The birth of a butterfly in Photoshop

Have you ever thought about metamorphosis when a small, nondescript caterpillar turns into a beautiful moth?

In this lesson, step by step, I will show you how to create a magical transformation from an ordinary dandelion flower.

I want to thank Victoria Bernal and Joel, who are members of Flickr, for providing the source materials for this lesson!


We will also use the following Photoshop tools:

  • Brightener / Dimmer (Dodge / Burn)
  • Transform
  • Plasticity \ Deformation (Liquify / Warp)
  • Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation)
  • Smudge
  • Layer Blending Mode
  • Eraser

Step 1

Create a new document size 850 x 1250 pixels
Fill the background layer with any color (black or white is fine). Name the background layer “Background”.

Now fill the background layer with a gradient using these colors:
# 576b24 (foreground) – from the top;
# 433b24 (background (background)) – in the bottom.

Use the image below as a hint:

Step 2

Activate the tool Brush (Brush Tool). From the standard set, select the brush FUZZBALL. Using this brush (the settings for it are listed below), make arbitrary strokes.

Do not create a new layer for drawing. Add brush strokes (dots) over the “Background” background layer.

Brush Settings:

  • Size: 360 pixels;
  • Opacity: 100%;
  • Stiffness: 100%;
  • Colors used in drawing: black – # 000000; ocher – # 8c6f35.

Step 3

Continue drawing dots using Brush (Brush Tool) FUZZBALL. Brush tinctures remain the same as in step 2, but this time we will use other colors:

  • Bright green – # a2aa31;
  • Light orange – # 70461d;
  • Dark Brown – # 512bob.

We still draw on one layer:

Step 4

Now we will add a texture to the resulting background. To do this, go to Filter – Texture – Texturizer (Filter – Texture – Texturizer).

Filter Settings:

  • Texture (texture): canvas
  • Scaling: 100%
  • Relief: 4
  • Light (light): above

Step 5

Make the background a bit darker. For this we use Image – Correction – Curves (mage – Adjustments – Curves).


  • Output (Output): 50
  • Input: 70

Step 6

Activate the tool Finger (Smudge Tool (R)). Open the brush set and select the standard Spatter Brush from the list. Set the settings below.

Brush Settings for the Smudge Tool:

  • Splatter brush size: 150 pixels;
  • Intensity: 70%.

In circular motions, go around the whole layer “Background”. The idea is to mix the background color.
In the image below, you can see how I worked with the tool. Finger (Smudge Tool).

Step 7

I decided to darken the lower left corner of the background. To do this, activate the tool Brush (Brush Tool), from the set of brushes again select the standard brush FUZZBALL. Set the color to black and add some more points in the place where we want to make the background darker.

Step 8

When you’re done mixing background colors and be happy with the result, activate the tool. Dimmer (Burn Tool (O)). Walk along the left side of the background. On the image you can see the areas that I made darker:

Step 9

We have completed the first step of creating the background. In the next steps we will work out the details and make the background more interesting.

Step 10

Use the link to the source materials of the lesson and download the image “Dandelion”.

Or you can simply right-click on the image below and select the “Save image as” tab in the submenu. Save the image to a folder that you can easily find on your computer.

Step 11

Transfer the image of the flower to your work and place it in a new layer. Name this layer “Dandelion”.

Step 12

Now we need to remove the black background in the image “Dandelion”. For this, I use the tool Magic wand (Wand Tool (W)). Activate this tool and click on the black area. Delete the highlighted background. Erase the flower stalk using the tool Eraser (Eraser Tool (E)).

Step 13

Activate the tool Oval area (Elliptical Marquee Tool (M)) and select the top of the dandelion. Without removing the selection, press Delete.

Step 14

You will get something similar after deleting the selected part.

Step 15

Make a copy of the “Dandelion” layer, do not change the name of the copy layer, just go to Editing – Transform – Flip Vertically (Edit – Transform – Flip Vertical) to rotate the new layer.

Step 16

Move the upside-down copy closer to the original (with overlapping images). Combine a copy and the original image of “Dandelion”. Rename the resulting layer to “Cocoon” (Cocoon).

This is how our preparation for the house, in which butterflies sleep before their birth, looks like.

Step 17

Use the tool Eraser (Eraser Tool (E)) and adjust the edges of the cocoon. Do not make the shape elongated, we will achieve this further using the tools Plastic and Deformation.

Step 18

Use the tool Transform (Transform (Ctrl + T)) and try to make the shape of the cocoon similar to the one in the image below. Stretch the cocoon downwards.

Step 19

Now you need to give shape to our cocoon.
To do this, go to Filter – Plastic – Deformation (Filter – Liquify -Warp (Shift + Ctrl + X)). I use a deforming brush size of 300 pixels ..

Step 20

In order to give the cocoon volume, it is necessary to darken its lower part. This tool will help you Dimmer (Burn Tool (O)). When working with shading, use a 100 pixel soft round brush.

It is also necessary to finish the villi. To do this, activate the tool Finger (Smudge Tool (R)), set the brush size within 5 to 9 pixels, and the intensity (strength) to 70%. After you have set up the instrument, move the brush outward from the edges of the cocoon. Follow the example in the picture.

Step 21

It’s time to add a butterfly. Follow the link given in the source code of the lesson and download the image “Butterfly”, courtesy of Victoria Bernal.

