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Scientists have identified over 33,000 different kinds of fish. It is no wonder, then, that fish of all kinds have long been the subject of cartoons and other art forms. From Disney’s hit movie Finding Nemo (2003), to classic children’s books such as Marcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish, aquatic characters have entered our hearts as well as mainstream popular culture.
Would you like to be able to draw your very own cartoon fish? Now you can, by following this easy, step-by-step drawing tutorial. All you will need is a pencil and a piece of paper. You may also want to use an eraser to correct any mistakes, as well as crayons, markers, or colored pencils to shade your finished drawing.
Scroll down for a downloadable PDF of this tutorial.
Each step in this drawing guide is accompanied by a detailed illustration. For each picture, new lines added in the current step are highlighted in blue. Lines from previous steps are shown in black. You may want to sketch your lines lightly at first, as you will erase some of the early lines, called guide lines, in order to complete the drawing.
Are you ready to draw your fish? Remember, just keep swimming!
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Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a Cartoon Fish
Begin by drawing a circle.
Draw two curved lines, one extending from the top and one from the bottom of the circle.
Draw a curved line from the exterior of the circle to the middle. Draw a short, curved line at the end of the previous line.
Extend a long curved line from the short line to the exterior of the circle. Draw another curved line from the bottom of the circle to meet the previous line in a sharp point.
Erase the guide lines formed by the original circle.
Draw a series of connected, curved lines from the top of the circle to the bottom of the circle. Draw a short curved line to connect the lines on the right of the image, forming an enclosed shape.
Draw a number of scalloped, wavy lines from the top of the figure to the bottom, detailing the fish’s scales.
Extend a wavy line upwards from the tail, and another downwards from the tail. Connect these lines using another wavy line to form the tail fin.
Draw a sideways heart shape extending from just below the mouth. This will form the pectoral fin.
Draw a smaller, irregular heart shape extending from the area of the scales. This forms a second fin.
Erase the guide lines from within the fins.
Use two curved lines, connected at a blunt point, to draw the dorsal fin on the fish’s back. Using a curved line, draw the far pectoral fin, partially visible below the mouth.
Draw two curved lines above the mouth, connected in a point on each end, to form the eyebrow. Draw another eyebrow, half visible, extending from the side of the face.
Draw a large circle to form the near eye, and a half circle extending from the side of the face to form the far eye.
Within the near eye, draw a circle within a circle. Draw two ovals within the inner circle, and shade between the circle and the ovals. Repeat this process for the far eye, using half circles.
Draw a curved line in the mouth to indicate the tongue.
Draw two parallel, curved lines to connect the upper portion of the mouth to the tongue.
Draw a curved line across the nose to give depth. Add detail to the fins and tail. For each fin, extend one or two wavy lines from the base of the fin nearly to the tip.
Fish live in water, so draw some! Draw several wavy lines beneath the fish to show the movement of the water as he swims.
Color your finished drawing. Fish come in every color of the rainbow – you may color your fish yellow and orange as in our illustration, or you can get creative and use your imagination.
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