I’m going to start with the anatomy since I find it’s always the best place to start. So, here is a mermaid skeleton!
The way I see it, a mermaid’s tail is going to be like an extension of the supine, just like any other tail is, but there should probably be some rib-like bones for structure. This turns out to be a bit like rotated fish anatomy, but even more like the anatomy of a snake.
Remember to keep a little bit a butt/waist in there, that’s part of why we kept the pelvis in the anatomy; things look kinda funny if it’s all flat. The muscular part of the tail should be as long or longer than a pair of legs would be, so about the length from the top of the head to the (non-existing) crotch. The fins will continue beyond this point.
Now since the tail is built a lot like a snake it’s going to move a lot like a snake, meaning any bending or transitions are going to be smooth and make smooth shapes. No sharp transitions like at the knee bend because there are no knees to bend!
Because of the curvy shapes this makes, you’re going to want to keep straights and curves in mind to keep your drawing looking appealing.
Now we get to the fins. I tend to do very simple fins, but you can get really creative with them! I highly recommend looking at real fish for inspiration, there are some crazy fish out there. But whatever shape you choose, keep the consistency/thickness of the fin in mind; they tend to bend and move like thick fabric or large petals or leaves.
And last but not least, I personally, really like giving my mermaids a full set of clothes on top. If you wanna’ brush up on clothing you can check out my fabric and clothing tutorial.
I hope these tips are helpful. Have a great MerMay!!