How To Draw A Butterfly In Flight for Your Paper Art Projects

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So how do you draw a butterfly that's in flight? There are a couple of tricks to it, but with this step-by-step tutorial you'll be drawing away in no time!

NOTE: This tutorial builds upon drawing butterflies that are one-dimensional. If you need additional help getting started, you may want to review the previous tutorial.

Let's get started learning how to draw butterflies in flight . . .

draw butterfly wings

Since this butterfly is tipped at an angle, drawing it is all about foreshortening certain parts to give the illusion of a nice three dimensional look (good perspective).

Place the body and head on your paper first and draw your wings out from the body.

The body

  • The Right part of the body is in front of the Right wings, while the Left of the body is behind the Left wings (B).  
  • The butterfly is turned to the left so you draw each oval section at an angle to represent this (shown by "B" and an arrow).
  • Note that the tail end of the body is not hidden by any wings (C).

The head

  • Place its head (A) which is a slight oval because we are viewing the side of the head.

The wings

Start with the wings on the Right, draw the wing structure on the top (D), and the one on the bottom (E). 

  • Draw the Left wings (F and G) a shorter distance across (contracted) than the Right (D and E).

Keep these wings simple, as you can always add detail later, after you get the perspective correctThis will be what you base the rest of your butterfly on.

Place the inside of the wings . . .

drawing butterflies

When you set out to draw a butterfly, place detail inside of the wings to even further gives the illusion of three dimensions for a more realistic look.

The inside "wavy" lines on the wings also give structure and are often seen on real butterflies.

  • Draw a wavy line all around the inside middle of the wings on the Right side (A and B).
  • The wavy lines on the inside of the Left wings are drawn contracted (C and D).

TIP: The wings on the left are at an angle so everything on them is drawn as contracted (or scrunched). Getting this correct is KEY to creating a realistic butterfly drawing!

Place the circles (which are now to be drawn as ellipses) . . .

drawing butterflies

Because the butterfly is turned at an angle, the circles are also contracted, thus you draw them as ovals (ellipses).

  • Notice that the ellipses are to be drawn at the same angle as the sections of the body (illustrated by "C").
  • The Left wings are more foreshortened than the Right, so the ellipses (ovals) at "B" are smaller and more contracted than the ellipses on the Right (A).

It can be helpful to go back and look at the original butterfly that is viewed straight on (second image on this page) and notice the difference between the circles from then and now.

Add detail for a more interesting look . . .

drawing wings

Remember that everything you do on the Right side is to be drawn contracted on the Left.

  • Draw the lines on the wing's Right side and then just shorten them on the Left (A & B).
  • The antenna on the Right should be higher on the paper than the one on the Left (C).

Now try your hand at drawing butterflies for your paper art projects!

draw a butterfly

When you are learning how to draw a butterfly you can sketch almost any type of interesting wing detail, and it will work out as long as in the beginning you get the perspective correct.

If you follow the basic principles outlined above, you'll be able to draw butterflies that are one of a kind, unique to you!

That's it . . . hope you enjoyed this how to draw a butterfly tutorial.

Creating art and crafts builds new neural pathways in your brain and is a great way to keep your noggin healthy. Keep creating for optimal brain health!


~~~Samantha Mariah

how to draw a leaf

Have you seen tutorials on drawing leaves? They are fun and easy with step-by-step instructions!

Glossary words used on this "how to draw a butterfly page" . . .




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