Paper Clownfish Printable and How-to

The clown fish is the first component in the “O-FISH-ally The Best” teacher appreciation door decoration.  Use the clownfish printable and follow the instructions to create your own school of brightly colored clownfish. 

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Materials Needed for thisProject

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Let's Get Started

Start by printing the clownfish templates.  You can find the printable clownfish template in the link below.  Print the page that has the fish facing in the opposite direction.  That way, when you cut out the fish you can flip them over to face the correct direction and leave any remaining printing lines on the back, unseen.  In this case, I want fish that are swimming to the left, so I will print the fish that are facing right on the printable.  I printed the file onto the AstroBrights Bright Color Paper in orange.  

Printable Clownfish Template

Enter your email to download the printable clownfish template (left and right facing).  You stay up to date on current projects with my newsletter.  You can unsubscribe at any time. 

Making the Clownfish Stripes

Once the pieces are cut out. Flip them over and work on the back side so that any print lines are hidden.  Cut strips of regular white paper into wavy strips that range from ½” to ¾” thick strips.  Do not make the edges parallel to each other.  In general, you want some areas that are a little thicker and some areas that are a little thinner.  Imperfection is a good thing here. 

Lay out the white strips in a way that looks good to you.  I like having a “C” shaped strip near the head, a thick strip just behind the narrow part of the tail, and an interesting piece in the middle. Glue them into place before trimming the pieces to size.   Make sure the glue goes past the edge of the fish so that the corners are not loose and curl up.  Once the glue is dry, flip the fish over and trim the white strips to size using the curve of the fish body as your guide.  By waiting to trip the strips until after they are glued in place, you ensure that the shape and size of the stripes match the fish curves perfectly. 

Adding Black Highlights

Now add some black highlights.  Start by outlining the fins in black using the chisel tip permanent marker.  You can use a sharpie here, but the chisel tip gives a more consistent outline.  Keep in mind that the thicker part of the lower fins will point toward the back of the fish.  Add some webbing lines to the side fin. 

Next, outline the white strips on both sides.  Do not go across the top or bottom.  I also like to outline the tail.  

Trim the tip off the side fin and fold the fin with an accordion fold.  Again, perfection is not needed here.  We’re just trying to get some texture.  

Now it’s time to put everything together.  Glue the top fin to the back of the body with the outline facing out.  I line to position the fin so that the outline of the fin matches up with the outline of the first white stripe.  I also, like to place it so that the low point of the fin, just barely touches the body of the fish.  Next, position and glue the lower fins into place.  I try to line up the black outline of the fins with at least one of the black lines on the body of the fish.  Finally, glue the side fin into place by lining it up with the front edge of the middle strip.  

Add the Final Touch

Add the final touch with a googly eye.  You can use these self-adhesive eyes, or you can use these permanent glue dots on a regular googly eye.  I do not suggest using white school glue or glue sticks for the eyes.  It does not hold well with the plastic of the eye.

Attach Your Fish to the Final Project

If you attaching your fish directly to a wall or door, be sure to use a removable adhesive.  However, if you plan to attach your fish to a background first, I find these permanent glue dots are fast and easy to use.  You can attach the glue dot to the fish without removing the plastic cover.  This allows you to get all of your fish ready, position them, then attach them by removing the clear protective cover when you’re ready.  

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