Free source Blender file download below. If you'd like to commission a 3D model, I can help you with that.
You probably found this page from my 3D model gallery. If not, you can find some renders of this model and history of its development there. The links below are the source files and some pictures I found on the internet that were useful.
You can download this model in three formats.
Butterfly.blend is just the model and rigging, without textures. 0.8 MB
Butterfly_packed.blend has all of the textures included, plus the model and rigging. 3.1 Mb
Blender 2.8 version Butterfly_packed2.8.blend has all of the textures included (now works with Cycles), plus the model and rigging. 1.8 Mb (yay compression!)
My wife found this dying Monarch butterfly, so we took pictures. After it died we took it apart and took more pictures. These are the best photos from what we got.Dorsal view, full spread
In addition, here are a few of the useful reference pictures I found on the internet. I don't know what the rights are for these, but I used them as reference, and so can you.Butterfly on a leaf
I was unemployed, and my wife had left me. Thankfully, she was just taking a walk down the street. On returning she eagerly displayed her latest find, a monarch butterfly in excellent condition. It looked un-injured, but wasn't moving much. We decided to take care of it and see if it would recover. We took a bunch of closeup photos, because really, when do you get an opportunity like this?
The next day its condition had only worsened; The butterfly would only move when touched, and only a little even then. I noticed what looked like a growth coming out the side of its head. I'm no entomologist, but it probably had a fungus eating its brain or something. We kept observing it, and the next day there were very fine hairs extending from its head and torso. Definitely a fungus of some sort.
Since the butterfly was clearly dead at this point, we decided to donate its body to science. We carefully photographed it, and then removed the wings and dissected it as best as we could (a good scalpel would have helped). The wings we were able to preserve by laminating them between clear packing tape. The rest was rotting so we tossed it out.
By this time, I had been thinking "I could make a great 3D model out of this!" for a while. Thus began the second phase of the project whose results you can see in my gallery. The (best of) pictures we took are above, and you can download the model as well. I'd love to hear from you if you use these in a project, but they are "Public Domain" as far as I'm concerned.
(The pictures under "Other Reference" are not mine. If you own one and want me to remove it, let me know). If you are an entomologist and see I've made some grave error, contact me and I'd be happy to update the model. If you are using this material for learning Blender, teaching, or a project, I'd be happy to hear about it. Write me, Paul Spooner, at email@example.com. If you'd just like to leave feedback or comments, feel free to do so here.
Since putting this butterfly on the internet, thousands of people have downloaded it. A few have even written me to tell me about their projects. In particular, this short animation, and this makeup instructional video.