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Tips for drawing young (Bottlenose) dolphins by namu-the-orca Tips for drawing young (Bottlenose) dolphins by namu-the-orca
Species depicted: Common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
Time taken: unrecorded
References used: manymanymany
Tools of the trade: Photoshop CS5


It's been more than three years since I last uploaded a real tutorial - I've had lots of idea over the years but time/motivation never allowed for anything to be really made. That is, until kurisutaru came with a request and idea for a tutorial that was so cool I couldn't help but start immediately: a tutorial to show the anatomical difference between adult dolphins and calves, with both shown at the same size for better comparison. Now, I elaborated on that idea a little by adding newborns and juveniles, as well as info on changing colouration. The end result: a bit pile of info and tips on young dolphins, going from brith to adulthood. I'm personally very pleased with this, and I hope it'll be helpful to lots of cetacean artists out there. If this has inspired/helped with any paintings, I'd love to see! Happy drawing :)

A great big thank you to RobindV for helping out with what ages belonged to the different categories!


COPYRIGHT NOTICE
All submissions in this gallery, be it photos, paintings or drawings, are copyrighted to me, Namu-the-orca. No one has the right to alter, distribute, copy or use my art without my written permission unless stated otherwise. My submissions are NOT stock
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:iconlunchi:
Lunchi Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2014
I love how you did this! So detailed and life-like. Amazing!
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014
Thanks so much! :D
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:iconvanzkie:
Vanzkie Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2014  Student
A very detailed tutorial :) 
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014
Thanks :)
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:iconemily-light-revi:
EMILY-LIGHT-REVI Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2014
Thank you for the useful information :D
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014
You're welcome, and thank you for the kind comment :)
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:iconthe7thsea:
The7thSea Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
PRAISE NAMU
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014
THANK YOU THANK YOU :worship:
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:iconwickedlovelyfaery:
wickedlovelyfaery Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Very well done, your attention to detail is spot on. Great pointers!
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014
Thank you very much! :hug:
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:iconsilvaquastar:
SilvAquaStar Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Awesome! Thanks! This'll really help! ^-^
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014
Thank you too! I'm very happy to hear that :D
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:iconitsgoose2u:
Itsgoose2u Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is so awesome, makes me want to try painting some dolphins :D
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014
Thanks! If you do, I'd love to see :D
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:iconomnicogni:
omnicogni Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014   General Artist
great work!
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014
Thank you! :D
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:iconatolm:
Atolm Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Very useful. Thank you for taking the time to making this.
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014
You're very welcome, glad to know it's useful :)
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:iconrplrodrigo:
rplrodrigo Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Superb ....as always :)
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Thank you very much :hug:
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:icondinobirdman:
DinoBirdMan Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Student Artist
Interesting.:)
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Definitely - I was stoked to see that all those differences in facial structure between the age were really there, and not just me imagining things after all those years of looking at dolphin photos haha ;)
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:icondinobirdman:
DinoBirdMan Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Student Artist
:)
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:iconalgorithmguy:
algorithmguy Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Nice, very good job, one really sees that you put a lot of effort into it. I imagine this will be of help to many.
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Thanks a lot, I sure hope so! :)
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:iconanoorca:
AnoOrca Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Such detail and so very helpful! :aww:
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Thank you very much, I'm glad to hear that! :D
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:iconragecomics100:
Ragecomics100 Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
awesome!!
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Thanks! :D
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:iconragecomics100:
Ragecomics100 Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
yw
also what a adorable avatar :)
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014
Yeah, cute huh? ebony drew it for me :D
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:iconfantreasureplanetljs:
fantreasureplanetljs Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Student General Artist
:iconepiclaplz: Guilty as charged concerning sizing down an adult to make a baby dolphin...^^; :O :XD:

