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Salmon Anatomy Through the Art of Gyotaku: How to Make Your Own Fish Print

By Kristina Peterson, Confluence AmeriCorps Education & Outreach Coordinator
March 10, 2021

G yotaku is a traditional Japanese art form that began over 100 years ago as a way for fishermen to keep track of the trophy fish that were caught on voyages. “Gyo” means “fish” and “Taku” means “impression.” This traditional method required fishermen to apply non-toxic sumi ink to one side of the fish, cover the fish with rice paper, and rub the paper until the image of the fish was on the paper. Interested in learning more? Check out this TEDtalk.

While the traditional art form isn’t as popular today as it was in the past, there are still artists that utilize this method, including, Duncan Berry who owns BY LAND + BY SEA + BY AIR on the Oregon coast. Duncan enjoys aerial and landscape photography as well as nature printing and Gyotaku (Fish rubbing).

Want to make your own fish prints? Here’s how!


- Paint
- Paint brushes
- Paint pallet/cups
- Marker/pen
- Scissors
- Salmon Outline
- Piece of plain white paper
- Foil
- Table cover


1. Cut out your salmon outline.
2. Take a piece of foil and trace your salmon outline onto your piece of foil.
3. Paint your salmon outline on the piece of foil.
4. Take a piece of plain white paper and place it on top of your painted salmon. Gently press down on the paper and then slowly lift the paper off of the foil.
5. Label the anatomy of your salmon-make sure you include the eyes, nostrils, gills, and operculum.
6. Show off your masterpiece!