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to your current job?


Drawing to communicate your ideas

Please describe your current job

I am a freelance design consultant,

working within the industry and

related areas. I am also involved in a

project at a more fundamental level,

creating a pilot fashion design

module for schoolchildren who

are interested in design.

What was your career path

to your current job?

I have basically been practising as

a design professional since I left

college, first with my own line and

later choosing to immerse myself in

the mass market. I worked full-time

in the industry up until last year when

devastation hit with the credit crunch

and many designers were made

redundant overnight. Consulting is

what many of us have opted to do

until the industry recovers – or

possibly permanently.

What makes a good

fashion sketch?

Attitude, line, clarity – I like to

start with a great hairstyle and

face. Attention to detail, such as

accessories, can accentuate the vibe

you’re trying to communicate. It’s

important for me to be excited by

what I see and I should be able to

get ‘lost’ in them.

How would you describe your

drawing style?

Realistic but not realistic, sometimes

caricaturist (which design sketches

can be), comical and whimsical,

exciting, usually with movement

and flow in the lines.

What type of media do you

like to use when you draw?

I almost always start with pencil on

layout paper. I rough out some good

poses either from life, from my head

or magazines. Then I love to ‘clean’

them up by loosely tracing them with

Indian ink and a dip pen. This forces

you to draw pretty quickly and gives

you clean, meaningful lines with

varying widths – I love using this

method. Then I work by lightly filling

in colour using pastels. I also make

copies and use colour pencils,

Pantone and highlight with gouache

if necessary.

Who or what inspires you?

Normal people inspire me... I could

be sitting on a train and notice

something amazing about a girl or

boy who’s done something cool with

their uniform or something. I can be

inspired by an old lady who wears

her hat a certain way. I was once

inspired by a NY street vendor who,

amazingly, had his teeth set with

emeralds and rubies to look like dice.

Do you have any advice for

someone starting out in the

fashion industry?

Be patient, there is so much to learn

and college can only prepare you

with the basics. Something new

(both good and bad) is always lurking

around every corner. Follow your gut

feelings and keep your standards

high, particularly if you choose the

mass-market route where small,

not-quite-right things can become

big ones in production. Believe in

yourself, otherwise no one will

believe in you.


Drawing to communicate your ideas

Please describe your current job

I'm working on drawings for

Bloomingdales, which they are

using in their various kinds of

communications for their

department stores.

What artistic training have

you had?

I studied design and drawing at

Beckmans School of Fashion, and

then went on to study at the Royal

College Of Art, Stockholm.

How would you describe your

fashion drawing style?

Adrenalin kick-style, quick and

clean and rough.

What type of media do you

like to use?

Ink feather, pen and brush using ink

are my favourites, and my style is

pretty much that. I mix materials

depending on mood, such as felt

pen, a lot of coloured pencils, a

variety of ball point pens, crayons,

basic pencils and so on.

What makes a great fashion


When you sort of feel the quick move

of the brush or pencil, understanding

the anatomy instantly in your

stomach by the first look.

What advice do you have for

a student to develop their

drawing skills?

To really practise your eyes and

hands to draw what you see, and to

practise drawing anatomy by nude

studies, over and over again, until it

comes automatically like walking or

riding a bicycle.

What or who inspires you?

Music influences me a lot, it

gives soundtracks and moods

to my pictures.


Having looked at the purpose and evolution of fashion

drawing, both as a statement of style and a means of

communicating an idea or design, it is important to

apply a greater understanding of the fashion figure to the

development of a contemporary and personal drawing style.

In this chapter we will look in more detail at the fashion

figure and consider the value of working with a life model to

gain primary drawing perspectives. We will also examine the

differences between observational drawings of the human

figure and the idealised forms that characterise the fashion

figure for men and women. Different approaches between

drawing men and women are compared and contrasted

as we consider how to proportion the human body to a

fashion scale. We look at the value of working with poses to

communicate an attitude and create the desired look, along

with associated gestural attributes, which are characteristic

of figurative fashion drawing. The use of drawing media and

line quality will also be presented and considered in relation

to the evolving fashion figure.

