Otterly Adorable

I was intrigued by a post that had circulated over Facebook and Instagram. Have any of you seen this?

They are adorable!

I find my inspiration stems from the things I find weirdly cute. So mostly odd-looking animals, and the funny behaviours they have. Otters were a perfect subject to illustrate!

I create my characters by using photo references of the live animal. I look up where they originate, their habits, diet and of course the lesser known funny facts about the species!

Did you also know, Otters have a pocket of skin they keep their “favourite” rock in? It is funny enough they keep rocks in their pocket, but for it to be described as their favourite? They search all over for the best rock to help open clams and the like. And they don’t share it with the other Otters! Could I love these creatures anymore?

I start by loosely sketching out their forms, trying to get good believable proportions, with a small element of exaggeration, to amplify the “cute”.

Naturally their eyes are an important focal point to identify emotion, so I ensure I get as much of their story into their faces.

As you will see below on the left is the initial sketch, the right is the defined lines I set myself ready to paint in watercolour. This is the point I like to add in background details to create depth.

The process of Otterly Adorable. First sketch, to line work

I prefer to work on 190gsm watercolour paper, purely because it holds the colours they way I need it too. The paper is white and acid free so the colour really stands out.

My favourite stage is when I have just placed out the line work on my drawing. It takes me back to my childhood, images in a children’s colouring book, half way there and ready to be brought to life.

To finish off the defining details I like to use Verithin Prismacolor pencils, and go over once more with my favourite black fine liner.

Here is the finished piece, photo taken using Nikon D3100.

I hope you have enjoyed “Otterly Adorable”. If you wish to purchase a limited edition signed print, please email


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