How to make papercraft butterflies in 10 simple steps

Craft tutor Aimee Graham explains how to make beautiful papercraft butterflies with a Canon printer and a few craft materials.
A woman adjusts a craft butterfly display in front of a desk containing a Canon printer.

Creating your own butterfly-themed works of art is a great way to add colour to your home, and a fun activity that can be tailored to suit all ages. You can find inspiration online or use the range of templates available on Canon's Creative Park.

"I took simple printed templates of butterflies and used them as a starting point to create beautiful butterfly artwork in both a glass dome and a box frame," says artist and paper crafter Aimee Graham. In this step-by-step guide, Aimee takes us through the process she followed when making her stunning, delicate papercraft butterflies.

Before you begin, make sure you have all your papercrafting equipment to hand. Here's what you'll need:

  • Craft wire

1 . Think of your final display

Tre pappersfjärilar i en trälåderam på ett skrivbord bredvid en Canon-skrivare och en glaskupa.

Din pappersdesign kan vara så enkel eller så komplicerad som du vill ha den. Aimee använde en enkel träram för en av sina skapelser och en mer komplex glaskupol för den andra.

Pappersfjärilar i en glaskupa.

Endast fantasin sätter gränser för din design, och dina pappershantverk behöver inte heller kosta skjortan. ”Du hittar ofta gamla glaskupor och lådor på loppis”, säger Aimee.

How would you like your final paper artwork to be displayed? Once you've decided on this and have an image in mind, it's time to get started.

"First, decide how you'd like your finished work to be displayed and then create for that space. I chose a glass dome with a wooden base as I wanted a natural feel and worked backward," explains Aimee.

As well as a glass dome displaying her paper creations, Aimee made additional butterflies to display in a wooden exhibit case, which made for a beautiful piece of wall art.

Aside from a bell jar and a box frame, you could try using a jam jar or vase, or simply make a freestanding piece on an old kitchen towel holder.

2. Select your templates

En kvinna som håller i ett pappersark med sex fjärilsmönster bredvid ett skrivbord med en Canon-skrivare.

”Du kan söka efter mallar på internet eller helt enkelt använda en befintlig form som du gillar”, förklarar Aimee, ”men att vara konsekvent är avgörande”.

Aimee chose a simple butterfly outline after looking online so she could colour these however she liked. She arranged them for printing on an A4 sheet using the Canon PRINT app and printed six to a page, you'll need at least three pages of six to create enough butterflies to fill a bell jar similar to the one Aimee created.

Aimee also used the butterfly 3D wall stickers available on Creative Park that are available to download for free if you're a Canon printer owner.

Creative Park is a great free resource available to all Canon printer owners. "This is the first place to look for inspiration, silhouettes, and in this case outlines," explains Aimee.

Among the butterfly-themed pieces available to download on Creative Park are 3D wall stickers, which inspired some of Aimee's colour choices, but could just as easily be used as they are, in place of hand-painted designs. There are also more intricate butterfly templates, like this swallowtail butterfly.

3. Choose your paper

En samling pappersfjärilar på ett skrivbord där det även finns en Canon-skrivare och Canon-utskriftspapper.

Om du inte vill måla dina fjärilar kan du skriva ut de färdigmålade 3D-väggklistermärkenaCanons magnetiska fotopapper eller Glossy Photo Paper och sätta ihop dem.

Once you've chosen your templates it's time to choose your paper.

"Think about what you're making before you print as the paper choice could make a difference," says Aimee. "For example, you wouldn't want to print on a gloss finish if you're adding colour to it."

Aimee used Matte Photo Paper for her butterfly creations. "It was a good thickness for my project," she explains. "I applied paint and overlaid colour, so it needed to be strong enough to work on and hold its strength once cut."

A thicker paper type is ideal for this kind of craft, especially if you want to add colour by layering paint and pens on top, the paper needs to be strong enough to support the colour without losing the integrity of the shape.

4. Get printing

En kvinna med stora runda örhängen skriver ut en bild av en blå fjäril på en Canon-skrivare.

Aimee skrev ut sina mallar från sin smartphone med Canon PRINT-appen, vilket gör utskriften snabb och enkel.

Once you've picked your template it's time to print – Aimee used the Canon PIXMA TS5350 series printer. Another popular printer used by designers is the Canon PIXMA TS9550 Series.

"By printing templates, creativity becomes accessible to all," she explains. "You don't need drawing skills so there's no need to be overwhelmed from the start. Just stick to a simple process and have fun creating!"

5. Choosing your designs

En Canon-skrivare, en lådram med tre pappersfjärilar och pappersark med fjärilsmönster på en arbetsyta.

”Kreativitet är subjektivt och det finns inga regler - ha bara kul med den”, uppmuntrar Aimee.

Remember to consider the size of your designs, do you want all your butterflies to be the same or do you want a variety? Aimee printed a variety of sizes, showing these off in her box frame piece and bell jar creation. You can print as many as you want to include in your design, and it's always good to have some spare templates in case anything goes wrong at the colouring or cutting out stages.

Once the templates are printed it's time to add your design. Aimee chose to follow the patterns of her favourite butterflies – the Blue Morpho and the Monarch – because she knew the patterns on their bodies would make them pop against her background.

If you'd rather skip colouring in or painting, you can print, assemble and build the 3D wall stickers into your butterfly-themed art.

6. Time to colour

En kvinna målar en fjärilsmall i en ljusorange färg. På skrivbordet bredvid henne finns en Canon-skrivare.

”Den svåraste delen är även det enklaste och roligaste - färgläggningen”, säger Aimee. ”Om du ger någon en tom bakgrund blir personen ofta överväldigad och vet inte var den ska börja. Tänk inte för mycket.”

