How To Draw a Coral Reef, a Shark, and Fishes - Easy Step by Step Tutorial

Learn how to draw a coral reef, a shark, and fishes with our easy and detailed step by step tutorial!

A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem that is home to a diverse range of animals and plants. It is a fun drawing to make, and we'll draw more sea creatures like shark and fishes.

Let's start!

Blog cover of an underwater scenery with corals, fishes, and a shark

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How To Draw A Coral Reef, a Fish, and a Shark

This tutorial illustrates an underwater ecosystem that kids can follow and understand. You can also learn about the ocean and sea creatures and appreciate the beauty of it. 

It is important to learn how to draw different ecosystems. With this, we'll be able to show different scenes and places where animals and people live. It also makes us aware that there are other living things that we must care for and respect.

Follow along with us in the detailed instructions below on drawing a coral reef, a shark, and fishes. Don't forget to check out the video for the full tutorial.


  • Copy paper or a sketchbook journal
  • Pencil 2b
  • Black ballpoint pen
  • Sharpie
  • Rulers


Numbered graphical instruction on how to draw the foreground.

Step 1. Start with the base of the foreground.

Draw a curved diagonal line from the side to the bottom. Then add shade using the side of your pencil as shown in the picture.

Erase some of the parts to make it more curvy and imperfect. It adds depth to your drawing.

Step 2. Draw the corals.

Look at the reference pictures of how you will draw the different types of corals.

Numbered graphical instruction on how to draw the brain coral.

Brain coral 

First, draw a large circle anywhere on the shaded part and squiggly lines inside a wavy pattern. Then add curved lines for the outline.

a box with a drawing of three brain corals

You can draw more brain-like corals like the image above. 

Numbered graphical instruction on how to draw the fan-like coral.

Fan-like coral (elkhorn)

First, add a very light shade of the coral using the side of your pencil. Sketch the outline using irregular rectangle-ish shapes that originate from the center.

Finish your drawing by adding small circles and curves for texture.

a zoomed view of the fan-like coral drawing

You can also add more fan-like corals into your drawing.

Graphical instruction on how to draw the root-like coral.

Root-like coral (fan coral)

This type of coral is easy to draw. Sketch wavy, root-like patterns that originate from a center.

Numbered graphical instruction on how to draw the branching coral

Branching coral (staghorn)

These corals are the ones that you see in most under-the-sea pictures. To draw them, sketch 4-6 finger-like extensions, then add small spikes for texture.

graphical instruction on how to draw the tree coral.

Tree coral


To draw this type of coral, make long, narrow, oval-ish shapes that branch out to smaller ones.

a box with different corals drawing with highlight on the darker tones.

Add darker tones to the spaces in your foreground to add a more realistic texture to your drawing.

Now, we have all the corals that make up our coral reef! Let's add other fun and unique underwater sea creatures!

Graphical instruction on how to draw feather-like aquatic plants.

Step 3. Add feather-like aquatic plants

The steps on drawing aquatic plants are almost like how you drew the tree coral. The only difference is you use lines instead of narrow oval-ish shapes.

Images of different fishes on top and drawings at the bottom.

Step 4. Draw different types of fishes.

Drawing fishes is easy since they are variations of shapes for the body, tail, and fins.

You can use the reference picture above to draw different types of fishes to add to your artwork. 


Zoomed view of an underwater scene drawing with corals and fishes

Here's how I added simple fishes drawing to our artwork.

graphical instruction on how to draw the sea anemone.

Step 5. Draw a sea anemone.

To draw sea anemones, sketch a bunch of inverted teardrop shapes or small elongated ovals.

Numbered graphical instruction on how to draw the shark

Step 6. Draw a shark.

To draw a shark, start with an oval that forks at the end for the tail. Next, add a darker shade on top of the shark. Then, using triangles, draw the top and side fins. Lastly, draw the face and add 5-gill slits.

graphical instruction highlighting the mid-ground

Step 7. Add the mid-ground.

Draw the base of the mid-ground, which should be less dark than the foreground. Practice drawing all types of corals that we've learned.

You can also add anything that you want, like whales, octopus, and even mermaids!

Final drawing of an underwater scene with different corals, aquatic plants, sea anemone, fishes, and a shark

Step 8. Complete the background.

Draw a very light background of coral reefs and adjust tones and textures to make it more appealing.

You can now color your beautiful drawing. Choose colors that are bright and vibrant. Colors like bright greens, oranges, yellows, reds, and blues will bring life to your drawing.

Tips for art-mazing success:

  • It never needs to be perfect! It's okay whether your lines appear crooked or your shapes do not appear as they should be. Practice is key!
  • Draw any other objects that you want. Let your creativity and imagination shine!
  • You can add a darker value to the small shapes to show depths to your drawings. It will make the main parts of your drawing pop out.
  • You can draw while looking at your computer monitor or print this page to see each step in greater detail.

Check out some fantastic coral reefs drawn at the Creativity School by our young artists!

Blue-themed underwater drawing with colorful coral reefs, fish, and shark
Simple drawing of an underwater scene with corals and fishes
Drawing of marine creatures including fishes, sea horse, and a sand dollar
Colorful underwater drawing of different corals, fishes, and clam with light dispersed in water

Coral reefs artwork at Creativity School by Anish (top-left), Sarayu (top-right),
Wendy (bottom-left), and Jayden (bottom-right)

If you enjoyed this advanced drawing tutorial, share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Here are other drawing activities to do with your kids. 

Beautiful Nature Drawing- Easy and Simple Step by Step Guide for Kids

Beautiful Sunset Painting- How To Paint Sunset with Watercolors Easy

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