Vector Cartoon Fish


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    Open a transparent image, 400x400. Save your image as fish.pspimage.

    This is larger than what we will need, but we will crop it later. Save your image as fish.psp. We will be adding vector layers and I will remind you to save often. However, with vectors, the only true way to save them is by exporting them as shapes. When you click save, a window will open telling you that all vector layers will be converted to raster layers, do you want to continue. Click on no. By doing this, your image will be saved to the clipboard though, and that will save your work in case PSP decides to crash, freeze or close up on you. It might not save your latest additions, but it will save the majority, thus saving all your hard work.

    Add a new vector layer, naming it fish.

    Using your ellipse shape, with the following settings, draw a horizontal oval.


Anti-alias = checked; Create as vector = checked; Width = 1; Foreground/stroke = black; Background/fill = null.

    Click on your object selector tool, then on your pen tool, for of course we have to add nodes to alter the shape of our fish - just a few!

    Holding your Ctrl key down, move your cursor/mouse over the oval's line. You should see the word ADD. Left click with your mouse and a node will appear where the Add showed.


    We will first work on the right side of the oval, which is where I am putting my face on the fish. If I want him facing the other direction when I use him in an image, I can always mirror the image.

    For his lips we need a total of 5 nodes, placed fairly close together. I zoom in on my image to 200% to be able to see where I am placing those nodes.

Lip Nodes

    My screen shot is on white so that it shows up for easier viewing, but yours will be on a transparent background.

    Right click on the middle node. A window will appear, left click on node type. In the next window, it should have the word cusp grayed out, but if it doesn't, left click on cusp. This is the mode we want this node to work in. Click anywhere on the image to close the little windows. While you are changing that node,just change the other nodes around this one, too. All should be cusp nodes.

    Left click on that middle node again and either pull it with your cursor, or tap on your left arrow key 6-7 times. I prefer using my arrow keys for short moves as it is easier to control than my hand pulling on that node!

    Activate the top of those 5 nodes, tap the left arrow 5-6 times, and the down arrow 1-2 times. This should shape your top lip.

    Activate the bottom of those 5 nodes and tap the left arrow 5-6 times.

Lip Shape


    Go to the left end of the oval - we are going to shape the tail.

    Add a node on the top and the bottom of the oval, about 3 boxes in from the end of the oval. Then add two more nodes midway each of these and the original one at the end. Again, we will have 5 nodes total.

    If not already cusp nodes, change them all to cusp.

    Starting with the first node we added at the top of the oval (near the left end), activate it and use your down arrow, tapping about 5 times. Do the same with the bottom node, oppostie from this one, and tap the up arrow 5 times.

    Activate the farthest left node, and tap your right arrow about 5-7 times.

    Activate the node just above, tap your up arrow about 12 times; then tap your left arrow about 8 times; then tap your up arrow again another 8 times. This is starting to look like a fish tail!

    Activate the node just opposite the one you just moved, and tap the down arrow about 12 times; then tap the left arrow about 8 times; and then the down arrow about another 8 times.

    Now you could leave your tail as it is, but I changed mine a bit more.


    Add a node on the top outer curve of your tail and another on the bottom outer curve. Make sure they are cusp nodes.

Tail Shape

    Activate the top new node - tap the left arrow key about 8 times, then tap the down arrow key about 4 times. Do the same to the new bottom node, but tap the up arrow key instead of the down arrow.

    Add another node -top and bottom- make them cusp nodes - and tap the down arrow for the top node and the up arrow for the bottom node about 2 times. This adds a bit more curve to the tail.

    Add two more nodes to the tail. One on the top of the tail and one on the bottom - on the straight part that comes from the body. Make them cusp nodes.

Tail Nodes

    Activate the top node, tap the down arrow about 2-3 times, then the left arrow 2 times. Repeat with the bottom node, using the up arrow and then the left arrow.


    Time to add our top and bottom fins. Add two nodes on both the top and bottom, on each side of the nodes that are already there. Make them both cusp nodes.

Body Fin Nodes

    On the top middle node (original), tap your up arrow about 8 times and your left arrow about 10 times.

    On the bottom middle node (original), tap your down arrow about 6 times and your left arrow about 6 times.

    You can leave the fins like this, but I wanted a bit more shape. I added two more nodes, cusp, to make the left side of each fin curve inward just a bit. I tapped my right arrow about 2 times to make my indentation.

Fin Shapes


    Now we are going to color the fish. I like a bright color and chose an orange - #faa520. You can either use this one or any other color you might like. Open your vector layer, by clicking on the plus sign. Double click on the ellipse layer and the screen opens to show the stroke and fill boxes. Open the fill box, and click on the color that shows up, and then paste the number for the orange in the box where it goes, or find another color you like.

    You can export this as a shape either before or after you fill in the color - the shade of color doesn't matter, for whatever color you have in your background/fill box is the one that shows up - if it is null, you will just have the outline.

    If you are going to export it as a shape, be sure to have the ellipse name changed to fish or whatever you want so that it doesn't become a file with a duplicate name. If it does, you will lose one of your shapes.

    Once you have saved, or if you don't want to - now you can convert the fish layer to a raster layer.

    Go to Selections/Select all. Selections/float. You will see marching ants around your fish. Leave them on until I tell you to deselect. Effects/3D effects/Cutout. Use the following settings and color shading for your cutout (you might have to change the shading color if you didn't use the orange)


    Reapply the cutout, changing the V & H settings to minus 2 (-2). Deselect.


