Koi Fish Art Lesson


Asian bundle art project lesson for kids  - Koi Fish

Koi Fish are a favorite subject of many art teachers for obvious reasons; they’re relatively easy to draw and have wonderful markings. Most of the lessons I’ve seen have been done with watercolor paints. I would have done the same but my sixth grade students hadn’t yet worked in tempera paint so I needed for them to experience that medium.

I found a few drawings on the internet and used them as a guideline to demonstrate the drawing. Instead of doing a directed line drawing with the sixth grade students, I chose instead to demonstrate a basic technique for drawing the fish, then showed how to embellish.


12″ x 18″ white paper

light colored chalk pastel for drawing

tempera paints

Drawing the Fish:

Chose to draw one large fish or two smaller ones and position paper accordingly.

For the head, draw a curved line (either a letter “C” or a letter “U”). Add a line to connect the two ends of this line.

Draw a perpendicular curved line. This will be the center of the body. Add a tail.

Then draw the side lines of the body.

Add fins.

Finally, add the dorsal fin. Notice how it’s shaped like a letter “S”.

Painting the Fish:

Set two tubs of blue paint and one green paint on each table. Paint background (pond) before fish. Add lily pads if desired.

When background is finished, place containers of orange, red, yellow and black on the tables. I demonstrated a variety of paint techniques (double-loading, stipling, etc). Paint freely. Trace over all lines with black paint.

5th Grade Koi Fish

Asian bundle art project lesson for kids  - Koi Fish 5th graders

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What do you think?

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  • Hannah

    Wow! These look fantastic!

  • Gail Altschuler


  • Brenda

    What is double-loading and stipling and how do you do it? These are great? Can I nominate you for Teacher of the Year?


    • Patty

      Double-Loading: Dip your paintbrush in one paint color then immediately dip in another. When you apply the two colors to the paper, the paint mixes together. It’s a great technique and also a good time savor. Instead of children mixing paint colors on a palette, they mix it on the paper. Not an exact science, but its fun.
      Stippling: take a dry brush, dip it in paint and dab onto paper.
      Hope this helps!

  • Sandra

    Tried the Koi Fish lesson with P.6 pupils in Scotland. They loved it. Some used chalk ontop of paint to enhance the water and detailed with black pens, they look brilliant. Many thanks for the great idea.

  • mary rogers

    thanks for the lesson on how to draw koi fish, I had wondered how to do this. I did this as a crayon resist project with the fish colored bright and waxy with crayons and a watercolor wash of blue or blue/green over them. They look great! Also due to new technology in my artroom we were able to have a video of koi fish swimming around on my projection screen while we colored!

  • amberjspragg@gmail.com

    Is there a reason you had your students draw with chalk pastel instead of pencil or sharpie?

    • patty.palmer@deepspacesparkle.com

      Yes. I’m not fond of pencils as the drawings tend to be small and hard to paint with tempera. Chalk is wonderful as it allows children to sketch and then they can wipe most of the color away and paint over the rest. try it…it’s a great technique!

  • zimm.leanna@gmail.com

    I’ve already joined the waiting list awhile back but have not heard anything yet. When should I expect it? I am interested in the Asian Art bundle for this spring. Thank you.

  • Cecelia

    Maybe add pictures because I was pretty confused but figured it out but still amazing job!

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