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115+ Butterfly Tattoo Designs to Sweep You Off Your Feet

by Sherri Owens

From a simple butterfly tattoo design to watercolor and creative butterfly designs, the options are endless.

As an artist, I have designed every version of the butterfly that you can possibly imagine. So, if you are looking for tattoo inspiration, I know exactly what categories and concepts you can choose from.

The Best Butterfly Tattoo Designs

Here are the butterfly tattoos you can draw inspiration from:

Simple Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

Most people imagine that butterfly tattoos have to be intricate and complex. Sure, these tattoo are lovely but a minimal tattoo can be just as beautiful.

A simple butterfly design also works well for anyone looking for a small butterfly tattoo.

So, what does a minimalistic butterfly tattoo consist of? Well, as you can imagine, it all depends on the end result you want. For the most part, however, this kind of butterfly tattoo is made up of an outline with very little added features.

If you want a more unusual look to your butterfly tattoo, you can consider an abstract design.

Here are the top simple butterfly tattoos:

Matching Butterflies Wrist Tattoos

Image by @danielscano10 via Instagram

Line Work Butterflies Arm Tattoo

Image by @won_tattooer via Instagram

Two Butterflies Ribs Tattoo

Image by @attelier.sissandy via Instagram

Minimalistic Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @unbroken.crue via Instagram

Traditional Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

When referring to butterfly tattoos, traditional can mean one of two things.

To begin with, it could refer to the most common way of inking a butterfly tattoo. After all, this is a pretty popular tattoo choice, and people have been getting this design for years.

A traditional butterfly tattoo is done with clean black inked lines, vibrant colors, and subtle shading.

To help you find out exactly what kind of traditional butterfly tattoos you want, I will be including both options.

To start off with, here are some butterfly tattoos with old school designs:

Heart and Butterfly Biceps Tattoo

Image by @stylztattoos via Instagram

Two Butterflies Ribs Tattoo

Image by @ink_reativetattoo via Instagram

Grey Butterfly Elbow Tattoo

Image by @prissycoink via Instagram

Black Butterfly Wrist Tattoo

Image by @kyahmanuel_artist via Instagram

Bible Verse and Butterfly Biceps Tattoo

Image by @art.cult__ via Instagram

Butterfly Below Breasts Tattoo

Image by @rod.tatt via Instagram

Black Butterfly Chest Tattoo

Image by @whoissssu via Instagram

Rose and Butterflies Leg Tattoo

Image by @ouija_tattoo via Instagram

Here are the butterfly tattoos done up in the traditional style:

Colorful Butterfly Chest Tattoo

Image by @magdalena.mardini via Instagram

Skull and Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @badlittleyou via Instagram

Colored Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @valebubu_libh via Instagram

Eye and Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @alex290_tattoo via Instagram

Big Colorful Butterfly Thigh Tattoo

Image by @beckypopetattooandsabbathchurch via Instagram

Colored Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @theloverstattooing via Instagram

Butterfly with Black and Red Wings Arm Tattoo

Image by @efromoutwest via Instagram

Colored Butterfly with Skull Foot Tattoo

Image by @msbillie333 via Instagram

Colored Butterfly Belly Tattoo

Image by @_vegan_avatar via Instagram

Flower and Butterfly Forearm Tattoo

Image by @goodfellastattoogallery via Instagram

This kind of butterfly tattoo is usually done in distinctive colors. If you prefer a black and white version for your traditional butterfly, here are some options:

Grey Shaded Butterfly Thigh Tattoo

Image by @romu.grn via Instagram

Black and Purple Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @jun_hyuck_traditional via Instagram

Grey Shaded Butterfly Thigh Tattoo

Image by @romu.grn via Instagram

Black Butterfly Belly Tattoo

Image by @alxgracia via Instagram

Dark Grey Butterfly Leg Tattoo

Image by @dark.moon.ink via Instagram

Flowers and Butterfly Leg Tattoo

Image by @aimee_rose_tatts via Instagram

Black Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @niamhtattoo via Instagram

Black Butterfly Knee Tattoo

Image by @gurogomi via Instagram

Big Butterfly Thigh Tattoo

Image by @alxgracia via Instagram

Flowers an Black Butterfly Biceps Tattoo

Image by @dquinn.tattoo via Instagram

If this is a butterfly tattoo design you want to get, it's a good idea to sit with a tattoo artist that has experience with this style. This way, they can stay true to form.

Monarch Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

The reality is that a lot of the butterfly tattoos use the monarch butterfly tattoo design.

However, if you really like the specifics of the monarch butterfly tattoo or want to get this ink because of its symbolism, here are the top options available:

Colorful Monarch Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @uhhhhtaco via Instagram

Colored Monarch Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @ramonsterone via Instagram

Realistic Monarch Butterfly Forearm Tattoo

Image by @floridaforrealart via Instagram

Colored Butterflies Arm Tattoo

Image by @woodymakestattoos via Instagram

You may notice that most tattoos feature rather muted colors. In other words, you get a more realistic butterfly effect - if you have seen monarch butterflies in real life, they are beautiful but the colors don't necessarily stand out.

If you want a different take on the monarch tattoo, there are some other tattoo options to consider.

Here, the colors are a bit darker and brighter. So, although you get a realistic butterfly tattoo, it is more vibrant.

Monarch Butterfly Wrist Tattoo

Image by @angel22_tattoo via Instagram

If you want your monarch butterfly to look a bit different, you can draw inspiration from this design. Here, dark brown has been used instead of the black. This creates a softer, earthier look.

Small Monarch Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @geefoskett_tattooist via Instagram

You don't always have to follow the most common design for your monarch butterfly tattoo. If you want a more unique butterfly tattoo, ask your tattoo artist about the options. Here is one such unusual example to take inspiration from.

As you can see, the design may be abstract. However, key details like the white ink spots at the edge of the butterfly's wings and the colors show it to be a monarch.

Colored Monarch Butterfly Forearm Tattoo

Image by @mrscurry814 via Instagram

Realistic Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

You have two options when getting a realistic butterfly tattoo.

The first is to get one that looks like it has been copied from a photograph or drawing. If this is the kind of butterfly tattoo you want, you need to find the right source material.

Take a clear picture from a book, magazine, or image that you downloaded from the internet. This will give your tattoo artist all the features, details, colors, and light shading that they need to get right.

Here are the butterfly tattoos you should check out for this kind of butterfly design:

Realistic Buckeye Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @kittyfoster_tattoo via Instagram

Black and Green Butterfly Leg Tattoo

Image by @dziarki_od_ciporki via Instagram

Gold Banded Forester Butterfly Leg Tattoo

Image by @kittyfoster_tattoo via Instagram

Flowers and Peacock Butterfly Leg Tattoo

Image by @kittyfoster_tattoo via Instagram

Floral Background and Yellow Butterfly Leg Tattoo

Image by @7daygallerytattoo via Instagram

Another option is to make it look as though the butterfly is in mid-flight. This effect is achieved by shading under the wings. This makes it look as though the butterfly is floating above your skin.

Here are some beautiful butterfly tattoo designs you should check out:

3D Butterfly Foot Tattoo

Image by @scottashmoretattoo via Instagram

3D Butterfly Ribs Tattoo

Image by @rosebudbeauty.melliamandrosebudbeautyandink via Instagram

Realistic Butterfly Hip Tattoo

Image by @spenceink via Instagram

Colored Butterfly Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @galsunshine via Instagram

3D Butterfly Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @laureekingtattoos via Instagram

If you're looking for realistic butterfly tattoos, make sure you have a great tattoo artist. These designs are not easy to pull off. If you want authentic representation, you will need a tattoo artist who knows what they are doing.

Colorful Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

A surprising amount of butterfly tattoos are done in black ink. While these are quite lovely, there is nothing quite like a colorful butterfly tattoo.

Just because you're getting a colorful butterfly tattoo doesn't mean you should lean towards bright colors. In fact, most butterflies tend to have rather muted colors.

However, if you want to do something bold and bright, you can and should.

The blue butterfly tattoo is especially popular. This is likely because blue is an uplifting and positive color. So, a blue butterfly can be a positive symbol for you.

A blue butterfly tattoo can also really stand out on the skin, especially if the rest of the body art is done up in black ink.

Here are some blue butterfly tattoo ideas to consider for your next tattoo:

Blue Butterfly Ribs Tattoo

Image by @sookee.tt via Instagram

Blue Butterfly Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @garzatattoo.art via Instagram

Cute Blue Butterfly Leg Tattoo

Image by @gley.tattoo via Instagram

3D Blue Butterfly Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @_flare.tattoo_ via Instagram

3D Blue and Black Butterflies Leg Tattoo

Image by @studio_mart_ink via Instagram

If you are looking for something soft and gentle for your next ink, here are the colors you should be considering for your butterfly tattoo. Soft pinks and purples are a good way to go.

Blue and Pink Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @krishna.tattoos via Instagram

Small Butterflies Biceps Tattoo

Image by @am12_tattoo via Instagram

Matching Butterfly Arm Tattoos

Image by @suckafish_tattoos via Instagram

Colored Flying Butterflies Arm Tattoo

Image by @chloesketches93 via Instagram

Red is certainly an unusual choice for a butterfly tattoo, but it can work surprisingly well. This shade adds depth to the tattoos, making them look more haunting and ethereal. Here are some tattoo ideas you can borrow from:

Red Butterflies Arm Tattoo

Image by @stylztattoos via Instagram

Big Red Butterfly Ribs Tattoo

Image by @joice.jca_ via Instagram

Of course, there is no need to choose just one or two shades for your butterfly tattoo. If you love all colors of the rainbow, here are some ways to incorporate the various hues into your tattoo:

Colorful Small Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @gallerytattoo1999 via Instagram

If you want to keep the look subtle, only use pastel shades for your butterfly tattoo. Otherwise, feel free to go with something bolder.

Want to have your tattoo stand out? Then you should look into getting a watercolor butterfly tattoo. Not only are they incredibly beautiful but the slightly abstract way of coloring the butterflies in helps to elevate your tattoo considerably.

This is the most common way to create a watercolor butterfly tattoo:

Colorful Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @vineartzone via Instagram

Little Butterfly Wrist Tattoo

Image by @constan_tina via Instagram

Colorful Butterflies Ankles Tattoos

Image by @giuliariva_art via Instagram

Memorial Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @jessicajtattooist via Instagram

Matching Butterflies Leg Tattoos

Image by @tattoobahar via Instagram

Watercolor Butterflies Thigh Tattoo

Image by @machinegunkellyann_ via Instagram

Watercolor Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @top_notch_tattoos via Instagram

If you prefer, however, you can get the butterfly tattoo done similar to a real watercolor painting. Here are some of the tattoos to consider:

Big Colorful Butterfly Biceps Tattoo

Image by @lizalvarezart via Instagram

Blue and Violet Butterfly Wrist Tattoo

Image by @findyoursmile via Instagram

Black and Orange Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @71tattooabq via Instagram

Three Butterflies Tattoo Ideas

A three butterflies tattoo can be a sign of happiness and positivity. If this is the kind of meaning that you would like your butterfly tattoo to have, then there are a lot of designs that you can choose from.

If the placement of the butterfly tattoo is in a more delicate area like near your collarbone, upper thigh, or even forearm, then smaller butterflies make more sense.

Here are some of the designs you can show your tattoo artist. As you can see, each butterfly in the tattoo is more or less identical to each other. This works well for this kind of tattoo design.

Three Butterflies Wrist Tattoo

Image by @_zhalav_ via Instagram

Three Butterflies Ribs Tattoo

Image by @ab3tat2 via Instagram

Three Butterflies Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @asinnerkid.tattoo via Instagram

Would you like to change things up? If so, then you can have the butterflies in your tattoo to be of different sizes. Or, they could be in different stages of flight. This is what these kind of tattoos would look like:

Three Butterflies Hip Tattoo

Image by @chronicink via Instagram

Three Butterflies Belly Tattoo

Image by @tlajo_york_tattoo via Instagram

Branches and Three Butterflies Arm Tattoo

Image by @manila_tattoo via Instagram

If you are looking for a tattoo idea that is completely different, then this is the butterfly design that you should consider. As you can see, the three butterflies are superimposed over each other, creating a beautiful and ethereal look.

Blurry Butterfly Ribs Tattoo

Image by @yatzil_tatts via Instagram

Blur Butterfly Forearm Tattoo

Image by @jonnyblackink via Instagram

Semi Colon Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

Butterflies are associated with mental health and can often be a symbol for overcoming mental illness.

This is why you will find butterfly tattoo designs with a semi colon where the butterfly's body should be. The semi colon is also a symbol that is associated with mental health.

It is meant to inspire strength - a sign that you should continue the sentence rather than ending it with a full stop. It can also encourage new beginnings.

If you would like small butterfly tattoos with this design concept, then here are some ideas for you. These can be easily hidden on or behind any body part that you like, such as the ear.

This is a great idea for anyone who wants to keep this kind of butterfly tattoo a bit more private.

Here are some of the more basic butterfly tattoo designs you can choose:

Black Semicolon Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @sono.tattoo via Instagram

Stars and Semicolon Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @indigo.child.k via Instagram

Minimalistic Semicolon Butterfly Finger Tattoo

Image by @bony_tattzz via Instagram

Want something a bit more complex? Then here are butterfly tattoo ideas that you should borrow from:

Pink Semicolon Butterfly Forearm Tattoo

Image by @mallorystattoos via Instagram

Semicolon Snake and Butterfly Wrist Tattoo

Image by @matcha.inks via Instagram

Colorful Semicolon Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @carolla_deville via Instagram

Breathe Semicolon Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @danicas_tattoos_ via Instagram

Ornamental Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

There is no set definition for an ornamental butterfly tattoo. Rather, it is a butterfly

tattoo with lots of decorative elements.

In some instances, the butterfly may be made to look like jewelry, a part of a pattern, or some other eye catching design.

Butterfly with Ornament Arm Tattoo

Image by @e.hyang.tattoo via Instagram

Butterfly with Ornaments Leg Tattoo

Image by @candi.katttandbubbatintaypiel via Instagram

If this is a butterfly tattoo design that you are considering for yourself, then make sure to show your tattoo artist the exact kind of design that you would like. There are often different terms used for such a tattoo so your tattoo artist will require a visual aid.

You can also go with a tattoo of a decorative butterfly like this. It is beautiful, unusual, and is certainly eye catching!

Butterfly with Jewelry Arm Tattoo

Image by @siia.ink via Instagram

Half Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

This is becoming an increasingly popular butterfly tattoo concept. This is where one of the butterfly wings are depicted as normal. The other wing consists of another design.

While flowers are the most common option here, there are so many different ideas to choose from for the half butterfly design.

What's great about this design is that it works equally well for small and large butterfly tattoos.

As this butterfly tattoo can often be quite intricate, you do need a tattoo artist who is familiar with the concept to undertake the design.

Now, there are so many different ways to make this tattoo with a half butterfly wing work. Here are some of the more traditional ideas for such tattoos:

Half Flower Half Butterfly Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @tat.kiu via Instagram

Colorful Floral Butterfly Elbow Tattoo

Image by @_frog_queen via Instagram

Flowers and Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @paolafds.tattoo via Instagram

Red Flowers and Black Butterfly Back Tattoo

Image by @chechuchade via Instagram

Grey Flowers and Butterfly Forearm Tattoo

Image by @lineas.negrasssandhana_vargas_ via Instagram

Violet Flowers and Half Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @brianna.tattoo via Instagram

Blue Flowers with Dark Butterfly Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @siren_ink via Instagram

Floral Butterfly Arm Tattoo with Date of Birth

Image by @vishwa_tattoos via Instagram

Black Floral Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @chamilton_tattoos via Instagram

Black Flowers and Half Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @txttoo via Instagram

As I mentioned, though, while flowers and butterfly tattoo go really well together, this is not the only way for for such tattoos to work. Here are a few other designs for this kind of tattoo:

Half Lion Half Butterfly Hip Tattoo

Image by @andre_art_n_tattoo via Instagram

Blue Flowers and Black Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @forest__tt via Instagram

Flowers and Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

It goes without saying that butterflies and flowers go together! Therefore, getting a butterfly tattoo with beautiful flowers included can seem like a match made in heaven.

Now, red roses may be the most obvious - and common - choice. However, there is no need to limit yourself.

Keep in mind that each flower has its own meaning. Therefore, incorporating that flower into your butterfly tattoo can change the meaning of the overall design.

Not to mention, you really should get flowers that you find aesthetically pleasing.

Here are some of the more traditional designs for this concept:

Shaded Rose and Butterfly Hand Tattoo

Image by @xillta.ink via Instagram

Pink Rose and Butterfly Forearm Tattoo

Image by @changootattoo via Instagram

Black Flower and Butterfly Hand Tattoo

Image by @iansethtattoos via Instagram

Flowers and Small Butterflies Arm Tattoo

Image by @tattooer_aero via Instagram

Floral Butterfly Forearm Tattoo

Image by @cherie.ink via Instagram

Sunflower and Butterflies Biceps Tattoo

Image by @ink_zensation via Instagram

Blue Flowers and Butterfly Tattoo

Image by @wills_donny via Instagram

Grey Flowers and Butterflies Hand Tattoo

Image by @classic_ink_social_club via Instagram

This butterfly tattoo design is also a great way to play around with color. For instance, you can have the flowers done up in black ink, while the butterfly is a vibrant color.

You can also flip this concept so that the flowers are colorful and the butterfly is in black. Either option you choose helps to create a greater contrast between the two elements.

Here are some examples:

Sunflowers and Butterflies Arm Sleeve Tattoo

Image by @card.dan22 via Instagram

Red Roses and Butterfly Arm Tattoo

Image by @badboy_ink81 via Instagram

Just check out this gorgeous butterfly tattoo with a lotus flower! This is a great option for anyone looking for a small butterfly tattoo. Despite have a rather simplistic design, this tattoo is incredibly beautiful and delicate. It is also quite unusual!

What's more, a lotus flower is known for purity of the soul and enlightenment which makes this meaning of this butterfly tattoo all the more special.

Minimalistic Flower and Butterflies Arm Tattoo

Image by @ via Instagram

Creative Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

Although the butterfly may be a rather traditional tattoo idea, you don't have to keep relying on the same designs over and over.

As the butterfly is such a versatile creature, you can use it in any shape or form that you like for your tattoo. If you have some empty space on your body and enough of imagination, then the tattoo options for a butterfly design are endless.

You can have a gentle butterfly alongside the mighty tiger, a butterfly over a woman's face, or skulls as butterfly wings.

Here are some of the tattoo ideas that you should consider for your creative butterfly tattoo:

Peony Flower on Butterfly Wings Arm Tattoo

Image by @gerard.araiza via Instagram

Lioness and Butterfly Biceps Tattoo

Image by @ninjainkart via Instagram

Skull Butterfly Elbow Tattoo

Image by @goh_w_h.tattoo via Instagram

Girl Head with Butterfly Wings Spine Tattoo

Image by @luhansentattoo via Instagram

Girl with Flowers and Butterfly Forearm Tattoo

Image by @michalfilipowski_tattoo via Instagram

What Does a Butterfly Tattoo Symbolize?

There are a few different meanings associated with butterflies. For instance, some people link them to femininity and beauty.

However, most people get butterfly tattoos due to their association with transformation, change, and new beginnings.

They are also seen as a symbol of endurance and resilience. In this sense, they may also be a sign of hope.

This is because the caterpillar has to weave itself into a cocoon and then fights its way out of its prison. Once it does, however, it is a beautiful creature that can take flight.

What Does a Butterfly Tattoo Mean Mental Health?

The monarch butterfly is a symbol that is often used alongside mental health causes, particularly depression.

The cocoon stage of the butterfly is linked to the feelings that people when they are depressed and struggling - the feeling of being trapped.

A butterfly, on the other hand, can represent life after you start learning to manage your depression or other mental health issues.

What Does 3 Butterfly Tattoo Mean?

A butterfly tattoo with three butterflies can still mean change and transformation. However, the number three is considered a positive number.

Therefore, this kind of butterfly tattoo can have a more positive meaning than other butterfly tattoos.

Now you are aware of all the tattoo designs that are available to you if you have butterflies on the brain. From gentle creatures to fearsome concepts, you can get the tattoo that you have always wanted.

The only effort that you have to make here is to find the butterfly design suited to you!

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