How to learn fashion illustration

Fashion drawing instructions - draw your own fashion illustration

Fashion drawings have gone out of style? Definitely not! Hardly any other technology offers so much space for a designer's diverse expressive possibilities. In our article we will show you what you have to consider if you want to make fashion drawings yourself.




What are fashion drawings?

Fashion drawings or also fashion illustrations or fashion sketches are sketches that are used to design new clothes or put historical and contemporary clothes in the limelight. In the fashion industry, they are the rough draft that the tailor can use for orientation. Designers use this technique to organize and visualize their ideas. Furthermore, viewers and budding designers often create fashion sketches instead of notes during fashion shows. The sketch of a presented item of clothing often says more about the designer and work than photographs or words that may not do them justice.

Fashion drawings are a piece of history. When there was no photography yet, painters portrayed the contemporary fashion that was in effect at the time and in this way conveyed a fairly precise picture of the clothing rules that were valid at the time. As in the past, fashion illustrations are still a reflection of modern clothing.



What is special about fashion illustrations?

Nowadays it is not only possible to use photography to stage models. There is a huge range of computer programs and even apps that you can use to dress and undress a croquis as you wish and design your own clothing line. However, both variants are often complex or accompanied by high material costs. Not everyone has their own photo studio with the right (and expensive!) Equipment. And when you're sitting on the train commuting to work, you don't always have a laptop or computer on hand when you have a brilliant idea.

Fashion illustrations have the advantage of being able to be produced anytime and anywhere. Put a small notebook, a pencil, an eraser and two colored pencils in your pocket. This material does not take up much space and is easy to transport. You also don't need a model to whom you have to constantly shout out various instructions during a photo session, because you yourself can ensure that your sketch perfectly reflects your idea. How exactly your croquis presents your clothes is up to you.

Therefore, it is worthwhile for every budding fashion designer to learn the fashion sketch techniques. These techniques are very diverse and offer the artist much greater and more far-reaching possibilities of expression than photography or apps. In principle, the artist can realize himself completely - by coloring or working out a previously made fashion sketch. You can bring Japanese elements into your drawing like Paul Irbe or let your drawings become screamingly colorful and extremely eye-catching like the famous Antonio Lopez, who made fashion illustrations socially acceptable again in the seventies. In addition, you can implement your very own creative ideas like hardly any other medium. And all of this with the help of very few materials.



Instructions for your first fashion drawing

The thought of trying a fashion drawing yourself may seem daunting, especially for beginners. Especially if you have difficulties with the proportions in your drawings, you may be tempted not to try it in the first place. Because, of course, perfect fashion illustrations by professionals are quite intimidating. But doesn't that apply to every type of art? If you don't try it, you won't be any smarter than you were before. Just pay attention to a few things that we are presenting to you here on the silver platter. The most important thing about it: practice, practice, practice! Most artists produce several hundred or even thousands of fashion illustrations until they work really well.

By the way, a basic distinction is made between technical and free fashion illustration. A third variant is the fashion sketch. For the sake of simplicity, we limit ourselves to the fashion sketch, where you can put your ideas on paper quickly and relatively easily. In addition to the clothing style, a free fashion drawing expresses the prevailing mood, while a technical illustration contains all the details and dimensions of the designed garments. The drawn garment is generally tailored on the basis of the latter; therefore the dimensions must be included.

As a beginner, however, you should first concentrate on the fashion sketch. In the following, we will show you how to best put your croquis and your ideas on paper.



The material for your fashion sketch

Professionals work with many different materials. In addition to using pencils and crayons, they also use different colors such as watercolors and ink.

As a beginner, however, the following materials are sufficient:


The drawing template

Using a drawing template in the form of catalogs or internet images is particularly helpful for beginnersto get acquainted with the poses of models. With fashion drawings, care should be taken to ensure that the croquis has the same proportions and poses as a real model. Before you start, prepare a catalog or a fashion illustration template from the Internet so that you can orient yourself. Remember, you'll erase the first rough sketch later. First, this means that you should paint these with quick and very fine strokes. In addition, you should only use sturdy paper so that it does not tear when you erase it.

Have your materials ready. Now you can start!



The first rough fashion illustration sketch

First, you draw guidelines on the paper. These are lines that you can use to orient yourself. Start with a vertical center line that should be a little longer than your croquis. This line is called the balance line. With their help you determine the focus of your model. It is important that this line is always straight. Even if your croquis leans to one side or is in a sitting position, your balance line is perfectly straight. It connects the top of the head with the lowest point of your croquis, for example the toes or, when seated, the bottom.

Now draw in the head. The balance line is in the middle. Limit yourself to the outer lines. Your croquis does not need any details, because just like on the catwalk, it is mainly intended to present fashion. The most important thing is to draw and highlight the clothes. Now draw a rectangle in the middle of the balance line. This adapts to the proportions of your croquis in terms of size. A slim model gets a narrower rectangle than a luscious one. Place the rectangle in the pelvic area.

