Paint a Butterfly

Let’s paint a butterfly! Painting butterflies is easy if you break it down step by step, one stroke at a time. Follow along and you can paint a Monarch Butterfly beautifully.

Learn to paint Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly painting, blue background with 2 butterflies

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How to Paint a Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly painting, blue background with 2 butterflies

Learn how to paint a Butterfly in acrylics, a step by step painting tutorial for beginners.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Difficulty Easy


  • Cotton Stretched Canvas
  • Flat Brushes
  • Acrylic Paints:
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Titanium White
  • Cad Orange Hue
  • Dalyride yellow
  • Carbon Black
  • Vermillion


  • Flat Brush set
  • Black Paint Pen or Liner Brush


Flat Brushes
11 x 14 Canvas

Acrylic Paint:
Cerulean Blue
Titanium White
Cad Orange Hue
Dalyride Yellow
Carbon Black
Paint Pen or Fine Liner Brush
Graphite Paper

  1. Transfer Butterfly Pattern to Surface
  2. Paint Background in Cerulean and white graduating color
  3. Paint Butterfly wings first with yellow and orange
  4. Blend all orange into the yellow mix
  5. Add a touch of Vermillion to edges for depth
  6. Paint Butterfly Body
  7. Add lines to wings in black
  8. Paint outer edges of butterfly wings
  9. Add details and antennae to Monarch Butterfly to complete


    Don't try to be perfect, be kind to yourself as you paint. There is always an ugly stage where you want to quit. Don't quit, keep on going.

    Once you press on you will begin to see the butterfly emerge beautifully!

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    This painting tutorial is so much fun and you will be surprised how well it will turn out.

    There is an ad free printable PDF workbook of this post you can download and keep which includes the traceable pattern. Just press here to purchase.

    Supplies to Paint a Butterfly

    11 x 14 Wrapped Canvas
    DecoArt Americana Premium Acrylics:
    Cerulean Blue
    Titanium White
    Carbon Black
    Dalyride Yellow
    Cad Orange Hue
    Flat Brushes
    Paint Pen or Liner Brush (there is a liner brush in the pack listed)

    If you wish to use Plaid Folk Art Paint here are some colors to use:
    Cobalt Hue
    Wicker White
    Licorice Black
    Daffodil Yellow
    Pure Orange
    Engine Red (optional to deepen orange)

    Transfer butterfly pattern to surface

    Using graphite paper trace the pattern onto your surface. Today we are using a 11 x 14 wrapped canvas but you can use a size of choice.

    Related: How to Transfer Painting Patterns

    white canvas with tracing of Monarch butterflies to paint

    Paint Butterfly Background

    Using a large flat brush and Cerulean blue paint around the outer edge of the canvas.

    Slip slap the paint onto the canvas, we want this loose. Paint around the butterfly wings so you don’t obscure your transfer lines.

    Painting background edges in cerulean blue, how to paint a butterfly

    As you bring the color towards the center add Titanium White to the Cerulean Blue.

    Keep adding white the closer you get to the center to draw the eye in.

    As you paint Cerulean blue add white towards center of canvas

    Paint the Butterfly wings

    Double load your 3/4″ flat brush with Dalyride Yellow and Cad Orange Hue. Pull the paint from the butterfly body onto the wings creating a mix of orange and yellow streaks.

    Don’t get into perfection, just pull some color in.

    Paint a butterfly, add yellow and orange to wings

    Wipe out your brush on a paper towel or rag. Add only Cad Orange Hue to your brush and stroke that from the outer edge of the wing area into the yellow/orange mix. (please see complete video at the end of this post if you don’t understand, it will help)

    Add a touch of Vermilion to deepen the color along the outer edge of the Cad Orange Hue. This is optional but I like to add a bit more depth to the orange.

    Add more orange to the paint brush then apply to butterflies wings

    Paint Monarch Body

    Using Carbon Black and a #6 flat brush (you can use a round or filbert) paint in the butterflies body.

    Pull a thin line along the top edge of the wing with the chisel edge of your brush.

    Related: Basic Brush strokes and painting terms

    Paint Monarch Butterfly body

    Add wing lines

    Using thinned Carbon Black and a thin liner brush size 0 or less, delicately stroke in the lines in the center of the butterfly wings.

    Alternately use a paint pen. They are a bit easier to control once you get the hang of them and they are acrylic paint.

    I have used paint pens before but they have always smudge when painting on the varnish, I am going to test these soon and I will let you know what I think then.

    adding wing lines to butterfly

    Paint black frame of Butterfly wing

    Using a flat brush and Carbon Black fill in the area along the outside of the wings being careful not to cover the small orange dots at top.

    Go all around the butterfly.

    Paint outer edge of monarch butterfly wing with black paint

    Final details on Butterfly Painting

    This is where you really start to see your Butterfly painting come together.

    If you press through the ugly stage of your painting you will see how adding the details brings it up a notch.

    With a fine liner or a stylus create small dashes and dots along the outside edges of the butterfly on top of the black.

    If it helps look at a real butterfly but don’t add as many dots as you see on the photo. Less is more.

    add final details to monarch butterfly painting

    Make sure to paint on the antennae. You can use the liner or paint pen to create them.

    In the video I share how I fix a mistake or something I found annoying.

    And now you should have a beautiful butterfly. The second butterfly is painted the same way.

    Want to see another way to paint a fun Monarch Butterfly? Then hop on over to Tracie’s version. I know you will love it!

    Please PIN and Share

    Monarch Butterfly painted on canvas with text, easy painting tutorial Learn to Paint Beautiful Butterflies, with video, pamela groppe dot com

    Love learning to paint? The join us to get informed of updates, new lessons and more. It is all free.

    The traceable butterfly outline is in the members Resource Library.

    I have a much older post on painting a one stroke fanciful butterfly, just press here to see that one too.

    Adding antennae to blue painted butterfly,

    Happy Painting!

    Please enjoy and share!

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