Fashion illustration and technical sketches are part of the design process. The designer creates a road map for patternmakers, sewers and cutters to follow by taking initial design concepts and transforming the sketches into illustrations by adding colour and fabric textures. Most designers use illustration or technical sketch templates for repeated styles each season, which are commonly referred to as flats. Drawing these illustration and technical sketch templates enables new designers to familiarise themselves with fabrics' natural drape and silhouettes.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Sketch pad
- Drawing pencil (your medium choice)
- Models (optional)
Draw your fashion illustration in your sketch pad in your chosen medium. Start with an easy design, such as a model in a basic, black sheath dress. Look through haute couture fashion magazines and study the stylised figures generally associated with fashion illustration. Note how each illustrator draws the model's face, hair and garment, as well as what medium he uses, such as pastel, charcoal, wax crayon, marker, watercolour or drawing pencils.
Draw nine horizontal lines in your sketch pad with your pencil. Keep your illustration in view. Space each line equally. The bottom line represents your feet, the second represents your calves, followed by the knees, thighs, abdomen, your elbows and waist on the same line, and your chest and chin. The top line rests over the head. Keep in mind these are guide points only.
Regardless of how unique your illustration is, make sure your sketch displays basic anatomical knowledge.
Sketch an outline stylised figure of the illustration you chose in Step 1, within the guidelines. Keep in mind that stylised figures are modified. Generally the head is smaller, the neck is slimmer and longer, and the legs and thighs are longer and leaner. Practice these stylised figures using different garment combinations, such as a top with a pant, or a jacket and skirt. These outlines are your templates for future sketches. Make several copies if you'd like.
Sketch different body poses. Once you have mastered the guidelines, sketch poses with different garment combinations. You do not have to use the guidelines. It is best to work with models and have them stand in poses such as looking downward, leaning slightly back, holding a bag or with their hands on their hips. This helps you study the body's weight distribution, which is key to fashion illustration.
Sketch the outline of the poses. These outlines are your template for future sketches. Once you have your stylised figure in your desired poses, trace over the template and add different garment silhouettes and clothing details.
Draw the garment's outline. Choose your category, such as blouses, trousers, jeans, skirts or dresses. Each garment category has a specific silhouette, such as a contoured shape, flared leg cuff or an A-line sweep. The outline drawings are the start of the template. These templates are commonly known as technical sketches—or flats—within the fashion industry.
Add within the silhouette design details that will be repeated. For example, if your template is a polo knit top and you will be repeating set-in sleeves, a front dropped shoulder seam and bottom hem side slits, draw these details into your template. Leave blank areas within your template for design details you will alter, such as different front placket lengths or chest pockets.
Draw within your template the garment's silhouette fit details, such as darts, pleats or a significant drape. Add to your template only the fit details that will be repeated in future styles. For example, if you are repeating a tailored skirt with darts as part of your collection, draw the darts within the skirt template. You can use the same skirt template and change other details, such as adding front pockets, seam work or side slits. Make copies of your templates for future designs.
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