70+ butterfly tattoo ideas that will help you design your next piece of ink

Butterfly tattoos are a popular design choice, and for good reason. Regarded as beautiful, delicate parts of nature, butterflies look great paired with the body’s natural form, no matter the placement. Plus, these designs are easily personalized, allowing you to create a truly unique piece of ink. If you’d rather play up the creatures’ intrinsic meanings instead, butterflies are known for symbolizing everything from freedom and transformation to delicate beauty.

Whatever your reason for wanting a butterfly tattoo, the most important part is to be sure of what you want it to look like. If you’re still searching for that perfect something, keep scrolling for 35 butterfly tattoo ideas that will help you design your next piece of ink.

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Knee Butterfly Tattoo

Butterfly tattoo idea on knee
@JT_TATTOO

The shape of the butterfly’s wings looks great around circular bones like the knee. Keep the design otherwise simple to play up the shape.

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Minimal Butterfly Tattoo

Minimal butterfly tattoo idea on arm
@PERSEPHONITATTOOS

Butterflies are great design ideas because they can be stylized in a number of ways. If you prefer a minimal tattoo, stick to a few lines—maybe even just one—in your design.

Line Art Butterfly Tattoo

Line art butterfly tattoo on inner elbow
@FFION.ELIZABETH.TATTOO

Because butterfly wings tend to be intricate, line art makes for a great style for this design. If you plan on adding a lot of lines, keep the decoration and coloring otherwise simple.

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Dynamic Butterfly Tattoo

Dynamic blue butterfly tattoo on forearm
@SONIATESSARI

Butterflies come in a variety of colors and designs, so they can easily match any aesthetic. This butterfly tattoo uses subtle shading and white ink to create a dynamic sense of light and dark.

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Shoulder Butterfly Tattoo

Realistic butterfly tattoo on shoulder
@JACKSONTATTOOART

The shoulder blade is a great location for a butterfly tattoo, as the amount of surface area means you can make it any shape and size that you’d like. The extra space also allows you to add more drawn-out details, like the shadow under the butterfly in this design.

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Arm Butterfly Tattoo

Tattoo of three butterflies on arm
@TATTOOIST_GAON

Placing a few butterflies along the arm gives the impression that they’re flying upward. Using a fine line style guarantees a sense of daintiness, and spacing out the butterflies adds to the weightlessness.

 

Natural Butterfly Tattoo

Butterfly tattoo with natural details and leaves
@POSITIVELY.ENERGIZED.TATTOOS

Rather than opting for a straight butterfly design, why not combine it with another natural element? Here, the butterfly is combined with florals, giving the tattoo delicately powerful energy.

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Thick Butterfly Tattoo

Butterfly tattoo with flowers and thick line detailing
@AVENUETATTOORENO/@COOL.HAND.LUKE.69

Butterfly tattoos don’t have to be small and minimal. Adding heavy shading or bright colors can add some bold personality to the popular design choice.

 

Chest Butterfly Tattoo

Red butterfly tattoo on chest
@CIRCLES.777

Placing a butterfly in the center of your chest makes a statement. Going for a red color will add to that drama and make it feel as though it’s a part of your skin, rather than inked on.

 

Add-On Butterfly Tattoo

Wrist sleeve tattoo with butterfly near hand
@INK.CAROLW

Thanks to their ability to be any size without losing detail, butterflies are great add-ons to existing tattoos. If you’ve already got ink and are faced with filling an empty space, why not choose a butterfly design?

 

Overlapping Butterfly Tattoo

Matching butterfly tattoos on two people's pointer fingers
@ZIIXUU_TATT

Butterfly finger tattoos don’t need to be simplified to keep them from overwhelming the finger. Feel free to add extra loops or overlapping lines to add visual interest while keeping it well-spaced.

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Series of Butterflies Tattoo

Set of three pink butterfly tattoos on back of shoulder
@DIRTYINKTATTOOSTUDIO

To play up the movement that comes naturally to a butterfly tattoo, go for a design featuring a series of butterflies. Place each butterfly’s wings into a different mid-flight position to make them seem like they’re flying.

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Butterfly Wing Tattoo

Big butterfly wing tattoo on upper thigh
@PLAINJANETATTOOCO

Because the body of a butterfly is dominated by its beautiful wings, a design without the actual body can still make an obvious impact. In this tattoo, the wings almost feel more weightless without the body, as it conjures up the image of delicate dried wings, rather than live ones.

 

 

Balanced Butterfly Tattoo

Balanced butterfly tattoo design
@ITS.MEEEEEGAN

Large butterfly tattoos don’t feel any heavier than tiny ones, as butterflies always have a fair amount of negative space in their design. This naturally pushes the thicker lines to the inner and outer parts of the tattoo, balancing it out.

Womanhood Butterfly Tattoo

Butterfly tattoo on arm with sparkles and moon
@JASETATTOOS

Because butterflies are often associated with women and “femininity,” they pop up in designs featuring other such images, like florals or the crescent moon. Sparkles, dot work, and other delicate details also add to the feeling.

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Wings Butterfly Tattoo

Butterfly wings tattoo on upper arm
@TATTOOSSDESINGMP

As long as you keep the general shape of a butterfly’s wings, you can customize the design in any style you want. Here, the geometric design conjures the image of broken glass, but the obvious overall shape keeps it whimsical.

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Personal Meaning Butterfly Tattoo

Arm tattoo with butterfly and phrase "Resiliencia"
@LIDITATTOO

Adding a word or a phrase to a butterfly tattoo can underline its meaning, whether personal or symbolic. This design uses the word “resilience” to emphasize the butterfly’s representation of hope and continuation.

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Realistic Butterfly Tattoo

Realistic blackwork butterfly tattoo on forearm
@JEZHUOT

If you’re going for a more realistic butterfly design, you don’t have to use color. Instead, go for a tattoo that uses varying line thicknesses, smooth and light shading, and small bits of blackwork to give the illusion of depth and light.

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