Introduction: Colorful Fish-tank Backgrounds

When I was younger, I always wanted to draw a background for my fish-tank. It looked like my fish got lonely, so I wanted to give him friends. Fast-forward to just a couple days ago, I was on Instructables looking at contest entries, and I spotted the Age of Aquariums Contest. I thought that I could pass on my idea of fish drawings to you the reader. This will be a great activity for the younger crowd, who may have fish of their own.

What am I going to do? Well, I came up with a few ideas for giving your fish the coolest background. I will discuss techniques in the first couple steps, and then show you step-by-step how I drew some fish friends after that.

I’ve entered this in the Age of Aquariums Contest and the Teach It contest, please vote for this Instructable in the upper right corner.


Coin of Gold

Step 1: The Materials

Here’s a list of the materials you need to complete this Instructable:

Markers, I used an 8-pack of Crayola

A computer (how about this one? ;)

A roll of tape, I used Scotch tape

A couple pieces of paper, enough to cover the back (or corner) of your fish-tank

A pencil

A ruler

A pair of scissors

Step 2: Cutting Paper

Now we’re going to cut the sheet(s) of paper that we want to draw on.

Materials for this step:

Paper, for drawing on

Pencil, for marking the edge of the tank

Ruler, for measuring the tank

Scissors, for cutting the paper to size

What you want to do is mark and cut out the size of a wall of your fish-tank before drawing on it. This will prevent any drawings from being cut if this is done later. If you need multiple sheets to cover the wall of your tank, I recommend taping them together with a little bit of overlap.

I’ve included some photos of what I did to get the sheet to fit mine.

Step 3: Drawing Concepts

Now we are ready to start drawing!

Grab your markers and a computer (this computer should be good ;).

Why the computer? Because we are going to look at fish! Open up your favorite web browser and search for “images of fish”. See something cool? Stop! Start drawing it on your background sheet. I’m not going to include any images from the Internet here because of copyright reasons, but I did include a couple that I’ve drawn.

Materials for this step:

Paper, it should be cut/taped together now

Markers, for drawing the fish

Computer, for looking at fish pictures

The general tactic should be to draw the outline first, then the details, and then fill it in. You don’t want to draw the details overtop of an already filled in fish, that will get the markers contaminated. No one likes their orange marker leaving black smudges.

After a while about half the space should be filled up, or until you have however many fish as you want. Next it’s time to work on plants!

Why do we want plants? Because it looks a little boring to have nothingness past the fish tank. Plus it allows for interesting scenes, like a fish poking its head out from between some leaves.

How do you draw plants? Simple, just think like a plant. Start at the bottom of the page and draw up. Plants grow towards the sun, so should you! However, don’t forget to put in a little variety and make it branch out. If you want to put on some leaves, do so! I don’t recommend drawing the exact same plant over and over again, so draw some variety.

Step 4: Attaching to the Tank

Note, if you want to follow how I drew fish, skip to steps 5 to 11, and then come back here.

Materials for this step:

Paper with your scene on it

Scotch tape, for hanging the background on your tank

Now that you have a fish scene made up it is time to put it on the tank! Grab a couple pieces of tape, and stick them somewhere handy (like your arm), where you can grab them with one hand. Take your sheet of paper (or sheets taped together if you have a big tank), and slowly approach the fish tank. We don’t want to startle the fish when we put this on.

Once you have reached the tank, hold up the background with one hand and grab a piece of tape. Put the tape in the upper corner, after matching up the edges. Work your way across the top, putting tape about every 9 inches, making sure that it is straight.

Once you get to the other side, put tape on both bottom corners. Your tank background should be done!

If you like this, please vote for it in the upper right hand corner. Thanks very much for reading!

Step 5: The Basic Fish

Materials for all fish walkthroughs:

Markers, for drawing the fish, of course

The paper you want to draw on

Okay, so this is the first of the couple fish I’m going to walk you through step-by-step on. This is a very generic fish, so I only recommend putting a few in (Depending on the size of the tank of course!).

I drew my basic fish to look like the goldfish snack product because they nailed the generic fish pretty well.

1. So, to begin, draw the outline, you can make it longer or shorter if you want, but you get the idea.

2. Draw the eye, I try to make it large and friendly.

3. Add any details, for this one I decided to put some spots on it, but feel free to do whatever you want.

4. Take the color you want to fill in with and go around the edges where it touches another color, this will allow the filling in to go faster.

