How to make a paper butterfly

The wonder of the butterfly has to do with metamorphosis. How can a homely caterpillar develop in its cocoon over the course of mere months, and emerge a thing of utter grace and beauty? Beautiful Monarch butterflies certainly look delicate, but they are also known for their fortitude. They brave all kinds of conditions as they mysteriously make the journey from Canada to Mexico every year, without fail.
This Monarch butterfly project is deceptive in that its look is highly detailed, yet the process to craft it is simple. A bit of practice with a small X-Acto knife will ensure a successful result. The piece will add a touch of spring and a pop of color to a tabletop or bookshelf, while mounting three or four on a piece of poster board and framing it would make a knockout piece of wall art.
- Sheet of bright orange construction paper
- Pencil
- Scissors
- Sheet of black construction paper
- Cutting m at
- Small X-Acto knife
- Elmer’s clear glue
- White crayon
DIY Everywhere
1. Fold the piece of orange construction paper in half width-wise.
2. Using a pencil, draw an outline of the large upper wing and smaller wing under it that make one side of a butterfly silhouette. Start drawing at the point where the paper is folded.
3. Cut the shape out with the scissors and unfold the piece. You will have a full butterfly cutout.
4. Place the orange butterfly cutout on top of the piece of black construction paper.
5. Trace the butterfly with a pencil.
6. Cut the butterfly shape from the black construction paper with the scissors.
7. Fold the black butterfly in half length-wise.
8. Make marks on the black butterfly form that mimic the delicate color spots on a butterfly’s wings, using the pencil. They can be teardrop-shaped or long and triangular with rounded edges. Fill the wings with them, including smaller ones on the wing tips.
9. Place the black butterfly on a cutting mat and carefully cut out the traced shapes on its wings with a small X-Acto knife.
10. Open up the black butterfly and it will have four beautifully lacy wings.
11. Cut a small rectangular strip of black construction paper, about 3 inches by ¾-of-an-inch.
12. Draw a butterfly head and body on it with the pencil. The body should consist of a long tubular shape that ends at the bottom in a point, while the head should consist of three equally sized scallops at the top.
13. Cut the butterfly body and head from the black paper with the scissors. Note that the body and head consist of one piece cut out from the black paper.
14. Cut another small rectangular piece of black construction paper, also about 3 inches by ¾-of-an-inch. Draw a pair of antennae on it with the pencil. The antennae should be two long, curved thin spindles that oppose each other and join at a "V"-shaped midpoint.
15. Cut the antennae out of the black paper with the scissors.
16. Take the orange butterfly form and line its outer edge with Elmer’s clear glue.
17. Glue the black lacy wings on top of the orange butterfly form.
18. Glue the black body on top of the black wings.
19. Glue the black antennae on the downward-facing side of the butterfly’s head, so the point of the small “V” that forms the center of the antennae piece is facing downward and the antennae ends are oriented out from the back of the butterfly head. They should be aligned with the upper edges of each of the top wings.
20. Use a white crayon to mark the wings, body, and head of the butterfly with dots and details that typify a butterfly's. These include small white dots on its outer wings as well as tail and head details.
Place the butterfly wherever you will see it often, as a reminder that spring is coming, and don’t forget to share this project on Facebook!