Learn how to draw and paint a butterfly using a visual reference as a guide.
Using a visual reference as your guide, you will create a pencil drawing. Once your drawing is completed, you will ink over the pencil lines and erase the pencil underneath. Then you being to layer paint on your drawing starting with a light underpainting and building layers of color.
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Print a photo of a butterfly you like. Tape it to a window with a lot of light coming through. Tape your watercolor paper over the picture and you made your own DIY light box! Get your pencil and trace the outline of the butterfly. Feel free to lift the paper from time to time. Sometimes it is hard to tell what you are tracing. This is a fantastic way to start if you are new to this. You could also challenge yourself and try this freehand as well! You are the artist.
Once you are satisfied with your pencil drawing go over the pencil with black ink. I use a .005 fine micron pen for this job. I like to add some stippling. Take a step back, observe your photo and squint. This helps you see the darkest darks of the photo. This is where you add your stippling. It adds dimension to your final painting. You can choose to skip this step if it does not appeal to you and use your paint to achieve the same effect!
This is the fun part! Once your ink drawing is done, you can start to layer on your paint. A good rule of thumb is to start from light to dark. Observe your reference and try to pick out the lightest color and begin with a layer of that. Keep building up colors working your way through the mid tones and (colors that are neither the darkest or lightest) and finally adding your darkest colors (like the black in the wing. The reason for this is that, in watercolor, you can not paint over a dark color with a lighter one. Keep going until you feel 'done'.