Learn to Draw and Paint a Butterfly | Bonnie Lecat | Skillshare

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Learn to Draw and Paint a Butterfly

teacher avatar Bonnie Lecat, illustrator, designer, teacher

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

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

    • 1.

      Intro Learn to Draw and Paint a Butterfly


    • 2.



    • 3.

      Drawing Practice


    • 4.

      Draw Your Butterfly to Scale and Transfer it onto your Painting Surface


    • 5.

      Painting Practice


    • 6.

      Painting your butterfly part 1


    • 7.

      Painting your butterfly part 2


    • 8.

      Painting your butterfly part 3


    • 9.



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About This Class

If you would like to learn how to draw and paint butterflies quickly and easily, this class is for you! I will show you an easy step by step process for drawing butterflies and then give you simple instructions for how to paint them with acrylic paints.

We will be painting a monarch butterfly in the lessons, but after completing the class, you should have mastered the skills necessary to paint any type of real or imaginary butterflies you like! I've included some bonus worksheets to download and print that will have you feeling confident and comfortable drawing your own butterflies in no time. 

Skills covered in the class include

  • how to use simple shapes to create a butterfly template that you can use again and again
  • how to draw realistic wing patterns
  • how to easily transfer a drawing onto a painting surface
  • how to blend acrylic paints

The class also includes free downloadable worksheets and reference for you to use during class and print and use whenever you want to create some new butterfly designs or paintings. 

I hope to see you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Bonnie Lecat

illustrator, designer, teacher



I'm Bonnie Lecat. I'm an artist, teacher, lifelong learner, and former accordion player. Most of the time you can find me sitting in my studio in the northern suburbs of Chicago listening to music and painting, sketching, or designing. I love all things creative and have been fortunate to have had many interesting jobs as a professional artist. I've designed album covers, sales displays, toys that come in cereal boxes, and more for marketing agencies. I've created characters and logos for advertising agencies. I've even painted ceiling and portrait murals in restaurants and retail stores.

