How to draw fish I (video workshop)

Learn how to draw fish including critical morphology for the artist, arranging scales, important proportions or measurements,  and capturing the iridescent shimmer of light. In this workshop we will focus on the lateral (side) view to create a classic scientific illustration.

Understanding anatomy will dramatically improve your fish illustrations. In this workshop I distill the essential anatomy of fish highlighting variations you will see between species. I also demonstrate two step-by-step illustrations to show how I block in the proportions and apply watercolor.


In the video I say that ventral fin is another name for the anal fin. This is in error. Ventral fin is another name for the pelvic fins.

Sketchnote by Mark Simmons
Sketchnote by Mark Simmons

11 thoughts on “How to draw fish I (video workshop)

  1. Flora Tan says:

    Thank you so much for all your videos! I really appreciate your generosity in putting them up. You have helped me draw so much better – almost immediately. The detailed instructions you include is astounding! I wish I could attend your workshops!

  2. Lin Rubio says:

    This may be the 2nd time have asked. Did you put up part 2 video on fish movement – fish not in profile view but in movement and foreshortened view. I cannot find it.

    • it is not up yet. We had a lot of problems filming it because our regular videographer is away. Large parts were unrecorded and we also did not pick a good camera angle. I may try to re shoot in my home and post that.

  3. Lex says:

    Hi! I am enjoying your how to draw fish instruction, but must admit to getting distracted part-way through by the question of the function of finlets (on tuna & other fish). It seems to be under active research, but so far the theories — as far as I can interpret, being neither a fish biologist nor a hydroengineer — are these: 1) The finlets can provide minor directional adjustment at slower speeds; 2) The finlets redirect water flow into the tail vortex, which improves thrust, especially over long distances.
    My sources:
    (I particularly liked the JEB article, as the way they conducted the experiment was to dump a bunch of glitter in with the fish and light it up with lasers. Sounded pretty!)
    Thanks again for the great nature drawing lectures!

  4. Lin Rubio says:

    Fish workshop just fantastic. Negative space to carve out that structure of fish proportions reminds me a lot of fav Art book by Betty Edwards “Drawing on the right side of the brain”.

    Liked the video aspect of drawing the texture scales of the fish at the end of the workshop and also the tool you use- you’ve mentioned before. The magic marker something- please give me exact name.

  5. Debbie Buco says:

    Thanks so much for posting these videos!!!! I am learning so much! I have your bird book and would love for you to publish more drawing materials!!!! Smiles!!!

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