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How To Draw A Fish – Step By Step Instructions

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Fish are sea animals that exist in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The smallest fish (Dwarfgoby) is less than 10mm long (0.37 inches) while the largest fish (the Whale Shark) can grow up to 19 meters (62 feet).

Some fish are round like a ball (like the Pufferfish), shaped like the moon (like the aptly-named Moonfish), flat like a rug (such as the Flatfish), or even like a hammer (the Hammerhead Shark).

While most fish have scales in various shades of grey and blue, some sport bright and vibrant colors, in particular coral sea fish.

This step-by-step drawing tutorial will take you through the 8 stages of drawing a beautiful clownfish.

How to draw a fish

How To Draw A Fish

In this step-by-step tutorial, we’ll learn how to draw a fish. It’s quite straightforward and can be achieved in 8 simple steps, so kids and adults can make their own fish.

You can even use this as a loose guide and add different details like more fins, different scales.

Before coloring your fish in Step 8, there are 7 preliminary steps to sketch a beautiful, tropical fish!

To draw this fish, we’ll need:

  • A sheet of paper, go for landscape orientation.
  • A pencil, or black pen for the outline – I prefer the pencil option so my little one can use an eraser if a line is off.
  • Coloring Pencils or coloring pens – once you’ve finished the drawing. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the same colors, go crazy!

Step 1: Make The Outline

How to draw a fish - Step 1

Start by drawing the fish outline. Given that fish have pretty much all possible shapes, you are free to go a bit wild here.

But if you want to make a classic fish, go for a football-shaped head and continue with a streamlined body and a tail that expands up and down.

Keep the fish in the middle of your sheet of paper – save a margin of a few inches on each side.

Step 2: Mark The Head

How to draw a fish - Step 2

The head of fish is not as separated from the body as ants for example, but traditionally it’s considered that whatever is before the gills is the head.

The gills are what fish use to get their oxygen. They don’t really breathe like us and don’t need to go to the surface as whales or dolphins do.

Instead, they get all their oxygen from seawater that they filter through their gills on the side.

Here, we’re drawing a line that symbolizes the gills from the top to the bottom of the fish.

Step 3: Add The Fins

How to draw a fish - Step 3

Fins are essentials to fish. It’s what they use to move forward, mostly with their tail fin, go up or down with their side fins, and turn left and right with their pectoral fins.

For some fish, fins are used as a defense tool by scaring a predator, or they can also conceal spikes.

A typical fish has:

  • Dorsal Fin: a single, mane-like fin at the top
  • Caudal Fin: the tail fin
  • Ventral Fin: a fin on the belly
  • Pectoral Fins: fins on the side.

Step 4: Give The Fish An Eye

How to draw a fish - Step 4

Most fish have eyes, and the vast majority of them have two eyes.

Their eyes are generally well on the side to detect predators and evade them.

Some fish have evolved in the most surprising way. The flatfish for example lay on its side at the bottom of the sea. You would expect that one of its eyes looks directly at the sand.

But the flatfish has actually evolved by migrating the bottom eye to the other side!

Step 5: Decorate The Fins

How to draw a fish - Step 5

Fins are very thin appendixes made of bony spines protruding from the body and covered with skin in a webbed fashion.

I like to decorate them by adding lines that follow the curve of the fin.

Step 6: Add Bubbles

How to draw a fish - Step 6

Fish don’t breathe, but it’s somewhat customary to draw fish with bubbles, so I like to add a few on top of the head.

Step 7: Give The Fish Stripes

How to draw a fish - Step 7

Before coloring the fish, it’s time to give it stripes or decorations that you can then color.

I like stripes, but you can also give draw circles, ovals, or a horizontal line.

Step 8: Color The Fish

How to draw a fish - Step 8

When you’re ready to color, go wild!

There’s literally no color that doesn’t exist in fish, orange, red, yellow, blue, purple, green, black, white. It’s all possible.

You Drew A Fish!

Your drawing is now finished!

You can of course add more fish around, seaweed, a submarine, starfish, seashells, etc.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this drawing tutorial. Don’t hesitate to subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when a new drawing lesson comes on the site!

Facts About Fish

Drawing is always a way to learn new things. Fish are awesome, here are a few reasons why.

1. Fish Don’t Really Sleep

Fish don’t have eyelids. And that’s probably a good thing, as they would fall to the bottom of the sea, or would float up.

Instead, they have a very shallow sleep where their senses are still alert to danger and predators.

2. Some Fish Light Up

Fish don’t only live near the surface of the ocean or river.

Some deep-sea fish like the Lanternfish or the very ugly Humpback Anglerfish emit some light through bioluminescence.

They use the light to lure other fish and eat them.

 3. A Group Of Fish Is Called A School

Some fish live most of their life alone, in particular predators. But many small fish find safety in numbers.

These groups of fish are called schools when they are coordinated – if they tend to go in the same direction at the same time.

Un-coordinated groups of fish are called Shoals.

The largest-ever school of fish was detected in 2009 using sonar in the Atlantic. It was thought to contain as many as 100 million herrings.

4. The Global Fishing Industry Is Particularly Destructive

Fish have long been considered a resource for mankind.

But the volume of fish caught each year has been growing dramatically to the point of becoming unsustainable. There are more fish caught than fish being born leading to a global collapse of fish.

Each year, about 3 trillion fish are caught – that’s almost 100,000 fish every single second.

Not only is the fishing industry decimating the fish that people eat, but it’s also killing whales, dolphins, sharks, and turtles as bycatch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this drawing tutorial for toddlers?

Toddlers can try, but they might draw something that looks more like a potato than a fish. However, it’s never too early to give them a pen to exercise their hands.

I’ve found that the best age to start drawing more complex shapes like a fish is for preschool kids.

Their hands are strong enough to hold a pen precisely and draw the basic shapes that are necessary like ovals and straight lines.

Can I just print a photo to color it?

Absolutely, if you print the drawing from step 7,  you can then just color it!

How to draw a fish

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