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Create an Autumn Girl Illustration in Affinity Designer

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Every season of the year has its own enchanting beauty! Autumn is one of my favorites: red and golden leaves, blue sky reflecting in the puddles, people walking in the rain with colorful umbrellas. Let’s get inspired and create a cozy autumn illustration with a cute girl in gumboots, holding an umbrella. We’ll be using various drawing tools of Affinity Designer and decorate our image with custom patterns. Let’s get started!

1. Create the Base Using Your Sketch

Step 1

We’ll be using this sketch of a girl, which was drawn on a sheet of office paper, using a pencil, and then scanned. You can make your own sketch, or just click the right mouse button on the screenshot below and save it to your hard drive.


Step 2

Create a New Document of 600 x 800 px size, RGB Colour Mode. Use the Place Image Tool in the Tools panel to place your sketch on the canvas.

Create a New Document and place sketch

Step 3

Rename your sketch layer "Sketch" in the Layers panel and set the Blend Mode to Multiply. This way we make our sketch semi-transparent, yet still with enough contrast, so that both our sketch and the shapes we’re drawing beneath are visible. 

Create a New Layer under the Sketch layer, take the Pencil Tool (N), and start outlining the basic shape of the girl’s face. 

Set the Stroke color to None and the Fill color to a very light pinky-orange for the skin tone. You can adjust the shape by moving its nodes with the Node Tool (A).

start outlining the face with Pencil Tool

Step 4

Now let’s choose the Pen Tool (P) and start outlining the hair. We’re using the Pen Tool here because it allows us to make both smooth and sharp-cornered lines in a very convenient way. Click and drag to make a smooth line; click and hold the Option key to edit the position of the node handles. This way we change the direction of the line pieces and the sharpness of the angles.

use the Pen Tool P and start outlining the hair

Step 5

Continue outlining the hair and return to the initial node, closing the path.

close the path

Step 6

Fill the shape with chocolate-brown color.

Fill the shape with chocolate-brown color

Step 7

As you may notice, the lower part of the girl’s face overlaps with the scarf. We could just draw the scarf above the face, covering its lower part, but let’s also try another way to delete the unwanted piece. 

First of all, draw a shape above the girl's face, which crosses the lower part of the face. Head to the Layers panel, select the face shape, and drag and drop it above the outlined shape (above the name of the layer, not above the thumbnail). This way we hide the face inside the outline, as if inside a Clipping Mask. Set the Fill and Stroke colors of the outline to None.

place one shape inside the other in layers panel

Step 8

Take the Pen Tool (P) and start outlining the scarf.

Take the Pen Tool P and start outlining the scarf

Step 9

Fill the scarf with bright-orange color.

Fill the scarf with bright-orange color

Step 10

Now we can move to the girl’s coat. Its sleeve has a lot of folds and the crease of the arm, so it will be more convenient to draw out the sleeve using the Pencil Tool (N). Fill the sleeve with a vivid emerald-green color.

draw the sleeve with the Pencil tool

Step 11

If you want to pick the color from an object, find the Eyedropper icon on top of the Colour panel and drag it over your image until you see a magnifier. Choose the desired spot and release the mouse key to select this color. It will be saved in the Colour panel next to the Eyedropper icon. Click the Eyedropper icon to apply the picked color to any selected shape.

Draw the second sleeve and fill it with darker emerald-green color. And, finally, outline the coat itself.

use the eyedropper tool and finish drawing the coat

Step 12

Now let’s create the handle of our umbrella. Draw a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M), and make the corners of the shape rounded in the upper context toolbar. Go to the Stroke panel and set the Width to 8 pt. Then go to Layer > Expand Stroke in order to turn the outline into a single shape.

make a handle using the Rectangle Tool M

Step 13

We need only the lower half of this object. Draw a rectangle above the upper half, select both shapes, and use the Subtract Operation from the upper context toolbar, cutting off the upper part of the handle. 

Now we have the U-shaped object. Let’s make one of its ends taller. Take the Node Tool (A), select the upper nodes of the right “arm” of our U-shape, and drag them up either using the arrow keys of the keyboard or by holding the left mouse button and dragging the nodes up.

As for the left “arm” of the U-shape, let’s make it rounded. Select the upper nodes of the left “arm” and click Convert to Smooth in the upper control bar, making the corners of the shape smooth. Now we have a crooked umbrella handle!

delete the upper part in the Operations panel

Step 14

Add a bar to the handle by creating a long, narrow stripe with the Rectangle Tool (M). Change the color of the handle to red and the color of the bar to metal grey. Rotate the shapes and place them in the girl’s hand, according to our sketch.

Add a bar  with the Rectangle Tool M

Step 15

Let’s move to the fancy gumboots! Take the Pen Tool (P) and outline the shape of the front boot. Hold down Shift to make straight horizontal or vertical lines.

Take the Pen Tool P and outline the gumboot

Step 16

Make the second boot by copying the front one. Fill the boots with girlish light-pink and darker-pink colors.

Fill the boots with girlish pink colors

Step 17

Now we can move to the girl’s legs. Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a slightly curved line for the front leg. Set the Width of the Stroke to 23 pt, which is thick enough to form a leg. Layer > Expand Stroke to turn the outline into a shape. Form the back leg in the same way, filling it with a slightly darker skin tone color.

draw the leg with the pen tool and expand it

Step 18

Use the Pencil Tool (N) to draw the girl’s hands.

Use the Pencil Tool N to draw girls hands

Step 19

Now let's create an umbrella! Take the Ellipse Tool (M), make an ellipse of a fancy pink color, and rotate it to about 330 degrees, so that its upper side fits the top of the umbrella on the sketch. 

Convert the ellipse to Curves in the upper context panel, and move its side nodes down a bit, making the upper part of the ellipse fit the umbrella on our sketch as much as possible.

make an umbrella with the ellipse tool 1

Step 20

Draw another darker-pink ellipse for the inner part of the umbrella, and place it as shown in the screenshot below. Select both shapes and use the Divide Operation to split the shapes into separate pieces. Delete the unneeded lower part of the larger ellipse.

make an umbrella with the ellipse tool 2

Step 21

Use the Pencil Tool (N) to draw the rest of the girl's hair. You can combine both drawing tools. For example, if you start drawing a curved, wavy line with the Pencil Tool (N), then switch to the Pen Tool (P), click on the last node of your line and just continue drawing.

Use the Pencil Tool N to draw the hair

2. Add Minor Details to Your Image

Step 1

Let’s add some small details to our image that will make it more intricate. First of all, we’ll decorate the umbrella with tiny metal “drops”. Make an even circle with the Ellipse Tool (M) by holding down Shift. Convert the circle to Curves and drag its upper node further up with the Node Tool (A). Make several copies and place the drops along the edge of the umbrella. Connect the top of the umbrella and the drops with dark-pink strokes.

make metal drops from the ellipse

Step 2

Draw out the silhouette of a blue puddle, and let’s add some reflections to make it more realistic. Make a set of stripes using the Rectangle Tool (M) (at this stage the stripes are filled with dark color just to make them visible above the white background). 

Group (Command-G) the stripes, rotate them, and place them above the puddle. In your Layers panel, select the group of stripes and drop it above the puddle shape, this way placing the stripes inside the puddle shape, creating a Clipping Mask. Fill the group of stripes with a very bright-blue color, creating a reflection on the surface of the water.

add reflections to the puddle

Step 3

Add several simple buttons to the girl’s coat. Make two even circles, one above the other. Then add four smaller, darker circles, depicting the holes in the button. Use the Align function in the upper context toolbar to position the holes in the center of the button.

make a button with the ellipse tool

Step 4

Add several dark-brown strokes above the hair with the Pencil Tool (N), depicting separate cartoonish hairs on the girl’s bangs.

And let’s form the facial features! Draw a snubby nose, using the Pencil Tool (N). Take the Ellipse Tool (M) and make an outlined ellipse. Duplicate the shape and move the copy up a bit. Use the Subtract Operation to cut off the upper part of the overlapping ellipses, forming a curved crescent shape, depicting a closed eyelid. Rotate the shape a bit and put it in the position of the eye, according to our sketch. Make the second eye and add some minor details, such as freckles and eyelashes.

You can make one end of your Stroke wider and the other one narrower, for example, for the sharp-pointed eyelashes, by changing the settings of the Pressure graph in the Stroke panel. Each point of the line on the graph is responsible for the corresponding points on your stroked path. For example, you can select the girl’s nose and move the ends of the Pressure line down and its middle point up, thus making the ends of the nose thin and its middle part thicker.

form the facial features using the Stroke panel

Here’s how our girl looks at this step. Apart from the facial features, we’ve added more stokes to the hair and to the coat, and a couple of curved strokes for the knees.

basic shapes are ready

3. Make Patterns and Apply Them to the Shapes

Step 1

Let’s make a simple polka-dot pattern for the gumboots and the umbrella. For more convenience, create a New Document of 200 x 200 px size. Make an even circle of 16 x 16 px size and place it in the upper right corner of the canvas by clicking the circle with right mouse key and selecting Alignment > Align Right and then Alignment > Align Top. Create another circle, but this time put it in the upper left corner of the canvas.

Create five more copies of the circle, and let’s align them with other circles using the Arrange panel in the upper context toolbar. Select all the circles that we have, open the Arrange panel, and click Space Horizontally and Space Vertically.

make a simple polka-dot pattern 1

Step 2

Group (Command-G) the upper row of circles, hold Option-Shift and drag them down, creating a copy. Delete the first circle of the second row and move the row to the left, so that both rows are arranged in a crisscross way. Copy both rows, creating more copies and filling the canvas with a fancy polka-dot pattern. Use the Arrange panel to create equal spacing between the rows.

make a simple polka-dot pattern 2

Step 3

Let’s bring our pattern to our first document with the girl. Resize the pattern, making the dots smaller. Head to the Layers panel and place the pattern above the front boot, hiding it inside the boot, making a Clipping Mask.

Do the same for the second boot, making the dots of the pattern a bit darker (or lowering their Opacity in the Colour panel).

place the pattern inside the gumboot layer

Step 4

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a set of vertical and horizontal stripes, forming a striped tartan-styled pattern. Make the stripes semi-transparent by changing their Blend Mode to Multiply in the Layers panel and by lowering their Opacity in the Colour panel, so that the stripes are visible through each other.

Apply the pattern to the girl’s scarf, placing it inside the scarf shape in the Layers panel, creating a Clipping Mask.

create a striped tartan pattern

Step 5

Apply our fancy polka-dot pattern to the umbrella as well, making the image more detailed.

Apply polka-dot pattern to the umbrella

Step 6

Let’s create some yellow and orange leaves in order to add a gentle autumn mood to our picture.

Create an ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (M). Convert it to Curves, select its upper and lower nodes with the Node Tool (A) and convert them to Sharp corners from the Convert menu in the upper context toolbar. Make a smooth curved stroke for the stem, setting the Stroke color to dark brown. 

Make the lower part of the stem thick and the upper part thin and pointed, using the Pressure feature in the Stroke panel: select the left end of the graph line by clicking it once, and drag it down to its minimum value. Leave the right point at its extreme upper position.

make a leaf from the ellipse and a stroke

Step 7

Use the Pencil Tool (N) to draw the veins of our leaf. Make the veins thinner with the help of the Pressure function of the Stroke panel.

add veins to the leaf using strokes of pencil tool

Step 8

Add a warm yellow background to our image, filling it with a cozy autumn atmosphere. Make more copies of the leaves and spread them around the girl, varying the colors. Make the scene look as if the leaves are being carried away by the wind.

Hello Fall!

Great work! Our autumn scene with a cartoon girl in gumboots is finished! I hope you’ve enjoyed using vector-drawing tools of Affinity Designer and learned some new tips and simple tricks from this tutorial. Have a warm and cozy autumn, and keep creating wonderful things!

finished autumn scene with a cartoon girl in gumboots
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