How to Draw a Coral Reef

Easy, step by step Coral Reef drawing tutorial
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"With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you're connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live.

Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is generated by the sea."
- Sylvia Earle, American scientist

"Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world." The large stone like structures are built by tiny, almost microscopic animals called coral polyps.

The polyps live and grow in colonies, filtering their food from the water or using energy from the sun.

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is one of the largest coral reefs in the world. It's so big that it can be seen from outer space.

Sadly, this reef and others like it are threatened by pollution, overfishing, and climate change.

Scroll down for a downloadable PDF of this tutorial.

Would you like to dive in and draw a cartoon coral reef? This easy, step-by-step cartoon drawing tutorial is here to show you how. All you will need is a pen or pencil and a sheet of paper. You may also wish to color your finished ocean scene.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Manatee, Bass, and Underwater Scene.

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Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a Coral Reef

Coral Reef drawing - step 1
How to Draw Coral Reef: Step 1

1. Draw several series of curved lines, one series overlapping the next. This begins to shape some of the rocks and coral that make up the reef. Detail the coral with curved lines.

Coral Reef drawing - step 2
How to Draw Coral Reef: Step 2

2. Draw another series of curved lines above the others, and detail the top with a curved line. These are known as shelf corals. Then, draw a staghorn coral. Use series of curved lines that double back upon themselves to form rounded branches that resemble the limbs of a tree or a deer's antlers.

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Coral Reef drawing - step 3
How to Draw Coral Reef: Step 3

3. Draw more staghorn coral. Again, use series of curved lines that double back upon themselves to form rounded branches.

Coral Reef drawing - step 4
How to Draw Coral Reef: Step 4

4. Draw a long horizontal line to form a sandbank on the ocean floor. Upon it, use a series of curved lines to outline a five-pointed star. Draw curved lines from its center to the tips of the arms. This is a starfish. Then, to one side of the page, draw layers of wavy lines, indicating sponges.

Coral Reef drawing - step 5
How to Draw Coral Reef: Step 5

5. Draw more layers of wavy lines, connecting the pile of sponges or corals to the seafloor.

Coral Reef drawing - step 6
How to Draw Coral Reef: Step 6

6. Draw "U" shaped lines to further detail the sponges. Then, draw more sponges on the opposite side of the page.

Coral Reef drawing - step 7
How to Draw Coral Reef: Step 7

7. Draw more series of "U" shaped lines. Then, draw some seaweed or seagrasses. Use pairs of wavy curved lines that meet at points at the top.

Coral Reef drawing - step 8
How to Draw Coral Reef: Step 8

8. Draw a large sponge. Use overlapping curved lines to form the arms or branches of the animal. Shade an oval-shaped opening at the end of each branch. In the open water above the sponge, begin drawing a jellyfish. Draw a large "U" shaped line, and connect the ends with a series of smaller "U" shaped lines. This forms the animal's body or bell.

Coral Reef drawing - step 9
How to Draw Coral Reef: Step 9

9. Draw curved lines to indicate the stinging tentacles. Use curved lines to outline a tropical fish. It is shaped like a heart, with three curved lines extending between the bulges and forming a triangular tail. Detail the fish with vertical curved lines for stripes, and shade a small circle to indicate the eye.

Complete Coral Reef drawing
How to Draw Coral Reef: Step 10

Color your cartoon coral reef. Healthy reefs are full of brightly colored creatures. Sick or dying reefs experience coral bleaching, meaning that the tiny animals that make up the corals die and the remaining structures turn white.

Would you like to expand your oceanic drawing skills? Learn how to draw an underwater scene.

Scroll down for a downloadable PDF of this tutorial.

The Complete Coral Reef Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to draw: Coral Reef - all drawing steps
How to Draw Coral Reef

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