Digital Basics TRACK: Lesson 6, 5 Fish Composition


Create a composition that includes at least 5 fish. Use any format, any style, as long as there are a minimum of 5 fish in the image, anything goes! The fish do not have to be ones that exists in real life, they can be imaginary if you like.

Digital Basics Premium Track

Consider the mood you want for your image, do you want the image to be humorous, scary, playful, calm, or stormy?

Reference photos

Fish Reference #70
Flickr album: Red Snapper


Backgrounds will be very important in terms of creating an environment for the fish to exist within. This prompt will really test your chops in composition and backgrounds!

Drawing Crabs, Mia Rozear
Mia Rozear

Step outside of where you expect fish to be; the cliche is that fish are in water, but that’s not always the case.

  • Draw a minimum of six thumbnail sketches to figure out your composition.
  • Aim for having as much variety in your thumbnails as possible.
  • Tweak and re-crop the thumbnails until you’re satisfied.
  • Choose one thumbnail sketch to use for the final drawing.
Landscapes & Backgrounds Track: Thumbnail Sketches
Ginger Medrano

Recommended software

Digital tool recommendations, ProcreateKritaAdobe PhotoshopClip Studio PaintPaint Tool SAIAdobe FrescoMediBang Paint, Gimp

Ponyo movie, underwater scene
Ponyo (2018 film)


Song Kang, William Merritt Chase, Mikio Watanabe, Tilsa Tsuchiya, Pompeii Mosaic, Barry Moser, Swimmy by Leo Lionni, Pieter van der Heyden, One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish by Dr. Seuss

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Drawing Fish in Adobe Fresco

See how to use digital painting techniques in Adobe Fresco to draw fish! This video starts with basics of drawing with Adobe Fresco covering layers, tools, and various effects that are possible with the program.

More techniques such as how to navigate layers and create textures as also shown. Demo led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Guest Teaching Artist Mia Rozear.

How to Sketch Thumbnails

This video explains and demonstrates the process of how thumbnail sketches work within the artistic process. Thumbnails can save you time when working on a final piece of artwork and allow you to explore more options for composition.

The demonstration shows simple strategies on how to crop or expand your thumbnail sketches and how to diversify your options. Discussion and demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Cat Huang.


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