Summer Days – the process

1) So,  first of all  I start with an initial rough outline of what I have in my head. This piece is for this weeks #colour-collective, the colour being tangerine. I’ve always wanted to illustrate a summer memory, something that can resonate with the viewer.

I knew that I wanted to make the kite the main colour and make it pop against the background colours.  I don’t add to much detail at this stage but it gives me a good idea about composition and placement of the main characters.

I’ve always drawn out my roughs in blue, it’s a little throw-back to when I used to draw everything with a non-photo blue pencil, in a time before the cintiq.

2) It’s at this point I would normally outline the whole piece, instead i start to outline and colour just the little girl. This gives me a better understanding of how the character will look and also helps me get a better feel for the piece. As the character is on a different layer to the rough I know that I will be able to place her in a better position at a later date.

3) So in this image I have added the grass and the bushes (on separate layers) to the illustration still keeping the rough layer in place. I knew that I didn’t want to add much detail to the grass and bushes so  it didn’t need outlining.  I also painted the kite ‘tangerine’ to give me an understanding of how it will effect the overall look.

4) You might notice in this image I have removed the blue ‘ rough’ line for the time being. I do this to check how the piece is looking without any interference. I then add more detail to the grass and to the front bushes, add the tree and work out a colour scheme for the flowers. I don’t want the viewers eye to be distracted  so I try to keep the colours simple and unobtrusive.

5) Once I am happy with the background I add some birds, (swallows in this case to give extra summery effect) and the tail of the kite. For me, the tail is a very important part of the illustration as it helps give movement and is central to the piece. It’s at this point where I will tweak the colours of the grass and bushes until I am happy. This might take some time as I’m very fussy!

6) I have now added the little boy and coloured him in. It’s at this point where I notice quite a few things wrong with the image. Sometimes I get a feeling I know that something is wrong with a drawing but can’t always put my finger on it. There was a lot of ‘picture gazing’ before I realised that the little boys running position looked strange, almost awkward. The little girls left hand also looked odd and the tail of the kite was far to close to the top of the bushes.  I also start to think about distance in the illustration? Would it be ok to leave it like it is? Does it need another field ? Does it need the addition of a coloured sky? And if so, what colour?  Will it be too much??

7) So, now I have added more detail – spot the little swallow on the left sitting on the branch ?? the extra tree on the left hand side? and the addition of a canine companion eager to catch that kite ! Ive corrected the running style of the little boy  (a lot more energetic i think?) and am thinking about changing the position of the girls left hand. I still haven’t decided on whether to put a sky in, nor have I finally committed to putting in that extra field, although I know at this point it is something that needs doing.

8) So now I have committed to putting the distant field in and have added the sky and clouds. I have also changed the shape of the girls left hand. I also had a last minute idea to add some socks and shoes to the left hand side of the tree. This , I think adds another element to the story and links the blue and red colours together. I took a long time deciding on what colour to choose for the sky..I started with a yellow to denote a summery haze but this clashed a little with the yellow/green of the grass. I also considered blue but I felt that it was a little to generic. I finally settled on a dusky pink as It gives the impression that the children have been playing out all day. It also allows for the orange of the kite to really pop!  I didn’t want the whole of the sky to be flat pink so I used the gradient tool to add some sunlight from the left hand side. This meant a slight change in shadow formation under the little girl.

9) So here is the final illustration, I hope you like it !


  1. Monique Jun 27, 2015 - 10:45 AM

    Big thank you for sharing, Tim! Beautiful illustrations and very interesting process outline! May I ask how much time it takes you from the initial outline to the final artwork and what software you use?

    • Tim Budgen Jun 30, 2015 - 04:56 AM

      Hi Monique! ,
      Thank you for your kind words 😀
      This piece took about 8 hours in all – the initial ‘coming together of ideas’ usually takes about an hour and then the pencil roughs take another hour. The line work and colouring takes up the rest of the time (depending on how undecided i am !)
      I work on photoshop using a cintiq 😀

      Thanks again and I hope to put up more tips and processes soon 😀


      • Monique Jul 03, 2015 - 08:11 AM

        Hi Tim!

        Thanks for your detailed response! I very much appreciate it and also looking forward to further posts with tips and processes on your blog 🙂 As for now, I better start processing the Aubergine of today’s #colour_collective, or else I’ll be late…

        See you later on Twitter!
        Have a great day!



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