Currently, I'm focusing my creative efforts on building an illustration portfolio and cr... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro Learn to Draw and Paint a Butterfly: Hi, I'm Bonnie. I'm an artist and illustrator and I love to paint butterflies. I also love to teach others how to paint and create and help them with their creative businesses. If you'd like to learn more, please follow me here on skill share and check out my other classes. I've created a new class that I'm so excited about. It will show you how to simply step by step, Draw a monarch butterfly. I will show you how to draw it to any size you want. Transfer it easily onto your painting surface. I've thrown in a few simple tips and tricks that will teach you how to make sure your butterflies symmetrical. And finally, I will show you how to successfully paint your butterfly with acrylic paints. If you're new to acrylic painting or if you haven't painted in a while and you want to brush up on some of your skills, this classes for you. Once you've completed the class, you should be able to easily and successfully draw and paint this monarch butterfly all on your own. So the class project will be to work through all of the lessons and paint the butterfly and add it to the class project section. So if you love butterflies or drawing or painting as much as I dio meet me in the next video and I'll show you everything you need to get started, I'll see you in class. 2. Supplies: Here's what you'll need to draw and paint your butterfly The printed worksheets that you can find in the class resource section tape, a pencil, an eraser and a marker or a pen. You'll also need something to drawn, such as a sketch pad or drawing paper. You'll need some tracing paper and something to paint on, such as primed canvas would or acrylic paper. You'll need one for practice and one for your final project. You'll also need a painting palette and acrylic paints in white, yellow, red, blue and black. You'll need some round and flat acrylic paint brushes size to fit the butterfly you want to pay and the surface you're painting on. You'll need a clean, absorbent cloth and finally, some water to clean and rinse your brushes. So gather up your supplies and I'll see you in the next video. 3. Drawing Practice: the first thing we're gonna do is draw us and basic shapes. This is just a way to simplify the butterfly so that it can. You can break it down your brain into little bite size chunks. I will be a lot easier to learn how to draw. So what I'm gonna do first is make just a straight line. Don't worry if it's little off, doesn't have to be perfect. If you want it to be perfect, you can use a ruler. It's up to you. The second shape is going to be a circle, which is going to be the head of our butterfly. The next shape we're going to dio is an oval, and that's going to be the main body of our butterfly. The final shape is kind of this extended oval, which is the abdomen area of the butterfly. Simple right? Next, we're gonna make a couple of curves for the antenna. Butterflies have just this little kind of knob at the end off their antenna, so you can do a little dat at the top. We're going to do some small circles on the side that's going to end up being our eyes now all we have to do are the wing shapes. Ah, way to do that very easily is to first break it down and lay out the wings by doing triangles. So what I want you to dio is divide this center section a little above the the center and a little below the center. Just these dad lines. And don't worry, we're gonna erase these later. Then what I want you to dio is to sketch out one triangle that comes with the bottom going straight out from the butterfly, the wind going up and then connect those lines. Now the bottom one is gonna come from the same area, but is going to be kind of tilted and typically on a butterfly. The bottom wing will be smaller than the tap wing. Never larger unless it's just a fantasy butterfly. A. And you're not trying to do a representation of a real butterfly. So then you connect those lines and what that does is it sort of gives you a map. So it's like a layout. Don't worry about doing the other side. I'm gonna show you a trick to kind of cut your work in half and make sure that your butterflies symmetrical. So the next step we're gonna do is to make a curved line here that goes over and beyond your triangle like that. And then we're gonna do another curved line that comes down and connects where the bottom line waas and kind of just barely curve out this bottom line, all right, And then we're going to do the kind of the same thing with the body with the bottom when we're just gonna curve around the triangle. And don't worry, we're in a race, these triangles there just a drawing tool to help us get our proportions right. So we're gonna just curve to a curved line on the top and bottom. And there you go. That's like our basic structure off our butterfly. So then I'm gonna go in, and I'm going to erase my drawing lines because I don't need those. And I don't want him to confuse me when I'm doing the veins of the butterfly. So what I've done now is I have scanned in my drawing like this, and I have created a step by step process for you to learn how to draw the monarch wings. So go ahead and download your worksheets, print them out and let's get started. What I've done here is given you step by step, the lines that you make to draw a monarch butterfly. So, for example, on your first page, we've got the under drawing off the basic shape of the butterfly. What I'm going to Dio is go through and go over each line to practice. So I'm gonna literally draw my first line. Then you can see in red. That's where my second line goes with each new line. You're practicing your lying work and you're learning to make the shape of the butterfly. So I'm just going to go through one by one, adding a new line on each butterfly. - So I've left one open here, and that's for you to practice drawing it on your own. Now that you've gone through each line as a tracing, now you're going to do it on your own. I'm going to use a little bit smaller head for this one so I can always refer back Teoh each step and remember, this does not have to be perfect. It's all part of the learning making mistakes. There are no mistakes, Really, It's It's only just, you know, information. So if you do something, you know, quote unquote wrong, just it's information to do it differently the next time, dots. And then we will move on to the lower wing, and I'm showing you here a monarch in the mark. The markings air, You know, specific to that butterfly. You certainly