Nailing Your Butterflies 🦋

Olga Murasev— 29 August 2017 —

I bet that the butterfly was your first (or second) face painting design that you’ve tried out when you just jumped into this colorful world. Did I guess it? 😉

There are countless styles and shapes to be made with a butterfly design, but the secret of their perfection is that they are all sharing the same geometrical form. Once you understand the rules of painting a harmonious butterfly shape, you can confidently create many more variations.

When I started practicing face painting I analyzed hundreds of different butterfly face paintings, as well as pictures of real butterflies. For a long time, I was tormented by the question of why some butterflies looked balanced and harmonious, even if they were simple, while others (despite being beautiful and intricate) did not create that pleasing effect.

This topic is so wide, that I could barely fit it into one blog post, illuminating only the main ideas. I’ve presented here the essential tips, that will help you take your butterflies to a new level.

All the other details are covered in the “Butterflies” Module in part Three of my online Course. Check out the detailed Course Program here.

Finding the Focal Point

You’ve most probably already heard me speaking countless times about the importance of the Focal Points Theory. Because this knowledge is the fundament of harmonious face painting.

But let’s get back to butterflies. Start by setting the main focal point, towards which the wings will be pointing.

There are three main FPs to consider for this purpose:
1. FPs of the inner corners of the eyes
2. Intermediate FPs
3. Central FP

Butterflies - face painting - focal points

Building the shape

Main shape:

  • top wing should be bigger than the bottom wing
  • top wing is triangular and bottom wing is of a petal shape
  • top wing is placed under a 45 angle degree (sometimes this angle can slightly vary from 40 to 60 degrees)
  • the wings connect in one point, called the focal point (FP)

Building the inside:

  • all streaks inside the wings are pointing towards the focal point
  • top wing is made out of 3 triangular sections, all pointing towards the FP and where the middle section is the narrowest one
Butterflies - face painting - tips and tricks
Tip: You may also find the “7 steps for symmetrical face painting designs” useful for learning how to achieve symmetry in your butterflies.

Choosing the style

There are heaps of styles variations that could be applied to a butterfly design, but I would divide them into three main groups:

  • Sponged background and outline done with a round brush (Jenny Saunders butterfly, Jocelyn Casdorph butterfly, Annie Reynolds butterfly).
  • One stroke background and outline (Nurit Pilchin butterfly, Natalee Davies butterfly).
  • Creative butterfly that combines different techniques (Debz Mills butterfly).

So once you’ve learned how to build a pleasing shape, it’s time to move on mastering the four essential techniques in face painting (linework, one stroke, double dip and blending). By combining them, you can achieve amazing results in your artwork and develop your creativity.

By the way, did you know that you can study the double dip technique in the FREE TRIAL?
Get your access here.

In the International Face Painting School we are studying each of these techniques separately, polishing each type of stroke and training the steadiness in the hands until the technique is perfect.

If you are still looking for your own style, try out different styles, copy as much as possible and see what you love more.

Butterflies - face painting - different styles
Tip: You may want to check out my “How to create your own original designs” blog post, that will give you useful tips on how to develop your own style.

Three advice for a beginner

Through my 6 years experience as an instructor, I’ve been carefully watching the main mistakes my students were making when painting butterflies. I’ve deducted 10 main mistakes, that I’ve included with detailed explanations in my online Course.

Here are three main ones with three advice on how to fix them:
1. Reduce the size — Most beginners are painting too big butterflies, that are covering the entire face, but are lacking shape.

2. Find the focal point — One of the most common mistakes is painting butterflies is connecting the wings in a wide line on the bridge of the nose. Try to connect them in one single point.

3. Pay attention to the top wing placement — Another frequent mistake is placing the top wing vertically. Place it under a 45 angle degree and you’ll see what a huge difference it will make.

And last, but not least — practice as much as possible.

Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally. It comes from what you do consistently.

These are the butterflies that we are studying in the “Butterflies” Modules in Part Three on the Course. We start by learning the rules of harmonious placement and building a correct shape and then we move on painting 5 different types of butterflies:

  • butterfly made of teardrops
  • basic butterfly outlined with a round brush
  • one stroke butterfly
  • small one stroke butterfly
  • double dip butterfly

Butterflies in the International Face Painting School

Start by simple shapes and basic techniques, gradually making the artwork more and more intricate.

And here is one of the great results of diligent studies and practice under thoughtful tutoring. Tatiana Bezvykonnaia nailed the one stroke butterfly!

Check out more Students achievements here.

Butterflies - face painting - before and after

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Did this post help you improve your butterflies? Share the result with me in the comments down below! 👇

 — Olga Murasev

  • Thank you darling! 🙂 And we do have these faces as practice pads for our students. We have both a version to print and a set of already made laminated with mat plastic practice boards. That’s the set that my students get with the enrollment to Elite package. 🙂

  • Diane Hook Spadola

    Love your three tricks….Totally on target. Also think your chart of size and angle is very helpful. Would make a nice practice pad.

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