How to draw a fish using simple shapes

In this tutorial, we will learn how to draw a fish using some very simple shapes. First, we will start with the classic easy two arc fish body. We will draw two fish in the same way, and just by changing the body shape we will make them two very different fish. Our next two experiments will be drawing fishes from two other basic shapes – triangles and circles. 

That is one tutorial with four very different fish for you, which should start filling up your sketchbook aquarium nicely. So let’s grab our pencils and learn how to draw a fish!

How to draw a fish from two simple arcs - Colour in the carp

Our first fish is the classic shape made from two simple arcs. Adding scales will turn this fish into a cute carp!

How to draw a very different fish using the very same style - Colour in the fish

For our second fish we only change the body shape, and instead of a lazy carp we have a speedy mackerel! 

How to draw a fish from triangles - Colour in the fish

Next let’s draw a fish from triangles. Look! It turned out to be a terrific tropical triangular angelfish – a tri-angel fish, if you wish!

How to draw a fish from circles - Colour in the puffer fish

Finally we learn how to draw a fish from another simple shape – a circle. This one turned out to be also a sea dweller – a puffer fish. And what a very surprised one it is!

How to draw a fish from two simple arcs​

How to draw a fish from two simple arcs - Clean up the sketching

Our first fish is the classic shape made from two simple arcs. Here we learn how to draw the basic fish shape and add details which make the fish a fish: gills, fins and a tail.

Once we have the body drawn, we add extras such as scales – which will turn this fish into a cute carp!

Step 1 – Sketch the fish body

How to draw a fish from two simple arcs - Sketch the fish body

Drawing a fish is easy. We will begin our drawing with two arches. They both start in the same spot. Then we draw one crossing the other. Just like this.

Look, we can already tell this is going to be a fish!

Step 2 – Add head and fins ​

How to draw a fish from two simple arcs - Add head and fins

Now draw a curve, which will mark out the head – that is where the fish has gills. 

Next let’s add the fins. A long one on the top – that is the dorsal fin. Then two fins on the belly. The larger front one goes over the body. The smaller back one sits on the edge of the body. 

Finally, close the fish tail with another arc.

Step 3 – Draw the eye and mouth

How to draw a fish from two simple arcs - Draw the eye and mouth

A few details and our fish drawing is complete: A little dot for an eye, and a sweet heart for a mouth.

Step 4 – Trace the sketch

How to draw a fish from two simple arcs - Trace the sketch

Now let’s trace our fish sketch. 

Grab a soft pencil or a black colouring pencil and trace the drawing. We want a nice, thick line, so draw a bit harder with your pencil, so we can use an eraser to clean up the sketch lines later.

Step 5 – Add scales and details

How to draw a fish from two simple arcs - Add scales and details

Let’s add a few more details. Draw lots of small half circles for scales – and our fish has become a carp!

Then few lines on the gills, to make them look better. 

Step 6 – Clean up the sketching

How to draw a fish from two simple arcs - Clean up the sketching

Now it is time to grab your eraser and clean up the sketching. 

Go lightly over the visible sketch lines and erase them. Do not worry if you happen to erase a bit of the outline – you can always draw it back!

Now you know how to draw a fish – and this one turned out to be a carp!

Step 7 – Colour in the carp

How to draw a fish from two simple arcs - Colour in the carp

The final step is to colour in your fish.

We have decided that our carp will be green – some darker green for the body, and a lighter shade of green for the fins.

And for some fun, let’s paint that sweet heart mouth a pretty pink. And add some bubbles too! Because we can. 

How to draw a different fish using the same style

How to draw a very different fish using the very same style - Erase the sketch

Our second fish is drawn in the same way as the carp – only our initial arcs for the body will be flatter. That will make the body long and slim – and we can call this fish a mackerel! This shows you how changing the body shape will make your fish look very different – but the basic steps on how to draw a fish remain the same. 

