Step-by-Step Koi Fish Drawing Guide for Beginners
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Gathering Drawing Materials
  2. Drawing the Koi Fish Outline
  3. Adding Details to the Body
  4. Sketching the Fins
  5. Drawing the Face and Eyes
  6. Adding Scales to the Body
  7. Drawing the Background
  8. Inking the Drawing
  9. Coloring the Koi Fish
  10. Finishing Touches

Ever wanted to add a touch of the orient to your art repertoire? Well, you're in the right place! This step-by-step guide will teach you how to draw a koi fish underwater. Let's dive right in and make a splash with our art skills.

Gathering Drawing Materials

Before we can start our underwater art journey, we need to gather some tools. Don't worry, you don't need any fancy equipment to learn how to draw a koi fish underwater—just some basics that you probably already have lying around. Here's what you'll need:

  • Pencil: Any standard pencil will do. It's our main tool for sketching the outline and details of our koi fish.
  • Eraser: Mistakes happen—especially when you're learning something new. An eraser will come in handy to correct any errors or make adjustments as you sketch.
  • Drawing paper: Opt for a medium-weight paper that can hold up to erasing and coloring.
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers: After we sketch our koi fish, we'll want to bring it to life with some color. You can use whatever you like or have on hand.
  • Ink pen: This is optional but helpful for outlining our finished sketch and giving it a sharp, defined look.

Remember: you don't need premium art supplies to create a great drawing. The real magic comes from your creativity and effort. Now that we have our tools, we're ready to dive deeper into our guide on how to draw a koi fish underwater. Let's get started with our sketch!

Drawing the Koi Fish Outline

With our materials in place, let's start sketching. Drawing a koi fish begins with a simple outline. Think of it as a roadmap for all the intricate details we'll add later. Start with the body, which is somewhat similar to a teardrop shape.

  1. Body: Start by drawing an elongated oval shape—imagine a teardrop on its side. This sets the foundation for the koi fish's body.
  2. Head: At one end of the oval, make the shape slightly larger—this will be the head of the koi fish. Ensure it's smooth and rounded.
  3. Tail: On the other end of the oval, the fish's body should taper into a narrow point for the tail. Remember, it's okay if it's not perfect. You can always fine-tune it later.

And there we have it—the basic outline of our koi fish! It might look a bit simple now, but this is just the skeleton. Next, we'll add more details and start to see our koi fish come to life. But before we get to that, take a moment to appreciate your outline. You've taken the first big step in learning how to draw a koi fish underwater!

Adding Details to the Body

With the koi fish outline complete, it's time to add some character. Let's bring our koi fish to life by adding details to the body. Remember, the beauty of a koi fish lies in its unique markings and vibrant colors, so let's keep that in mind as we sketch.

  1. Markings: Start by sketching a few wavy lines along the body. These will act as guides for the koi's distinctive markings. Try to make a pattern—maybe a few large patches here and there, and some smaller ones interspersed.
  2. Gill Slits: Near the head of the fish, add two small, curved lines on each side for the gill slits. These are a crucial part of your koi fish, giving it the ability to breathe underwater.
  3. Spine Line: Draw a faint line along the length of the body, from the head to the tail. This is the spine of the fish, and it helps to guide the placement of the scales we'll add later.

Look at that—you've turned a simple outline into a recognizable koi fish shape. We're getting closer to mastering how to draw a koi fish underwater! In the next section, we'll move on to the fins, a key part of capturing the grace and beauty of a koi fish.

Sketching the Fins

Now, for one of the most exciting parts—creating the koi fish's fins. Koi fins are flowy, almost like underwater wings, and they add a sense of movement to your drawing. The process might seem a little tricky at first, but don't worry. We'll take it step-by-step.

  1. Top Fin: Start by drawing a wavy, elongated triangle on top of the koi fish's body. This forms the dorsal fin. Keep in mind, the top fin should be slightly angled towards the tail, giving the impression of the fish swimming forward.
  2. Side Fins: Next, draw two sets of fins on each side of the koi fish. The front fins (pectoral fins) are larger and more rounded, while the back ones (pelvic fins) are smaller and pointier. Try to draw them with a bit of a curve to suggest movement.
  3. Tail Fin: Last but not least, let's work on the tail fin. It's the largest and most dramatic of all the fins. Picture a fan opening up—wide at the base and tapering off towards the top. Remember to add some wavy lines to capture its fluttering underwater movement.

Great job! You've successfully added the fins to your koi fish drawing. Notice how they bring a dynamic, lively touch to the overall image? Well, that's exactly why learning how to draw a koi fish underwater is a fun skill to master. With the body and fins in place, we're ready to move on to the face and eyes. Are you ready?

Drawing the Face and Eyes

Now that our koi fish has a body and fins, it's time to breathe life into it by drawing the face and eyes. This is where your koi fish starts to take on a personality. So, let's dive right in!

  1. The Mouth: Start by drawing a simple, slightly curved line for the mouth. It's a bit like a relaxed smile. Remember, koi fish are peaceful creatures, so keep the expression gentle.
  2. The Eyes: Koi fish eyes are interesting. They're not quite round, but not quite oval either. To draw them, start with a circle and then slightly elongate it sideways. Place the eyes just above the mouth, on either side of the fish's face.
  3. The Whiskers: Did you know koi fish have whiskers? They're called barbels, and they're a key detail! Draw two on each side of the mouth. They're long, thin, and slightly curved - almost like thin strands of spaghetti!

And there you have it! Your koi fish now has a face and personality. See how it's all coming together? By following these steps, you're learning how to draw a koi fish underwater, step-by-step. But we're not done yet. In the next section, we'll add another layer of realism by adding scales to the body. Ready to keep going?

