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"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."
- Maya Angelou, American author
Butterflies are common sights in backyards around the world, with an estimated 18,500 distinct species. Some are smaller than your fingernail, while others are as large as both your hands. A few butterflies take long journeys of migration, traveling thousands of miles across oceans and continents. These may live for over a year, while other species may survive for only a few week. Butterflies have been around for a very long time, as evidenced by fossil specimens.
Butterflies have a distinct 4-stage life cycle of metamorphosis. First, adult butterflies lay eggs on plants, either in the wild or in a butterfly garden. From the egg hatches a worm-like caterpillar. Eventually, the caterpillar wraps itself in a cocoon or chrysalis. It then emerges as an adult butterfly, but before it can fly, it must allow its wings to expand and dry in the sun.
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What do butterflies eat? Caterpillars eat plants. They are often very picky, eating only one type of plant. Adult butterflies use a long, straw-like proboscis to drink the sweet nectar from blooming flowers.
Would you like to capture the beauty of the butterfly? You can, with the help of this simple, step-by-step cartoon animal drawing tutorial. What will you need? Make sure you have a pencil, an eraser, and some paper. Likely, you will also want to use crayons, markers or colored pencils to breathe color into this "flying flower."
Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a Butterfly
1. Begin by drawing two ovals, one overlapping the other. These form the head and the thorax or midsection of the butterfly.
2. Draw two large, overlapping circles that also overlap the small oval. Erase as necessary. These form the butterfly's eyes. Below the thorax, extend a pair of curved lines that meet at a point. This forms the butterfly's abdomen.
3. Outline the first of the butterfly's wings. From the thorax, extend a long, curved line. Connect it to the thorax once again, enclosing a large, irregular shape.
4. Use a wide "U" shaped line to enclose the lower wing. It should connect to the top of the abdomen on one side and the bottom of the forewing on the other. Then, shade small circles within the eyes to indicate the pupils. You can leave a tiny circle unshaded within each pupil to give the butterfly the spark of life.
5. Extend a long, curved line on the opposite side of the thorax to enclose the irregular shape of the remaining forewing. Then, draw two curved lines emerging from between the eyes. These are the butterfly's antennae.
6. Use a wide "U" shaped line to trace the remaining lower wing. Then, begin decorating the forewings. At the top of each wing, enclose a small oval within a larger oval. These are the butterfly's eyespots. They are called eyespots because they look like large eyes. When the butterfly opens its wings, predators may be frightened away, thinking the butterfly is the face of a larger animal!
7. Color your cartoon butterfly. For our example, we've chosen fanciful shades of pink and purple. In the wild, butterflies are often marked with black, brown, yellow, white, cream, green, orange, and blue.
Printable Drawing Tutorial
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