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How to Draw a Butterfly
in Four Delicate Steps

Learning how to draw a butterfly has been popular for centuries.

The delicate form and gentle fluttering flight represents delicacy, harmony and beauty in so many different cultures.

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How to draw a butterfly

The patterning and vibrant, gorgeous colors are almost limitless, giving this little creature a genuine, everlasting appeal that spans continents, religions and a multitude of environments.

The great thing about drawing a butterfly is that it's one of the easier subjects to master. And as a bonus, if you get the left side correct, then the right side is exactly the same!

Also, what you'll find out in this article is the simplest way to make the classic butterfly 'mounted' outline appear to be flying.... Not sure what I mean...? Don't worry. Read on and it'll become clearer.

So let's move on to Stage 1 and see how this happens.


How to Draw a Butterfly - Stage 1

With the principle of using a couple of basic shapes to start off, all you need really are two triangles and two ovals for the wings and a stretched oval or oblong for the body.

How to draw a butterfly - stage 1

If you look at the photo above with the shapes super-imposed. See what I mean about simple...


How to Draw a Butterfly - Stage 2

Now we've removed the photo and you've a clearer idea of the way the shapes lead you easily into how to draw a butterfly.

How to draw a butterfly - stage 2

However, this is the classic pose of the butterfly that's mounted in a glass case.

It shows up the colors and wingspan beautifully.

But if you want something that is more representative of this little slice of color floating around your garden, have a look at the photo below.

How to draw a butterfly - Stage 3

Here the wings are partially closed as they propel our little friend from plant to plant.

Even so, you can see from the construction lines on the comparative photo below that we need no more than three simple triangles to get the outline and proportions right.

How to draw a butterfly - stage 3A

Now, let's move onto 'How to Draw a Butterfly - Stage 3.


How to Draw a Butterfly - Stage 3

From this point on, whether you're doing the 'mounted' or the 'flying' version of the butterfly, it's really not difficult to create the more realistic outline you need by rounding off where necessary and erasing these construction lines.

How to draw a butterfly - Stage 4

Notice also that even with these bare construction outlines, the butterflies appear to be moving and floating around. 

All I've done is turned them on a slight angle in opposite directions to each other and suddenly even the 'mounted' picture seems to be flying...


How to Draw a Butterfly - Stage 4

Stage 4 of this 'How to draw a Butterfly' tutorial is the fun bit because here's where you can let your creative use of color run riot.

How to Draw a Butterfly stage 4

What I've now done is to flesh out the butterfly shapes and added a couple of thin lines for the feelers, a semi-circle for the head that's just visible at the front and a couple of lines for the legs.

Behind the butterflies, I've sketched in a simple impression of a flower and some leaves.

This gives the butterflies a purpose and anchors them to a familiar object with which you'd associate them.

They come in an innumerable array of hues, colors and patterns and unless you're an expert, it doesn't matter at this stage what color scheme you invent.

The only thing to remember is that, usually, each wing is patterned more or less as a mirror image of the other one.

Each wing has a series of veins - much lke a leaf - and helps to create a nice pattern along with the color.

However, keep these light or the wings will look cumbersome and heavy - quite the opposite of reality!

The main body is a long narrow oval and often a black or dark color.

Look at the color photos I've included in this article, plus a couple of extra ones below, then look up your own.

How to draw a butterfly stage 4

In fact, you can very quickly draw several images of butterflies and enjoy copying or creating a whole array of believable color schemes for them. 

I hope this encourages you to give it a go.

As I said at the outset, drawing butterflies is by no means difficult, even for the new starter. But if you're still not sure, have a look at my article on using basic shapes. Enjoy!


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