don't have to do this exactly like a monarch. You could do a fantasy butterfly. You know however you want, So that's it really easy practice. So I hope you have fun with that. Now it's time to move on to the bottom wing. So grab your other sheet and let's get started. So now I'm going to go through and do the exact same thing for the lower wings. - Okay , so now it should be easy to go through and do it on my own. And out on this sheet, you have to wonder, practice the lower wing and then one to do your entire butterfly. - And there we go, ready to move on to drawing the whole butterfly to size so that we can put it on her canvas and get started with painting. See, in the next video 4. Draw Your Butterfly to Scale and Transfer it onto your Painting Surface: Now I have practiced drawing my butterfly on my printable worksheets and I've printed out a completed monarch to help me help me with my finished drawing with my final drawing. So what I'm going to do is take my drawing pad. And if you would like to draw straight on your drawing surfaced whether it's a canvas or a board or acrylic paper or whatever, by all means, go for it. What I'm going to do is show you how to transfer. You're you're drawing onto your surface. If you would rather work it out on a piece of scratch paper first, get it all nice and clean and just how you want and then transfer your finalized drawing onto your surface. So what I'm going to do first, this is an eight by 10. Prime to this is just a primed pant Masonite panel that I I purchased a panel at Lows and had them cut it to size, and I just primed it and added a coat of white acrylic paint. So I'm just gonna mark off on my drawing pad the size of my finished piece so that I can place it where I want and know that I'm doing the right size before a transfer. It I'm just going to review what we did already. Starting with the basic shape. And I'm going to consider where I would like my butterfly to be on my finished canvas, which is right in the center. That's going to be the center of my butterfly. And then I'm gonna dio keeping in mind how big I'm gonna want it. Draw on appropriately sized circle for the head, an oval for the body, and then an elongated oval for the abdomen of the butterfly. I'm gonna add my eyes in my antenna. Okay? I'm gonna mark off the center of the body where the wings will come out from the body and I'm gonna very lightly sketch. I try angle, just like we did. Just like I did in the very first video of the drawing practice. I'm going to add my lower triangle. It's tilted sideways, and that's really all I have to do now. And I'm gonna look at my cheat sheet. I'm gonna look at my monarch. Is it are the size is right. Are the proportions, right? This is where you make any adjustments that you want. So the wings pretty large in comparison to the head. And it looks like it comes up a little bit higher here in this picture. So I'm gonna just that now. Our next step is to create this outside of the wing and the basic shape of the wing, and thats a large parking curve over the top. Then I'm gonna come in and you can see on a monarch. It comes in slightly. It doesn't curve all the way around. Some butterflies curve all the way around. So just look at the type of butterfly you want, Teoh, recreate and go from there. So this goes in slightly. So I'm gonna do that on my sketch. I'm gonna soften out the bottom of the triangle. Now I'm gonna go and do the same. Same things on the lower wing gonna look at. How far does this come out in comparison to this and get a very accurate representation here in my sketch? All right, so that's kind of a basic outline of the butterfly. And we only have to do one side, because when we transfer it, we will flip it and trace it onto both sides. so I'm leaving plenty of room here so that I know I'll have room on my finished piece. All right, So what the next step will be didn't erase the lines. My guidelines that I no longer need and go win, Take my practice sheets, Look at those and add all of my wing designs. - No . Now I am ready to take this drawing and transfer it onto my drawing surface. So now I'm going to take a sheet of tracing paper, and I'm gonna place it on top of the one side of my butterfly, and I'm gonna take a small piece of tape you can use. Whatever. Whatever kind of tape you have is fine. I just happen to have painter's tape, and I am going to use my pencil to make a clean, dark outline of my butterfly. - All right, so once I have this side all completed, and as I said, I need the lines to be dark. One area I'm not gonna be too concerned with is the edge of this side. I originally drew the lines to help you determine where these spots go. But on the finished butterfly, there is no division. There there will just be black. So in order to make that less confusing, I'm gonna erase though all the lines we're in this this top section where the dots are Okay . Now I'm going to take my butterfly, and I am going to put the pencil side down onto my painting surface, and I'm gonna take my piece of tape just to hold it down. I'm gonna make like, a little easel so that I can lift and return my tracing paper back to it in the exact same place if I need to. So then what I'm going to do is carefully using a sharp pencil and a decent amount of pressure is carefully trace exactly where I already drew. And what that's going to do is it's gonna transfer the carbon from the pencil onto your painting surface and to make sure that it's working. You use your easel, you lift up and lookie there. Perfect. Okay, so this is working, so I'm going to continue. You could periodically to check to make sure you're getting all the information, and it's working out great. You actually don't have to do the dots at this stage because we'll paint over them. But if you if you would like to do it, just so you know where they go and it's more practice. Go ahead and add those. Okay, so I have got my whole drawing. I'm gonna lift it up by my tape, and it looks like I have all the information I need. It came out beautifully, So keeping my surface in the same spot, I'm gonna lift up. I take and I'm going to place using the body as my guide. I'm gonna lay it exactly over the body so that these air in the same spot is that and your butterfly is perfectly symmetrical. And now you have carbon on this side, which we're gonna trace one more time. Transfer it, and that will be all the drawing we do. We will have a perfectly clean, symmetrical butterfly from which to paint. I don't need to trace the body again because it's already there now that are butterflies all drawn. Meet me in the next video for a