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How to Draw a Coral Reef
  • By Christine Hattingh
  • 04 May 2022
  • 7 Mins
  • Advanced
  • Drawing Tutorials

How to Draw a Coral Reef

In this easy to follow tutorial, learn how to draw a colorful coral reef with any medium you have.

In today's tutorial, we take you through the steps on how to draw a coral reef. The ocean holds many diverse living creatures. From whales and jellyfish to corals of different shapes, sizes, and colors. A Coral Reef is just one of the many colorful worlds that we will explore today.

Drawing of a coral reef with watercolor texture and multiple colors.

Before you jump in, get all of your supplies together for the tutorial. You can use any medium you prefer such as paint, crayons, markers, and even Procreate or Photoshop.

For this tutorial, we are using Procreate. We have a great selection of Procreate texture brushes for you to use in this how to draw a coral reef tutorial.

Step 1 - Make Rough Sketches of Your Coral Reef

Using a medium that is easy to remove like a pencil, we are going to create rough sketches of the coral reef. Begin with sketching the rock that your coral is going to sit on.

The rock can be any shape or size that you want. You could even draw it on the sides to make it look like a cavern. Our rock will be the full width of our page, with gaps in the middle of it. You can use our example below as a guide.

Rough pencil sketch of a rock formation for a coral reef.

Next, decide what type of coral you want to draw and how many you want. Once you have decided on where your coral will go, start sketching the outlines.

For our example we have six corals, three placed at the top of the rock and three closer to the bottom. There are six thousand species of coral, so plenty of shapes, colors, and textures for you to choose from.

Rough sketches of different coral types on a rock formation.

For the final sketches, roughly add the details to your coral. This will be part of your main outline for your coral reef, adding dimension to the shapes. The finer details will be added later.

Rough sketch of detailing inside the coral outlines.

Step 2 - Outline Your Coral Reef Sketches

Using a more defined medium, begin outlining your sketches. Remember to only outline sketch lines that you want to show. Some overlapping lines you wouldn't want to outline. Once you are done outlining, you can go ahead and remove your rough sketches.

Here is what our Coral Reef looks like so far.

Liner brush outline of the coral reef rough sketches.

With the main outline of your coral reef done, you can start adding more details. In the images below, we added the details in sections.

Image one shows how we added details to the rock by making short, wavy or squiggly lines.

In the second image, we added sand with stones. We did this by drawing small circles along the bottom in between the rocks. More sand and stone was added to a few clusters on the rock.

Lastly, in the third image, we drew our coral details to show off the texture. The fourth image is the final result after all the details were added. Feel free to add as much detail to your drawing as you want. Here you can have fun and get creative.

step by step progression of adding details to the coral drawing.

Step 3 - Add Color to Your Coral Reef Drawing

In the final step of how to draw a coral reef, we will add color to our drawing. You can use any kind of medium to add your color.

For our example, we used a variety of watercolor and tie-dye Procreate brushes. This was combined with the blend modes in Procreate to achieve the result below.

The brushes worked exceptionally well with the blend modes. This added color and textures to our coral reef drawing.

full colored watercolor drawing of a coral reef

You have just learned how to draw a coral reef in Procreate. By changing the layout you can create many fun underwater adventures! Why not use your creations in projects like card designs or add them to your store as backgrounds? We hope you enjoyed following along and creating your very own magical coral reef.

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