5. Fill in the fish!

So that’s how you draw the basic fish. If this is as far as you are going, please take a moment to vote for this in the Age of Aquariums Contest and the Teach It Contest. If you are continuing, the rest of this will be more fish, and a plant.

Step 6: The Starfish

Don’t feel that you need to make the starfish an ultra-perfect drawing, remember, starfish aren’t perfect either!

1. Draw the stick outline of a star, don’t expand it yet, just get a basic stick star done.

2. Take the points and round them, giving some room to allow the starfish to have some bulk.

3. Smooth the inside points to match the outside points.

4. Connect the smoothed points.

5. If your starfish is one color, then fill it in and you are done!

Should you not be done yet, then fill in the colors as you see fit! So as you can see, it’s pretty simple to draw this starfish!

Step 7: On to Plants

Okay, so now that we have some fish done and under our belt, it is time to put in some other aquatic life! We are going to be working on plants. The plant that I’m doing here is going to be bushy.

1. Find a good origin point on your scene and make sure that there is plenty of space around it.

2. Draw a bunch of lines coming off of it, these will be the main stems of the plant.

3. Draw sub-branches, this is what the leaves will attached to.

4. Draw the leaves, make them roundish and maybe a little rumpled.

5. Do any detailing you wish to do, spots, veins, etc.

6. Fill it all in, should you have empty spots!

So, pretty simple isn’t it? Well, next up we are going to move on to something a little harder.

Step 8: The Something

For the life of me, I can’t remember what this one is called, but it looks very cool. Here’s what I did to replicate it:

1. Draw a yellow box, this is the side of its body.

2. Add an orange fin to its side.

3. Now it’s time to add the purple, draw a line along the back and add a tail.

4. For the face, draw a line along the yellow box.

5. Make this into a triangle with the upper part bowed in, and a semi-straight line at the bottom.

6. Add in the eye and eyebrow.

7. Fill it all in!

Now we are starting to get into the more complex ones! If you are doing this with young children, this requires patience and may not come out how you like the first time. However, keep striving to become better, and you will!

Step 9: The Octopus

Now this is a fun one! It just becomes very tricky to get all of the tentacles onto a very small head. Depending on whether this is a “for fun” tank or not, you may wish to put a little smily face on this guy.

1. Draw a squarish circle, this is where the head will be.

2. Plan ahead where the tentacles will go, mark the locations with a pencil.

3. Start drawing in the tentacles, you can either make them thin or thick.

4. If you are putting on a smily face, then do so now.

5. Also border them with whatever color you were using for the octopus body.

6. Fill in the octopus!

There are a lot of different things that you can do with this guy, you can make it swimming, sitting, etc. Let your imagination go wild!

Step 10: The Clownfish (Nemo)

Have you ever wanted Nemo to be your fish’s pal? Well, now you can! Though I must warn you, this one is hard!

1. Do outlines in black, because you are most likely doing this on white paper, and there are white parts of the fish, you need to border it. I find that black looks pretty good.

2. Add some black tips to this fish’s fins, this makes them stand out more.

3. Draw semi-vertical lines to separate the white and orange stripes.

4. Put on an eye. Fill the orange in the head.

5. Fill in the orange, alternating with the white. I try to have an orange in the front and the back.

6. Now you want to fill in the black on the fin tips.

Done! It seems pretty simple on paper, but there is a lot of planning you need to do in order to make it look good. Next up, if you want Dory, she will be next!

Step 11: The Blue Tang (Dory)

Okay, now this one is even more tricky! I have simplified the fish a little bit to make it easier, but feel free to put extra details in.

1. Draw a yellow triangle for the tail.

2. Draw a blue oval for the body, with a slight point in the front and the back.

3. Now draw a blue oval above the middle.

4. This step is too difficult to explain, so please look at the picture, we are putting on the black parts.

5. Border the black parts in blue. Put in the eye.

6. Fill in all three colors!

Now Dory is complete! This is the last of the fish that I’m going to walk through step-by-step, so I hope you enjoyed!

Thanks very much, please vote for us in the Age of Aquariums and the Teach It contest!

Coin of Gold

Teach It! Contest Sponsored by Dremel

Participated in the
Teach It! Contest Sponsored by Dremel

Age of Aquariums Contest

Participated in the
Age of Aquariums Contest