Before figuring out how to draw a butterfly let’s learn just a little about these beautiful flying insects.
Like all insects, they have a segmented exoskeleton, three-part body (head, thorax, and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, and compound eyes. They also have two antennae and two pairs of scaly wings. The wings of butterflies are the most beautiful part of their bodies that most of the people would like to draw and color.
As we have mentioned before, a butterfly’s most dramatic and beautiful anatomical features are its wings. The wings are made of an extremely thin, semi-transparent material called chitin stretched between vein-like structures.
The colors and patterns come from layers of tiny scales. You may think that they are similar to fish scales, but they’re structured more like short, tiny hairs. These scales protect the wings and provide insulation.
How to draw a butterfly step by step tutorial
Step 1 – Starting your butterfly wings drawing
We are starting to draw a butterfly by outlining both forewings symmetrically. If you are using a pencil for your drawing, don’t apply too much pressure for the first three steps since these lines are not final and most likely be corrected later.
The forewings are closer to the butterfly’s head and are roughly triangular.
Step 2 – Adding Hindwings
Proceed by drawing outlines of two hindwings of your butterfly. Make sure to make them smaller in size. Now you have a general layout of butterfly’s wings.
The hindwings are closer to the tail and are shaped like fans or seashells.
Now it’s time to draw a butterfly’s body. Start by drawing the central part – thorax. Note that forewings and hindwings are attached to the thorax, so draw the thorax right in the middle where all wings come together. Then add a small circle on the top – the head – and the abdomen below the thorax.
Add two eyes to the butterfly’s head and two antennae. Don’t curve antennae too much. Now draw horizontal section dividers on the abdomen of your butterfly. Your butterfly is taking its shape!
Remember, we were talking about making the first outlines of the wings pretty light? At this step, you can use the full pencil pressure when drawing the final shapes of the beautiful butterfly’s wings.
This step brings a few challenges. The best way to draw cells on the hindwings would be starting from the inner part of the wings located by the abdomen. Second, do the big cell in the upper part. Add other cells afterward and don’t try to be precise – all butterflies have a bit different patterns.
Drawing the pattern on the forewings is a little easier. There is one distinct large cell on the top and 3-4 horizontal ones. Don’t forget to add thin veins to each cell.
Start darkening space between cells.
Finish drawing butterfly’s wings.
Coloring can be done with pencils, watercolors, or inks. Sometimes, the hindwings are lighter and forewings are more reddish but you may use any colors you want if you are not trying to draw a typical American Monarch Butterfly.
Typically, the scales on the top of a butterfly’s wings are brightly colored, while the scales and the underside are patterned for camouflage.
Coool art supplies you might need for your butterfly drawings
- Drawing pencils
- Drawing pad
- Real Brush Pens (a really cool thing!) or Professional Watercolor Pencils (also super cool!)
Some facts about butterflies.
There are almost 18,000 butterfly species around the world. An adult butterfly has a very short life span of three to four weeks. Some butterflies, such as the North American Monarch that migrate to a warmer climate, can live as long as 7 to 8 months in one generation if counting the entire life cycle of a butterfly.
Monarch butterflies migrate to find a warmer climate and they are the only insect that migrates an average of 2,500 miles to get away from the cold.
Here are some fun facts:
- Butterfly wings are transparent;
- They can’t fly if they’re cold;
- Butterflies taste with their feet;
- They drink from mud puddles;
- Butterflies live on an all-liquid diet;
Other butterfly-drawing methods – “X” butterfly sketch
Drawing a butterfly in 8 steps
Check out more drawing tutorials:
- How to create a nice drawing of a tiger for beginners
- Drawing a deer in 10 steps
- Drawing a shark in 9 easy steps
- How to draw a rose step-by-step guide for beginners
Now you know how to draw a monarch butterfly. Practice a few times for better results!