First, study different photos of otters close up and from different angles, and get familiar with the overall shape and anatomy. Notice the detail and complexity of the otter’s fur, and use that to your advantage as you sketch. When sketching out the body, remind yourself that an otter has a stocky, bottom heavy barrel-shaped body, and use a few simple curved lines to capture the outline of the animal.
Next, perfect the face and ears. Draw the eyes and ears fairly large, and give the otter a friendly expression. Be sure to include the whiskers, and be careful to include the distinctive shape of the otter’s nose. Show the contrast between the top and bottom part of the muzzle, making sure that the jawline is well defined. After drawing a few of the primary features, spend some time adding fur details. Keeping the fur details light, start adding lines from the middle of the face to the edges. Use multiple curved lines to make the appearance of fur.
Then, focus on the paws and flippers. Notice the curved shape of the webbing between the toes, and make sure to make your otter look as though he is standing on all four feet. Add details to the back feet to make sure they look like they can hold the weight of the otter. Finally, draw the tail and add some contrast to the shape and make it look more realistic. Try to at least vaguely suggest the appearance of fur along the tail.
Next, refine the overall shapes of the body and the head. After you have the main shapes down, you can start adding texture and fur details to the otter’s body. Use the same light curved lines from before to indicate fur, or make a mix of curved, straight, and dotted lines for areas of contrast.
Finally, add shadows and lighter colored highlights. Pick a direction where the light is coming from, and draw shadows and highlights that follow the light’s direction. Once you are done with it, step back and look at your work to assess it. This can give you an opportunity to make necessary improvements in the drawing.
Overall, learning to draw an otter can be an exciting journey. Remember to spend some time looking at pictures of otters, and understanding their anatomy. Sketch out the basic shapes and use details to perfect the fur. After you are done with the highlights and shadows, take a step back and review your final art piece – You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn by drawing!