Let's work on a colorful butterfly icon featuring a simple cartoon insect made from basic elements. In this tutorial, you will have the opportunity to work on an icon rather than creating a cartoon character. What's the difference? Icons are usually much simpler while cartoon characters are made from thick strokes and more complex shapes.
For this lesson, we will create a simple butterfly filled with light brown colors. Butterflies are fun to illustrate because you can be creative while working with this insect. Wings can be filled with various patterns and colors, shapes can be simple or complex ... it's time to unleash your creativity!
Before creating this animal, let's sketch a basic template to help us create accurate proportions. You can start by drawing a large circle to form the head. Then, add a long and thin rectangle to represent the body. Complete this step by adding wings made from irregular shapes as shown below.
Now we can start working on the butterfly. Begin with the head using a circle that is slightly narrower on top. The body is made from two long curved lines and the bottom must be sharp and narrow. Wings are also created from curved lines done using soft corners. Once you are finished, you can erase all orange shapes.
In this simple step, add antennas on top of the head using two broken lines and two oval shapes. The eyes and pupils are created using small circles. Finally, draw the mouth using a long curved line with two pointed ends. This is it for step number three!
Inside the wings, you can draw patterns using any shapes or lines you want. Be creative! It doesn't need to be realistic, but just visually appealing. In this case, I have used curved lines to separate wings in smaller parts and a few circles were added to give more texture to the pattern.
A good butterfly icon would not be completed without colors. As you can see on the illustration below, the head and body can be colored in brown. The wings are darker, but the circles inside these wings are brighter. The pupils, the mouth and the antennas are black.
So far, the icon was created without any outlines or strokes. Adding lines around shapes is not a good idea since our goal was to create an icon, not a cartoon character. Drawing lines inside an icon can be relevant, but in this case the illustration is too close to a cartoon butterfly.
If you really want to draw outlines or strokes on this image and still keep this "icon" look, then perhaps you could draw a large and thick stroke around the character instead of doing so around each shape. See the difference?
Another simple tip to keep the icon look alive and create something original is to add a 3D effect to the illustration. Of course, only use this technique if it's relevant to what you are looking for. Indeed, it's easy to get excited with all these special effects and end up with something irrelevant and visually cluttered.
That's it for now! Don't hesitate to draw more butterflies using different shapes, textures, patterns and colors. This cute little insect is perfect if you want to experiment various combos. Have fun and don't hesitate to try more characters from the same series here.
You can also try more cartoon butterflies below using these simple and accessible lessons. Don't forget to practice often and enjoy! :)
External resources: How to draw a butterfly