how to draw a koi

How to draw a Koi

Step 1.

Here we sketch out the basic shape of the Koi. My apology on the image being dark, but my outline was pretty light so I had to darken everything. Quick point of interest, if the Koi is drawn swimming upward, it means you are enduring a hardship, when drawn downward, it means you've overcome a hardship.

Step 2.

Here we shape out the head, Koi have odd angular heads with alot of curves. Also, draw the "whiskers" in such a way that suggests movement rather than straight for some more realism.

Step 3.

Here we Sketch out the eye, and add some lining to the head which suggests depth and curves. Note that there is a small highlight in the pupil of the eye, details like this make alot of difference.

Step 4.

Here we work the side fins. Here, when adding the lines in the fin, curve them to suggest forward movement.

Step 5.

Here we work the back fin. This fin stretches from the upper body towards the tail. Again here, we are going to angle the lines in the fin back, to suggest forward movement.

Step 6.

Time for the tail area. Note that the left fin of the tail is drawn in such a way to show the tail curving around on itself.

Step 7.

Here is the part most people hate the most, the scales, but for me it is the easiest. A tip to help with nice smooth rounded curves that are the same size is to use a coin and trace the edge. I used a penny here, and used "in god we trust" as a guide, starting at the first letter and ending at the last to size my scales.

Step 8.

If you have gotten this far, and are satisfied with your sketch it is time to darken it up. Go over your design with a fine point marker or black colored pencil. We are almost done here.

Step 9.

Now its time for the coloring, my favorite part. Here, you can be as creative as you like. Japanese artwork uses different colors and patterns. You could go a simpler route, using a nice orange and yellow as your colors. You can use your own favorite colors and design a blue, red, purple or even green koi, trust me they design them in all colors. Lastly, you can follow the design pattern I set down if you like it. I really hope this tutorial was both helpful and enjoyable and shed some light on how easy and fun these fish are to draw and design.

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Uploaded: November 10, 2012
Artist: Malka
Difficulty: Novice  Novice Skill Level
Steps: 9
Updated: November 10, 2012
P.O.V: Front
Favourited: 2 times
Artist comments

In this tutorial, I will guide you step by step in drawing a Koi, my personal favorite japanese design. The Koi represents enduring and overcoming hardship in japanese mythology.

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