Easy Butterfly Painting: Step-by-Step Monarch Butterfly Tutorial

Get creative with this easy butterfly painting tutorial.

Nothing captures the essence of nature's beauty quite like the wondrous Monarch Butterfly, a symbol of transformation, joy and freedom.

Go on a journey of creating your own masterpiece with this guide to drawing and painting a butterfly.

This step-by-step tutorial is for budding artists or anyone painting a watercolor butterfly.

Do an easy butterfly painting. Watercolor the majestic Monarch Butterfly.Paint a majestic Monarch.

Butterflies are awesome and it's such a joy to paint them. Here's what we use:

  • 5x8 inch watercolor paper
  • #4 and #8 round brushes
  • Cadmium Orange, a redder orange, Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue (Cadmium Red Light can be mixed Cad Orange to get a redder orange.)
  • Water-resistant black ink pen

drawing our easy butterfly painting

We draw the butterfly before jumping into paint. This greatly streamlines the painting process.

Lightly do a pencil drawing. The images below are ink, so they are much darker than pencil. The guidelines are blue on this page, but they are actually regular pencil lines.

Monarch Butterfly photoUse a reference photo.

It's always good to have a reference for a realistic painting.

This is a male Monarch with scent pouches on his hind wings. See photos of other types of butterflies.

Draw guidelines and paint the butterfly's body.Draw the butterfly's body.

Draw a center guideline.

Draw the body on the center line.

Add two more guidelines angled down to about one quarter of the paper's width.

Draw guidelines and the fore-wings.Draw the fore-wings.

Add 2 more guidelines from the shoulders out to about 2/5 of the paper's height.

Sketch in the top wings.

Draw the edge of the hind-wings.Draw the edge of the hind-wings.

Sketch the bottom edge of the two back wings.

Erase the guidelines.

Draw the veins on the fore-wings.Draw the fore-wing veins.

Draw the veins on the fore-wings.

Start with the large upper vein indicated in red.

Then add the three sections below it. They are parallel with the edge of the wing.

Draw the veins of the hind-wings.Put the veins on the back wings.

Now add the veins to the back wings.

Start with the vein closest to the body. It is mostly parallel to the body. Add the attached veins.

Indicate the black edge on the wings.

Complete your Monarch Butterfly drawing.Complete the drawing with black ink.

Your finished butterfly drawing will look somewhat like this. You may draw it or get it on the paper any way you desire.

Go over the drawing lines with water-resistant black ink.

It's important to start with a drawing.

Then when we ink all the black veins, it becomes an easy butterfly painting. We don't have to fuss with painting all the black veins later.

Create your Easy Butterfly Painting Masterpiece

Five easy steps make an easy butterfly painting.

step #1

We use a #8 brush for the entire painting. The one exception is the white spots and the small designs on the tips of the fore-wings. They are painted with a smaller brush like a #4.

Paint the orange of the fore-wings.#1 Paint the orange on the front wings.

We will start painting the fore-wings. They are more orange than the hind-wings.

Paint the four orange sections of each fore-wing. Paint right over the black veins.

Cadmium Orange is a yellowish orange, but we want a redder orange.

Use a reddish-orange or mix your own by mixing a tiny bit of Cadmium Red Light with Cadmium Orange.

step #2

Moving to the hind-wings, we paint them with Cadmium Orange. It's a nice bright orange.

Paint a lighter orange on the hind-wings.#2 Paint the orange on the back wings.

Don't worry about trying to get the paint on smooth and all the same. Variations make the painting more interesting. They show it's a painting, instead of a photograph.

Winsor Newton cadmium colors do not actually contain any cadmium.

step #3

Next, we start on the black parts of the butterfly.

Paint the butterfly's body.#3 Paint the body and start trimming the wings.

Black is easy to mix with Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue. A mixed black will have some variations that add interest. You certainly may use tube black.

Paint the butterfly's head and body. Paint the body darker on the sides. Use less paint on the top of the body to give it a rounded form.

You may dab some of the paint off of the top of the body with a clean, damp brush.

Paint the inside black edge of the fore-wings.

Recommended colors for your watercolor palette

step #4

It's starting to look like a butterfly. That's the joy of painting.

Paint the rest of the black edges of the wings.#4 Complete the black edges of the wings.

Continue painting all the black trim on the wings.

step #5

Paint black around the designs on the ends of the fore-wings.

Complete painting your Monarch with the white spots.#5 Paint the white spots and dashes.

Paint the white spots and dashes in the black wing edges. They may be handled in one of two ways:

  • Paint around the spot, leaving the white paper. The spots look nice and white.
  • Paint white spots or dashes on top of the black paint using Titanium White watercolor or white gouache. The white is not as clean looking
  • It's your choice, either way is fine.

There are more ways to save the white paper besides painting around it.

Enjoy the art of painting!

Tap your inner artist and enjoy expressing yourself with this easy butterfly painting. Paint the Monarch or use the same steps to paint other types of butterflies.

We've only just scratched the surface. ArtbyCarolMay.com offers a treasure trove of painting guides, ideas and tips to feed your desire to create. Where ever you are in your artwork, the painting tutorials and art lessons can unlock new realms for your artistic journey.

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