    Now we are adding his eye. Add a new vector layer, naming it eye. Using your ellipse shape, Foreground/stroke = black; background/fill = white - otherwise the same settings as before, draw a small oval for his eye.

    Alter the size, shape and placement as you wish.

    Add a new vector layer, naming it inner eye. Using the same settings with the ellipse, but change the background/fill to black or whatever color you want for your fish to "see" with, draw a smaller oval on top of the eye.

    Once you have your eye and inner eye as you want - you can convert them to raster layers. I also right clicked on my inner eye layer and went to Merge/merge down - making the two eye layers into one layer.

    Since this is a cartoon style of fish, I next added a raster layer, named it lashes. Using my pen tool on the freehand, foreground/stroks - black; background/fill - null, I drew on some eyelashes. This is very optional!

Few Details


    Time to add a side fin, so our little fish can swim. I first tried a triangle, but that was difficult to get the shape I wanted, so I tried an pentagon!

    Activate your eye layer, then add a new vector layer, naming it side fin.

    Using your pentagon shape with the same settings as the ellipse, with the foreground/stroke - black; background/fill - null - draw an octagon on the side of your fish.

    Using your handle to turn the pentagon, turn it 90 degrees - so that the top is facing the tail and the bottom is facing the face.

Side Fin


    Add a node both above and below the farthest left node. We want our fin to be curved out. Make sure the two new nodes and the original one are all cusp nodes.

    Using your left arrow key, tap 3-4 times on each of the nodes you just added. You might have to tap on the up or down arrow once or twice to aid in the shaping of the curve. Using the left arrow, also tap 1-3 times on the original node. We want this line to be curved towards the tail.

Side Fin Nodes

    Next go to the original two nodes on the far right side. Tap them using the up and down arrows until you get a narrowed "neck" appearance. This required about 5-7 taps each for me.

    I also added a few more nodes (cusp) to get a bit of a curve on the top and the bottom of the fin. Use your down and left arrows, tapping only once or twice to get the curve you want.

More Side Fin

    Once you have the shape as you want it, you can add more nodes to make a smoother curve - look it over for size. Change as you want. Then double click on the pentagon/sidefin layer so that you can add your fill color. I used #ffff00.

    Now you can convert to a raster layer.


    With the side fin layer active, Selections/Select All; Selections/Float. Then Effects/3D effects/Cutout. Use the settings that are in the screen shot.

Cutout Fin


    With your side fin layer still active, click on your eraser tool. Use these settings: shape - square; size - 1; hardness - 100; step - 13; density - 100; thickness - 100; opacity - 100. We are going to erase the black line of the side fin that is the only straight line left. This is where the fin grows from the fish, so there should not be any line there.

Cutout Fin

    Using your smudge brush, we are going to blend the yellow a bit onto the orange. Settings = shape - round; size - 9; hardness - 50; step - 1; density - 35; opacity - 100.

Smudge Fin


    Now it is time to add details and maybe some "decorations" to our little fish.

    If you would like to add the stripe - add a new vector layer, naming it stripe. Use your rectangle shape, foreground/stroke - red [#ff4f01]; background/fill - red [#ff4f01] (or any bright color) - other settings as before. You don't need to have a black outline for this stripe. Draw your stripe where you want it. Add a couple of cusp nodes so you can make it curve if you want. Since the top and bottom of your stripe is level and the outline of your fish isn't, use the up and down arrows to tap the corners to meet the outline of your fish.

    Activate your side fin layer. Click on your soften brush, settings: shape - round; size - 6; hardness - 100; step - 10; density - 100; opacity - 100. Carefully go over the black outline of your side fin, turning it into a gray.


    Add a new raster layer, naming it tail details. Use your air brush, foreground/stroke - red (#ff4f01). Settings: shape - round; size - 1; hardness - 25; step - 5; density - 80; opacity - 100. Draw some veins or lines on your tail - you can use the screen shot as a guide.

Tail Color

    Adjust/Blur/Gaussian blur - 1.

    Add a new raster layer, name it fin shading. Use your air brush, same settings as before, but use yellow (#ffff00) for your foreground/stroke color; and change your size to 3. Lightly spray on both the top and bottom fins. Adjust/Blur/Gaussian blur - 2.


    Add another raster layer, name it gills. Use your pen tool, with the same settings as before, foreground/stroke - #808080; background/fill - null. Draw two curved lines below and slightly to the left of the mouth. Adjust/Blur/Gaussian blur - 1.

    Activate the eye layer, add a new raster layer, naming it hi lite. Using your air brush, foreground/stroke - white, same settings as before, but size of brush - 8. Place one click of the brush on the inner part of the eye. Adjust/Blur/Gaussian blur - 2.

    Our little fish is now complete. Crop the image and resize as you want. You can merge all the layers visible and export him as a tube now. Congratulations - you have completed another vector!


    Here are a few things you can do to your little fish to alter his appearance - for size change, I used the deforamtion tool. For the different colors, I used the colorization. Enjoy!

Reshaped fish       Reformed fish

Purple fish       Blue fish

Green fish       Red fish

If you would like to make an aquarium to put your fish in, please check out my Aquarium Tutorial.

      Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or questions. Send email to susie