Adding Scales to the Body

Alright, let's move forward in our quest to learn how to draw a koi fish underwater. The next step? Adding scales to the body. This part is a bit time-consuming but trust me, the detail it adds is worth it. So, grab your pencil and let's get started!

  1. Start Small: Scales are small, diamond-shaped patterns that cover the entire body of the koi fish. Start by lightly sketching these tiny shapes on the body of your koi fish. Make sure they overlap a bit, just like real fish scales do.
  2. Keep Them Uniform: While drawing the scales, try to keep them uniform in size. The consistency in scale size helps to maintain a realistic appearance.
  3. Follow the Flow: The scales should follow the contour of the fish's body. So, they won't be straight lines; instead, they'll have a bit of a curve to them. This gives the illusion of the fish's round body.

Now, take a step back and admire your work. See how those scales make your koi fish look more real and vibrant? Great job! Now, we're ready to move on to the next step in our guide on how to draw a koi fish underwater. Up next, we'll draw the background to set the scene for our koi fish. Excited to learn more? Let's go!

Drawing the Background

Now that your koi fish is coming to life with its new scales, let's take it a step further. It's time to create the underwater environment for our koi fish. Here's how you can create an underwater scene that complements your koi fish.

  1. Sky and Water Surface: Start off by drawing the surface of the water. Think about it as a horizontal line towards the top of your paper. You can also add a bit of the sky by drawing some birds or clouds above the waterline.
  2. Add Some Plants: Underwater plants can add a nice touch to your drawing. Draw a few tall plants reaching upwards from the bottom of your paper. These could be simple lines with leaves coming off them, or more complex plants—whatever you feel comfortable drawing.
  3. Draw Some Rocks: Rocks can offer a nice contrast to the soft body of the koi fish and the fluid water. You could draw these at the bottom of your image, giving the impression of a pond floor.
  4. Add Bubbles: Lastly, draw some air bubbles coming from the koi fish's mouth. These small details can make a big difference in creating a realistic underwater scene.

And there you have it! You've just created an underwater backdrop for your koi fish. Now, you're one step closer to learning how to draw a koi fish underwater. Let's continue adding depth and dimension to our drawing in the next step, shall we?

Inking the Drawing

So, we've reached the inking stage. This is where your koi fish and its underwater home begin to pop off the page. Inking will define the lines and make your drawing more vibrant. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Choose the Right Pen: For inking, you need a pen that won't smudge or bleed through the paper. A fine liner or a pen with waterproof ink would be ideal. If you're unsure, test your pen on a scrap piece of paper first.
  2. Start from Top to Bottom: To avoid smudging your drawing, start inking from the top of your paper and work your way down. This way, your hand won't accidentally rub over your fresh ink.
  3. Ink the Outline First: Start by inking the outline of your koi fish and underwater scene. Make sure to follow the shapes and lines you've already drawn. It's okay if it's not perfect—the beauty of art lies in its imperfections.
  4. Fill in the Details: After you've inked the outline, you can start adding in the finer details like the scales, eyes, and bubbles. Remember, take your time and don't rush.

Once you're done, give your drawing some time to dry before moving to the next step. Inking is a crucial part of learning how to draw a koi fish underwater, and you're doing a fantastic job!

Coloring the Koi Fish

Alright, your koi fish is inked and ready for some color. Let's get to it!

  1. Select Your Colors: Koi fish come in a variety of colors including white, black, red, yellow, and even blue. You can choose the colors you find most appealing. Remember, this is your art, so feel free to get creative!
  2. Start with Lighter Shades: It's a good rule of thumb to start with your lightest colors first. This can help to avoid any unwanted color mixing and keep your drawing neat.
  3. Color the Body: Begin by coloring the body of your koi fish. Use gentle strokes for a smooth finish. And don't worry if you go outside the lines a bit — it adds character!
  4. Add in the Details: Once you've colored the body, you can start adding in the details. This could be darker shades for depth or different colors for the scales, fins, and eyes.
  5. Color the Background: Now that your koi fish is colored in, it's time to bring your underwater scene to life. Blues and greens are great for portraying water, and don't forget to color in any plants or rocks you've drawn.

Coloring is a fun and therapeutic part of the process. It brings your koi fish to life and is a key step in learning how to draw a koi fish underwater. Enjoy this step, let those colors flow, and watch as your koi fish swims off the page.

Finishing Touches

Finally, we've reached the last step of our journey on how to draw a koi fish underwater. This stage is all about fine-tuning and adding those final sparks of magic to your art.

  1. Check Your Work: Start by taking a step back and looking at your drawing as a whole. Does anything seem off or out of place? If so, now's the time to fix it.
  2. Add Highlights: To make your koi fish really pop, you can add some highlights. Use a white pencil or pen to add shiny spots on the fish's scales, eyes, and fins. This brings a beautiful, lifelike glimmer to your koi fish.
  3. Enhance Shadows: If you've used lighter colors, consider going back over the darker areas to deepen the shadows. This can give your koi fish more dimension and make it appear more 3D.
  4. Finalize the Background: Now, turn your attention back to the background. Add any last details to the underwater scene. Maybe it's a few more bubbles, a hidden treasure, or a friendly turtle passing by.

These finishing touches are what truly transform your drawing from good to great. They really drive home that underwater feel, making your koi fish drawing not just a sketch, but a complete underwater scene. Learning how to draw a koi fish underwater isn't just about the fish, but creating an entire aquatic ambiance. And guess what? You just did it!

If you enjoyed this step-by-step koi fish drawing guide and want to take your drawing skills to the next level, don't miss Roberto Bernal's workshop, 'A Foolproof Fish-Eye Perspective.' This workshop will teach you how to create stunning fish-eye perspective drawings that will elevate your artwork and captivate your audience.