In Art, Tutorials by Toni Justamante Jacobs

In this article, we will be showing you how to draw a perfect image of the most famous eldritch horror created by the master of cosmic horror, H.P Lovecraft.  We are talking about the mythical Cthulhu and we will teach you how to draw him in 6 easy steps. The drawing would capture all his might and horror. How amazing is that?!. You should also note that the more familiar you are with each step, the more likely your final draft would be flawless and the more likely it would appeal to an audience. That said, we would start up by drawing a dummy. The manikin would serve as a foundation for our final sketch. Ready?. Let’s rock and roll!.

STEP 1-Drawing the torso and hips

Using the above picture as a guide, Cthulhu´s rib cage should be drawn using a slight 3/4 perspective. This just means that the left side which faces the viewers would be drawn bigger in size than the left side.

Going on, the rib cage should be started off by drawing two curved horizontal lines. The lower line should have a deeper arc than the top line. Then you should draw two curved out vertical lines that connect the earlier drawn horizontal lines at their extremes. Having done that, divide the rib with a vertical line using the 3/4 perspective. When that is done, as seen in the picture, draw another curved vertical line at the left side of the rib cage. This would serve to highlight the underarm area  Having drawn it, go on to highlight where the head will be by drawing a small circle at the top of the rib cage. Flowing from that, draw another circle at the top left side of the rib cage. This would be where the right arm would emerge from.

For the abdomen, you should draw two pretty short vertical lines that extend down from the rib cage. Then an outwardly curved horizontal line should connect those vertical lines. For the hips, you should draw them to take the form of a man’s underpants as depicted in the image. This is where the legs of our character would emerge from.

STEP 2-Drawing the arms

The arms of our character should be sketched slightly extended from the body and they should be drawn using a 3/4 perspective. This entails the left arm being bigger in size than the right arm because the left side faces the viewers.

Having laid that out, the upper arms should be started off in the form of big tubes and should reduce in size as they get to the elbows. Then they should extend out at the point of drawing the lower arms and should further reduce as you get to the wrist. The main difference between the left and the right arm is the perspective. Meanwhile, the right forearm will be drawn almost sideways, the left arm should be drawn almost frontally and elevated compared to the opposite arm. Having drawn that, draw the hands as seen in the picture, with 3 fingers. When drawing the left hand, draw the fingers of the left hand slightly clenched forming a clawed hand, meanwhile, the opposite hand will be drawn sideways, with the index and thumb fully visible and the other two fingers appearing slightly visible behind.

Step 3- Drawing the legs

Our CTHULHU character would be drawn standing with his legs separated and one foot stepping forward. Each leg should be started off as a big tube and then you should gradually reduce them as you get to the knees. To highlight the knees, draw two horizontal lines on each knee and then draw a circle in between them as seen in the above picture. When you’ve done that, the continuation of the leg should then extend out a little and will fall straight to a foot ended in claws. When drawing the legs of Cthulhu you should think in the legs of an elephant with plantigrade feet. The main difference between an elephant foot and Cthulhu´s foot is the claws.

The difference between one leg and the other is the leg on the right is flexed, and stepping forward, meanwhile, the other leg appears falling behind also flexed. The right thigh will be drawn in an almost frontal perspective.

Step 4- Drawing the wings

The wings of Cthulhu are vampire-like wings. In reality, the wings are not big enough to be able to help him fly. Some argue that he uses them to help him swim in the depths of the sea.

When drawing them think in a couple of big hands with to extra thin fingers in each of those hands. The fingers will be connected by a membrane of thin skin, torn in some parts.

Step 5- Drawing The Head

Now it´s time to focus our attention on the tentacular head of our favorite eldritch horror. Like you already know Cthulhu´s head is basically an octopus head. I decided to push the design a little bit forward and I tried to draw a horrendous octopus head, with several eyes and tentacles popping out all around the neck and not only around the mouth like a regular octopus.

When drawing the long tentacles around the mouth try to draw them in a different position, some of them crossing one in front of the other, and even different sizes.

Step 6- Drawing the final line art

Ey! you already reached the last step. Now it´s time to have some fun and ad some cool details to our monster. When detailing Cthulhu you should think in a creature with thick and wrinkled skin, like an elephant skin or similar. You can draw wrinkles in the legs and the arms. Also, you can make the skin look grouse by drawing some swelling and bulges on the body.

You should play with the line thickness, darkening the lines located in shadowed areas. Also, you can use some hatching to ad some shading to your drawing.

If you wanna know more about shading techniques, like hatching , you should check my article on ” How to shade with a pencil “.


I hope you have fun drawing Cthulhu. If you wanna draw more cool monsters I have more tutorials ready for you. Here you have the link to a couple you might like:

Written by : Toni Justamante Jacobs, Senior Concept Artist, Illustrator and Blogger.

Toni Justamante Jacobs

About the author: Hi, I’m Toni Justamante Jacobs. I´m a professional Concept Artist and Illustrator with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. Some of my clients are Gameloft, Fantasy Flight Games, Kunlun Games and Games Workshop. Currently, I´m working at Socialpoint as an in-house Senior Concept Artist.