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Butterfly Drawing Tutorial: Realistic Butterfly with Coloured Pencils

In this step-by-step butterfly drawing tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a beautiful monarch butterfly using coloured pencils and graphite. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, this easy tutorial will guide you through the process.

Draw the Guides

butterfly drawing guides

To ensure symmetrical wings, start by drawing guides. The butterfly’s width should be double its height, and the upper forewings’ wingspan should be double that of the bottom hind wings. On your A4 paper, draw a light line 20cm wide at the top for the top wingspan. Mark the halfway point on this line for the body placement. Measure 10cm below the line for the bottom of the wings and draw a parallel line centered at the halfway point. Also, measure 2.5cm below the top line to indicate where the wings start to curve downwards and 5.5cm down to show the overlap between the forewing and hindwing. Connect the lines to form a hexagon shape. Erase the guidelines once you’ve drawn the outline.

Draw the Outline

butterfly drawing outline

Using the guides, draw the outline of the butterfly. Start just below the top guide and curve upwards to the top, sweep across, then curve slightly down. Next, draw a straight line down to the 2.5cm marker and curve gradually inwards. Create a semicircle for the bottom of the wing and curve up to meet the middle where the body will be. Repeat the process for the other wing. For the body outline, draw a line half a cm away from the middle marker at the top, curve downwards, and draw the head, outlining the eyes and antennae.

butterfly drawing outline

You can optionally darken the butterfly’s outline with a black colored pencil. When you’re satisfied with the outline, erase the guides.

Draw the Patterns on the Butterfly’s Wings

butterfly drawing wing pattern

Follow the outline of the wings and draw the patterns. Indicate where the black outline of each wing and the intersection of the upper and hind wings will be. Then, draw the cells and veins on the wings, working on one section at a time. Refer to the image for guidance.

Shade the Butterfly Drawing

butterfly drawing colours

Use a black pencil to draw over the veins on the wings and shade the black sections, leaving white markings along the bottom and upper wings.

butterfly drawing orange

To add color to the drawing, start shading with orange pencils. Use a mid orange shade like Terracotta from the Polychromos range. Apply the color over the veins, blending it smoothly.

butterfly drawing shading

For the lighter orange-yellow sections, use a dark cadmium yellow pencil. Shade over the terracotta color with the light yellow to create blended transitional shades.

dark orange shading

To emphasize the deeper orange sections, use a dark cadmium orange pencil and shade around the inner parts of the upper wings.

You can create multiple layers of color to achieve better coverage and enhance the shading.

That’s it! You’ve successfully created a realistic butterfly drawing. If you’re interested in learning more colored pencil techniques like hatching, blending, and burnishing, check out our colored pencil drawing techniques. For drawing inspiration or step-by-step tutorials for beginners, visit our drawing ideas blog.

Butterfly Drawing Tutorial Supplies

To create a butterfly drawing, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • Colored pencils: Opt for different tones of orange and yellow to blend colors effectively. High-quality options include Polychromos pencils and Prismacolor pencils, known for their vibrant tones and smooth blends. If you prefer a more affordable alternative, consider Koh-i-Noor Polycolor Pencils.
  • Paper: Colored pencils work best on paper with a slight tooth or texture. This allows you to layer colors and create transitional shades. Pastelmat is an excellent choice, as it is archival quality, extra thick, and has a fine tooth that enhances pencil adhesion and layering.
  • Erasers: Use a kneaded eraser, which is moldable and gentle on the paper fibers. Additionally, a fine point eraser can be handy for lifting small details and fine lines.
  • Sharpener: Invest in a quality sharpener that delicately sharpens pencils without breakage. The Prismacolor pencil sharpener is a reliable mechanical sharpener that provides a fine point.

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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