Watercolor and Ink Koi Fish Tutorial

I posted my Watercolor and Ink Koi Fish tutorial briefly going over how to sketch and paint a koi fish with watercolors. In my 12-minute tutorial, I touch on the steps and the process of creating your very own koi fish. Here on my blog I would like to go further into the details of creating this piece.

Before you get started you’ll next to just quickly sketch the outline of a koi fish reference that you can easily find on Google. I found this reference on Pinterest. Once you’ve got it sketched out you will need

  • Waterproof ink pens (I use the Micron brand)
  • Eraser
  • Watercolors (I use Winsor and Newton brand mini watercolor palette)            I like this palette because it travels easy and it’s high quality but not too expensive
  • 2 paintbrushes (a clean one to wet the paper and one to use with paint)
  • Water
  • paper towels for taking some of the water or pigment out of your brushes before using them

I used Canson brand paper which is a cheaper brand that you can find at any craft supply store. I have an excess of it that I need to use up. You can tell it is cheap watercolor paper because when I lay down water on the paper in the video you can see the paper bubble up a lot. Watercolor paper will do that but it should only be a minimal amount. 140 lb. Strathmore brand paper is a higher quality option.

I used a soft flat brush to wet the paper before laying down any colors, and to maneuver the color around the page I like using smaller round brushes. They have a great versatility when you’re trying to work color into small spaces and moving it into larger designs.

In this video I use what’s called the wet into wet technique to create the nice bleeding affect with the colors. If you have never tried watercolor painting before this is the perfect technique for beginners. When the paper is wet and you touch the brush to it the color disperses. I think playing around with this technique for a while is the best first step to learning how to watercolor paint.

This piece ended up being so bright because the orange and blue are complementary colors, which makes the koi in water stand out so much against other subjects. Sometimes when I paint or draw bright subjects I find that I like leaving a lot of white space instead of complicating the piece with an intricate background.

To add an abstract element after everything was dry I used my micron pen to suggest movement in the water.

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