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An Introduction to Fashion Illustration

By Daniel, published on 24/10/2019 We Love Prof - AU > Arts and Hobbies > Drawing > Fashion Sketching Basics

“Fashion is like eating, you shouldn’t stick to the same menu.” -Kenzo Takada

The world of fashion is a roaring success story for many artists such as Coco Chanel, Cristian Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang, and Carolina Herrera. Not only have fashion designers created art, but they’ve contributed to making the fashion industry a multi-trillion dollar industry.

According to recent statistics, the fashion industry is one of the few and rare industries that has actually grown in annual sales during the last decade. 

Therefore, since the world of fashion has been a cinderella story for many hard-working and talented individuals, amateur fashionistas want their piece of the pie.

Many up and coming fashion illustrators have honed their skills to create outstanding fashion items. 

Consequently, in today’s article, we will discuss the basics of fashion illustration and how a career can be started for those who have been dreaming a long time to see their designs featured on the catwalk.

How to Draw Fashion Sketches

fashion illustrations The best fashion illustrations are the result of talent and the correct writing materials. (Source: Unsplash)

Before a design is ready to be cut, sewn, and manufactured, fashion enthusiasts clearly recognise the fact that hand-drawn sketches need to be produced. Therefore, to become a successful designer, an individual’s illustration skills need to be honed.

But how do I become a better fashion illustrator? 

There is no need to fret; the following steps guide fashion illustration beginners on the right path to becoming more experienced:

  • Purchasing Adequate Drawing Materials: when sketching, it is the utmost importance to possess the correct writing tools. For example, when illustrating fashion designs, it is highly recommended to use a hard lead pencil since it makes striking marks that are light and easy to erase. Consult with experienced professionals to choose writing materials that will suit your unique needs,
  • Sketching a “Croquis”: the model or croquis, derived from the word sketch in French, should be drawn in a way that will best show off the items you are sketching. As a beginner, it is highly recommended to start drawing a model in a simple pose such as walking down the runway or standing to not over complicate things.
  • Practice, Practice, and Practice: if there is one step on this list that is more important than others, it’s this one. Without practising your skills, you will not become a better fashion illustrator; Marc Jacobs didn’t become Marc Flipping Jacobs overnight! Focus on improving your sketches and creating your own style. It is essential to state that many designers spent years illustrating fashion items before showing anyone their talent.
  • Create Your Own Style: think about what you want your sketches to look like and what you want to portray. By spending time practising and create your own unique designs, you establish your own trademark.

Also, since London is considered a significant international fashion city, there are various institutes where fashion illustration can be learnt. Such as? There are excellent fashion sketching programmes at the University of the Arts London and London Art Portfolio.

Students who learn how to sketch fashionable clothing items are preparing themselves for a career working in different areas such as design firms, manufacturing establishments, retailers, theatre and dance companies, and self-employment by creating their own brand.

How to Create a Fashion Design Portfolio

By creating a beautiful portfolio of their best work, aspiring fashion illustrators showcase their talent in an organised manner.

Nevertheless, what are some of the essential steps needed to create a brilliant fashion design portfolio? 

The following are some necessary steps that should not be taken lightly since they greatly help turn something ordinary into something brilliant:

  1. Brainstorming: many inexperienced ones, without the guidance of a trusted educator, may spend hours trying to figure out what should be included in the collection of a portfolio. It is essential to state that an overwhelming amount of information is not better; less is more! By brainstorming, fashion illustration rookies come to the conclusion that a variety of illustrations is highly recommended.
  2. Staying Organised: finding an effective manner to organise your photos is necessary to prove to others that your hard work and talent are worthy of consideration. For example, some people prefer to arrange their work chronologically while others prefer to connect links throughout the portfolio. Also, another organisational method is putting your best practice in the front.
  3. Different Designs and Materials: showing an outstanding portfolio to a more experienced fashion illustrator or designer is nervewracking. Nevertheless, it can be done, and it is imperative to include different materials such as colour samples, fabric swatches, and distinct sketches; this adds life to your portfolio making it more than just a book filled with black and white illustrations.
  4. Purchase a Presentation Case: after all of the three previously mentioned steps that have been put into practice, now comes the time to buy a presentation case to organise your blood, sweats, and tears! Many highly recommended presentation cases can be purchased at local arts and crafts store or online on sites such as Amazon. A presentation is a wise choice since it shows professionalism.

After the previously stated steps have been followed, it is essential to consider what professionals are looking for in a fashion design portfolio. For example, aspects such as originality, general art skills, and attention to detail impress professionals and turn your collection into a work of art.

For those who have a passion for fashion, continue to draw and sketch beautiful sketches; do not give! A successful career in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld, Cristian Dior, and Monique Lhullier may be possible.

Fashion Illustration Resources

learning fashion illustration Helpful resources such as books, software systems, or additional websites aid beginners to become skilled in fashion illustration. (Source: Unsplash)

Fashion is a vital art-form that requires much practise and consultation of indispensable resources to become an expert. Therefore, to become successful, it is extremely wise to consult the information on reputable books, software programmes, and websites to become one of the best fashion illustrators.

Best Books

It is essential to state that many of the most exceptional talents in the fashion industry had to hone their skills to create something beautiful; plenty of time sketching designs in their personal notepad is not uncommon!

Therefore, without further ado, the following are the best books to consult to improve in fashion illustration:

  • 9 Heads: a cult classic among fashion designers, 9 Heads is a fantastic guide to mastering the basics of fashion design. Written by Nancy Riegelman, 9 Head is considered to be somewhat of a “Fashion Drawing Bible.” All types of fashion sketches can be learnt by consulting this highly recommended book. Also, for those who were curious, 9 Heads is currently the highest rated fashion illustration book on Goodreads with a score of 4.3 out of 5 stars,
  • Advanced Fashion Drawing: it is essential to state that many students of fashion design claim that this book helped them more than their many years at a qualified institution. Advanced Fashion Drawing is an excellent book for those who have already mastered the basics of fashion illustration and need assistance grasping the more advanced aspects of sketching; it is written by Bil Donovan, one of the best fashion illustrators.

Helpful Software

We are all unique individuals; therefore, it comes as no surprise that certain people like to study books while others enjoy drawing virtual images when learning about fashion illustration.

Nevertheless, it is essential to mention that with the wide variety of software programmes currently available on the market, it may be very confusing to select the correct one. However, without further ado, the following is the best software programme for aspiring fashion illustrators:

  • Adobe Illustrator: having gained the reputation of being the best software programme on the market for those working in artistic fields, Adobe Illustrator is best suited for photographers, students, and small business owners. It is essential to mention that Adobe Illustrator can be bought off the Adobe website for £49.94 per month. Some intriguing aspects of Adobe Illustrator for fashion design include CAD tools, fashion illustrations, presentation tools, and colour matching.

Useful Websites

When learning about how to become a more qualified fashion illustrator, it is vital to practice new techniques and consider the beautiful work of others in your field to master your skills; this is not plagiarism, it’s admiration.

Therefore, the following websites feature the best work of other fashion illustrators to learn more about specific techniques and overall talent:

  • Fifi Lapin: recognised by major magazines such as Marie Claire, Vogue, and Elle, Fifi Lapin is an exciting blog about the sketches of Fifi, a rabbit, in haute-couture fashion costumes. This site inspires fashion illustrators to think outside the box and uses intriguing coquis.
  • Fashion Illustration Tribe: a brilliant online resource that features fantastic information about how to become a more professional fashion illustrator, the Fashion Illustration Tribe’s owner, offers online classes and tutorials to aid amateurs to hone their skills.

The Best Fashion Illustrators to Follow

the joys of social media There are many exceptional fashion illustrators to follow on Instagram that will help amateurs learn helpful skills. (Source: Unsplash)

By creating a fashion illustration Instagram page or by following other more experienced illustrators, amateurs sketchers gain experience by scrolling through the posts of masters such as Megan Hess and Carly Kuhn.

Also, it is worth saying that by being an active part of the fashion illustration industry on social media, there are higher chances for shoutouts and positive publicity among other members. Therefore, it is in the best interest of all fashion illustrators, experienced or amateur, young or old, to embrace social media.

You do not become a master in your trade without a little help from your friends! 

Consequently, without further ado, the succeeding individuals are the best fashion illustrators to follow on the most popular social media application, Instagram:

  • Jenny Walton: the story of a girl who’s talent and dreams launched her to the top of the fashion industry is that of Jenny Walton. A graduate from Parsons who used to sketch fashion designs on her daily commute, Walton is recognised by Vogue and has over 200,000 loyal followers on Instagram that keep wanting to see more of her fashion illustrations. Nevertheless, it is essential to state that Walton’s Instagram currently features more trending style pictures than examples, her website, jenny-walton.com, is worthy of consideration to view more drawings.
  • Carly Kuhn: it comes as no surprise to many that Sarah Jessica Parker is a brilliant actress and fashion icon; however, the term “career-launcher” might not be closely associated with her. Nevertheless, in the case of Carly Kuhn, a simple sketch of SJP that was reposted and credited to Kuhn became her big break; her personal Instagram of fashion illustration became an overnight sensation. We highly recommended becoming one of Carly Kuhn’s more than 170,000 followers to analyse her sketches and learn from them carefully. Who knows, a big name like Sarah Jessica Parker might repost your drawings!
  • Megan Hess: having worked for major companies such as Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Fendi, Tiffany, and Vogue, Hess is one of the industry’s most trusted fashion illustrators. Her Instagram is worth a follow to observe her bold strokes and captivating drawings.
  • Bil Donovan: one of the best male fashion illustrators currently working today, he is not only a sketcher but also an artist and well-known educator in the fashion world. His sketches are very colourful, and his models boast striking features. On his Instagram page, @bildonovan, he states that some of his original paintings are for sale on his website.

There you have it friends, necessary information about fashion illustration that will adequately prepare you for a fantastic career as one of the industry’s most trusted and bankable illustrators!

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