Koi fish painting: How to paint a beautiful Koi fish in Watercolor

Koi fish painting watercolor

Learn how to paint a Koi fish with these comprehensive instructions. While you are entirely free in choosing your color medium, we have decided on a watercolor image. The softness of the watercolor fits perfectly with the aquatic motif.

You can also change the picture by painting a different colored fish or vary the position of the animal on the painting surface. You can create the composition according to your ideas.

Materials needed for this tutorial

  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor paint
  • Pencil
  • Black and white marker
  • Reference image

Instructions on how to paint a Koi fish

Step 1

First, you attach the watercolor paper with a little masking tape (or adhesive tape) to the surface. This will prevent the paper from becoming wavy due to the high water content of the paint. It will ensure that your artwork has a uniform, clean space around the edges.

Step 2

Draw the scene with a pencil utilizing very faint strokes. Use a photo, a real Koi (if you have one swimming in your garden pond), or other works of art.

It is crucial to plan the composition in this step if you want to paint a specific scene that is as balanced as possible.

Step 3

Next, use a waterproof marker to trace the lines of the sketch. This will create vibrant areas that you can then fill in with the watercolor paint. Erase visible pencil lines if they bother you.

Koi Drawing

Step 4

Now you can apply the individual watercolor layers. Always let the layers of paint dry before you paint adjacent areas in other colors without running the risk of them bleeding into each other.

We have proceeded systematically in our instructions:

A faint shade of blue with lots of water is perfect for the first layer of water.

How to paint a koi 1

A light grey looks good in some areas of the Koi fish.

How to paint a koi 2

To paint the typical Koi skin, intensive orange tones are perfect. Other colors like red are also wonderfully suitable.

How to paint a koi 3

The water lily leaves are best in a medium shade of green.

The water lily itself can be painted in a variety of colors. We have chosen a light grey for the water lily with yellow flowers.

How to paint a koi 4

The pattern of the Koi can be supplemented by some dark spots. Instead of using a black, you can paint the pattern on the Koi with a softened charcoal color.

See Also
How to paint waves

How to paint a koi 5

Step 5

When the first layers of paint are dry, you should increase the contrast. Prepare some tones of the same color families. With the difference that these color mixtures have more pigment and less water than the colors used in step 4.

Now repaint the whole scene. Let the colors flow and have fun, enhancing the contrasts.

How to paint a koi 6

Let the entire image dry.

Step 6

In step 6, we highlighted individual details in the koi pond with a white marker. The bright outline shapes around the different picture elements suggest movement and make the water surface look real. It seems as if the water creates small waves.

Step 7 – How to paint a koi fish – Finish up

Let your artwork dry and remove the masking tape to reveal the Koi in the pond ultimately.

Koi fish painting watercolor

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