The proportions are based on both the balance line and this rectangle. The incline of the rectangle depends on the pose of your croquis: If your model leans to the right, you must also draw the rectangle slightly inclined to the right. For a completely straight pose, draw it straight as well.



The correct body proportions of the fashion drawing

As for the proportions of the fashion drawing, you can orientate yourself on real people. The torso is about as long as two heads and the shoulders as wide as the pelvis. The waist is generally much narrower than the latter. You can use the drawn pelvic rectangle to help you with the sketch.

The so-called bending lines are very important in fashion illustrations. These have a more organic shape than the edges and corners that you use when drawing in the waist, for example. They make the croquis look livelier and make your drawing look more natural.

After you have drawn the torso, consisting of the angular waist and the bending line on the other side, it is the turn of the neck. The length of the neck should be about half the length of the head. Take about a third of the shoulder for the width.

Now you correct the head, because in model poses this is usually not straight, but is in harmony with the rest of the body. Draw it tilted or turned slightly to the side. You can erase the straight head that you drew first. Note that the size of the head has a serious influence on the appearance of your croquis: the larger you have drawn the head, the more childlike the croquis looks.

Now it is the turn of the legs. Their length is about four heads. A characteristic of Fashion Illustrations is the extra length of the legs, which make the model look almost supernaturally tall. Use the width of your head as a guide for the width of your thighs and draw it tapering towards the bottom. The latter also applies to the calves, i.e. the lower part of the legs. The width of the ankle is about a quarter of the width of the thigh.

Arms, hands and feet are still missing. As for the arms, do the same thing as you do with the legs. They should become narrower towards the bottom. The narrowest part is of course the wrist. If you want to give your model a slightly mannerist appearance, overdraw the arms a little. Make it a little longer than it would be natural, but don't overdo it.

The hands and fingers should be narrow for the same reason, but of course not too narrow. They are based on the rest of the croquis pose. So you can put them on your model's hips or slightly hide one hand behind their back. The feet should be slightly shorter than the head. You can paint them as pointed rectangles.



Draw the clothes

Your croquis is ready? Then the fun part will probably come for you: Draw clothes! Before you put on your model, you should think carefully about what your fashion should look like. Maybe you do a few dry runs without a croquis on a different piece of paper. The lines when drawing clothes should be a little stronger than with the model. However, as with the rest of your fashion drawing: The lines should still run so fine that you can erase and correct them at any time. Then it doesn't matter if you have to make improvements.

Pay attention to every fineness in your fashion illustration. Design your clothes to stand out from others and add accessories. But be careful: These shouldn't take over your croquis, but emphasize its fashion. Your clothes should fit the model in a natural way and also have natural folds. In order to achieve this, you should deal a little with fabric science, because coarse linen fabric is very different from shiny silk. You might try a little fashion show yourself. Stand in front of the mirror in different clothes made of different materials and watch how the clothes fall.



Different design techniques

The main difference between fashion illustration and fashion photography lies in the design techniques: This comes without artistic techniques such as To draw or collage. You can of course add further artistic elements to photographs, but you don't have to. When it comes to fashion illustration, however, you should combine different design techniques in order to achieve a perfect result.

  • drawing: First, of course, the croquis is sketched and then worked out. You will work with a pencil and an eraser.
  • painting: Your drawn clothes are colored using different colors. Different colors can be used. In addition to watercolors and colored pencils, this can also be Indian ink.
  • collage: This design option is particularly interesting and expressive, because it allows you to join small and large snippets from another picture or from a previously colored paper. You can use the snippets to highlight accessories, for example, or to create dresses from geometric shapes. You can also glue a previously drawn and colored dress to your model's body and then add accessories with crayons or other colors.



Tips and Tricks

If you cannot cope with drawing proportions or if you do not have the time for hours of drawing exercises, but would like to sketch your own fashion creations, download a fashion drawing template from the internet. There are many different variations of these. Children's fashion templates are also included. You can easily sketch your designs on these. Alternatively, you can use very thin paper and place it on a catalog or fashion illustration. Then you simply copy the template.

As a beginner in particular, you may be afraid of ruining your laboriously drawn croquis with incorrect lines or coloring when working out your clothes. If you don't want to use fashion drawings templates because you prefer to draw your model yourself, you can work with the collage technique. Sketch and color your fashion on another piece of paper, cut it out and stick it on your model. Add accessories to give your fashion drawing a professional, detailed look.

If you want to put your clothes in the limelight, always make sure to draw your model rather pale and with gentle lines and your clothes with lush and strong lines. If in doubt, it is better to color them a little stronger to emphasize them even more.




If you want to be inspired, take a look at current or past fashion trends. You might even go to a fashion show to see what's trending right now. In principle, you can find inspiration for accessories everywhere. You can even look around the flora and fauna, attach huge flowers to your models' clothes or add large or small floral prints to your fashion. Be creative and just let off steam.

Fashion drawings are timeless and perfect for sorting your thoughts and creating your own clothing line. You can't really go wrong with this. As is so often the case here, the motto is: Practice! Soon you too will be drawing your first perfect models and dresses.