How to Draw a Koi Fish

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Learn how to draw a great looking Koi Fish with easy, step-by-step drawing instructions, and video tutorial. You can now easily create a beautiful Koi Fish drawing.

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 10
Complete Koi Fish drawing

Jump to the step-by-step instructions.

Koi are a large, colorful variety of the fish known as the carp. In fact, the Japanese word koi means "carp."

Most carp are brown or grey in color, but in Japan, the brightly colored fish are designated with the name nishikigoi, or "brocaded carp."

A brocade is a woven fabric with a colorful design which the fish are said to resemble.

Since ancient times, at least since the fifth century B.C., carp were domesticated and raised as a source of food.

Over 1,000 years ago in China, breeders began to select for natural color variations, enhancing these as time went by. The result? Beautifully colored ornamental fish as we see them today.

Scroll down for a downloadable PDF of this tutorial.

Around the world, many people enjoy the hobby of keeping koi as well as their distant cousin, the goldfish.

Another Japanese word, also pronounced koi, means "love," and serious collectors certainly love their koi fish.

Some keepers join koi enthusiast clubs, and the fish themselves at times cost hundreds of dollars each.

Images of koi fish have long been featured in Japanese art. Today, they remain a popular subject of photography, paintings, clothing designs, and adult coloring books.

Would you like to draw your very own koi fish?

Doing so is easy with the help of this simple, step-by-step drawing tutorial. All you will need is a pencil, a good eraser, and a sheet of paper.

You may also wish to use crayons, colored pencils, paints, or markers to shade your finished fish.

Did you know the colorful pattern in our koi drawing can also make a great lure design? Follow these lure painting instructions and you too can start creating your own fishing lures.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Seahorse, Dolphin, and Cartoon Shark.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a Koi Fish

How to draw a koi fish - featured image

How to Draw a Great Looking Koi Fish for Kids, Beginners, and Adults - Step 1

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 01

1. Begin by drawing a circle. This will form the fish's head.

Easy Koi Fish Drawing - Step 2

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 02

2. Extend two long, curved lines from the top and side of the circle. These outline the fish's curving body.

Easy Koi Fish Drawing - Step 3

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 03

3. Use a long, loosely "M" shaped line to enclose the fish's tail.

Easy Koi Fish Drawing - Step 4

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 04

4. Add fins to the fish's body. Do so by enclosing irregular shapes along the fish's sides. There should be a pectoral fin on each side of the fish's head, and two more fins near its tail.

Easy Koi Fish Drawing - Step 5

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 05

5. Detail and shape the fish's face. Use a long, curved line, extended from one side of the head to the other. Notice the flatness of the mouth.

Easy Koi Fish Drawing - Step 6

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 06

6. Erase guide lines from the fish's head.

Easy Koi Fish Drawing - Step 7

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 07

7. Detail your koi fish. Along the bottom of each fin and the tips of the tail, draw short, straight lines, indicating the ribs of the fins. Then, draw a curved line down the center of the face, providing depth. Draw a curved, loosely "V" shaped line at the side of the face, further detailing the outline. Finally, draw the dorsal fin on the fish's back. Do so by enclosing an elongated, curved triangle that follows the curvature of the fish's body.

Add More Details to Your Koi Fish Picture - Step 8

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 08

8. Erase guide lines from the fish's face and dorsal fin.

Complete the Outline of Your Koi Fish Drawing - Step 9

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 09

9. Complete your fish with additional details. Draw short, ribbed lines across the dorsal fin. Draw a small oval within a larger oval to indicate the eye; shade the smaller oval. Draw a small, nearly complete circle at the tip of the fish's nose. Beside this, draw the barbel, or whisker, using two short, curved lines that meet in a point. Draw a second barbel on the other side of the face. Finally, draw scales all over the fish's body. Do so using short, connected, "U" shaped lines.

Color Your Koi Fish Drawing

How to Draw Koi Fish Step 10

10. Color your koi fish. This type of fish is often seen in shades of white, brown, orange, red, green, and gold.

For more great Animal drawing tutorials, see the 100 Fun Animal Art Tutorials for Kids post.

Don't forget to check out our other aquatic drawing tutorials, including dolphins, turtles, sharks, and sea horses.

Easy, step by step Koi Fish drawing tutorial
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