Paint a Watercolor Butterfly: Gulf Fritillary Butterfly | Joy Neasley | Skillshare

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Paint a Watercolor Butterfly: Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

teacher avatar Joy Neasley, Watercolor Wildlife & Nature Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (48m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Foundational Layers of Watercolor

    • 4. Layering Mid-tones

    • 5. Detail Touches

    • 6. Conclusion

    • 7. Bonus Clip: Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

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About This Class


I have a watercolor tutorial for you.  We will create a beautiful Gulf Fritillary Butterfly painting.  It is much easier than it looks.  I have been watching them skirt around in my flower garden the past month, and I cannot wait to get started painting one.

Included with this class are reference photos and an outline of the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly to help get you started.  Grab your sketchbook, your nature journal, or a piece of watercolor paper and let's get started.  

Class Outline:

1.  Introduction

2.  Supplies

3.  The Foundational Layers

4.  Layering the Mid-tones.

5.  Details and Final Touches

6.  Conclusion

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Joy Neasley

Watercolor Wildlife & Nature Artist


Watercolor Wildlife and Nature Artist (full-time), and photographer (part-time).


 Currently based out of Tennessee, Joy Neasley is a watercolor artist specializing in Tennessee wildlife and nature.  She enjoys painting in the outdoor natural sunlight with a small pallette of quality watercolor paints, white gouache, and 100% cotton, archival HP watercolor paper.  