This is an amazing tutorial! Thanks for sharing! :squee::heart:
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Haha, I think we've all been there at one point or another :XD: Time for change, I'd say! ;D Thank you very much, glad you think so :hug:
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:iconfantreasureplanetljs:
fantreasureplanetljs Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Student General Artist
^^; :rofl: ;P
Definitely! :icondragonnod1:

Your very welcome! :dummy::tighthug:
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:iconselenethewerewolf:
SeleneTheWerewolf Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Yey this an awesome tutorial! I've been wanting to start drawing dolphins and need a lot of practice. This'll help so much <3
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Yayy, awesome to hear that! I hope it'll help you lots :heart:
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:iconraptor85:
Raptor85 Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Absolutely amazing and soo so correct i love it! its perfect!
You're soo extremly talented! its a joy to watch your pieces!
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
Thank you so much, I'm flattered :love:
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:iconthagirion:
Thagirion Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Detailed. Great job. Good you did this as this kind of thing bugs me with other animals.  Most younger animals are stubbier, rounder and have bigger eyes. This all gives them that cute factor.  In Bethesda video games they just downsize creatures and objects which irks me to no end.  A professional company should know better and I think they do but it's easier to "smallify" than make a new render.  Still no excuse.  One example was a bus full of skeletons that were supposed to be dead children but they were just shrunk adult skeletons. I could see that right away.  Not impressed.
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014
Thank you very much :) Yeah, the problem of sizing down adults is prevalent and sadly very noticeable too. I personally haven't even played those video games, but I can totally understand it to be very annoying - especially with 'people' because it's just so blatantly obvious there. Professionals certainly should know better than that.
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:iconkurisutaru:
kurisutaru Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Reminds me in Ecco DOTF where all the baby dolphins were just scaled down and horridly squished adult models, to the point they looked (and often were) distorted. That, along with tapering the tail to nearly nothing at the flukes erked me most about the over all look of the game.
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:iconthagirion:
Thagirion Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Oh I'm glad I'm not the only one.  I'm a bird lover and I notice these kinds of mistakes with birds.  I'm glad you understand where I'm coming from. hehe.  Yeah that sounds pretty bad.
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:iconkurisutaru:
kurisutaru Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh my thank you! I would still like to see a version for orcas, but for now this is everything I could have dreamed of! I have struggled with this for years, everywhere I go looking for aid all I ever really saw where adults scaled down, and when it comes to my story I wish to start on soon, having a calf that can be IDed as a calf was vital .

sta.sh/023jlj6z1svg

As is, not sure I pulled it off.
Striped/Bottlenose Hybrid, wont ever have the 'stripe'. but makes a cute combo anyho.
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014
The orca version will have to wait a bit I'm afraid - I'm currently busy with commissions and theose of course got priority. But it'll be done, some day! Anyway, for now, I'm very glad you like this and that it's indeed helpful. It was after made for you in the first place :) 

As for Tike, I jokingly let the tutorial speak for itself in another comment, but I'll offer some tips regardless. You'd mentioned back there that bad living conditions/shortage of food would cut the baby fat a bit, and while that may be somewhat true, it shouldn't be too noticeable. Right now how you've drawn Tike is as a +/- 3 year old calf/juvenile, not a true baby. He's already too slim and elongated to be just one year old, he misses the 'squishy' look so to speak - not even talking fattiness here per se, but just the big head, small distance between head and dorsal fin, proportionally large flippers, etc. Shortage of food would rather show in a smaller body length and a slightly less rotund profile than a calf that had been nourished to its heart's desires, rather than in an overall slimmer, more elongated build. If a calf would be so malnourished that it loses enough fat to look this slim, I don't think it would survive. This is a photo by Robindv, it shows a captive born Harbour porpoise calf, and a wild-born animal: farm5.staticflickr.com/4004/44… It's pretty clear to see who got the better start in life, even though both are rotund and have similar baby proportions (may I assume). The real difference is in total length and 'ultra fatiness' for the captive born one.

