Once you have learned how to draw flowers, there is no better way to accompany a bucolic garden than with a beautiful butterfly. These colorful insects go hand in hand with springtime and come in a variety of colors and patterns. The monarch butterfly is among the most recognizable with its striking orange and black pattern.
Want to learn how to capture a monarch butterfly in pen and ink? Don't let the intricate wings deter you—in this tutorial we'll break down how to draw a butterfly in five easy steps. So grab some paper and your favorite art supplies and let's get started!
Learn How to Draw a Butterfly in 5 Easy Steps
Step 1: Find a reference photograph
It’s good practice to do a bit of research before beginning any drawing. In the case of butterflies, it’s especially important to have a few good photos of the specific species you want to draw, as the wing pattern can be hard to replicate accurately. Peruse different image sources, like Pinterest, until you find pictures that suit your purpose. Additionally, if you're unfamiliar with drawing insects, or if you're looking to make a realistic drawing of the butterfly's anatomy, consider referencing a diagram illustration.
This tutorial will be looking at how to draw a monarch butterfly. Specifically, we'll be illustrating a side view of the insect with its wings up in the air.
Step 2: Draw the body
Using your pencil of choice, begin sketching the body of the butterfly. Start with a small circle for the head and connect it to an oval-like thorax which should be twice the length of the head. Then, draw a long and thin abdomen that protrudes slightly at the end into a bulbous shape.
With the body in place, you can add the legs to the butterfly's thorax. Move halfway down and draw the forelegs in three parts. Then, sketch the hind leg towards the end of the thorax—again in three parts. Once you're satisfied with the legs, go ahead and draw one large eye on the butterfly's head. This should take up most of the room in the circle.
Next, add two antennae at the top of the head, a little above the butterfly's eye. Underneath the head, you can draw the curly, straw-like proboscis—this is how a butterfly feeds on flowers.
Step 3: Add the wings
With the body of the butterfly drawn, it's time to add the wings. Beginning at the thorax, sketch a slightly rectangular forewing, which should measure a little longer than the butterfly's body. Then, attach a more oval-like hindwing that ends in the abdomen. Afterward, sketch an indication of the other forewing, starting at the head and ending halfway into the more prominent wing.
Step 4: Draw the wing pattern
Now that you've drawn your butterfly, it's time to flesh out the details. Monarch butterflies have a black and orange wing pattern that resembles stained glass. To emulate this in a pen illustration, start demarcating the orange and black parts of the butterfly's wings.
According to the reference photograph, monarch butterflies have a black “border” around the wings, and within them are rectangular sections of different sizes that would be the orange areas.
Next, fill in the top borders of the butterfly's wings with two rows of smaller rectangle shapes—these will be the white spots along the black border.
Step 5: Go over the illustration in ink
Once you've finished your pencil drawing of a monarch butterfly, you can find your favorite pens and begin going over the graphite lines with ink.
After you've gone over the outline in pen, slowly begin filling in the pattern with black ink. Remember to check back with your reference photograph often at this stage to ensure you're capturing the design correctly.
Tip: If you want to add depth to a “white” area of a black and white illustration, consider using stippling or hatching. This is also a useful way to indicate the delicacy of the butterfly's wings.
Want to embellish your monarch butterfly? An easy way to do this is by adding a simple black border and placing a few sparkles or bubbles around the body and wings—like fairy dust. Or, if you're searching for a way to complete your illustration, you can learn how to draw a rose and other types of flowers that your butterfly would love to visit.
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