There are millions of different fish in the ocean, rivers, and ponds. Some are colorful and some can be as big as a grown man and bigger. In this guide, we will draw two different fish. A colorful tropical fish and a Japanese koi fish.
Drawing fish is quite easy and very beginner-friendly. It is a fun little drawing project for kids and adults alike.
I will show a step by step approach for both drawings including the coloring phase! So let´s get started with the tools, that you will need.
What Tools Do You Need?
As always I will tell you what you can use to create this illustration and I will tell you what tools I used to draw the two fish in this guide. But you don´t need to get the exact same materials, that I used in order to create a beautiful drawing.
I use a graphite pen that has a grade between HB and 6B for the underdrawings and guidelines. It doesn´t really matter what grade the pen has but anything harder than HB is not great because you may damage the paper when you draw with a very hard graphite pen.
Marker or Brush Pen
For the clean line art, I normally use a brush pen or a black Copic marker. It is important, that the marker, that you use does not bleed on the paper, that you want to use.
Bleeding means, that the ink spreads unevenly or over the original line, that you made, so the lines, that you draw, don´t look sharp but instead they are fuzzy looking.
I would recommend regular sketching paper, that can absorb markers well. I usually use illustration board or acryl paper but the sketching paper will do the job just fine and it is way cheaper than the illustration board.
I strongly recommend a kneadable eraser for every kind of drawing. Any regular eraser will do but a kneadable eraser can erase graphite pencil lines without damaging the paper at all. A kneadable eraser can also lighten up pencil lines instead of erasing them, which is very useful as well!
Paint, Markers or Colored Pencils
For coloring my drawings I usually use Copic markers or watercolor. I colored this drawing with markers. But you can use any medium, that you are comfortable with.
You could use acrylic color, colored pencils, markers, watercolor, etc. for coloring your drawing. The most important thing is, that the kind of paper, that you use works with your color medium.
How to Draw a Koi Fish?
Let´s get started with drawing a koi fish.
So grab your graphite pencil and your paper and let´s get started with the first step!
Step 1: Let’s Establish the General Form of the Fish
For this step, we will use a graphite pencil. Draw these lines only very lightly as we will erase them later on. These lines are only meant as guidelines.
Start by drawing a small elongated ellipse, this is going to be the head of the fish.
Next up draw a curved line. This line is going to establish how our fish is moving and we will use this to draw the body and the fins of the fish.
Draw two curved lines from the initial circle along the centerline. Then draw two lines to establish the form of the rear fin and then draw another two parallel lines that end at the farthest end of the first guideline.
Next up we will add the fins on the side of the fish. These fins loosely follow the movement of the fish, as you can see down below.
And finally, we will add another two fins at the lower end of the fish. these fins will follow the movement of the fish as well but these fins are way smaller than the other fins.
And we are done with establishing the general form of the fish!
Step 2: Let´s Add Some Details!
In this step, we will add some little details to further establish the form of the fish. We will start by adding the eyes of the fish and the gills. Notice, that the gills are slightly curved and not straight.
I also added a curved line at the neck of the fish to indicate where the head of the fish starts.
Now we will add some spots on the fish’s skin that will, later on, be colored in a different color. These spots are very indicative to koi fishes.
We will draw these spots all over the fishes body and we will also add two Whiskas at its head.
And we are done with drawing the guidelines of the fish. In the next step, we will do a cleaned-up line drawing of the fish.
Step 3: Clean Line Drawing of Our Fish
In this step, we will clean up our koi fish drawing. Start by lightening up your sketch with your kneadable eraser until you can barely see your line drawing underneath.
Then grab your marker or brush pen and start tracing only the most important lines. Take your time with this step and don’t draw these lines to fast. Make confident lines and vary your line weight.
I always start with the big forms first and then draw the smaller forms and details.
Always vary the weight of your lines. you can see, that I added some details to our underdrawing in this step. Like on the fins for example.
When you are done with tracing all the lines you can erase the underdrawing completely. Be very careful not to damage your paper by erasing the lines.
Step 4: Coloring the Koi Drawing
When I color my drawings I always choose the base colors first. In this case, I choose a light blue color, a slightly darker blue color, and a very dark blueish color for the main body of the koi.
And I picked a dark Orange and a very light orange color for the spots of the fish.
Start by coloring in the base body of the fish with the light blue color and the spots with the light orange color.
Then all I did was adding some basic shadows with The slightly darker tones to make the fish look more threedimensional.
I also used the very dark blue color to darken the tips of the fins of the fish.
And you are done. You have successfully drawn a koi fish!
How to Draw a Tropical Colorful Fish!
If the Koi fish wasn´t your style then you can check this guide out. In this part of the guide, we will draw a tropical style fish that is very colorful.
So let’s get started!
Step 1: Let’s Draw the General Form of The Fish
We will start with an ellipse again but this time this ellipse will establish the form of the body of the fish.
Use your graphite pen and keep your lines light because these lines are only going to be guidelines and we will erase them later on.
Now we will add a half circle at the lower backside of the fish. This is the heck fin of the fish.
And we will also draw the mouth of the fish on the right side.
We will also add another fin on the bottom of the fish that is longer and slightly wavy.
Next, we will draw the face of the fish by drawing a rounded triangle at the head of the fish and inside that triangle, we will draw a circle for the eye of the fish and inside the eye, we will add the pupil of the fish.
The top fin of the firs is very long and also very wavy drawn to give the illusion, that the fish is swimming in water.
And the final two fins are the heck fin and a fin on the side of the fish.
And you are done with drawing the general form of the fish.
Step 2: Cleaning Up the Drawing
In this step, we will clean up the drawing by first lightening up the underdrawing.
We will use the kneadable eraser to lighten up the drawing and then we will use a marker or brush pen to trace our underdrawing.
Change the weight of your lines to give the drawing a little more lively. Start your lines thin get bigger and then end thin again, for example.
Continue tracing the lines of your underdrawing.
Once you have traced all the lines you can completely erase the underdrawing, because we don´t need it anymore.
Step 3: Coloring Our Fish
And finally, we will color your tropical fish.
As always I start with picking the basic colors of the fish. In this case, I chose a light turquoise and a darker turquoise color for the base of the fish as well as a yellow color and orange color for the patterns on the fish.
So I started filling in the body of the fish with the light turquoise color.
Then I will fill in the patterns of the fish with yellow and orange. You don´t have to use the exact same colors, that I use here, so feel free to chose your own colors to make your fish look tropical!
Finally, I used the slightly darker colors to add some basic shadows. This will make the fish look more threedimensional. Don’t draw too many shadows and also don´t use color, that is much darker than your base color. It won’t look right if your shadow color is too dark.
This is the final illustration. I hope this guide was helpful and you ended up with a fish drawing that you can be proud of.
If you have any questions, then you can leave a comment down below and I will answer as soon as possible.
Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create these interactive props. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.