How To Create A Beautiful Watercolor Sea Fan

design team - katherine painting Aug 12, 2021
Paint a beautiful sea fan using watercolor

Hello everyone! Katherine here and I am excited to bring you another watercolor tutorial! It is summer, my favorite time of the year and there is no place I’d rather be than swimming in the ocean on a hot summer day. How about a virtual swim with a beautiful watercolor sea fan? These amazing creatures come in a variety of colors and are quite relaxing to paint, like a Zentangle in a painting.





For this painting, I prefer hot press watercolor paper. It has a smooth finish making it easier to paint the texture. You can use cold press paper if desired.



Need a cute little pouch to keep all your brushes in? Check this fella out.



1. Prepare the Base

Begin by choosing a dark or contrasting color for the base and “branches”. I used blue, but sea fans come in all colors. Begin as if painting a tree, a line down the center that is thicker toward the bottom.



Add a triangular base to the bottom, I prefer to make this part a little darker. Add lines that branch off the first line.



The “branches” should become thinner as they extend to the edge of the coral. I like to think of making “Y” shapes as the lines extend out from the center. The closer to the edge the thinner the lines. Sea fans come in a variety of shapes so for this part anything goes. Sometimes the less symmetrical the better!



If desired add a line of dark shading down the side of each branch. This gives the base branches a three-dimensional look. Let the branches completely dry.



2. Paint the Fan Background

For this step use matching colors. In a paint palette water down the colors to a highly transparent level. Lightly paint a wash of color across the branches to the edge creating a sea fan shape. Just about any shape will look great. In some areas, the branches will bleed and fade away. I prefer this look, giving the sea fan an underwater feel. You can always add the branches back in if desired, or paint around the branches rather than across.



Want to try more watercolor experiments? Paint a juicy watermelon cocktail or practice abstracts, the choices are endless!



3. Add the Sea Fan Texture

This part is the most time-consuming, but relaxing. Adding the sea fan texture. Using a small brush, work section by section adding in parallel lines. I use a fairly dry brush and add a medium value of the color in that section. Watercolor pencils would also work well in this step.



Fill in between the parallel lines with little lines that curve away from the center of the coral. Match the texture color to the wash color.



Fill in the entire sea fan with texture, there is no right or wrong for this part. The best part of painting from nature is that nothing is perfect!



Sea fans look amazing once finished and there are endless possibilities of shapes, sizes, and color combinations.

If you paint a sea fan I’d love to see it. Please tag me on Instagram and I’ll share your art!




A little about me. I have loved art for as long as I can remember. For a brief moment in college, I considered majoring in oceanography, but art eventually won out. By day I am a high school art teacher and when I am not in school, I am either painting or looking for inspiration to paint! I love plants, nature, and just being outdoors as much as possible.




Want to try this cute tutorial out later? Pin pin pin!