little bit of painting practice 5. Painting Practice: So let's do a quick little bit of painting warm up before starting on our finished piece. I have my paints ready to go. I have white, yellow, red, blue and black. I've got some clean water, a dry cloth and a couple of round and a flat brush. You may not need the flat brush. In this case, if your brother fly is fairly small, like mine. If you're painting a larger butterfly, you might find that a flat brush will come in handy. So we're only going to use a minimum amount of different brush strokes in this butterfly. We will be creating the inner part of the wings, which are orange. You're gonna mix some yellow and a little bit of red. The yellow I'm have I happen to be using is very transparent. Different paints have different capacities, you know, play around with yours and see how much red how much yellow you're gonna need. I think this is a really good orange, So let's just ah, kind of practice some of these wing shapes. So I've got my round brush. I like to kind of twisted into my paint to get just the right amount I don't want it to wet , but my brush itself. I went in the water first and then get my paint. Now I'm going to just a practice practice making some shapes here just so you start to feel comfortable using the brush and knowing what it will dio if you're new to acrylic painting or haven't painted in a while, this is just a quick This will be a nice refresher for you. All right, Now I'm gonna get some more yellow, and I'm gonna add a little more yellow to one side. And because this yet this particular yellow is quite transparent. I'm gonna add a little bit of white to it to make it more opaque. So to blend these colors, you can see I'm just sort of doing a kind of a dash. That's sort of Ah, stroke. Now I'm gonna clean my brush and get some red, and I'm gonna add that to the other end of this little butterfly wing shape. This is how we're going to do our blending on the butterfly. There's a minimal amount of blending on this particular project, but it's good to know how to do it, and it really will add a lot of dimension and sophistication to your painting to have a little bit of variation in your paint like this and see how I'm just I'm mixing one into the other by using these small little lines going back and forth. And I talk a lot more about acrylic paints in a couple of my other classes. If you want to check those out, I actually have one that explains all about brushes and types of paints to use and painting surfaces. So if you check out my channel and want to learn more about acrylic paints, that's a good one. So practice blending a little bit till you feel comfortable. Make a few different shapes were also going to do some outlining, so we're gonna need a smaller brush for that. I'm gonna take some black, do the same movement and going toe wet my brush. Dip it in the paint. I usually kind of spin it around to get a good amount and then just practice making some lines. Get comfortable with how the paint moves, how the brush works. You'll be doing kind of some outlining shapes. When we do, the antenna will be making tiny fine lines could practice that. Just play around with your liner until you feel comfortable sort of drawing with it. So here's another way to blend. I'm going to start with my darkest color, clean off my brush really well and get a little bit of my yellow. Put that on the other side. See how you can see how transparent the yellow is. But now the yellow is wet, so I'm gonna get a little more read and just start blending back and forth like I did on the teardrop shape and really just go back and forth with each color. You can let them dry and layer over the top, which is what I typically do when I'm doing a painting. And then you have a really beautiful little blend there. All right, so play around a little bit when you feel comfortable and ready to go on to your finished project, get your stuff together and join me in the next video 6. Painting your butterfly part 1: So now we have our butterfly on our painting surface and we are ready to get started painting. I have I pallet all cleaned off. I've got some fresh paint. I have some clean water and my absorbent cloth. And I just have a couple of round paintbrushes here. Like I said, this is pretty small. So I don't think I need anything really more than this for this size of a butterfly. So I also have my painting reference, which is really very handy to have nearby. Okay, so let's get started. So I'm gonna wet my brush, dry it off. What? It So it's pliable, but I don't want it drippy wet. I'm going to take my larger round brush, which happens to be a size six again. This is an eight by 10 canvas. I'm going to start in the upper left hand corner because I'm right handed. Vice versa if you're left handed because I don't want to start painting here because then I will damage my work. So I'm gonna start up at the top, always like top left top right, work down. This is why these that's were kind of important to get clear in the tracing because it does get a little bit confusing. I'm gonna break these little lines up a little bit because if you look at a real butterfly, they're not like rial specific. There's a little bit of texture. You can kind of see it in the painting here. But if you've looked up some photos of monarchs, that's kind of how they are. - Don't worry. If you can't go around these little DATs As I said, we're just gonna go over him with White. It's up to you how you want to do it. Okay, Side one is done, really moving along here. - You can see how much simple or it ISS doing. The painting, if you're drawing, is carefully plotted out before you start. And you practice your brush strokes so that you're not struggling with the process either. So that's pretty much it. I see a couple of spots I'm gonna fill in. You want to be super precise. I had a little more texture by ruffling up these edges a little bit, but we can also do that at the end. Hopefully you're paying upon with me, and now we can just let this'll a er dry. We don't want to start painting in the center or started racing until it's completely dry. I've let my butterfly dry. It's not tacky or sticky, so I'm going to take my kneaded eraser, which if you're not familiar with this type of eraser, you can get this at any art or craft store. You clean it by stretching it. It's kind of fun to play with. Actually, you could break off little pieces to get into tiny areas if you need to. I'm just gonna clean this up a little bit. And the really nice thing about these erasers is you don't get any eraser shavings, so they're great to have and really, I