This simple watercolor butterfly painting is great way to explore the concept of symmetry as well as get acquainted with using oil pastes and watercolor paints!

What is symmetry…

Symmetry is the quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or arranged around an axis.  Symmetry is something that’s common in nature.  Once your kid understand this concept it is something they will see all around them, all the time.  Butterflies are a great example of symmetry.

Check out this lesson for a more in depth look at at symmetry, a video lesson, and a free printable resource that explains the concept and gives your kid a place to practice it!

What do you need for this butterfly watercolor painting…

The materials for this butterfly art project are pretty simple.  You’ll need paper- 8.5 x 11 or larger.  Grab some oil pastels or crayons.  The examples have been done with oil pastel but a black crayon will have a similar effect.  It will just take a bit more effort to darken up those lines. The crayon will still resist the watercolor paint!

You’ll also need watercolor paints.  The student grade pan variety will do just fine!

Draw a symmetrical butterfly with this easy transfer method.

Draw a symmetrical butterfly….

Start with folding a 8.5 x 11 paper in half the “hamburger way.” All drawing will take place on only one side of the paper to start with.  Start with drawing the basic shape of the butterflies body and wing shape.  If your kiddos are into it do a search for some reference images of butterflies to look at while drawing.  Referencing a picture in a book or internet images will go along way to toward drawing a butterfly that looks “real.”

My reference for the drawing in the pics was a blue morpho butterfly.

Transferring your butterfly drawing to create a symmetrical image…

After the basic shape is drawn it’s time to transfer the image to the other side of the paper and complete the butterfly drawing. Close the paper on the fold.  Use the cap pen or even a craft stick.  Rub over any area that has oil pastel.  Just enough of the pigment will transfer to the clean side of the paper to see the outline.

Open the paper and trace over the faint lines with the same oil pastel crayon or regular crayon.

Add veins and patterns to the wings of your butterfly drawing.

Add details to your butterfly drawing….

Check out those reference pics again for any interior lines or patterns that your butterfly may have.  Add those details only to one side.  Close the paper on the fold, rube with the pen cap, and open up.

Now is a great time to add some thickness to some lines.  Variety will make the finished artwork more interesting. Also take the time to fill in any areas that may need it!

Oil pastel butterfly drawing makes a great resist pattern for panting over with watercolors.

Make it a watercolor butterfly…

The beauty of those oil pastel/watercolor lines that you just drew is that both oil pastel and crayon will resist watercolor paint. That means that wherever you paint, the paint will nor cross those lines.

Whether you choose to paint your butterfly in a realistic color scheme or a fantastic rainbow butterfly you’ve got some great structure already there.  Those lines will give you the opportunity to paint different areas different colors without the colors bleeding together.

Those small areas are also a great place to experiment with creating different values of a single color. Remember, adding more water will dilute the watercolor pigment creating a lighter color.  More pigment and less water will create a more intense color.

Blue morpho butterfly watercolor painting for kids

Adding background to your watercolor butterfly….

I chose to add a complementary colored background. I like the way the contrast between the colors make my blue butterfly pop!  You paint your background a solid color or draw in leaves or even more butterflies with your black oil pastel or crayon. It’s yours – make it your own!

Let’s paint a watercolor butterfly together!

Click on the video above and follow long as we paint a watercolor butterfly together!

Watercolor butterfly painting lesson for kids with free video lesson

Did you enjoy this watercolor butterfly art project?

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The Artists and the Elements is an art resource that connects the elements of art, art history, and fun, hands on art projects!