     Many ask if she has painted all her life.  The answer is no.  Born in East Texas, as a teenager Joy would often disappear to a nearby farm field to read, write, and draw.  By the time she was 19, Joy let drawing take a backseat to motherhood and family life.  It was not until 2009 that she began drawing again.  From 2009 she focused on... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello. My name is joined easily. I'm a wildlife and nature watercolor artist. You confined my work at joint easily. Studios on Instagram and Facebook. Welcome back to a brush with nature. Today I have a watercolor tutorial creating a beautiful watercolor Gulf artillery butterfly for you. I've even included reference photos and a sketched version off the butterfly. Grab your sketchbooks, nature journals or watercolor paper and let's get started. 2. Supplies: it's time to take a peek in our supplies. What you're going to me is a set of water colors. The primary set that I used his friends were mortar colors that caught When water comes. It's a pan set travel set, and it works perfect for this golfer. Totally, totally. Butterfly. Get a hobby store. They work great for what we're doing. You want a jar or bottle or cut from water. Your brushes just get to pressures on the smaller side, something they do. Detail work. The brush is used here today. More triple zero up two sides. One. Wanna grab that? If you're using watercolor paper instead of a sketch book or journal, you will want to use quality water. Paper. I prefer but 100% cotton water paper like arches or Stonehenge. I use hot press. That means it's smooth my pains with this. You also want to grab some masking tape to take this down? Sure, yeah, I have taped the edges down to before that. I used you. See, it's a full board. I take it down so that when I use a lot of water in the beginning stages of water color it does. We also have our reference. You also have a sketch, this video that you won't want to take her now or put your phone iPad and sketch onto the paper. So when we get started with class, you could go straight into the painting pencils you won't use for sketching. I just use a regular clip pencil, and I don't use the eraser pencil because it is rough on the paper using Intel, Pentax and much, which it is, uh, you already start Cliffy Racer. It's really soft. I also use the needed racer to lift off pencil. This is only for when I draw too dark or make mistakes. And I need to use race. You want a wash cloth or paper towel that you can use to Dad your brush. It's what that is. Everything you're gonna need a simple see you 3. Foundational Layers of Watercolor: Let's get started. I've already sketched the both for Tillery Butterfly on to the watercolor paper. You can do this in a sketchbook, or you can do it in a, uh, German Nature journal. Just used the attached reference photo to this class and the attached sketch for this class . And, um, you can use either sketch it over if you're familiar with drawing. If you're not welcome to use a light box or tracing paper, whatever is necessary to get it over to your watercolor paper, just remember to sketch it very lightly. If it does sketch a little, too if you do sketch, it'll too dark. Use an eraser that does not add toothy, doesn't rip the paper or burn a hole in it. Scraped a hole in it. I guess what you see here. I'm using the Windsor Newton water colors of the Scotsman water colors for this better fly that your student grade. It's a small pan set came with an orange shade in it, and I mixed that little just sepia to get color. Your see me playing here and I'm buying it everywhere except the white spaces that we need to keep that from or in the butterflies markets. So the three dots and if you get it over and that that's okay, we like wash to fix it up. This first layer is for highlights, so keep it quite like and use a lot of water in the mix. This is gonna be your lightest color for the whole butter flock. Now you'll see me darkening it up a little bit. The's first layers are what I call foundational layers in these layers. What you're going to do is start with your highlights, your lightest lights. And then when we're done with this, we will move over to the darkest darks, which get adjusted later because your darks turn out to not be dark enough because it's against your highlights. But it maps out the butterfly tore. You're not relying on the pencil drawing underneath. Here. We're starting the darks. I've used a little bit of birth number a little bit of dark blue mixed in with it. Whatever colors you have in your set. And I'm going to use the reference photo to find the darkest areas and to map out the wings also want to get those mapped out. Um, if you apply it a little dark in spots that earned his dark. That's okay. The layers will take care of that as we paint. I'm gonna let you watch this and enjoy the music and enjoy the process of painting. It's very therapeutic. Very quiet. I'm painting outside for this video, enjoying the flowers and the butterflies as I'm painting and you could see as it darkens and lightens those in the clouds outside in the sun. Uh, just enjoy it. Find a place that your comfort. Get your coffee and map it out. These are the foundational layers, the darkest darks and the lightest lights, and I'll see you as soon as we finish this later. 4. Layering Mid-tones: Okay, we've laid the foundation down. Now it's time to go back and start adding layers By building up layers of water color. We're gonna create shadows. We're gonna create depth. We're gonna add texture to the butter flock. But all this is done with so hints of color on top of more color, I usually always paint in the direction of the pattern of whatever it is and painting. In the case of this butterfly, most of my strokes will all go will follow the design of the wings. If you look at a butterfly's wing, that's the way the powdery coating on the wing goes. So to replicate that I paint in that direction for all my lawyers. Now, on this butterfly, I'm just starting out with very watery water color and slowly, with each layer thickening up my water color to create a vibrancy in the painting. I wanted to be bright. I wanted to be colorful, not dull. Here, you'll see, I'm just slowly as I see areas using the reference photo that can use color. I'm adding it now. My first layer was a little too reddish orange, so I went back over it with very light yellow shade, especially towards the ends. To add dimension. I also with each layer, went back over the blackish brown, feigns in the butterfly and designs around US markings or circles in the butterfly too dark in them because you're black when you mix it. So Oksana is very light in. The only way to get darker is to build up layers of it. Now. I don't just paint solid black over solid black. I like to create shadows so some of my black will be lighter and other areas will be darker , with more layers on top to create death. To get the fine detail should use a finer brush like I'm using here. I believe this is a triple zero, and I also use what looks like a little wedge brush number two. And it's a slanted wedge on the end to help me with my lines along the butterfly among the veins in his wings. Now, by dabbing rather than creating solid lines and solid marks on the butterfly, I'm adding texture and at before I go back over any of it with another layer, I let the first layer completely dry, paint some more let the butterfly completely dry, and that means when you touch it, it is not cool to the touch any longer. And then I will let it dry again and dry again. However many times I need, I believe I have probably six from more layers on this butterfly to get color I was looking for and to get the realistic look now before I let you continue with this segment because the mid tones this middle section of the painting is the longest I want to explain. At the end, when you finish, you will use a small, flat brush and you will just plain water lightly. One stroke. Do not keep brushing over the same areas, but paint plain water over the butterfly. Follow the direction of the wings, just as you did with the paint with the water. What this does is it will soften everything, blend everything to work. The painting gets a more realistic finished look, so after you do the wash the water painting wash, it will take a while to dry. Let it dry. Don't fuss with it. Wait until it's 100% dry before we go to the next video and Then we will begin the details of the butterfly. I know it looks like we already have, Um but there are little touches that we can do in the detail ing that give the illusion of detail without including the detail, and you will see that in the next video. So I guess it. Make sure it's 100% dry when you finish with these layers and happy with the texture and shadows in the look of the butterfly before you move to the next video. 5. Detail Touches: Are you excited? We're almost finished. All we have left are some details and final touches. You see, here I use the smallest brush I have and I start filling in little details here and there and darkening up the darks just a little bit to make sure my mid tones of my darks, my lights are all even and look pleasing to the eye. It's these little hints and touches that make a difference in the painting when you're looking for realism anyway, for at least a semblance of realism. Now, as I do this, I'm just adding little bits here. Little bits. They're not adding every detail. I choose the most prominent details in the butterfly, and I add those and that will give the illusion of the details in the whole butterfly. I do this because I don't want to overwhelm the viewer with too much and focus kind of like when you take a picture with your camera on your phone. You, your focal point, is usually the face or the eyes or the center of whatever it is you're looking at, and from that point, everything slowly begins to kind of get less focused, even in landscape photos and things worried uncertain, and it gives you the illusion of depth and the illusion of realism and details in your butterfly. So, as you see, I'm still darkening little areas that need it. But I'm not covering the whole dark area. I'm just adding a little dark bits, and I use my reference photo as you can see a lot during this process because the detail ing, I want to see exactly which details toe ad and where I don't want to put too much. That reference photo really comes in handy at this point. Now I have provided the reference photo for you on your welcome to paint from that adds deaths that don't. So you're painting from it. I'm kind of watching videos. I'm going along here with this voice over and now, on the antenna that you're looking at. I didn't make a straight line. It appeared so, but what I did was kind of dabbed along it because the shadows and highlights are what create three d on the antenna, especially on the tips. If you look at your reference, photo tips have a lot of color in, so you just want a few dabs here and there to give the illusion you want it to look rounded , and you want him to look realistic here. You also want to use your white wash and make sure that you add your little highlights in places. There are a lot of little places on the butterfly in the reference photo, where light is reflecting on the things you have your white markings on the butterfly and on the Gulf Artillery butterfly for the face and body on the front and the underside have a lot of white. So I'm an orange. So I have tried to give that illusion up the top near the Tana, even though we can't see the face. So just continue adding details. A lot of people ask me, How do I know when I'm done? As I add details, I let them dry and I go back and look at the painting that gets my eyes off of it. I go back and look and I'll be able to tell, Do I need a little more shading here that need a little more highlight here? In this case, I did need to tone down the ends of the butterfly a little bit, and I did a second wash with just a slight touch of yellow 6. Conclusion: I hope you had fun painting the butterfly. And I hope you share your images in your progress. As you go with for this class with your project. I'd love to see them also. You can visit my work and communicate with me here on skill share or at join easily studios on Instagram and Facebook. See you again next time. 7. Bonus Clip: Gulf Fritillary Butterfly: