How sketching exercises can help you draw beautiful fashion illustrations
Are you having a fashion sketching slump? Perhaps you’re still staring at your paints or a blank piece of paper.
This happens to me
Let’s go through some ideas to get you focused on your fashion illustration.
Keep it Simple
You know when you see those amazing oil paintings in galleries and you think, “Is that a painting or a photograph?” You go up close and… incredibly, it’s a painting—but it’s so realistic!
I could never paint like that because I don’t have the patience. Honestly, I prefer
If time is short, you’ll want to have everything you need within easy reach. So, keep your art tools in one place.
Okay, I haven’t
Because I don’t have a studio, I paint either at my desk (where I’m writing this) or on the coffee table. Both are not ideal, but we make
Chase the light
Usually, I draw for 1-3 hours at a time. And, if it’s a drawing day, I make sure it’s one of the first things I do. The light is always best in the morning, so I’ll spend that time sketching.
In an hour, I can sketch a few fashion figures, maybe 3-4, depending on how I feel. I’m not trying to copy a photograph or a face. Rather, I’m creating a suggestion.
And that’s the beauty of a fashion illustration; it’s
Fashion sketching needn’t
Fashion illustration allows for expression, so I like to think of it as drawing dreams. It’s perfectly okay if there’s a
Creating a fashion model sketch can be a simple expression or interpretation.
Coco Chanel suggested,
Fashion sketching: where to begin?
If that’s confusing now, you’ll see what I mean after I explain the three exercises in a moment.
Here’s a quick checklist before we start:
- Keep your art tools together and accessible.
Beginas early in the day as possible. Night light is not ideal, even with a good daylight lamp.
- Keep it simple.
Rememberyou are drawing fashion, not portraiture.
It’s a good idea to have fashion images to hand wherever you go. It may be a collection of torn-out sheets from a magazine. Or, in my case, a Pinterest board of fashion figures. I also make collections from saved Instagram posts, and I collate a folder of scanned images in my Google Drive.
Another good resource is
Clear your space. Get comfortable. Sharpen your pencils. Let’s draw fashion!
Sketching Exercise 1
Draw the outline
Let’s say you’re right-handed. You are going to start drawing with your left hand. That’s it, follow the outline with your non-dominant hand.*
*If that’s not available to you, try this instead: keep your eyes on the model and don’t look at your paper or pencil!
Do not erase anything. Just draw.
Draw another fashion pose, and another.
You’ll likely end up with map-like line drawings. We’ll call them fashion islands.
Sketching Exercise 2
Draw in shapes
This may sound funny, but try this!
Squint your eyes a little. What do you see? Blurry figures with darkened patches?
Find the dark areas, the shapes and scribble what you see. Get to know the figure and its interesting shapes.
Use a pigment pen, a felt tip or a pastel if it’s easier. You’ll be able to cover a large area quickly.
Don’t worry about detail. Keep it brisk, and be bold with your blocks of colour.
Sketching Exercise 3
Trace* an image
*I don’t normally recommend tracing an image. I think it’s the equivalent to copying and pasting if you’re learning to write in another language; you won’t learn a thing.
However, for the purpose of this exercise, I’m going to ask you to trace a fashion figure, because I want you to notice the difference between tracing and drawing body sketches for fashion, freehand.
Even though, you’ve been following an outline underneath your paper, you may notice your sketch to be a little wooden, perhaps?
When you draw fashion, freehand, your illustration may not be perfectly proportioned, but I bet it has more energy.
Try it. Trace a model in a magazine a few times.
Freestyle Fashion Sketching
Now you are free.
You are ready to draw fashion, freestyle – without restrictions, so you can use your dominant hand.
You have everything available to you. You are drawing in your own way.
This is how to draw in your own style.
Copying and tracing will restrict you, like following a set of rules. There are no real rules in fashion or fashion illustration. You make the rules!
If you are creating a fashion collection, then yes, a 9-head template is helpful to get the designs sketched on paper, fast.
Otherwise, if you’re creating a fashion illustration, go with the flow.
For more help with your fashion drawing, grab my Fashion Figures guide below.
Simple Fashion Illustration
In my FREE, step-by-step Fashion Figures Guide, you'll discover the first two lines I begin all my illustrations with.