How to Draw and Paint a Butterfly For Beginners
Ever wondered how to draw and paint a butterfly that’s easy enough for beginners and beautiful?
Then this step by step tutorial will show you the way.
This tutorial is suitable for complete beginners in drawing and painting and is an easy painting idea for kids, teens and adults alike. Full YouTube tutorial link below.
If you’re loving painting butterflies, and looking for more fluttering inspo then check out this abstract butterfly painting.
No time to go through the whole tutorial now? Save to your Pinterest for later here.
How To Draw
Check out this how to draw a butterfly tutorial for more detailed steps on how to draw it on your canvas or paper.
Best Paint Colors For a Monarch Butterfly
Monarch butterflies have a distinctive sectioned pattern on their wings. Those sections are colored with a vibrant orange and are bordered with black. Finally, the wing borders are detailed with white spots around the border.
Any black, white, orange acrylic paint you can get your hands on is going to work.
In terms of the orange, if you’re looking to find or mix a really vibrant orange paint, then I’m going to share some nifty paint mixing tips with you.
For the most vibrant orange you can use cadmium orange, because I found it’s the most saturated and warm oranges I’ve come across. If you don’t have cadmium orange then you can mix a similar tone using any cadmium red with any cadmium yellow (see picture below).
If your brand of paint doesn’t have cadmium red and yellow try finding a the warmest red and yellow hue you can find . Avoid reds and yellows that have blue undertones, like alizarin crimson and lemon yellow, because they will make a dull orange.
I did a mix of 4/5 parts cadmium red to 1 part cadmium yellow. You can adjust the ratio to get the vibrancy of orange you like best.
How To Paint a Monarch Butterfly (overview)
After you’ve drawn your butterfly and filled in the pink background (see full tutorial below), the easiest way to paint in your monarch butterfly is to first paint in the orange/yellow sections in the butterflies wings.
This way you don’t have to worry about painting inside the lines, as we are going to go over it with a black border at the end.
Using a medium round brush (size 8) paint in the yellow and orange sections on the wings of the butterfly.
Paint 2 coats of the orange and yellow to make the butterfly wings look more opaque and vibrant.
TIP: Yellow and orange can be a bit transparent on canvas, and need multiple coats to make it look vibrant and opaque.
Once you’ve filled in the sections then fill in the border with black paint. Essential everywhere we filled in with the pencil in the drawing step. Switch to a smaller round brush (size 6) if it makes it easier to get the thinner lines.
Then you’ll fill in the body of the butterfly with black, grey and white highlights (see full tutorial for the details instructions)
Finally you’ll add some detailed white spots along the border of the butterflies wings (using size 6 brush and titanium white paint)
I hope you enjoyed learning how to draw and paint a butterfly. For the full step by step painting tutorial please see the end of this post.
Finished Butterfly Painting Pictures
Butterfly Painting Ideas
This butterfly drawing and painting step by step process can be used to paint butterflies on many beginner projects and surfaces like:
- face painting (with face paints)
- water bottles (see below)
- and more…
You can also customize the color of the wings by simply painting in the sections in a color of your choice instead of the orange (see pic below of my blue morpho butterflies)
My summer goals this year is to paint a monarch butterfly on a nice big rock. I’ll update this post with pictures once it’s done! Here’s a good tutorial for all you rock painters out there, how to paint a butterfly on a rock.
Last summer I painted blue morpho butterflies on my hydroflask water bottle, because I’m a bit butterfly obsessed! You can check out my entire post on how to paint on your hydroflask.
One piece of advice: When painting on rocks, water bottles or any small surface you’ll want to use smaller round brushes to make the small details and shapes.
How to Paint a Butterfly Step By Step
- -10x10 stretched, pre-primed canvas
- -Titanium white
- -Mars Black
- -Cadmium Orange (or cadmium red & cadmium yellow)
- -Fluorescent pink (or any vibrant pink)
- -Brilliant Purple (or any purple)
- -3/4" flat brush
- -1 medium and 1 small round brush (size 6 and size 8)
- -5 Q-tips (cotton swabs)
- You can follow the full length How to Paint a Butterly YouTube tutorial here.
- Draw your butterfly in center of canvas, with the step by step instructions in the section above or from the how to draw a butterfly tutorial
- Paint in your background with your 3/4 flat brush (or large flat brush). Use the chiseled edge to cut around the butterfly. The colors on the canvas is light pink for 3/4 of the canvas(1 part fluorescent pink mixed with 5 parts white). The 1/4 of canvas is brilliant purple. To smooth out the paint strokes on canvas, keep working the wet paint with back and forth strokes until they are smoothed out. Leave background to dry
- Using your medium round brush (size 8) paint in the corners of some inner sections of your butterfly
- Without cleaning off your brush, grab some orange paint and paint in the remaining sections in your wings
- Use a smaller round brush (size 6) and pick up some mars black (thin the mars black with a little bit water so its like a thick ink) and paint in the border around the wing and in between each section. To get the fine lines around each section working with thinned paint works best.
- Paint in the body of your butterfly. First paint in the head and middle portion with mars black, and paint stripes with black on the bottom part of the body. Once dried, add some grey (white+ black) highlights to the head, middle body and paint in the bottom with grey in between the stripes. Add in some eyes and antennae. Add some tiny highlights using titanium white
- Using your preferred round brush, add some titanium white spots along the border of the wings and larger spots in the corner of the wings
- Using the 5 q-tips, pick up some titanium white paint and dab in some fluffy soft clouds. Before paint dries, take a small paper towel and lift off some white in the bottom of the cloud. This will let some of the pink background show through and make clouds look translucent and light
- Using your small round brush paint in some stars and twinkling stars
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PHOENIX White Blank Cotton Stretched Canvas Artist Painting - 10x10 Inch / 8 Pack - 5/8 Inch Profile Triple Primed for Oil & Acrylic Paints
ZEM Brush Student Golden Synthetic Rounds Brushes Set Sizes 2,4,6,8,10
Princeton Series 4350 Synthetic Watercolor & Acrylic Brushes 3/4 in. stroke
Q-tips Safety Swabs, Family Size, 625 ct (Pack of 2)
Liquitex 1046590 BASICS Acrylic Paint, 4-oz tube, Brilliant Purple
Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint, 4-oz tube, Fluorescent Pink, 4 Fl
Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint, 4-oz tube, Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue
Liquitex 1046151 BASICS Acrylic Paint, 4-oz tube, Cadmium Red Medium Hue
Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint, 4-oz tube, Mars Black
Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint, 8.45-Oz Tube, Titanium White