Fashion Drawing For Dummies®

Visit to view this book's cheat sheet.

Table of Contents

Fashion Drawing For Dummies®


About the Authors

Lisa Smith Arnold: Lisa Smith Arnold is an illustrator and painter who graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor of fine arts degree and headed straight to New York City. She has worked for Conde Nast Publications and other fashion-oriented companies. As a result, most of her paintings still have that exaggerated fashion influence. She now lives in Westport, Connecticut, with her husband and three kids.

Marianne Egan: Marianne grew up outside of Chicago and earned her bachelor of arts degree in fashion design from the International Academy of Design & Technology in Chicago. She also earned a master of science degree in apparel design from Oregon State University, where she focused on couture construction and illustration.

Marianne has worked as a designer and freelance illustrator, and she currently teaches fashion illustration, computer design, and corset and strapless dressmaking full time at Oregon State University. Marianne also runs a small custom bridal business; you can visit her website at .

When she is not chasing after her son, you can find Marianne tribal belly dancing, running, drawing, or glued to her sewing machine.


From Lisa: I dedicate this book to my mom, Charlotte Smith. Thanks for being the first to encourage me and introduce me to the world of fashion.

From Marianne: This book is dedicated to my son, George. Be nice and do the right thing, my sweet boy.

This book is also dedicated to my amazing friends Lydia and Ashley. Lydia, your ability to love is matched by no other, and I could not be who I am without you. Ashley, you radiate strength and grace, and you know just when to bring a girl ice cream and wine when she can’t get up from the kitchen floor. I am so blessed to have you both in my life.

Authors’ Acknowledgments

From Lisa: Thanks to all at Wiley who were involved in this project.

From Marianne: I would like to thank the amazing staff at Wiley: Thanks go to developmental editor Sharon Perkins for making me laugh and putting up with me — you rock! I’d also like to thank senior project editor Vicki Adang for laughing at my sense of humor (and not requiring me to explain how to draw the meat dress) and senior copy editor Danielle Voirol (who has the steps down for the meat dress!). More thanks go to copy editor Jessica Smith for all her hard work and to technical editor Barbara Rhodes for all her time and edits over edits. To acquisitions editor Michael Lewis, thanks for not giving up on me and for convincing me to work with such amazing people! And thanks to everyone else who’s been a part of bringing this book to life.

I would also like to thank my incomparably supportive loved ones, Juliette, Todd, Trevor, and Noel — without your support, this book would never have happened! Thank you, Ashley (thanks to you, there’s one less truck on the road) and Travis, for just being you. Thanks to Lydia (cheers!), Eva, Ethan, and little Isaiah for all your sweet dancing moves! Thanks to my supermom running sistas, Kara, Tonya, and Kellie. To Jaimie, Morgan, and Tonja, thank you for all those late and middle-of-the-night phone calls. To my Wild Iris dancing sisters, Shellece, Erika, Carol, and Eva, thank you for keeping me moving. Thanks also to my supermom girlfriends who keep me going: Anne, Heidi, Wendy, Amy, Adrienne, Aylssa, Betsy, Claire, and anyone else I forgot.

Thanks so much to all my colleagues at Oregon State, especially Dr. Kathy Mullet and Dr. Leslie Davis Burns, who push me every day and refuse nothing but everything I can give. Thank you, Nate, for late night tacos!

Finally, I have to thank my family: Dad and Diana; Mom (kitchen gnome) and Steve (Team Steve!); my loving brother Matthew (Da Bears) and his brave wife, Jenny (for marrying into our crazy family and giving us little Alice, Bears fan in training); my dreamer sister Mollie (what a year!); my awesome brother Ryan; and my I-don’t-mess-around sister Breanna. I love you all.


Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments at . For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Vertical Websites

Developmental Editor: Sharon Perkins

Senior Project Editor: Victoria M. Adang

Acquisitions Editor: Michael Lewis

Senior Copy Editor: Danielle Voirol

Copy Editor: Jessica Smith

Assistant Editor: David Lutton

Editorial Program Coordinator: Joe Niesen

Technical Editor: Barbara Rhodes

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistants: Rachelle Amick, Alexa Koschier

Cover Illustrations: Marianne Egan

Cartoons: Rich Tennant ()

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Sheree Montgomery

Layout and Graphics: Claudia Bell, Timothy C. Detrick, Cheryl Grubbs, Joyce Haughey, Sennett Vaughan Johnson, Corrie Niehaus

Proofreaders: Rebecca Denoncour, Betty Kish

Indexer: Ty Koontz

Special Help Alissa Schwipps, Clint Lahnen

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Kathleen Nebenhaus, Vice President and Executive Publisher

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


If you like fashion and you like to doodle figures, then you’ve come to the right place. Fashion Drawing For Dummies is a great way to ease into the world of fashion drawing. Don’t panic if you have no experience; we give you all sorts of practice exercises that will have you sketching out stylish, long-limbed figures in no time. If you do have experience, this book can help you brush up on techniques and point you in the right direction to pick up more fashion advice and drawing tips.

Fashion is a playful world where almost anything goes, but you have to have the foundation to back up your ideas. Take a look at the work of some of your favorite fashion illustrators and designers. Chances are they’ve broken some rules to get noticed, but they also have pretty decent fashion drawing foundations under their belts.

Whether you’re interested in being a fashion designer, a fashion or trend forecaster, a buyer, or a fashion art director, you have to know how to draw a basic fashion figure. And if you want to be a fashion illustrator? Jump on the train! If you’re nervous, don’t be — if we could learn how to draw fashion illustrations, anyone can! Keep that positive attitude, practice drawing all the time, and enjoy yourself along the way.

About This Book

Fashion drawing is not like figure drawing; fashion drawing is an art where the figure is exaggerated in an elegant way and clothes are drawn with texture and precision. We’ve worked in the fashion industry for many years, and in this book, we give you a taste of what this special world is about. At the same time, we show you what you need to develop, grow, and go beyond mere competence to create your own signature look.

Many fashion books are filled with glorious illustrations that you may adore looking at, but when you’re just starting out, you may not know where to begin. Fashion Drawing For Dummies is a complete how-to book for people who like fashion and want to know how to draw the unique and quirky fashion figure. We take you on a step-by-step drawing journey from fashion head to fashion feet and everything in between. Plenty of sketching exercises help you develop your drawing skills so you can create a fashion figure and dress her right down to the finishing touch of a pair of sparkling earrings. This book helps you over the trouble spots (like hands and feet!) and gives you practical and logical steps, tips, and techniques.

The purpose of this book is to introduce you to fashion drawing basics. We start with a basic review of figure drawing that you may find helpful, whether you’ve done a lot of drawing or not. We then go over the fashion drawing rules (there are some!) that will help you get launched and discover your own fashion drawing style. With our tips and fashion techniques, you’ll become comfortable drawing the fashion figure and all types of clothing.

Conventions Used in This Book

We used a few conventions to help you navigate this book more easily:

check.png Numbered steps and keywords in bulleted lists appear in boldface.

check.png When we introduce new terms, we italicize and define them.

check.png Web and e-mail addresses appear in monofont to make them easier to see.

What You’re Not to Read

As an artist, you may or may not like to read. If you don’t, you’re in luck, because you can skip over some parts of this book. The copyright page is one part, and text in sidebars (short boxed sections printed on gray backgrounds) is another. Knowing what you can not read may give you more time to practice your drawing!

Foolish Assumptions

When we wrote this book, we made some assumptions about you and your interests. If we had to guess, we’d assume that you fit into one or more of the following categories:

check.png You love clothes and are interested in designing your own.

check.png You’re a fashion design student who may have a bit of drawing experience but no fashion drawing experience.

check.png You love to draw, and fashion illustration looks like fun, but you don’t know where to start.

check.png You’re a beginning fashion illustrator looking to improve your art.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into five parts, allowing you to zoom in and focus on what’s most important to you. You can then flip from part to part or chapter to chapter for easy access to related fashion information. Here’s an outline of what you’ll find where.

Part I: Fashion Drawing 101

This section is all about the basics of drawing, including a quick refresher on figure drawing. We also talk about the fun of purchasing the necessary art supplies for fashion illustration and how to set up your own studio. If you’ve ever wondered where to start in drawing a fashion figure, this part gives you everything you need to know.

Part II: Building a Fabulous Fashion Figure

In this part, we tell you the golden rules of fashion drawing. (Later, we tell you how to break them!) Special proportions are important in fashion illustration, and we explain all about those fabulous lengthy legs and arms that give your drawings star quality. Exaggeration is key when you’re creating a powerful fashion drawing from head to toe.

Part III: Dressing Your Fashion Figure

After you master basic female, male, and child fashion figures, you’re ready to put some clothes on them. In this part, we explain how to draw hats, shoes, and everything in between for men, women, and kids.

Part IV: Taking Your Fashion Drawing to the Next Level

In this part, we stretch your fashion drawing skills even more and encourage you to try new techniques to make your drawings really stand out. One way to distinguish your art is by adding great textures and patterns that viewers will long to touch. You also want to convey action and attitude in fashion. You have so many ways to show your fashion model’s stuff when you know how to show her striking a pose, walking down a runway, or tossing her hair. As you get more comfortable with fashion drawing, you’ll want to develop your style; this means knowing when to break the rules, so we give you some pointers on how to do just that. And after you’ve created a masterpiece or a dozen, you’ll want to show off your work — perhaps to a prospective client or boss — so we end this part by offering you tips on putting together a portfolio.

Part V: The Part of Tens

The Part of Tens includes short lists that contain valuable information on discovering more about fashion and promoting your work. Now that you can draw the fashion figure and more, you can work on keeping up and staying in touch with the ever-changing fashion world. This part serves as a fashion launch pad with advice about the Internet, fashion publications, and more.

Icons Used in This Book

Fashion Drawing For Dummies features some cute little icons in the left margins. Each icon is meant to grab your attention for something particularly important, so check them out.

remember.eps This icon gives you a friendly heads-up about useful information to keep in mind.

tip.eps The text next to the Tip icon offers hints to make your fashion drawing journey easier.

warning_bomb.eps When you heed the Warning icon, you benefit from the mistakes we’ve learned from. Don’t go there; making the same mistakes will only complicate your fashion illustration and create confusion.

sketchbook.eps This icon is where the pencil hits the paper. When you see this icon, pull out your drawing supplies and try your hand at the concept or technique we’re explaining. After you’ve completed the exercise once, try it again, but change it up a bit. For example, if the practice exercise is about long, bouncy curls, modify it so you draw short, bouncy curls instead.

Where to Go from Here

Even though we wrote this book and would love for you to read it from cover to cover, we urge you not to read Fashion Drawing For Dummies in one sitting, unless you’re the kind of person who just has to know how a book ends! Take time to digest and practice what we show you in each chapter. If you’re already familiar with the basics, feel free to jump around from chapter to chapter to pick out the fashion drawing tidbits that interest you the most. You can go back and read through everything more thoroughly later on.

Part I

Fashion Drawing 101


In this part . . .

In this part, you get the lowdown on getting started with fashion illustration. We begin at the beginning and explore basic drawing techniques, including how to draw a figure (for those of you who have drawing experience, this is a great refresher). We also cover art supplies and how to create a workspace just for you.

Chapter 1

Finding Your Footing in Fashion Drawing

In This Chapter

arrow Getting started drawing fashion

arrow Recognizing the differences between fashion and figure drawing

arrow Drawing a basic fashion figure

arrow Looking at careers for fashion illustrators

I f you picked up this book to figure out how to draw fashion illustrations, you likely want to be a fashion illustrator or to work in the fashion industry. Although they’re two very different types of jobs and industries, fashion illustration connects them. In this chapter, we talk about how to get started in drawing fashion and the ways in which fashion drawing differs from figure drawing. We also cover where to find work and how to get started in your career.

Getting Started with Fashion Drawing

Maybe you’ve been copying figures from magazines or dressing paper dolls with your own creations since you were a kid. If so, you already know how much your art improves when you work at it. If you’ve been drawing since you were young, you may also have picked up a number of bad drawing habits or have skipped drawing certain types of clothing or body parts because they’re more complicated. And if you haven’t been sketching everything in sight up to this point in your life, now is the time to start.

Fashion drawing tends to be much more stylized than figure drawing, so you may have to change your techniques. In the following sections, we offer some ideas about how to get started in fashion drawing.

Filling your sketchbook

Getting good at any kind of drawing is like getting to Carnegie Hall — you need to practice, practice, practice! To practice drawing no matter where you are, you need a sketchbook, better known in the industry as a design process notebook. Anything that fires up your brain and helps you create goes into the sketchbook. Your design process notebook may be full of fabric swatches, magazine clippings, drawings, words, or anything and everything you use to inspire yourself when designing. It’s like a glimpse into your brain working out all the details of a design.


So what do you sketch when you’re out and about, watching television on the couch, or paging through the latest fashion magazine? Whatever catches your eye! You can also use your notebook to practice the sketches we outline later in this chapter and throughout the book — they’re even marked with a Sketchbook icon!

Studying the masters

Great fashion illustrations are not generally hanging on the walls of famous museums. Instead, you find these works of art in fashion magazines, on billboards, in the newspaper, and on the Internet. Spend time looking at fashion illustrations and pay attention to the poses they use, along with the amount of lines and details. Check out the work of artists such as John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld (for Chanel), and Betsey Johnson.

Certain illustrations will just wow you, although you may not understand exactly why. Try to figure out what you like about certain illustrations.

tip.eps Keep a file of art that appeals to you by saving pictures of the types of work you’d like to do yourself. After a while, you’ll see a pattern emerging. Collecting images of what you like helps you learn visually and develop your own style. (For more about developing your own style, see the later section “Making Your Art Your Own.”)

warning_bomb.eps Use the images you collect for inspiration, not for copying in your own work! You don’t want to violate any copyright laws. A work is protected by copyright as soon as the artist creates it.

Grasping the Basics of Fashion Drawing

If you’re a born artist, doing fashion illustration will certainly come easily to you. But if you want to draw but hate the way your figures come out, don’t throw in the towel. Anyone can learn how to draw. We can’t stress this enough.

A desire to draw is a huge motivator. If you have a picture in your head, you can figure out how to translate it to paper step by step. Drawing starts with a single line — and anyone can draw a line! In this book, we show you how to use shapes to draw the human body and the clothing people wear. All drawings start with circles, triangles, ovals, squares, rectangles, trapezoids, and cylinders, shapes you’ve been drawing since you were a child.

remember.eps Learning how to draw is really all about learning how to see, paying attention to what you see, and understanding what you see. Many of the most amazing artists were formally trained, proving artistic skill isn’t all about being born with the talent to draw — although it certainly does help! In the end, illustration is all about mastering the basics of fashion drawing, creating your own style, and practicing, practicing, practicing.

Separating fashion from figure drawing

Although related, fashion and figure drawing are two different approaches to the same craft. Yes, they both draw the human form, but that’s where the similarities end. You can find the differences in the details.

The most noticeable difference between the two styles is the fact that fashion drawing depends on exaggeration, and figure drawing features a more realistic drawing style. A woman drawn by a figure artist looks pretty true to life. Her body is in a natural pose, her features may be plain, and her arms and legs are in scale with her physical dimensions.

Ask a fashion artist to draw the same woman, and you’re not likely to recognize her on paper. She’ll be as thin as a rail, her arms and legs will be extremely long and lean, and she may have limited facial features — or even none at all! The goal of fashion drawing is to express style and create a specific effect, and you use exaggeration, movement, and attitude to get it!

Choosing a good pose

Watch how the fashion models move on the runway, and you’ll instantly realize that fashion models don’t move or stand like normal people — they pose. Fashion models are trained to stand in certain ways in order to show off the styles of the time.

Not all poses you see on real-life models translate well onto paper, but it’s helpful to recognize different poses and understand what types of poses work well with different types of clothing. A fashion model in an evening dress doesn’t strike the same poses as a teen dude in an urban outfit. The fashion model stands tall and straight to show off the gown’s bodice and skirt; the teen dude is likely to assume a slouched pose to demonstrate how the clothing moves with ease over his body.

In fashion illustration, you utilize four different views of poses for most of your artwork (see Chapter 4 for details):

check.png The back view (Figure 1-1a)

check.png The front view (Figure 1-1b)

check.png The three-quarter view (Figure 1-1c)

check.png The side view (Figure 1-1d)

Figure 1-1: Four views of fashion poses.


remember.eps To draw a basic fashion figure, you must first understand what a “good” pose is. When drawing fashion poses, follow these informal rules:

check.png Make sure your model isn’t leaning on anything. She should be standing on her own two feet.

check.png Keep your model from falling over on the page like the model in Figure 1-2. You create balance by keeping the head, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet in a straight line from head to toe (more on this in Chapter 5).

check.png Angle the shoulders in one direction and the hips in the opposite direction, as in Figure 1-3. Doing so gives the impression of movement and attitude — two must-haves in fashion drawing. We talk more about angles in Chapter 4.

Drawing a basic fashion figure

When drawing fashion illustrations, you first create a rough sketch of the body, also referred to as a croquis. Then you draw the clothes that go on top.

Figure 1-2: Fashion figures should never look like they’re falling over.


Figure 1-3: Angling is an important part of the fashion look.


sketchbook.eps Are you ready for your first dip into fashion drawing? Grab your pencil, a black pen, some tracing paper, sketch paper, and a fashion magazine if you have one handy. Here’s how to begin drawing a front view croquis:

1. Lay tracing paper over a full-body picture of a model from a magazine (or use our outline in Figure 1-4a) and trace around the perimeter of her body using a pencil.

2. Draw lines to show the angles of the shoulders and hips. Trace a center line down the front of her body and draw an oval for the head, as in Figure 1-4b.

We give you more details about the center front line and angled lines in Chapter 5.

3. Break your figure down into basic shapes, using trapezoids for the torso and cylinders for the arms and legs. Include circles for the elbows and knees, as in Figure 1-4c.

Breaking the body down into basic shapes simplifies the drawing process. To find out more about using shapes in your drawings, flip to Chapters 3 and 4.

Figure 1-4: Tracing over an outline of a posed figure.


4. Remove the tracing paper from your model.

5. On a piece of sketch paper, redraw your fashion model freehand, but lengthen the torso, arms, and legs, as in Figure 1-5a.

The new figure is taller and narrower and has a smaller head in comparison to the rest of her body. Fashion figures almost always have long, slim torsos and long, slender limbs, which make the clothes look better. Find out more about drawing the torso in Chapter 5 and drawing arms and legs in Chapter 6.

6. Use a black pen to draw over the areas of the body that you want to show. Erase the pencil lines.

See the final croquis in Figure 1-5b.

After you’ve drawn a few croquis, you can move on to adding the clothes on top. After all, your goal is to illustrate the fashions!

Figure 1-5: Freehanding a fashion drawing with basic lines and shapes.


sketchbook.eps For this exercise, you need a croquis drawn in pencil because you’ll erase the form of the body as you add clothes to it. Follow these steps to draw a dress and knee-high boots on your croquis:

1. To create the neckline, begin with two V shapes on the neck, as in Figure 1-6a.

Make sure the ends of the V shape curve to show that they’re going around the neck. You want the clothing to look dimensional and wrap around the body.

2. Add a sleeve, as in Figure 1-6b.

To form the top of the sleeve, trace over the shoulder of the bent arm and go down to the midpoint of the upper arm. For the hem of the sleeve, draw a long line that starts at the end of the sleeve and angles in toward the body; curve the line to wrap around behind the arm. Draw a line from the sleeve’s hem to the line of the croquis’ torso to form the bottom of the sleeve. The sleeve is loose and needs to fall with gravity.

3. Draw the other sleeve, as in Figure 1-6c.

For the top of the sleeve, draw a line curving over the shoulder and down the arm, ending slightly above the elbow. Draw a hem across the arm, ending at the torso.

Add in a line for the armhole seam of each sleeve by connecting the line at the shoulder to the bottom of the sleeve.

4. Follow the sides of your model’s torso and hips and draw lines for both side seams of the fitted dress, as in Figure 1-6d.

End the side seams below the crotch and draw a slightly curved line for the hem. Curved hemlines keep the clothing from looking flat.

5. Add in details such as topstitching, ribbing, and curved lines on the sides of the waist, as in Figure 1-6e.

Topstitching, which you represent with dashed lines, is stitching visible from the outside of the garment. Draw topstitching on the sleeve hems, on the hem of the dress, and on the seams of the curved shapes at the sides of the waist. Draw short, parallel lines to add ribbing to the neckline. For more on details such as topstitching, head to Chapter 9.

6. Draw slightly curved lines above the knee for the thigh-high socks and two slightly curved lines below the knee for the tops of the knee-high boots, as in Figure 1-6f.

7. Trace along the calf lines and around the feet to draw the boots, as in Figure 1-6g.

Don’t forget to add a wedge heel to the boots. To get the skinny on drawing ultra hip boots, check out Chapter 13.

8. Finish the drawing with a fun face, hair, and arms, as in Figure 1-6h.

Turn to Chapters 7 and 8 for pointers on drawing a fashion face and hair.

Don’t worry if your fashion figure doesn’t turn out exactly how you want her to look. Perfecting your drawing skills takes time and practice. In Parts II and III of this book, we give you lots of Sketchbook exercises that allow you to practice drawing individual parts of the body and various pieces of clothing. After you’ve worked through those exercises, come back to this exercise and redraw it. You’ll be amazed at how far your skills have come.

This book shows you how to draw a basic fashion figure and a variety of clothing. However, it’s impossible to show every variation of every piece of clothing out there. When you feel you’ve mastered the exercises we include in this book, look for other garments you like and try your hand at drawing those. This is where your sketchbook comes in handy.

Figure 1-6: Rocking a cute dress and boots!


Making Your Art Your Own

As you expand your drawing experiences, you’ll want to include more of yourself in your art. No, we don’t mean that you should sketch your own face on your models! As you get more comfortable with pencil and paper, work on incorporating a technique or two that tells the viewer that this drawing was done by you, not one of the hundreds of other artists out there. The following sections give you some tips on putting your own stamp on your art.

Developing a signature style

The Great Masters of art have recognizable styles, and you need to have a distinctive style as well. You see the world with your own lenses and put your own spin on it — that uniqueness needs to come through in your artwork!

warning_bomb.eps Look at other artists and take from them the things you love, but never try to imitate someone else’s style. Here’s why:

check.png You won’t do it as well as they do.

check.png You won’t have as much fun as you would creating your own style.

check.png Imitating someone else is harder than following your instincts.

So what exactly makes a style, especially in the fashion world? Generally, fashion illustration styles fall into one of two types: loose rendering and tight rendering:

check.png Loose leaves out lots of details and draws as few lines as possible; the viewer has to use her imagination and fill in the missing details.

check.png Tight is very detailed; the viewer has a better idea of what the illustrator or designer intended.

Figure 1-7 shows two versions of the same drawing with different levels of detail.

Along with the loose versus tight rendering styles, illustrators find other ways to add their own signatures to their drawings. Some illustrators are very realistic with human details, and others let their imaginations run wild with poses and body parts that don’t really exist! See Figure 1-8 for a rather wild style. When you’re ready to develop your own style, turn to Chapter 16, where we offer some ideas about other ways to render fashion illustrations.

Figure 1-7: Loose or tight, make your style your own.


Keeping your work fresh and refining techniques

remember.eps After you find ways to make your drawings your own, continue to practice and work on your skills. Be open to taking classes or experimenting with different styles. Even after you develop a drawing style, you can continue to improve or change up your work. Remember, improving doesn’t mean your drawings aren’t good the way they are — there’s always room to develop your technique.

warning_bomb.eps Never stay satisfied with the status quo in your art, or your drawings will get stagnant as you draw things the same way every time. It’s one thing to develop a signature look and quite another to draw predictable work.

Figure 1-8: Some illustrators add a lot of whimsy.


Marianne loves to explore other artists and build off their influence — she’s constantly changing her inspirations while staying true to her techniques. This allows her to get out of her box and to experiment with new ideas. We think it’s a great way to constantly stay fresh, and it keeps you drawing all the time!

Other ideas for branching out include getting inspiration from anything and everything you see, from still life to real life and everything in between! Look at the physical part of illustrating, too — experiment with other mediums, such as paint and digital design using a mouse or drafting tablet. Your techniques will always be your own, but they’ll evolve when you expose yourself to new ideas.

Exploring the Field of Fashion Illustration

Back in the days before the Internet and great cameras, fashion illustrators were essential for showing a designer’s creations. Today, you find fewer true fashion illustrators who make their living through drawing fashion.

But the art of fashion drawing itself will never die, no matter how advanced technology gets. Illustrating is and always will be important because it gets the idea out of your head and makes it real on paper. That’s why illustration is an important skill for a designer to have. Can you imagine how hard it would be to just use words to describe a design and expect someone to be able to make it? Drawing transcends language and is the perfect visual representation of your design.

To see why drawing will never go out of style, look at a designer’s process notebooks and watch an idea grow from a rough sketch to a finished product. Doodling on a computer doesn’t allow you to work through a sketch like a series of hand drawings does — at least not yet!

Considering careers in fashion illustration

Making a career out of drawing today in any field is tricky, not just in fashion drawing. A lot of art has gone digital, and some illustrations are done solely on the computer using a mouse or drafting tablet. But don’t throw away your drawing paper just yet — even artists who work on computers need the ability to draw.

remember.eps The truth is that the need for hand design will never disappear completely. Magazines may no longer need illustrations of the latest trends because the camera captures it all, but readers still like to see drawings and organic art. Illustrations can exaggerate and introduce elements of fantasy in ways that are difficult or impossible for cameras.

Can you make a living in fashion illustration? Perhaps. A lot of fashion illustration overlaps with fashion design. Most people who want to draw fashion also want to design their model’s clothes. Most of the time, when you show your skills in illustrating, you’re also showing your designing skills.

Consider some of the following potential career choices beyond designing and marketing your own line of clothing:

check.png Work for a designer who has great ideas but has trouble transferring them to paper!

check.png Teaching others to draw is a thriving career choice. You have to complete some schooling to teach others, but inspiring new artists to develop their talent is a great way to spend your professional life.

check.png Be open to illustrating jobs that aren’t directly related to fashion. Children’s books especially depend on illustrators to capture the story and bring it to life, and the human characters in the story have to wear clothes! Try your hand at drawing some cute kids and let them play dress-up — we include some kid-specific tips throughout the book.

check.png Check out a career creating line sheets, which are drawings of garments that the manufacturer plans on producing. Merchandising garments and designs are cheaper when the garment simply has to be illustrated, not made. Line sheets help buyers see products so they know whether they want to order them.

Looking at careers in fashion design

The textile industry is the largest industry in the world — one walk through the mall can clearly illustrate the power of clothing in the retail world. Everyone wears clothes! Because clothing styles change frequently and because clothes don’t last forever, fashion is a constantly changing market. Careers in fashion design are abundant! From sourcing (which is finding all the notions and fabrics to create the garment along with finding a factory to construct the garment) to product development, fashion employs millions around the world.

If you want to get into the design industry as an illustrator, learning the trade and creating a portfolio is the way to go (check out Chapter 17 when you’re ready to put together your portfolio). Schools offer two- to four-year programs about pattern drafting, grading, fashion design, textiles, and fabric design, giving people the skills to go out into the fashion design world and create living, breathing designs.

Breaking into the fashion world

To be an artist is to be a salesperson, if you ever want anyone else to see your work. No one will come knocking down your door to see your work unless you put it out there. Working in a creative field today requires not only some knowledge of social media but also a working knowledge of the Internet.

Marketing online is not only easy but also less painful for artists who don’t have the killer instincts that make great salespeople great. Rejection is always easier online than in person! Although getting noticed is easier than ever, there’s tremendous competition, because everyone else is using the same channels to show their work.

You can do it, though, with talent, luck, and persistence (and the advice we provide in Chapter 19). Marianne now teaches fashion illustration, and she never went to school to teach. She was persistent about recording her work, loved to network at all times, and found a way to incorporate her passion into her work.