top of page

Nature Spotlight: Paint A Turtle

Colour scheme for a Green Sea Turtle:

Painting colour scheme for a Green Sea Turtle

Dive into the world of creativity and oceanic beauty with my step-by-step guide to painting a blank ceramic bisque turtle figure as a stunning green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Whether you're an experienced artist or a beginner, this guide will help you get started in creating your masterpiece (with reference photos along the way). Plus, I'll sprinkle in some fun facts about green sea turtles to inspire your artistic journey!

Green Sea Turtle right side view

Green Sea Turtle Fun Facts:

Before we dive into the painting process, let's learn a bit about the fantastic Green Sea Turtle:

  1. Ancient Mariners: Green sea turtles have been swimming in our oceans for over 100 million years, making them one of the oldest marine species on Earth.

  2. Herbivorous Diet: Unlike other sea turtle species, green sea turtles primarily feed on seagrasses and algae. This diet gives their fat a greenish hue, hence their name.

  3. Migratory Marvels: Green sea turtles are known for their long migrations between feeding grounds and nesting sites. Some travel over 2,000 kilometres (1243 miles) to return to the beaches where they were born.

  4. Nesting Ritual: Female green sea turtles return to the same beach where they hatched to lay their eggs. They dig deep nests in the sand and can lay up to 200 eggs at a time.

  5. Endangered Species: Despite their ancient lineage, green sea turtles are listed as endangered due to threats such as habitat loss, poaching, and climate change. Conservation efforts are crucial to their survival.

Now, let's dive into the step-by-step guide on painting your ceramic bisque turtle figure as a Green Sea Turtle:

Materials You'll Need To Paint A Turtle:

  • Ceramic Bisque Turtle Figure: Ensure it's clean and dry before you start.

  • Acrylic Paints: Use the colour scheme above to help match your paints to the turtles colours.

  • Paintbrushes: Prepare various brush sizes for different details. Larger brushes for large areas & small finer brushes for detail & small areas.

  • Palette or Paint Palette Paper: Use it to mix and blend colours. A paper plate will also work or a glazed kitchen paint which can be washed & reused.

  • Water Container: Clean your brushes between colour changes. Old mugs or jam jars are great!

  • Paper Towels: Keep them handy for blotting excess paint and cleaning brushes.

  • Protective Surface: Lay down a protective layer to catch any paint drips, including on yourself.

  • Varnish (optional for added durability): Use a water based varnish to protect your work for years to come. Can come in spray-on or brush-on. Both work well the choice is up to you.

Green Sea Turtle Shell Detail

Step-by-Step Guide:

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace

Set up your painting area with all the necessary materials. Ensure your workspace is clean and ideally well-lit. Lay down some a wipe clean tablecloth, paper towels or newspaper to catch any drips and keep your brushes and water cup within reach. Don’t forget an apron or your favourite painting clothes too.

Step 2: Base Coat

Start by applying a base coat of medium to light green acrylic paint to the entire ceramic bisque turtle figure. Use a medium brush for even coverage. This will serve as the foundation for your green sea turtle. Allow the base coat to dry completely.

Step 3: Adding Details to the Shell

Mix a darker shade of green by combining green and a touch of black paint (less is more when mixing with black). Use a fine brush to outline and define the scutes (the individual segments) on the turtle's shell. Add some brown paint to create a more realistic, textured look. Blend the colours gently for a natural effect.

Step 4: Painting the Flippers & Head

Use the same dark green mixture to paint the turtle's flippers and head. Add subtle shading with a mix of green and a tiny amount of blue to create depth and dimension. Highlight the raised areas with a lighter green to mimic the way light would hit a real sea turtle's skin. You can use the tip of the brush or the handle to help create the dots on the skin.

Green Sea Turtle head and eye details

Step 5: Eyes & Facial Features

Paint the eyes black, leaving a small white dot in each for a lifelike sparkle. Add tiny white lines around the eyes to create a realistic look. Use the fine brush to add details to the mouth and nostrils with a mix of black and brown paint.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Add some finishing touches by painting the underside of the turtle a pale green or cream colour. Create a gentle gradient effect to give the figure more realism.

Step 7: Seal the Artwork

Once your masterpiece is completely dry (use a hair dryer the speed the process along if you're impatient like me!), you can apply a water based sealer (Mod Podge works great) to protect the paint and give your ceramic figure a matte or glossy finish (your choice). This step is optional but recommended for added durability & protection.

Green Sea Turtle left side view

Creating a painted green sea turtle ceramic bisque figure is a delightful and rewarding project that brings the wonders of the ocean into your home. With this step-by-step guide and a splash of creativity, you'll have a beautiful piece of art that celebrates the beauty of these amazing marine creatures. At ArtyPax I invite you to explore my collection of nature inspired ceramics and embark on your own artistic journey. Happy painting!

Remember you don't have to paint it true to life. Use all your creativity and imagination to create a piece that's truly yours.

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page