How to Draw a Cartoon Fish

Cartoon fish drawing

In this lesson, we're going to draw a cute little cartoon fish - one that's generic in nature so that you can change it as you see fit.

The truth is, cartoon fish are extremely easy to draw because there are so many different ways that you can draw them! After all... how many different kinds do you know of? Exactly... too many to count!

What makes this lesson all the more easy is that we're going to be using a simple circle from which to draw the fish from. Sure, an oval will work too... either is fine for the task.

As you're working through this lesson - keep in mind that it's meant to be generic so that you can change things as you go. Surely the tail and fins will look much different than the ones on mine!

And let's begin...


A circle for drawing a cartoon fish

First Step - Draw a Circle and a Cross

Keep your lines extra light for this first step. Take out your pencil and very lightly, sketch out a circle. It's even better if you use a dotted line.

Next, draw in a cross just like we've done in other lessons. Start with a centered horizontal line, and then draw a vertical line both shifted and curving towards the left.

Comparing this first phase to the finished example above, it's easy to see that the cross will be used to map out the face. If you can, visualize the cartoon fish as though it were swimming horizontally, yet slightly turning to the left (your right) as if to say, "hello!" :-)

Drawing the eyes of a cartoon fish

Second Step - Cartoon Fish Eyes

Many species of fish have big bulging eyes. No, ours aren't real... they're cartoons! And so, we can make the eyes even bigger!

First, draw in the left eye of your cartoon fish. Use the cross as a guide. After that, move over to the upper-right portion of the circle and go over the curve to form part of the head.

This curved line is set in front of the right eye making it only partially visible. Because of this, only draw in the visible portion of the eye. Use the cross to help keep it proportional and symmetrical in relation to the left eye.

Be careful also to ensure that the distance between the centerline and the left eye is about the same as the distance from the centerline to the right eye.

Drawing the face of a cartoon fish

Third Step - A Big Mouth!

Big eyes... sure. Big mouth? Yep, fish have big mouths too!

Starting at the point where the bottom right eye of your cartoon fish ends, draw a curved line that extends out and away from the left side of the circle.

Have this line slowly wrap around, down and to the right as it continues back towards the lower half of the circle.

This curve that you just drew is the edge of the upper lip. Keep going with this same line across the circle, over the center line... and all the way over to the left side of the circle - just underneath the left eye.

Then, draw a similar line for the lower mouth that curves down and to the left and then back again to the center line. When you're done - you've got a big mouth for your cartoon fish!

Drawing the front part of a cartoon fish

Fourth Step - Draw Some Fins

Alright, let's give this fish some cute little cartoon fins. Here's how...

Start with the left fin and draw it so that it's positioned just down and to the right of the mouth.

Then, similar to the right eye, draw the right fin making sure that it's only partially visible as the lower mouth is in the way.

Note: Remember - fish exist in the hundreds of thousands and they come in many different shapes and sizes. Knowing this, why not change the look of your fins? Draw them so that they're sharper, rounder, more jagged, divided, bumpy perhaps... go ahead and have a little extra fun!

Got your fins designed and in place? Super! Let's continue...

Drawing the front of a cartoon fish

Fifth Step - Now for the Top Fin!

Keeping to the design of the bottom left and right fins that you just drew, you might want to draw the top fin of your cartoon fish so that it's quite similar to the bottom ones.

In my case, I made mine a little bit similar. Start with a curved line going up and to the right from the center line. Make sure you begin this line a little bit inside the circle. Why...

...well, because our cartoon fish is turned slightly to the left (our right), we need to make a couple small adjustments to our lines so that we create the impression that our cartoon fish is 3D.

This is the first instance... the second is done in the next step with the tail of the fish. If you don't make this adjustment, you won't have the same effect in the finished product and you probably won't be as happy with your final drawing.

After you get the first line curving up and to the right, bring it back down to the upper-right part of the circle to form the backside of the top fin. Take into account the design of the bottom fins here if you're trying to make them look the same.

All is good then I presume? Alright then, on to the tail...

Drawing the upper fin and tail of a cartoon fish

Sixth Step - Finally, the Tail

Start by completing the back-end of your cartoon fish. Simply follow along the path of the upper right and lower right parts of the circle.

Be sure to leave room to draw the tail of your cartoon fish extending out and to the right.

And now - the second part where you need to be careful in placing your lines. Start the upper part of the tail at the green dot you see to the right. Slightly overlap the top-curved line to create the desired 3D effect.

After the first curved line of the upper tail is in place, go to town and have some more fun creating the rest of it. Surely you can come up with some pretty unique and even wacky ideas for the tail!

Tail connected and functional? Very nice - one final step and you're done!

Drawing of a cartoon fish

Final Step - Detail Your Fish

The last thing to do is of course, give your cartoon fish some details. What details you ask?

Well, before you add any details to your cartoon fish, have a look at the final fish drawing to the left. Notice something?

Almost all of the details that I added were done using simple arcs... small curved lines - that's it. This goes for the eyebrows, the corner of the mouth, the right side of the mouth, and the tongue as well.

Other details like extra fins, teeth, and color - I'll leave completely up to you.

And that's how to draw a simple cartoon fish, straight and to the point. I recommend you try this lesson a second time, but instead of a circle, use a long oval and see if you can get something more like a barracuda or a pike!

Have fun! :-)