How to paint a turtle | a rock painting tutorial

Perhaps you see this painted turtle and think "I can't paint that — I don't even know where to start!" Let's shift that mindset and change that statement to "I can't paint that...yet." This step-by-step tutorial will walk you through how to paint a turtle in six easy steps.

turtle painted rock

Supplies used in this tutorial:

Let's get started!

how to paint a turtle rock painting tutorial

We used a hunter green color, so only needed one coat of paint. And, we stuck to different shades of green for our rock. Be creative! Add a background color that contrasts with the color of your turtle. Or, don't paint a background color at all. Experimenting is half the fun!

Time to start drawing

how to paint a turtle rock painting tutorial

Start by drawing the the turtle's shell, sort of a half oval shape. Make sure to leave some room to the right side of the shell to draw a head. We used the medium tip Posca paint pen (3M) in light green. But, again, color is completely up to you.


rock painting tutorial how to paint a turtle

Use a thinner tip paint pen (we used the fine tip Posca paint pen (1M)) to outline what you've drawn.

TIP:  You'll quickly see how adding that black outline immediately makes your design "pop"! For even finer outlining and detail for your rocks, try the ultra fine tip Posca paint pens (0.7M). These have a micro tip that work well when writing words or adding really fine details to your designs.

rock painting tutorial turtle

Now, add two legs. We gave him some toes. But, be creative! Maybe your turtle will be walking through some grass and you won't see those toes. Or, he's got his toes in the sand while exploring a beach.

At this point, we alternate between paint pens, drawing a bit and following up with a black outline to add some definition.

how to paint a turtle rock painting tutorial

For this step, we added three elements to this design:

  • A face
  • Two hind legs
  • A tail

For tutorial purposes, we tried to keep the turtle design pretty simple. Feel free to add to yours! Maybe he's headed to a baseball game, in which case, give him a ball cap. Or, on a larger rock, leave some room at the bottom for a phrase like "slow down and enjoy life".

how to paint a turtle rock painting tutorial

We used the yellow medium tip Posca paint pen to add some details for his shell.

TIP: So, here's the thing we've noticed when using the color yellow. And, in our experience, this applies to both yellow acrylic paint and yellow paint pens. Yellow rarely covers nicely in one coat ... err, two coats ... ughh, sometimes even three coats! Even with this dark green background, the yellow paint pen required several coats.

We were pretty set on having the contrast of yellow and green, so kept at it, but thought it was worth a mention in case you're painting and thinking "this isn't working!" — it will work, just be patient and persistent. 🙂 For added contrast, we used a darker green color to outline the yellow shell details.

SHELL YEAH — you did it!

Okay, cheesy pun. But, we're sending virtual high fives your way! Hope you found this tutorial helpful. And, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share what you came up with.


Hiding your rock? Seal it first.

If setting your rock outdoors, make sure to add a waterproof sealer, like DecoArt DuraClear gloss varnish.

Our guide to rock painting covers how to apply this sealer and why we think this particular brand is better than some alternatives. And, if you'd like to follow the journey of your turtle, get an ID from to track your painted rocks.


rock painting tutorial turtle

Did you like this tutorial? Let us know below!

And, let us know what other designs you'd like to see as a step-by-step tutorial.

11 thoughts on “How to paint a turtle | a rock painting tutorial”

    1. You’re welcome! Yes, having the step-by-step instruction really helps break it down and help you to realize that you CAN do it!

  1. Pingback: September rock painting challenge | 30 ideas - painted rocks

    1. Hi Cheryl, our “how to paint a turtle in 6 easy steps” tutorial is a step-by-step photo tutorial, so no video with this one. Hope this helps!

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