How Do You Make a Watercolor Koi Fish?

Watercolor painting is a beautiful and expressive art form that can be used to create stunning images of all kinds. One of the most popular watercolor subjects is the koi fish, which has long been admired for its vibrant colors and graceful movements. In this tutorial, we will go over the steps involved in creating a watercolor koi fish painting.

Materials You Will Need:

  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Masking tape
  • Clean water and paper towels or a rag

Step 1: Sketch Your Koi Fish

The first step in creating your watercolor koi fish painting is to sketch out your design on your watercolor paper using a pencil. You can use a reference image or draw your own design.


  • Use light pressure when sketching so that you can easily erase any mistakes.
  • Keep your lines loose and flowing to capture the movement of the fish.
  • Try different compositions before settling on one you like.

Step 2: Apply Masking Tape to Your Paper Edges

Once you have sketched out your design, it’s time to apply masking tape to the edges of your paper. This will create a border around your painting and keep it clean and neat.

  • If you don’t have masking tape, you can also use painter’s tape or washi tape.
  • Make sure that the tape is firmly attached to the paper so that no paint seeps through.

Step 3: Start Painting Your Koi Fish

Now it’s time to start painting! Begin by wetting your paintbrush and applying a light layer of water to the area where you want to paint your fish.

  • Start with lighter colors and work your way up to darker ones.
  • Use a clean brush and clean water when switching between colors.
  • Experiment with different brush strokes and techniques to create texture and depth.

Step 4: Add Details and Highlights

Once you have painted the main body of your koi fish, it’s time to add in the details and highlights. Use a smaller brush to add in the eyes, scales, and other features.

  • Use white or light-colored paint to create highlights on the fish.
  • Add in shading by using a darker color on the underside of the fish or around its fins.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and techniques!

Step 5: Let Your Painting Dry

Once you have finished painting, let your watercolor koi fish dry completely before removing the masking tape. This will ensure that your painting stays clean and smudge-free.

  • Avoid touching your painting while it’s still wet as this can cause smudging or smearing.
  • If you need to speed up the drying process, use a hairdryer on low heat or place your painting in front of a fan.

In conclusion, creating a watercolor koi fish painting is a beautiful way to express yourself through art. With just a few simple steps, you can create a stunning piece that will be admired for years to come. Remember to have fun and experiment with different colors and techniques to create a painting that is uniquely yours.

Photo of author

Michael Allen