[pull_quote_center]Koi , or more specifically nishikigoi , literally “brocaded carp”), are ornamental domesticated varieties of the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) that are kept for decorative purposes in an outdoor koi pond or water gardens. They are also called Japanese carp.[/pull_quote_center]

In this tutorial we’ll learn how to draw one of these beautiful fish with slashing water and ornamental flower silhouettes. This is the final result!

Koi fish drawings- Let’s get started!

The first thing to do is to draw the backbone of our fish. Position the three flowers (green) and draw approximately the head, the actual backbone and the tail. Remember fish have vertical tail fin.

Simply to connect the sides of the head with the two red dots on the tail. You can not be wrong here. Add also the lateral or pectoral fins and the posterior fin.

Also start dividing the head in quadrants as a reference for the position of eyes and nostrils.


Koi fish drawings – Close the sketch

Use the construction lines as a reference and draw with a black pen the contour of the fish including the fins. In the next part we’ll be start working at the details of the body, head and fins.

[quote_box_center]The carp is a large group of fish originally found in Central Europe and Asia. Various carp species were originally domesticated in East Asia, where they were used as food fish. The ability of carp to survive and adapt to many climates and water conditions allowed the domesticated species to be propagated to many new locations including Japan.[/quote_box_center]

A very important part of this drawing is the dorsal fin (green). To draw it correctly use the backbone of the fish as the base of the dorsal fin and then imagine to project it vertically and up. However at the rear of the fish the fin tapers and connects eventually with the tail as indicated in this drawing.


I have removed the construction lines at this stage but if you want you can keep them to help you out for the rest of the drawing.

Koi fish drawings – Complete the drawing

Add the fish eyes and those little appendages typical of this species, like small tentacles at the very beginning of the snout. Nostrils are very small, basically two points and eyes are large and with a wide pupil inside.

Also draw the gills that almost reach for the base of the pectoral fins.


Natural color mutations of these carp would have occurred across all populations. Carp were first bred for color mutations in China more than a thousand years ago, where selective breeding of the Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio) led to the development of the goldfish.

Koi fish drawings- wrap up

Time to add some detail to our drawing. We’ll focus on the fins first and then we’ll move to the scales. To decorate the fins draw lines that run inside them like rays and that go from thick to thin from the outside to the inside.


Do the same thing for the dorsal fins, pectoral fins and tail. Also decorate the snout with some bold lines.


Koi fish drawings – Complete the drawing

The very last step to our drawing will be adding the water splashes and the scales all over the body of the fish.

To realize the splashes draw loosely corrugated lines starting from the fish body as suggested in the drawing below. Add in also some drops all around the main splashes to simulate the fish splashing in the water.

For the scale it is more of a tedious work than a difficult one. The scale have almost a semicircular shape and you should proceed by drawing row by row being careful to shift the next row by half a scale length to obtain the typical tiled scale patter.

final result in the next complete drawing.


Once you are finished doing the scales add the amount of detail you want to the drawing before going out showing it off!

Hope you enjoyed this new tutorial of the Drawing Factory. Please remember to support us by leaving a comment or digging the tutorial if you enjoyed it!.

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