How to

The Fisheries Blog


With the new year upon us, many people are making resolutions, and some may even aspire to try their hand at the #SundayFishSketch. If you have hesitations about your artistic abilities, fear not! The Fisheries Blog is here to assist you in embarking on your drawing journey. In this article, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions, tips, and additional website tutorials to help you master the art of sketching your favorite aquatic creatures – fishes!

The Basics of Fish Sketching

When sketching a fish, it is crucial to pay attention to general body proportions, head size, mouth position, and fin placement. The position of the mouth and the location and number of fins vary among fish species, making them vital characteristics for accurate representation. Omitting a fin in your sketches or descriptions could lead to misinforming your audience. To achieve more realistic results, I recommend taking a quick glance at fish skeletons. While you don’t need to memorize bone names, understanding the underlying skeletal morphology of the fish you’re sketching will prove beneficial.

Artists should also consider any constraints on body movement and bending for species with heavy armor or thick scales. These attributes limit their mobility compared to more flexible species like eels. Take a look at the comparison below:

Fish Comparison

To start, it’s ideal to draw a fish in a lateral position. This approach helps you grasp the essential features to include in your sketches. Once you feel comfortable with body shapes and fin placements, you can gradually move on to more complex swimming positions.

Now, let’s practice sketching a bluegill sunfish!

Bluegill Sunfish Sketch

Congratulations! You have successfully sketched the basic shape of a fish. If you’re not yet comfortable drawing shapes from scratch, don’t worry. Begin by tracing over an image of a fish. This practice aids muscle memory and enhances your understanding of general proportions. As you continue reading, we will delve into additional tips and tutorials on fin rays and scales.

Paying Attention to Details

Once you have a firm grasp on basic body shapes and fin placements, it’s time to shift your focus towards the finer details. Fin rays, fin-ray counts, scales, and scale counts play a significant role in distinguishing closely related species. These features are crucial for species-specific identification. While the following instructions can be tackled in any order, they offer helpful drawing tips and suggestions on attributes to consider while sketching.

The Head

The location, shape, and anatomy of fish fins are of utmost importance. Cartilaginous fishes, such as sharks, skates, and rays, possess slightly different fin morphologies compared to bony fishes. Additionally, older bony fish lineages, like gars and sturgeon, have soft fin-rays and may lack spiny fin rays.

Scales and Finer Details

Fish scales come in various types, and understanding their overall shape and anatomical structure is crucial for detailed and scientific work. The size, number, and placement of scales on the body, as well as the presence of scales on the head, can be vital for species identification. Look closely for the lateral line on your fish. While most fish have only one, some may have two or three. The lateral line is a system of canals containing organs that sense water movement. If the canal pores in the scales are visible, including them in your sketch can add authenticity.

Fish with Fin Rays and Scales

Adding the Finishing Touches

Congratulations! You have successfully sketched a fish, fins, and all. Take pride in your accomplishment and recognize that these steps can be employed for sketching various fish species. As you progress, consider incorporating other details, such as markings on the cheek area and shading. You can also outline your drawing in ink and utilize paint or colored pencils to add vibrant colors. Emulating the artistic styles of other talented artists can spark inspiration and help you achieve desired effects.

Additional Resources

To further enhance your sketching skills, here are some additional websites with tutorials on how to draw fishes. Each tutorial emphasizes different aspects, so explore them all to find what best suits your needs. Remember, there are also numerous YouTube tutorials available for learning how to draw fish.


If you have attempted this tutorial and found it helpful, we would love to see your fish sketches! Post a comment with a picture of your creation. Happy New Year, good luck, and keep drawing!

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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