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How to Paint Butterflies With Watercolors

Updated April 17, 2017

Watercolour painting involves loosely applying paint to a piece of paper. To develop a wetter and looser look, you can wet the paper as well. You need to be patient in this style if you want sharper contrast with colours. You can use pastels to blend the colours more efficiently and add tones that you wouldn't be able to otherwise. Painting butterflies gives you an opportunity to play with a wide variety of colours and test your skills at blending them effectively.

Sketch a butterfly onto blank white paper. Outline the areas you want to add different colours. Draw the antennas, head and long body. The body is fatter at the top and longer at the bottom. The wings are shorter in the back and wider at the front. The back wings usually span the long part of the body while the shorter wings span the front and get wider as they span out.

Add strokes of your darker colours. Ensure you mix the colours with a small amount of masking fluid, enough to provide your desired consistency. Allow them to dry for about 10 minutes. Use cobalt violate, rose and cobalt blue. These are dark but cheerful butterfly colours.

Thoroughly wet the surface of the paper for a wet, blurred effect. For the background, add aureolin yellow and greens. Apply cerulean blue and cobalt blue and then add a darker burnt sienna and ultramarine. You can form actual leafs and flowers or just a multicoloured background. Let it dry for about 10 minutes.

Add dry brush work for some of the details around the wings to make them pop out from the background. You can also use dry paint to create furry sections around the abdomen. Dab your paintbrush to the outside of the abdomen to get a furry effect.

Add the lighter colours to the areas of the butterfly that you already designated for softer textures. Allow it to dry for 10 minutes.

Use a purple or blue pastel to blend the lighter colours with the darker ones at the contours.

Things You'll Need

  • Masking fluid
  • Rubber-tipped clay shapers
  • Purple or blue pastel
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About the Author

Phillip Chappell has been a professional writer in Canada since 2008. He began his work as a freelancer for "Senior Living Magazine" before being hired at the "Merritt News" in British Columbia, where he wrote mostly about civic affairs. He is a temporary reporter for the "Rocky Mountain Outlook." Chappell holds a Bachelor of Journalism in computer programming from University College of the Cariboo.