was putting the eyes in the wrong place? Aw, well, turns out the same has happened with the way I draw and teach octopi, in that I was following cuteness, to the detriment of biological accuracy. With octopuses, it turns out that the mouth is actually on the BOTTOM of its body, where the eight tentacles meet — not on the face, where I’d been putting it! Argh.
Read more about octopuses underside mouth and its beak (?!) here, including the fact that the beak is the only firm part of the animal, meaning the rest of its body is so squishy and malleable that it can fit through any tiny crack that its mouth can get past! There are some wild videos of this octopus Houdini action happening in real life.
Anyway, this is to say that you have a choice to make when you’re sketching your octopus. Do you want to be accurate and keep the mouth off the visible “face,” or do you want to embrace that we’re making creative drawings here, and just incorrectly place a smile front and center? It’s up to you. There’s no octopus drawing police, so do what you wish.
What Color are Octopi?
You may think I’m going a little to extreme with my rainbow octopus drawing, above, but in real life, octopi actually come in a surprising array of different colors — and can even change color! Many octopuses are a dark red, purple, or pink color (or colour, if you’re British), which I creatively interpreted in my drawing above to be hot pink.
Meanwhile, octopus blood is blue colored, and it’s pumped by THREE different hearts inside the cephalopod. Oh my. What’s funny is that I made this drawing of an octopus below, sketching in three cheerful magenta heart shapes around the twisted tentacles — even before I learned octopuses have three hearts! I must have subconsciously known…
Octopuses or Octopi?
Ok, ready for an English language shocker? Though the word “octopi” is frequently used to describe more than one octopus, the more correct plural of octopus is octopuses! WHAT?! It has to do with the language the word “octopus” is derived from: Latin (“octopi”), English (“octopuses”), or Greek (“octopodes”).
The fine folks at Merriam-Webster explain this fiery pluralization controversy in more depth here, but the good news is that both “octopuses” and “octopi” are accepted — so I’ve chosen to use both in this article.
VIDEO: Draw Octopuses
Octopus Drawing, in Sum
There is a surprising amount to say about octopus drawing — easy, cute cartoon sketching choices not always being accurate for example, as we saw with the real placement of the mouth! Regardless, I think we can all agree that creating art octopuses is one of the most satisfying creative tasks out there. What’s your take on how to draw octopi? Do share!
The author and artist, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English who has been a public school educator since 2003, and an experienced Reiki practitioner since 2018. All art on this site is original and hand-drawn by Lillie. She launched DrawingsOf.com Educational Cartoons in 2020, building upon the success of her other sites, AroundTheWorldL.com (established 2009), TeachingTraveling.com (founded 2010), and ReikiColors.com. Subscribe to Lillie’s monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media to stay connected!