Koi is a large, colorful variety of fish known as carp. In fact, the Japanese word koi means “carp”. Most carp are brown or grey, but in Japan the brightly colored fish are referred to as nishikigoi, or “brocaded carp”.
Brocade is a brightly patterned woven fabric that is said to look like a fish.
Around the world, many people enjoy the hobby of keeping koi, as well as their distant cousin, the goldfish. Another Japanese word, also pronounced koi, means “love” and serious collectors certainly love their koi fish.
Some keepers join koi enthusiast clubs, and the fish themselves are sometimes worth hundreds of dollars each.
Images of koi fish have been featured in Japanese art for a long time. Today, they remain a popular subject for photography, painting, fashion design, and adult coloring books.
Would you like to draw your own koi fish? Doing so is easy with this simple, step-by-step drawing guide. All you need is a pencil, a good eraser and a sheet of paper. You can also use crayons, colored pencils, paints, or markers to color in the finished fish.
If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Seahorse, Dolphin, and Cartoon Shark.
1. Start by drawing a circle. This will form the head of the fish.
2. Extend two long, curved lines from the top and side of the circle. They outline the curving body of the fish.
3. Use a long, “M” shaped line to wrap around the fish’s tail.
4. Add fins to the body of the fish. Do this by enclosing irregular shapes along the sides of the fish. There should be a pectoral fin on each side of the fish’s head, and two more fins near the tail.
5. Detail and shape the face of the fish. Use a long, curved line from one side of the head to the other. Pay attention to the flatness of the mouth.
6. Erase the guide lines from the head of the fish.
7. Detail your koi fish. Along the bottom of each fin and the tips of the tail, draw short, straight lines to represent the edges of the fins. Then draw a curved line down the center of the face, providing depth. Draw a curved, loose V-shaped line on the side of the face, further detailing the outline. Lastly, draw the dorsal fin on the back of the fish. Do this by enclosing an elongated, curved triangle that follows the curve of the fish’s body.
8. Erase guide lines from the fish’s face and dorsal fin.
9. Complete your fish with additional details. On the dorsal fin, draw short ribbed lines. Draw a small oval within a larger oval to indicate the eye; shade the smaller oval. Draw a small, almost full circle at the tip of the fish’s nose.
Next to that, draw a tendril or tendril using two short, curved lines that meet at the same point. Draw a second tendril on the other side of the face. Lastly, draw the scales all over the body of the fish. Do this using short connected U-shaped lines.
10. Color your koi fish. This type of fish is often found in shades of white, brown, orange, red, green, and gold.
Be sure to check out our other aquatic drawing tutorials, including dolphins, turtles, sharks, and seahorses.