Step 1 – Sketch the fish body

How to draw a very different fish using the very same style - Sketch the fish body

So let’s grab a pencil and get into it. We will start our drawing with two arches, similar to last time. Again they both start in the same spot, but this time we draw our lines only slightly curved. That way we get a thin, long body.

Just like before, crossing our lines one over the other creates the tail.

Step 2 – Draw the fins

How to draw a very different fish using the very same style - Draw the fins

Even the second step is same as before:

Draw a curve, which will mark out the head. Do a dot for the eye.

Add the fins. One long dorsal fin on the top, and two fins on the belly, the larger one in the front and the smaller one in the back. This time we will draw both belly fins going over the body.

Do not forget to close the fish tail.

Step 3 – Outline the fish from sketch

How to draw a very different fish using the very same style - Draw the fish from sketch

Time to grab your soft pencil for the outline. 

Start tracing the belly fins first. That way you will know where to split the line for the belly, so our fins look like they are on the top.

Then trace the rest of the fish and the top fin.

Step 4 – Add more details​

How to draw a very different fish using the very same style - Add more details

As you can see, we gave our mackerel a bit of a cartoon face, by drawing a simple nose and mouth and adding two dots for eyes.

Complete the drawing with a few lines in each fin for more detail and we are done. 

Step 5 – Erase the sketch

How to draw a very different fish using the very same style - Erase the sketch

Time to clean up the sketch lines with an eraser and our mackerel is done!

Step 6 – Colour in the fish​

How to draw a very different fish using the very same style - Colour in the fish

Let’s colour it in – mackerels are  silvery, with a bit of blue for the colour. 

And since we gave our fish a friendly cartoon face, we can also give it a crazy blue head. 

Having fun drawing fish? How about using the same simple shape to draw a shark?

How to draw a shark – one simple and one cartoon style Learn how to draw a shark. We draw two very different sharks – one simple with very realistic proportions, the other greatly exaggerated cartoon style.

How to draw a fish from triangles

How to draw a fish from triangles - Clean up the drawing

Next we learn how to draw a fish from another simple shape – triangles.

As you can see, the result is a tropical looking fish, very similar to an angelfish.
Let’s call it a tri-angel fish!

Step 1 – Sketch the triangle body and tail

How to draw a fish from triangles - Sketch the triangle body and tail

Let’s start our sketch with two triangles. Th first, large one will be the body. The second small one will be the tail. 

Place the tail triangle in the middle of the straight body line, slightly overlapping the body – same as in the picture. 

Step 2 – Draw the eyes and mouth

How to draw a fish from triangles - Draw the eyes and mouth

Next we will give our fish eyes and a mouth.

First we will draw an angled line to mark out our head. As you will see, we will not use it in the final drawing, but at this stage it helps us to place the eyes properly. 

Staying with the triangle theme, let’s draw a triangle mouth at the pointy end of the body next.

Two triangle eyes sit on the upper side of the body, roughly half way up the head. (See how the head line is coming in handy?)

Step 3 – Draw the angelfish fish from the sketch​

How to draw a fish from triangles - Draw the fish from the sketch

Now comes the fun part. Let’s draw the outline of our angelfish. Start with the mouth, followed by the inner eye. Next the line between the eye and mouth. Now you can add the second eye, which is partially hidden. 

After that do the body. Start with the top and bottom straight line. Easy!

Now for the tricky part. As you can see, we have only used the sketch as a guideline. Draw a smooth curve from the top of the fin down and then turn tightly across into the tail curve. Same trick from the tip of the lower fin. Well done!

All that is left is to close the tail with another arc, so it has a nice pointy tips.

The final lines go from the tip of the top and bottom fins to the tail. These more or less follow our original triangle line, although we have bent them slightly as well. 

Step 4 – Add the stripes and detail

How to draw a fish from triangles - Add the stripes and detail

Time to make our tropical fish pretty! 

I really liked the striped version of the angelfish. Look up “pterophyllum altum angelfish”, if you want to see what the real fish looks like.

Our version is simplified into a cartoon – so we can make the stripes look like a pretty hair. That is called an “artistic license” – when we are drawing, we can draw what we want.

Finally, add some texture lines to the fins and tail.  

Step 5 – Clean up the drawing

How to draw a fish from triangles - Clean up the drawing

And here is what our drawing looks like after we have cleaned up the sketch lines with an eraser. 

A good looking tri-angle-angel fish, I say.

Step 6 – Colour in the fish​

How to draw a fish from triangles - Colour in the fish

Let’s colour in our fish.

Tropical fish can be very brightly coloured. So here I have painted mine a shiny yellow with pink fins.

What colour is yours going to be?

Oh, and did you notice? I have not coloured the body in completely. I have left a white patch in the middle. That way it looks like there is a light reflecting on our fish, so it is not looking flat. Nice simple trick, isn’t it?

How to draw a fish from circles

How to draw a fish from circles - Complete the puffer fish drawing

Now we know how to draw a fish the standard easy way and from triangles, let’s see if we can draw a fish out of another simple shape – a circle. 

I think I know one fish that looks like a ball and can be drawn using circles. Let’s draw a puffed up puffer fish – and what a very surprised one this is!

Step 1 – Sketch the circle for the body

How to draw a fish from circles - Sketch the circle for the body

Our starting sketch is very easy – just a one large circle.

This will be the body of our puffer fish. 

Step 2 – Add face and fins

How to draw a fish from circles - Add face and fins

Next we draw our fish a face. Let’s draw some more circles. 

One for the mouth, with another small one a bit off center on the inside. 

Two more above the mouth, for eyes. Draw them close together, even touching each other.

Then add two dots into the eyes – that will make your fish look somewhere. My fish is looking down – so I have drawn my dots on the bottom of the eyes.

Then add fins and a tail. These are the same simple two arc fins and a triangle tail we have used for our first fish drawing.

Step 3 – Draw the spikes

How to draw a fish from circles - Draw the spikes

When the puffer fish gets scared, it puffs up with lots of spikes sticking around to protect it. Let’s draw those spikes!

We draw a simple two sides of a triangle for a spike. And we want to draw about two circles full of spikes.

The trick is not to space the spikes too regularly along the circle. Draw some sticking a bit more out, and some tucked a bit more in.

Something like this.

Step 4 – Start tracing the spikes and face​

How to draw a fish from circles - Start tracing the spikes and face

That is good enough for our sketch. Let’s take our thick pencil (or black colouring pencil) and draw the puffer fish properly.

First trace the eyes and mouth. 

Then all the spikes you have drawn.

As you can see, I have not traced my spikes exactly from the sketch. Rather, I have tried to place them bit more random yet again.

That is still allowed! That is what the sketching and tracing is for!  

Step 5 – Draw the body and fins​

How to draw a fish from circles - Draw the body and fins

Now we have all of our spikes drawn, let’s trace the outline of the body.

We trace only the parts between the spikes – that way they stick out properly.

Once we are done with the body, trace the fins and tail from the sketch. 

Step 6 – Add more details ​

How to draw a fish from circles - Add more details

As usual, we can not skip adding the little details that make our drawing look that extra bit better.

So let’s add some texture lines to fins and tail.

And since this is a cartoon fish, let’s draw few arcs above the eyes. Now our puffer fish is really surprised with the way it puffed up!

Step 7 – Complete the puffer fish drawing

How to draw a fish from circles - Complete the puffer fish drawing

Our drawing is complete. Time to clean up and erase the sketch. 

And now we know how to draw a fish from circles. What a surprised-looking puffer fish! 

Step 8 – Colour in the puffer fish​

How to draw a fish from circles - Colour in the puffer fish

For the final step, you can colour your puffer fish.

Again, these come in many different colours, and I have decided to make mine a nice blue.

Do not forget the trick with not colouring the body entirely. If you leave out a round white patch, it will make our flat drawing pop into a puffed up ball. There! Done.

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