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
How to Paint a Butterfly
Learn how to paint a Butterfly in acrylics, a step by step painting tutorial for beginners.
- Cotton Stretched Canvas
- Flat Brushes
- Acrylic Paints:
- Cerulean Blue
- Titanium White
- Cad Orange Hue
- Dalyride yellow
- Carbon Black
- Flat Brush set
- Black Paint Pen or Liner Brush
11 x 14 Canvas
Cad Orange Hue
Paint Pen or Fine Liner Brush
- Transfer Butterfly Pattern to Surface
- Paint Background in Cerulean and white graduating color
- Paint Butterfly wings first with yellow and orange
- Blend all orange into the yellow mix
- Add a touch of Vermillion to edges for depth
- Paint Butterfly Body
- Add lines to wings in black
- Paint outer edges of butterfly wings
- 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:
Cad Orange Hue
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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.
I AM GOING TO TRY PAINTING THE BUTTERFLYS HAVE YOU TRIED DOING THE OVERSIZED FLOWERS? I LIKE THEM BUT I AM HESITANT TO TRY DOING THEM.
I have a large Lily that I shared, here is the link, Paint a Large Orange Lily