Or right-click on the image below and perform the following actions: Save Image As – Specify the path to your save folder.

Step 22

Open the moth image in the new document. Activate the tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool (L)) and create a selection around the butterfly. Copy the selection (Ctrl + C) and paste (Ctrl + V) him in his main job. Name the new layer “Butterfly”.

Step 23

Clean up extra areas of the background near the moth. After that, use the tools. Transformations (Transform (Ctrl + T)) and give a new shape to the butterfly’s body (follow the example in the picture).

Activate the tool Clarifier (Dodge Tool (O)) and process the insect wings. The idea is to make the brown shades more orange (red). Do not get carried away with lightening too much, otherwise your picture will look bad.

Step 24

After clarification, the color of the butterfly has changed a little. But I want to experiment with the coloring of the moth.

Let’s go to Image – Correction – Hue / Saturation (Image – Adjustments – Hue / Saturation). Enter the following settings:

Hue: + 20;
Saturation: + 25;
Brightness (Lightness): 0.

Now I am pleased with the color of the butterfly.

Step 25

Place the “Butterfly” layer over the “Cocoon” layer.
Use Eraser (Eraser Tool (E)), with a soft round brush, the size of 100 pix. and opacity (opacity) 40%, to remove a section of butterfly wings.
Your task is to, after erasing the wing area, to look as if a butterfly is in a cocoon.

Step 26

Activate Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool (L)) and make a selection of a small piece of cocoon. Copy it (Ctrl + C) and paste (Ctrl + V) on a new layer. Name this layer Cocoon Slice (Cocoon Slice).

Use Filter – Plastic – Deformation (Filter – Liquify – Warp) in order to deform the duplicated area and make it more natural and smooth (as in position # 2).

Step 27

Make sure that the Cocoon Slice layer is above the Butterfly layer. Using the tool Move (Move Tool) place a piece of cocoon so that it looks harmonious.

Step 28

Open and copy the image “Leaves” (see step number 21).
I want to thank Jenik for having the opportunity to use this image in my lesson.

Step 29

Activate the tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool (L)) and create a selection around a branch with leaves. Next, copy (Ctrl + C) the highlighted area and paste (Ctrl + Va) working paper. Name the new layer “Leaves”.

Step 30

To make the edges of the leaves smoother and to remove the remaining areas of the background, I use the tool Eraser (Eraser Tool (E)). In the settings of the Eraser set a soft round brush.

As a second option, you can use the mask for the “Leaves” layer and process the foliage along the contour with a black round brush. Next, apply a mask to the layer.

Also, I want to turn autumn dry leaves into young green ones. To do this, go to Image – Correction – Hue \ Saturation (Image – Adjustments – Hue / Saturation).

Settings for Color tone \ Saturation(Hue / Saturation):
Hue: + 60;
Saturation: + 45;
Brightness (Lightness): -30

Step 31

For further placement of the cocoon, you need a little touch up the shape of the branch.
Select the lower sprig. Copy (Ctrl + C) and paste (Ctrl + Va) selected part on a new layer. Do not give a name to this layer, but simply move the copy as shown in the image below. Use Transform (Transform Tool (Ctrl + T)) and rotate the branch slightly.

Step 32

I thank Joel Abroad for the image “Branches” which we will now add to our collage.

You can find this resource by clicking on the link attached to the lesson (see the source).

For this lesson, the original “Branches” image has been converted from vertical to horizontal. To speed up the work, you can immediately save the modified image that you see below. To save, follow the previous steps.

Step 33

Add the previous image to your work and name this layer “Foliage”.
As you noticed, the orchid branch is much lighter than our main background. In order to fit the new image in the work, we need to make it darker and blur. It is very easy!

First place the “Foliage” layer over the “Background” background layer. Blend Mode (Blending Mode) of the “Twigs” layer change to Soft light (Soft Light). Next, activate the tool Dimmer (Burn Tool (O)) and process branches. Pay special attention to the bottom of the image – the lower branches should be darker than the upper ones. When done dimming, go to Filter – Blur (Blur Tool (R)) and blur the “Twigs”.

Step 34

Go back to the “Leaves” layer and drag it by placing it over the “Branches” layer.
Now you see that the image looks holistic, and the leaves in the foreground – more contrast. I hope you are pleased with your result.

Now we can add some light. To do this, use the tool. Clarifier (Dodge Tool (O)). In the tool settings, set a soft round brush; exposure (exposure) – 30%.

In the example below? I marked the plots that dodge here.

Step 35

Let’s return to the layers “Butterfly”, “Cocoon” and “Particle of Cocoon”. For the convenience of moving these layers, you can create a separate group for them. I am not suggesting that you merge these layers into one, as this will take away from us the possibility of adjusting them individually if the need arises.

Place the group with a moth and a cocoon above the “Twigs” layer. You can modify the details, for example, I have drawn more villi on the cocoon. Do not forget to “fix” a cocoon on a branch. To do this, activate the tool Finger (Smudge Tool) and bring the top of the cocoon to the branch.

Step 36

We have done the final step of this lesson. I hope he helped you learn something new.

And I also appreciate your diligence and patience, which you have shown in the performance of this work. It is very important that a person knows how to learn! I hope you will share your knowledge with others too!

Enjoy your acquaintance with Photoshop!

Like this post? Please share to your friends: