How to draw body sketches when fashion designing

Written by stacey richardson
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How to draw body sketches when fashion designing
Poseable mannequin (an artists mannequin image by Alex Anstey from

If you are interested in creating fashion illustrations, the first step is to learn how to draw a body sketch, also known as a croquis. Drawing the human form can be a daunting task, as the proportions must be correct to give the drawing visual appeal and authenticity. While it is important for every fashion designer to have drawing skills, if you are new to fashion sketching, then you can perfect your art by first tracing images to create a basic croquis.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Reference materials (drawing books, fashion magazines, poseable mannequin)
  • Tracing paper
  • 2B pencil for sketching
  • 4B pencil for highlighting
  • Soft putty eraser

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  1. 1

    Set up your drawing area to ensure you have adequate light, a hard surface to draw on and your freshly sharpened 2B and 4B pencils and eraser on hand.

    How to draw body sketches when fashion designing
    2B and 4B pencils are used in fashion sketching. (pencils image by Horticulture from
  2. 2

    Choose a visual reference from a book or magazine on which to base your fashion croquis. A good example would be to use an underwear model from a catalogue, as the body's shape and contours will be highly visible--just make sure that you have an image that does not have any part of the body cropped off.

    How to draw body sketches when fashion designing
    Find a reference image from a book or magazine. (woman sitting in bikini image by Francois du Plessis from
  3. 3

    Use a sheet of tracing paper and your 2B pencil to lightly trace over the head using an oval shape. Continue tracing the body using light circular and oval shapes. Remember, the human body rarely has any straight lines in its silhouette, so keep your hand loose and your outlines curved when tracing.

  4. 4

    Draw a line through the centre of your drawing to indicate the line of symmetry. Use your reference image and start at the forehead. Draw a curved line that reaches through the centre of the eyes, nose, lips and finally ends at the chin. Start at the top of the neck and draw a line that intersects through the centre of the chest, bellybutton, hips and ends at the pelvis. This will be your guide for seams when you add garments to your figure.

  5. 5

    Create horizontal lines to mark the most important measuring points in fashion design--the chest, waist and hips. Use your reference image as a guide. You can also mark other body parts that will fold or bend while wearing clothing--for example, knees and elbows.

  6. 6

    Trace details such as facial features, hair and shoes lightly, still using your 2B pencil. Because you don't want to create a carbon copy of your reference image, it is best to only trace the outlines and then add your own details as you become more comfortable with drawing.

    How to draw body sketches when fashion designing
    Add detailing such as hair. (Victorian woman image by Allyson Ricketts from
  7. 7

    Use your 4B pencil to then sketch in any highlighted or lighter areas of the body--for example, the clavicle and cheekbones. Only a light line is necessary to show definition in the body.

  8. 8

    Add clothing to your croquis.

Tips and warnings

  • When learning to sketch the body, feel free to mark as many reference points as you need to familiarise yourself with proportions--once you practice more, you can always omit reference points you don't need.
  • To transform a regular body sketch into a stylised fashion sketch, exaggerate the length of the arms and legs and dramatically narrow the waist.
  • Download pre-drawn croquis from the Internet to help you with your fashion sketches.
  • Drawing the human body is not easy, so you may experience frustration when you first start sketching. Have patience and remember that practice makes perfect.
  • Never trace a reference material exactly and claim it as your own work--this is copyright infringement.

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