How to Draw a Long-tailed Skipper Using Color Pencils

The long-tailed skipper is a small type of butterfly that has an intriguing appearance. Its body is covered with colorful fur and its head is quite big compared to most butterflies. Due to its body size and small wings, its flying pattern is linear (unlike others that seem to float around and move in arcs or curved patterns) and it can quickly cut through the air in short distances, skipping (as the name says) from one plant another.

Now, let's draw one.

  • Establish the size of the long-tailed skipper by using simple shapes.

A long-tailed skipper has an angular shape because of its wings. In this case, a triangle a half circle can be used as a basis to easily establish its length and height (and mass).

Use a triangle to establish the span of the forewings. To make both sides even, use a cross mark as a reference line (horizontal line as the lower edge of the forewing). Mark the center of the horizontal line to locate the position of the base (thorax and abdomen), and then make the diagonal lines of the triangle meet on that center line to evenly divide the triangle into half.

The tip of the triangle would be the position of the butterfly's head, and the abdomen should stick out from the triangle's area. Base on the tip of the abdomen to define the half-circle that would establish the span of the hindwings.

  • Define the forewings' inner margins and the wingtails.

Simply make two vertical (with the upper tip slight leaning/curving to meet the thorax) lines to establish the inner margins of the forewings. The length of the wingtails could be longer or equal to the length of the abdomen (never shorter).


  • Once you have defined the basic shape, Modify the outlines  and erase the unnecessary markings. 

  • Sketch the outlines of the butterfly's primary details.

Establish the cells and interspaces of the butterfly's wings. Draw the parts of the head, such as the antennae and proboscis. Only a portion of the abdomen is exposed since it is almost covered with the thick wingtails.

  • Apply the texture and the markings of the wings.

Roughly describe the furs of the body. Replace the outlines of the thorax and the wing tails with short signatory lines.

Due to the texture and the iridescent nature of the long-tailed skipper, the different colors and tone values must be applied carefully and layer by layer (per different tone value).

  • Make short hatches (short signatory lines) with blue.

Start applying the color of the butterfly. Start with the blue strands of fur. Color the wingtails with thin and short blue lines; leave a space in the middle for the brighter value of blue. Establish the portions of the forewings (near the base) that are partially covered in fur as well.

  • Apply the brighter blue.

Fill the other areas of the body with strands of brighter blue. Slightly overlay some of the blue lines you placed earlier, especially the outlines of the thorax. Keep on making and overlaying the areas with the brighter value of blue until you almost cover the entire area (especially the wingtails), but leave some subtle space at the mid-portion of the head and the thorax (for the green strands).

  • Use violet for a darker value of blue.

Apply some strands of violet, especially on the far edges. Only apply a small amount of violet strands and do it with light hand strokes.

  • Color the hindwings.

Most of the long-tailed skippers have forewings that are also covered with their blue coating. So, establish this texture with the same process and color layering that you did for the body. Overlap the linings of the interspaces by hatching on a different direction per interspace. Also leave some linings of violet (to margin the interspaces).

  • Apply the green tone. Place some few green lines on the furred areas of the forewings.

  • Apply the subtle tones of green (the head's crown and mid-area of thorax). Make some strands of brighter green first and then overlap it with few strands of a darker green.

  • Apply the faint colors of the forewing.

The forewing has a subtle color of faint brown or copper. A bright flesh-tone can make up for these faint colors. Apply the color on the costal area and few interspaces, with fairly light hatches.

Use brown for a darker value of flesh. Also make some faint line strokes of brown on the other interspaces of the forewing.

  • Fill the forewing with its dark tone.

You can either use a black colored pencil or a charcoal pencil for applying the blackness of the forewings (I suggest you use a charcoal pencil, so you can further describe the texture of the wings).

Overlap the faint brown tones on the interspaces with thin but heavy line strokes. And then fill the remaining areas. Take note of the marks on the forewings and avoid shading them.

  • Color the markings of the forewings.

The marks on the wings are brownish yellow to copper. Apply a thin layer of brown and then burnish it with yellow.

  • Shade the areas that should appear darker.

Apply another layer of shading on the portions that should appear deeper. Darken the upper corners of the interspaces and thicken the linings. Darken the black margins of the lower edges of the hindwings and the sides of the wingtails.

  • Finalize the drawing. Redefine the main outlines and then create a shadow by applying a faint gray margin.

More drawing tutorials about butterflies are available in the books "Drawing Butterflies - How to Draw Butterflies For the Beginner"  ( and "Drawing Butterflies Volume 2 - How to Draw Butterflies For the Beginner" (

How to Draw books for Absolute beginners about various subjects are available in

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