Draw a Tropical Fish - How to Draw a Cartoon Tropical Fish

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Draw a Tropical Fish - Draw the Basic Shapes

drawing a tropical fish
H South, licensed to About.com
Here's a picture of the tropical fish I'm drawing. I think I based the original one on a type of Angelfish. Though it doesn't really look like one! But since this is just for fun, it doesn't matter. Now to start with I look for some basic shapes. It's got a square body, so I draw that, with a droopy triangle face, and then two more overlapping triangles make the fish's tail.
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Draw a Tropical Fish - Adding Face and Fins

draw a fish step by step
H South, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Now I give my fish some fins - they are almost rectangles, just pushed sideways a bit, and the side ones (called pectoral fins) are almost triangles. Add a nice round eye and a heart-shaped fishy mouth.
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Draw a Tropical Fish -Adding Stripes

adding lines to the fish drawing
H South, licensed to About.com
Now add some stripes. Wavy stripes go from tom to bottom of the body, and fan out on the tail. If you are using a computer program to do your drawing, make sure the lines join up so that you can use the 'fill' paint bucket to colour it in. If there's a gap, the paint will 'spill' out into other shapes.
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Draw a Tropical Fish - Cleaning Up the Drawing

the finished outline drawing
H South, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Now I tidy the linework of my fish drawing, erasing lines that I don't need, rounding corners off and fixing any shapes that I think could look better. I made the fish's mouth a more rounded heart-shape than I started off with. If you are working on paper, you can trace your design onto a fresh sheet to avoid having erased areas.
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Adding Color

the tropical fish in color
H South, licensed to About.com, Inc.

One of the things I like most about tropical fish is their beautiful colors. It's easy to use a paint program to add color to your line drawing - perfect for clipart.

For this fish I've chosen purple. The 'gradient' fill looks great used in the stripes, and I've used some solid yellow in between. To make the highlight, I used a large white airbrush set at a low opacity, then the same with a black airbrush to make shadows. I filled the background with a light blue-green and used a really huge airbrush to make some variations.