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Koi Fish

This Koi fish is an intermediate drawing but can modified to suit whatever level your child is working at. The work focuses on curves and soft rounded lines. The 'marker and water' technique gives it a soft yet effective watercolour look.


This Koi fish module sees us use the ‘marker painting’ technique again to give the finished piece an overall look and feel of having used watercolour. As always, when working with water on paper, you will need to use a slightly thicker piece of paper to get nice results.  If you don’t have thick paper, then omit using water, and stick to just the markers or even just coloured pencils.  I guarantee, whatever you use, you will have a lovely picture at the end!


  • Thicker Paper (watercolour or litho paper)
  • Black Sharpie
  • Washable markers (ie Crayola)
  • Lead pencil
  • Rubber
  • Paintbrush and water

Step 1

Draw a rounded triangle-like shape on the bottom of the page to create the head.

Step 2

Draw two lines curving in the same direction and link them with a straight line at the top. Don’t draw too close to the top of the page, as you need to leave room for the tail.

Step 3

Add a curvy fish tail. The fins don’t have to be identical on each side.

Step 4

At the top of the head, draw two semi-circles. Then draw a wide triangle shape for the fins. You can do a rounded zig-zag line going down to give the edge a bit of shape.

Step 5

Continue to draw the fins at the back of the body and also the dorsal fin. Use the same technique of wavy zig-zags.

Step 6

Start to draw lines in all of the fins.

Step 7

Add the scales to the body of the fish. Start from making some curved ‘upside down u’s’ on the bottom row. Try to stagger the next row so they are not directly on top of each other. Also try to maintain the same size scale as the bottom row you started with. This will keep it consistent.

Step 8

Add the eye and detail along the left. Remember, this fish is slightly turning so his other eye is not entirely visible. You want to give it the illusion that it’s on the other side of the head, so simply make a little round line next to the head on the right side. Add the mouth.

Step 9

Draw in the whiskers on the fish. Then, starting next to the tail draw one long sing line around the fish using curves and loops. Finish the line on the other side of the tail (not around it).

Step 10

Use your washable markers to colour in half of the scales and most of the face. Go over the top using a wet paintbrush and this will spread the colour and allow it to bleed. Do the same with the scales and the fin. If you leave the marker to dry on the page for too long, you will not get the same quality of colour spreading, so work in chunks.

Step 11

Use the edge of your marker to draw a thick outline around the body of the fish, then use your water and paintbrush to spread the colour and fill in the water in the background.

Step 12

Finish off with adding a few bubbles and splashes and now your Koi Fish is complete. The colours will continue to bleed and develop and your fish will be even more impressive after a few hours of drying!