mean, we've done a lot of the work. This is we're pretty close. I mean, we just have to do some of these blends that we practiced in the and the painting practice . So what I'm going to start with just like we did in the practice. I'm gonna take yellow. He had a touch of red and get a nice orange, and now I've got to get in some clean water. It's really important to not have the black paint from the water, So clean your water before you do this next step. So again I'm gonna take my orange, and I am just going to start filling in the areas of the butterfly where there's orange. There's one little spot up here, and then I'm going to go through and just fill in all the areas. It's kind of transparent, and that's fine. If you're paint starts to feel dry and kind of polls. Just get some fresh paint, clean off your brush, gets a fresh paint, get rid of all the white areas and just continue all the way around your butterfly like this. Take over the black. No worries, cause we'll go back and touch that up at the end. Don't let that dry and meet me in the next video to continue painting 7. Painting your butterfly part 2: So now this is already starting to dry, which is great. We're just gonna layer up some colors on top, clean off my brush again. I don't like my brush to get all gummed up with paint. I think it just is. It makes it harder to control. So we're just gonna wait till this is dry. If you start painting on top of this before it's dry. If it's kind of in a certain stage of dryness, what you'll do is reactivated, and it'll start kind of pulling up. And that could be that could be frustrating. If that happens to you, just stop. Let it dry and go back again. I'm gonna get a lighter yellow Just come to the inside here and this starts to make it more opaque, which I think is really nice. So then I'm gonna rinse off my brush and I'm gonna get a more intense orange by mixing more Read into the orange I was using previously. And what I'm gonna do is go around the outsides just like this. Just these short little dashi strokes and just mix it in just like we practiced in the blending practice. Just go over the top. Go back and forth from light to dark until you get the color that you want Had a little more yellow there to the center. I'm not putting much pressure. I'm just pretty much laying the paint on the surface just like that. You don't need to overwork it. You can always come back and add again. But like that, I think is enough. Also a little tricky. You know, if you need to blend a little with your finger, you can do that. Paints pretty wet. So I'm going to dry my brush and I'm gonna let that little portion of the wing dry, and I'm gonna repeat this exact same process on all of the areas. So this is a really good like blending project to because it's pretty simple. Sections of the butterfly are small enough, and there's enough of them that you get a really good opportunity to practice and be successful. Get my smaller brush now just go back and forth and use whatever brush seems appropriate for the size of that little shape. Make sure to cover all the areas And don't leave any white spots on your canvas. You can see how I'm going back over each layer. It gets a little more refined and looks a little more riel. Now I'm just going to start really kind of jazzing it up a little bit by adding some intense little pops of color. This is where you let your inner artist out, and you can decide how you want it to look, whether you want it realistic, or you wanna add a few things that just give it a little bit of character and and your own particular painting style, I'm gonna give this a little bit. This is called a dry brush technique and my brushes almost dry, and I'm just going to kind of gently barely touch it. There's not much paint on my brush, but it's giving the wings a little bit of texture, which I just like 8. Painting your butterfly part 3: Now I am going to go in. I'm going to add the white areas. Even though my background is white, I could just leave it. I'm just gonna refined the edges a little bit. It may be your background isn't white. You could paint that. You could have done the background any color you want. So I'm just gonna go through and fill in these white areas and some of them I can see my pencil mark. So I want to cover that better place. Also have these little lines on the edge at those if you want. - Now I'm gonna address the body of the of the butterfly, and their eyes are kind of white. Monarchs have these little he's a little white spots. Also gonna add just a little bit of a highlight in the center. And if you really want to get fancy, you can add mix some white and some black and add the's little divisions on the abdomen. They're just lines just like that and a little bit of color along the abdomen to give it a little bit of shape and form. And not just have it be flat black. Blend that in a little bit just taking my black in my gray and blending it just like we did on the wings and I'm just gonna touch a little bit of a highlight. Now I'm going to go back and touch up any of the black areas. Maybe the paint went over a little bit. I got a little sloppy or just just needs a little bit of touching up in darkening. - So you're probably wondering why you had blue on your palate this whole time. I want you to take a little bit of blue and a little bit of white, and we're gonna add the's little blue highlights, which are gonna really just add a little something extra to your painting, give a little separation to the wings there and then I'm gonna put a couple of little highlights on the wings also are in the orange parts of the wings. Also, you don't have to go crazy with this. Less is more. A couple little That's to give it a little more. I feel like it gives it a little more life, and I think my butterfly is done 9. FINAL THOUGHTS: Congratulations. You did it. I hope you had fun and feel confident and excited to paint some butterflies. I'm so honored and truly grateful that you took the time to watch this class and paint with me today. Now it's your turn. Please snap a pic of your completed butterfly painting and add it to the class project section. When you're done, I can't wait to see what you dio. And if you liked the class, please leave me a review. And if you have any questions at all, please let me know in the comments section below the class. Also look for me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. I'd really love to connect with you there. And finally I want to congratulate you for investing in yourself and your creativity by taking this class people painting. And I hope to see you again soon.