Thoughts & Process: Drawing a Bright Scene

It’s time I brought this illustration back from the grave, since very soon the sunlight and greenery where I live will be enveloped by a cold blanket of snow. Where I currently live, the nights have been getting close to freezing, and I was surprised this illustration had slipped my mind when it came to talking about how it got made. So let’s celebrate the sun one more time, thanks for joining me to talk about the creation of this bright scene.


Kate Hudson in a photo shoot. She's wearing younger looking clothing with a double bun hairstyle. She's standing in front of flower bushes and a garden fencing.
Kate Hudson from InStyle’s March 2021 Issue

The inspiration for this illustration came from… you guessed it, InStyle. I’m sorry but it’s one of my favorite magazines!! In the March 2021 edition, Kate Hudson was on the cover and had quite a few full page photos of a photo shoot she did. On top of the one shot being absolutely beautiful and filled with pretty flowers, I was curious about it since the clothes and ways she had her hair styled seemed to make her look younger than she actually was. I’ve found myself really curious with the concept of middle aged and older women dressing extremely feminine over this past half year, and I’m 99% sure this photo shoot was the start of that interest. This is ultimately a concept I’d like to explore with a new character concept I’m working on, but enough of that for now.

A grey and white sketch of a woman in front of a garden gate. There are flowers and bushes behind her.

First, the sketch: not much to say about the traditional version of the sketch, but I actually really like the edited sketch of this piece a lot! Minus the wonky misshapen bars behind her. The bars got fixed in the lineart stage. One thing of note with the bars is that because creating straight lines in Medibang makes the lines thicker looking than lines I drew with my tablet, that the pixel width of those lines is two pixels smaller than my standard 5 px brush size. I didn’t want the line-weight of those bars to overpower the character.

When I drew the character in this illustration, I drew her with the mindset that she had been turned around looking at the sky moments before this “scene.” She would turn to look at the audience, as if she’d been waiting for them or a meeting and was happy to see them. Seeing her colored now, I can’t help but wonder if she looks slightly ominous ha. The character here is also just a one-off, she’s not based off of anything and just drawn to look good with the setting. I doubt I’ll do anything again with her in the future. The character does actually have my hair color from the time I drew this! In hindsight, Ray would have been a good character to draw here…


Somehow, the lineart was the focal point of the illustration, even though it doesn’t look like it at first. I had a thought as I was making the background for this piece: would I be better at coloring backgrounds if I had a more developed line-work to..well, work with? This illustration was done very shortly after my “What’s there, Kya?” piece, where I struggled with coloring the trees. In that piece, the lineart for the trees were generally just silhouettes, so I didn’t have much direction for how to color them. So when I made the lineart for this sunnier piece, I made sure the flower petals, branches, and the bushes got at least a little detail in places where I thought good change would happen. You can tell in the final product the bushes simply have some decent texture, but also some highlights and shadows in places between the lines because of what I did. I think that this was ultimately a step in the right direction to figure out how I should draw backgrounds at the time. My current worries over my lineart these days, because of this illustration, is to make sure there’s a good line and color balance, where the lines don’t dominate the piece but also don’t look like they barely exist.


A colorful illustration of a woman in front of a garden gate. There are flowers and bushes behind her.

When it comes to coloring, I don’t have any big talking points, just a few minor grievances. I had to recolor the dress top quite a few times, I wasn’t too satisfied initially with the way the lights and shadows looked on the top. I eventually settled for the result you see now. Secondly, I’ve never been a fan of what used to be known as “The Tumblr Nose.” This was the instance in character art where the character’s nose would be very red, or significantly darker than the rest of the face, causing it to stick out. However, I think I may have committed that with this piece, it’s hard not to immediately notice her nose shadows in comparison to the character’s lips. Third and finally, I have a love-hate relationship with how the hair came out. The colors and tones in it I think look very good, but because the hair is pretty straight, minus the bottom poof, it’s kinda boring to look at. Maybe I should have added more lines in the lineart there…
Originally, the color palette of this illustration was much closer to what was in the Kate Hudson shoot reference: pink and airy green. However, once I opened that hue/saturation/value box and started experimenting with the colors, I loved the orange flowers too much to go back. Looking back on the final product now, this change was probably for the better.

A magazine spread showing a group model photo shoot, and the other page has an article and another male model photo.
Model Olivia Anakwe and Others in InStyle’s March 2021 Issue

This illustration isn’t a good representation of the outfit, but the outfit I drew was based off of a top and long skirt I found in InStyle’s March 2021 magazine. I just thought the design was cool. I think I’d like to try and draw a skirt like this again someday.

I think that’ll do it for this edition of Thoughts & Process. I’m glad I was able to dig this one back up before the cold! Thank you all for reading this far like always, I hope there were some insights that could be useful to others. I wish you the best, until we meet again.

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