Butterfly Cartoon Drawing in Photoshop

A butterfly cartoon is a versatile piece of artwork that can be used for may different functions. It can be used to spice up documents and pictures or it can be used as pleasing symbolism to signify a success or milestone. This guide will go through the process of creating a butterfly cartoon.

Besides the symbolism presented by a butterfly, what makes this particular cartoon fun to draw is due to two main reasons: symmetry and abstractionism. Both of these are what allows the animal to be drawn in a quickly and efficient manner.

In digital art drawing software like Photoshop, symmetry is easily duplicated with a few clicks of a button. Basically, only one half of the butterfly is drawn, duplicated, and then flipped over to form the other half to create a balanced composition.

For audiences and artists alike, the abstract lines found on the veins on the oversized wings are not like anything found in nature. There is a certain degree of romanticism and imagination that stems from the many different colors that can appear.

Sketching the butterfly cartoon

To get things going, start a new layer and sketch out some preliminary lines found on the wing. While there is some degree in abstractionism, the good thing about the anatomy of a butterfly's wings is that it's all the same regardless of species.

Specifically, it's the same amount of veins being carried out through the upper and lower wings spreading out through a a central oval vein. The only careful thing to note is that there is proper overlap between the upper and lower wings.

butterfly cartoon step 1 from cgattic.ca

Proportion wise, the upper wing is a simple triangle that is about 20 percent larger than the lower wing. As for the body, three circular shapes are good enough to define the head, thorax, and abdomen. Other than that, finish off the quick sketch with just one antenna.

As mentioned before, there is no need to rush and draw both halves of the butterfly. It is much better to take some time and work on getting the right feel of the butterfly cartoon. The symmetry will come much later once a good line drawing is completed.

The butterfly cartoon line drawing

Continuing on with the drawing, getting the right line drawing will require combining a few new processes and tools. First, continue with darking and refining the sketch. Fill out any holes, thicken some veins while tining other veins, and round off any corners.

Most of this can be done with swapping back between the airbrush and the eraser tool. There is no need to worry about pressure sensitivity of the digital stylus. In fact, it's best to have it set to it's maximum to make the lines perfectly black. This can also be applied to the eraser to delete pixels cleanly.

butterfly cartoon step 2 from cgattic.ca

The pen tool is an alternative to getting very defined straight lines. Though a bit cumbersome to use, it can create a good vector path that can be filled in. This is an optional tool for advanced users but not something that should be ruled out.

Once the line drawing is finished, use the square lasso to select a portion of the body. Delete these pixels to create a perfectly cut half of the butterfly. Finally, duplicate this layer, then go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal to create the other half. Merge both layer to finish the line drawing.

The butterfly cartoon base color

A layer containing only the base color is needed for editing purposes that doesn't interfere with the butterfly outline. There are several ways to do this step. The manual method involves creating a layer and then painting in a flat color underneath areas that the line drawing shows through.

The second method is a bit more complicated but can be much faster to fill up on top of being very accurate. For this method, the line drawing will be used again. First, duplicate the line drawing as a new layer. Position it below the original line drawing.

butterfly cartoon step 3 from cgattic.ca

Then, use the magic wand tool to select the empty holes. After that, go to Edit > Fill. Select any color combination and fill in the holes. It doesn't matter what color is used as the whole purpose is to fill in the gaps to make a solid object.

Finally, lock the entire layer down and do the fill option one more time. This time, do the same thing:, go to Edit > Fill, but this time, select a flat color that works with the butterfly specie that is being drawn. For example, a monarch butterfly will work best with an orange flat color.

Coloring the butterfly cartoon

Considering what has been done in the previous step, the flat color may be all that is needed for the butterfly cartoon. However, Photoshop has the very excellent layer styles option to quickly color the drawing even further.

Double clicking the layer will bring up layer styles. The first option is the 'color overlay'. With just a click of a mouse, it will cover the entire flat color layer with another color of choice. What's more, there are blend modes that can further emphasize the color.

butterfly cartoon step 4 from cgattic.ca

The second, and often better option, is the 'gradient overlay' layer style. Just as it says, it will overlay everything with a nice gradient. In this example, orange and yellow were selected. There is also an option to select a gradient direction that works with the composition.

After a quick series of trial and error, the radial gradient option, set at 100% spread, fits the best coverage for this butterfly cartoon. Just remember that it can change depending on the central origin of the solid object found in the flat color layer.

Even though layer styles are a good option to try, there may be a need to redraw some sections through a third layer. For example, the white spots found on the wing may require another layer. This layer fits in between the solid flat color layer and the line drawing.

When everything is said and done, though, all these steps will allow anyone to further edit the butterfly cartoon at any time. All that is left is to put all those layers in a folder and duplicate the folder to create an additional butterfly on screen to be edited.