The Coppersmith Barbet is brightly coloured, with a black-bordered yellow face with black eye stripes, red forecrown and throat patch. Bill stout and dark. Upper parts are grass green and underparts yellowish-green, diffusely streaked with darker green.
Juveniles are duller and lack the red patches. The sexes are alike. Somewhat larger than a sparrow, it is a relatively small barbet at 17 cm. It is a plump bird, with a short neck and large head. The short, truncated tail is distinctively triangular in flight. Keeps solitary, pairs, or small groups; larger parties occasionally on abundantly fruiting Ficus trees. Fond of sunning themselves in the morning on bare top branches of tall trees, often flitting about to sit next to each other. The flight is straight, with rapid flaps.