I've had several betta fish over the years, and I've loved every one of them. Bettas are really beautiful, especially if you keep them warm and keep their water clean so they stay active and their fins stay long.
Bettas are so pretty I had to do two tutorials of how to draw them. The first lesson is the betta to the left here, in the view from the side. This was done with just a regular black pen, not even a pencil, so it is just a straight line art drawing.
The overhead tutorial might seem a little harder at first, but it is actually really easy. And its neat to be able to draw a betta from the view looking down... its kind of like you've made a little fish bowl in your paper.
The example of the betta from above drawing was done in pencil, but there's no reason you couldn't do it with a pen and leave the shading out.
All this line does is make the top of the betta's head. Its just a very gradual uphill stroke. I make my line going from right to left with my pencil, but you should practice and see which direction is best for you.
This creates the shape of the gill cover.
Bettas have very distinctive lips, which gives them a pouty look. All you need to create their lips for this drawing, though, is just one little extra line that cruves out just a bit beyond the lines oyu made for their head and gill cover.
The eye can be just a large black dot. Bettas have pretty big eyes. If you want to add more detail, leave a little white spot near the upper middle part of the eye to create the effect of a highlight.
A fan shape is all you need to create the pectoral fin.
A little streamer down makes the long skinny pelvic fins. Add a second one behind it if you want - you'd probably be able to see both pelvic fins from this angle. Notice that the pelvic fins are between the gill cover and the pectoral fins, right about in the middle of that space.
The dorsal fin is large here, but hopefully your betta has a large, healthy dorsal fin. Note that this dorsal fin is pushed back on the betta's back. To place the dorsal fin in the right place, measure the distance from the tip of your betta's lip to the far edge of its gill cover. The dorsal fin should be that same distance down the back from the far edge of the gill cover.
And now you add the long, glorious caudal fin. Depending on what kind of betta you want to be drawing (a half moon betta, for instance), you can adjust the shape of the caudal fin.
Next I added the anal fin. I also added optional gill flares. This is an easy way to make your betta look like its in fighting or display mode, and all you have to do is make dark little extra fin-looking things behind the gill covers.
The final betta. I added one last line between the anal fin and the body to make the betta's body shape more distinctive. Now all this fish needs is some color!
Draw an oval and something that looks a bit like a short green bean.
To draw the lips from above, make a short little flattened "O" shape at the end of the betta's head. That's the top lip. All you have to do to make the bottom lip is to add one more line along the outside edge of the tube you just made. Make that line bend out a little so its like a softened triangle shape.
Then you make the eyes. These should be ovals, too, but they should be only about two thirds the length of the betta's top lip. From this overhead view you may want the betta's eyes to be just very slightly rounded or flat lines just beyond the outside edge of the betta's head. I made this betta looking up at us slightly, so the eye on the "bottom" of the drawing is a little bit rounder than the eye on the top. This gives the illusion of the betta's head not being exactly viewed from directly above. Being able to have the betta looking at me a bit seemed more interesting.
Finally, add just the simplest short wavy lines to create the beginning of the pectoral fins.
Next we're going to make the sides of the betta's body look less sketchy.
Now the big caudal fin goes in. Draw what would be the top line of the caudal fin first. Make the fin have two distinct curves in it. Then close each of those curves while creating the folds of the fin. You may want to have these edges come to points, so when you add in the lines in the tail, you have good end points to work with.
Now we just erase that sketchy little end point of the betta's body that we first drew. I also added a little wisp of a pelvic fin.
Next I add in the lines that are in the fins. This makes the fins more realistic, but it also gives you a great, simple way to show the flowing lines of the fins. Notice how the lines sometimes end in the points we made earlier in the fins..
This is the final betta. I made the scales by drawing tiny little circles. Draw your circles in sloppy rows, working from the betta's nose all the way back to where its body disappears behind the caudal fin. Because this is really detailed work, its helpful to have your pencil sharp, and to make sure you hold the pencil straight down to the paper, not at an angle.