En kvinna med ljusblå naglar använder en svart märkpenna för att lägga till detaljer på vingarna på en orangemålad pappersfjäril.

Aimees favoritdel är färgläggningen. ”Det är då du ger den liv. När jag filmar för Instagram kommer jag på mig själv att titta på timelapse-filmerna för att se hur färgerna växer fram – det är så tillfredsställande.”

"With the templates ready, I got to fully connect with my inner child – I love colouring in," enthuses Aimee. "This is the part in which you get to add your personality. Colour is fun and energetic, so you can be as expressive as you like."

Aimee used a mix of pens, pencils and paints to decorate her creations – but you can stick to just one type of media, or use whatever is available to you. "I made multiple butterflies, so I painted all the outlines to start with and began layering up the colours in batches," explains Aimee.

Grab a black pen and go around the outline once you've added your colour to create a bold finish, you could even do this in gold or silver pen for a sparkling finish. "It's really satisfying adding in the black details and seeing it all come together! I spent time layering in colour details and then allowed these to dry," Aimee says.

7. Cutting the templates

En kvinna klipper ut en bild av en blå fjäril med en vridbar hantverkskniv. På skrivbordet bredvid henne finns flera redan utskurna fjärilar.

Fjärilsmallar kan visa sig vara lite svåra att skära ut, så ta dig tid och oroa dig inte om det inte blir perfekt.

Blå pappersfjärilar arrangerade på ett skrivbord av trä.

När du har klippt ut dina pappersfjärilar börjar din skapelse komma till liv.

Once you have your vibrant page of butterflies, it's time to cut them out. Pick up your scissors or alternatively try a craft knife and cutting board, and carefully go around the outline of your template, making sure not to cut off any parts you have just coloured in.

"I started by cutting loosely around the shapes and then, using my swivel craft knife, I carefully cut out the butterflies in detail," says Aimee. "You could use any craft knife or scissors as long as you're careful."

8. Assembling your butterflies

En kvinna använder en tråd för att fästa en pappersfjäril på insidan av en trälådsram.

Aimee använde tråden för att placera fjärilarna mer exakt. ”Jag har tråd för att tillverka smycken men man kan använda tråd från gamla eller trasiga smycken, gem eller så kan man köpa billig tråd i de flesta hobbybutiker”, säger hon.

En orange och svart pappersfjäril på en träkloss bredvid en glaskupa.

”Jag använde tråden från fjärilarnas ben för att linda runt lövverket i glaskupan för att få det att se mer realistisk ut”, säger Aimee, ”och utan att de förlorar några av sina fina detaljer”.

Depending on how animated you'd like to make your butterflies, you could either use a wire to shape them into different positions or simply glue them onto a centre support.

"As the glass dome is a 3D piece, I needed the butterflies to also be 3D. I decided to keep it simple and laminate two of the butterfly cut-outs back to back so they have colour on both sides," says Aimee. "This also added strength to their shapes. I wanted them to stand in a realistic way, so I also added in legs with wire. Using a pin I poked holes in the edges of the thorax to thread the wire through in three strips shaped like a U. I added in one more to point up for the antenna before sandwiching the two butterflies together, and left these to dry.

"Once dry, I scored around the thorax and bent the body and the wires into shape," she continues. "You may also need to tidy up the edges – I used a black pen to go around the outline of the butterflies as a finishing touch."

9. Adding decoration

En kvinna justerar formationen av en pappersfjäril på en träkloss.

”Om du vill skapa något liknande [som glaskupan och lådramen] kan du använda mallar för blommor och löv från Creative Park och färglägga dem precis som vi gjorde med fjärilarna”, föreslår Aimee.

Time to make your butterfly habitat, cut out some paper leaves or flowers and place these around your butterflies.

"I added crepe paper flowers and foliage, as I wanted to create a centrepiece for the butterflies to live on, using these materials," explains Aimee.

"I found a thick piece of branch to stand in the middle which I used to wrap foliage around. I made a selection of leafy greens and cosmos – one of my favourite wild flowers – and assembled them using the stick as the anchor. This way you can create a whole ecosystem for your butterflies to be placed into."

You could follow Aimee's direction or create your own decoration with layers of card, printed templates of leaves decorated in the same way as the butterflies or shapes cut out of material. As long as you have a central anchor you can layer up your foliage in any way you like, and place the butterflies on top to be the focal point.

For Aimee's wooden display box she kept the decoration simple, by writing the name and species name next to each butterfly, to really give the feel of an exhibition display box.

10. Finishing touches

En kvinna ställer en glaskupol över en fjärilsformation som är placerad bredvid en Canon-skrivare och en förpackning med Canon-utskriftspapper.

”Det var riktigt roligt att sätta ihop löv, blommor och fjärilar, och se hur allt växte fram”, säger Aimee, ”det är så fantastiskt att se något man skapat från ingenting.”

En kvinna placerar en trälåda med pappersfjärilar på en tegelvägg.

När det är klart kan du visa upp sin skapelse hemma – eller så kan det bli en unik present till släkt och vänner.

"Once the ecosystem is in place with enough space for the dome to sit over the top," says Aimee, "all you needed to do was add the butterflies in. Once I was happy with their positions I cleaned the dome glass, removing all fingerprint marks and sealed everything inside."

Aimee's papercraft butterfly dome is currently displayed in her dining room, but you could place yours in any room for a touch of colour.

Now you have all the knowledge to get crafting, why not experiment with different templates and designs and make something truly unique for your home?

Written by Tamzin Wilks

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