How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Butterflies are a wonderful drawing subject—their wings have a certain pattern that can be reduced to a few rules. Once you know the rules, you can draw a realistic-looking butterfly without any special drawing skills.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

In this tutorial I will show you how to draw a monarch butterfly step by step, right from scratch. You can also modify my method to draw any other butterfly!

Before You Start

But what is it, this monarch butterfly? Let’s take a look before we start drawing:

1. How to Draw the Body of a Butterfly

Step 1

Sketch a vertical oval for the torso.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 2

Cross the torso in half with a vertical line. This will be the length of the body.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 3

Draw a longer oval below; this will be the abdomen.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 4

Connect the abdomen to the torso with a slim waist.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 5

Draw a circle on top of the body—this will be the head.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 6

Add two ovals on the sides of the head.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 7

Add two tiny ovals on the front of the head. These will be the short, furry antennae called palpi.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 8

Draw a pair of curves for the big antennae.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 9

End each antenna with tiny “beans.”

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 10

You can now outline the body and add all the necessary details. The torso is fluffy, and the abdomen is segmented.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by StepHow to Draw a Butterfly Step by StepHow to Draw a Butterfly Step by StepHow to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

2. How to Draw Butterfly Wings

Step 1

Mark a dot in the upper part of the torso. This will be our point of reference for placing the wings.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 2

Draw a horizontal line across the point. Each half should be roughly as long as the whole body (antennae excluded).

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 3

Draw two longer lines about 30 degrees over the previous line. You don’t need to measure anything—just eyeball it.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 4

Draw elongated teardrop shapes around these lines, as if it were a dragonfly.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 5

Draw a line from the end of the horizontal line to about 60% of length of that “dragonfly wing.”

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 6

Gently outline the shape of the upper wing.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by StepHow to Draw a Butterfly Step by StepHow to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 7

The lower wing can be created in a similar way. Draw two lines down from the point, slightly below the abdomen.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 8

Draw a line between each end of the lines and the upper wings.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 9

Draw a line from the torso point to close the triangular shape of the wing right under the upper wing.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 10

Mark a point in the center of the farthest line of the triangle.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 11

Cross each point with a line coming from the torso.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 12

Outline the shape of the lower wing.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by StepHow to Draw a Butterfly Step by StepHow to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

3. How to Draw the Cells of Butterfly Wings

Step 1

Now we’re going to divide each wing area into smaller areas called “cells.” First, mark three points in the area shown below.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 2

Draw an elongated cell through these marks.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 3

Use the same trick to draw a similar cell in the lower wing.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by StepHow to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 4

There will be more cells starting here. Mark their starting points.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 5

Draw gentle curves from these points to the edge of the wing. Have them slightly falling down.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 6

The uppermost cell is divided into more cells:

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 7

The lower wing has similar cells, going out radially from the middle:

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by StepHow to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 8

Each cell has a subtle “wrinkle” in the center, and it will be a useful guideline for us. Mark it subtly, to make it distinguishable from the veins.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

4. How to Draw Patterns on Butterfly Wings

Step 1

Now we have plain butterfly wings, but it’s their pattern that makes them so beautiful! Let’s add a pattern specific for the monarch butterfly.

Create a margin for each wing, drawing curves between the veins.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 2

Mark the area where the wrinkle is—this place will be slightly less dark.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 3

Outline the edges of the wings, making them “bumpy” around the ends of the veins.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 4

There is a pattern of bright dots in the margin. Outline them.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by StepHow to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 5

The edges of the wings may look slightly ragged because of white lines placed between the veins and the wrinkles. This is a subtle effect, but it will add to the realism of the wings.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 6

Draw some markings in the upper part of the upper wings.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 7

The pattern is created not by lines only, but mostly by contrast. So we need to darken certain parts to achieve realistic results. First, darken the body. It may have some pattern on it as well!

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 8

Darken the side margins, leaving brightness where the markings are.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 9

Darken the margins, moving carefully around the little markings.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 10

Darken the area around the markings in the upper wing.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Step 11

The veins have a dark outline, so mark it. You can also subtly mark the wrinkles to make the drawing more detailed.

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step

Beautiful!

Good job, you have drawn a beautiful butterfly! If you want to learn more about butterflies, their anatomy, and other species, make sure you check this tutorial as well:

  • How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step
    Drawing
    How to Draw Animals: Butterflies, Their Anatomy and Wing Patterns
    Monika Zagrobelna

How to Draw a Butterfly Step by Step