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Learn to Draw Fashion Illustrations

Learn to sketch like a designer
Threads, Issue #210, Aug./Sept. 2020

The expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” is particularly true when it comes to fashion. It’s easier to develop and share ideas for sewing projects when you can draw a figure and sketch garment details.

Fashion illustration is a fun process and an essential part of the fashion industry. Designers usually make sketches to help compose designs and to visually communicate their concepts to sewing staff. These illustrations play an important role in developing fashion collections. Pattern companies use fashion illustrations to show garment style variations and to inspire home sewers to purchase a pattern. Artists often create fashion illustrations for advertising campaigns and other promotions. These drawings are not a tool reserved for professionals, however. Anyone can use fashion sketches to hone their design ideas.

With practice, you can fluently sketch garment concepts that suggest movement and attitude.

Extralong fashion figures express stylized garment concepts.

Designers and illustrators have unique drawing styles, and, with practice, you can develop a signature style, too. To begin, you need a solid foundation. First, you must learn how to sketch a proportionate human figure—whether you’re sketching your own figure or an elongated “fashion figure.” A longer, narrower body is typically used for a fashion sketch because it creates room for details, especially for long skirts and dresses. I think of the representation as an art form, thus elements typically are exaggerated to showcase a style.

Evening glamour and fabric texture come through in examples from the author’s scrapbook.

With drawing practice, you can move on to giving a figure attitude and mass, then clothe it in a garment that conveys color and texture. Mastery doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience and experience to train your eye to see when a sketch is going right and when it…

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