So tips for Tike: he needs a bit more babyfication to be a one year old! I'd really advice you to search for pictures of baby (Bottlenose) dolphins. I know you wrote they were hard to come by but I obviously needed refs for my tutorial too, and to be honest I had little difficulty finding lots and lots of baby photos. Simply google 'baby dolphin' and start picking out the right ones ;) Here on dA there's many pictures of young dolphins too to help you get an idea of proportions (a photo is always easier to compare a drawing with than a tutorial). Hope this helps! :)
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:iconkurisutaru:
kurisutaru Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The sad thing is I have searched for baby dolphins, and yeah the most I find are newborns. Even specifying one year old... you'd think aquariums may have some for their babys first birthday but no luck. Google images for anything dolphin baby related seem flooded with photos from the one week old that died in that zoo.. or that guy and that 10 day old La Plata dolphin. That, and Winter... so much on Winter.
The best I have found are of baby Hope at 7 months.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t-YHb…
i.ytimg.com/vi/4t-YHb_Rvp8/max…
Hopes been my bases for Tike, and she don't seem to be to 'fatty'. Tails a bit stockyer but not to much different.

I dunno, maybe calfs will always be my bane XD  Thanks though, I'll try and fill him out a bit more.
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014
I'll start out and admit I was a little off with my idea of a one-year-old; turns out they are a slimmer than I thought they would be, so Tike isn't all that far off. The real fatty fatty seems to be restricted to the first few months (except when your name is Kwin and you drink milk and eat full portions of fish at the same time lol). So yeah, Hope is pretty good for a one year old though, I don't know her exact story, but it might be she's a little smaller than usual because of her troubles. Anyway, as for references, there's a lot out there. I present to you, fifteen minutes on google and dA:

Confirmed 1-year-olds: 1) www.aaavegas.com/wp-content/up… 2) www.cakeisfood.com/photos/anim… 3) i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/a… 4) veryveronika.deviantart.com/ar… 5) robindv.deviantart.com/art/Arg… 6) loveforruka.deviantart.com/art… 7) supremestar.deviantart.com/art… 8) blueorca87.deviantart.com/art/… 9) mantrize.deviantart.com/art/Li… 10) eratimus.deviantart.com/art/Mo…

Other dolphin calves, mostly older ones in the first few links, younger ones in the later links: 1) www.deviantart.com/art/Learnin… 2) www.letsbewild.com/wp-content/… 3) www.whales.org.au/gallery/p11.… 4) images.fineartamerica.com/imag… 5) www.sefsc.noaa.gov/species/mam… 6) cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get… 7) 2.bp.blogspot.com/-a8eyRxVlKEU… 8) cbswcbsfm.files.wordpress.com/… 9) cbsradioalice.files.wordpress.… 10) robindv.deviantart.com/art/The… 11) robindv.deviantart.com/art/Smo…

A five year-old dolphin: www.aqua.org/blog/2012/septemb…

So that's 10 precise refs + 12 other interesting ones with just a little bit of effort ;)
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:iconkurisutaru:
kurisutaru Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hope was found in a river beside her dead mother in 2011, cause of death unknown. She was brought to the same seaquarium Winters held.

Thanks for all the links, they'll surly come in handy to help flush out my calf drawing. But yeah Hope was perfect for Tike at around the same size I'd imagen him to be.

Thanks for the help, you're a life saver.
Reply
:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2014
Ah, poor thing. Yeah I knew she was held at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, but I had no idea about her backstory, that's sad :/ 

You're welcome!
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:iconzavahier:
Zavahier Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is wonderfully helpful. I've never really drawn calves before, but it's interesting to see just how different they are.
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:iconnamu-the-orca:
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
I'm very glad it is! It was definitely interesting to do this; I made the drawings for each age 'blind', as in, without the drawings for other age groups next to it for comparison. I wanted to have the illustrations clean and unbiased, to really see what the differences were between the ages, if any. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised to see how clear the differences had become with these illustrations! :D
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