1 Illustration by

Holly Mae Gooch.

The fashion figure

I like the body. I like to design everything to do

with the body.’

Gianni Versace

Drawing to communicate your ideas > The fashion figure > Technical drawings1

The fashion figure

The fashion figure

1 Sketch by Helena


2 Nine-heads figure template

by Helena Kruczynska.

Understanding fashion proportions

The proportions of a fashion figure are often exaggerated and

stylised, particularly for womenswear drawings. This can

sometimes be slightly confusing to the untrained eye but in

fashion terms it represents a statement of an ideal rather than

an actual body shape. This ideal is then aligned to a contemporary

look that is viewed through the visual lens of fashion.

Since the late 1960s and 1970s exaggerated proportions

have generally prevailed and continue to exert an artistic

influence over most fashion drawings. Most standing fashion

figures are proportioned between nine and ten heads in height

(if the figure’s head is arranged vertically on the page alongside the

complete standing figure). Most of the additional height is gained

through the legs, with some added to the neck and a little added

to the torso above the natural waist. Most women in the real

world stand around 5ft 5in or 5ft 6in, but a fashion figure needs to

project greater height in order to better show off the clothes and

communicate the look to an audience, usually through exaggerated

gestural poses. Of course, a woman who might be 5ft 2in could be

proportioned the same as a woman standing 5ft 10in but for fashion

purposes neither would offer the desired ideal proportions for

communicating the look. When drawing the fashion figure the

look might refer to the prevailing styles of the season, such as

the position of the fashion waist, or it may be an exploration of

voluminous or contoured clothing styles with reference to

influences from a particularly favoured model or celebrity.

There are fundamental differences between the fashion proportions

for drawing men and women. Women’s fashion proportions are

mostly concerned with extending height through the legs and neck,

with the resulting drawings taking on a sinuous and gently curved

appearance. For men the drawing approach is altogether more

angular. (See Drawing men on page 70.)50 / 51

Understanding fashion proportions > Drawing from life The fashion figure

The fashion figure

1 Observational drawing from

life model, by Helena


Drawing from life

Drawing from life, which is an excellent way to develop and refine

your drawing skills, involves observational drawing of real-life male

or female figures. It is important to consider the appropriate art

materials and media, such as charcoal, pen or pencil, as well as

paper type and the eventual scale of work. Working to larger

sizes, such as A3 or A2, is often best when starting out or

simply for loosening up (see page 166 for more on paper sizes).

Drawing is a process that can be improved and enhanced with

regular practice and life drawing offers the particular opportunity

of developing and improving hand-to-eye coordination. This is

essentially about trusting yourself to spend more time looking at

the figure in front of you, rather than by glancing at the figure then

looking at the emerging drawing itself and drawing from memory.

This is a common mistake among life-drawing students.

It is very important to study the figure before you start to draw.

Try to make sure that you are in a good viewing position and then

analyse the pose. If the figure is standing it is essential to establish

which leg is taking most or all of the weight; this will critically

determine the stability of the pose in relation to what is called the

‘balance line’. The balance line is an imaginary line that drops from

the base of the centre of the neck down to the floor at the position

of the foot. It can be drawn on the paper and used as a guide to

ensure that the figure remains standing without ‘tipping over’ on the

page. As a general rule, the leg that is supporting the weight of the

pose, which should always be drawn before the other leg, will curve

down to the floor and should join up with the balance line at the

outside edge of the foot. 52 / 53





The principle of the balance line applies to all standing fashion poses

including those simulating a walking pose. It is also applicable to

menswear although men’s poses are generally made less dramatic

and gestural than for women’s fashion drawing.

Studying the pose first also allows time to evaluate distinctions

between the ‘actual’ figure and the expression of an ‘ideal’ fashion

figure for womenswear or menswear. Proportions in fashion drawing

represent an ideal, so it follows that the life figure does not need to

be drawn as an exact representation. This requires interpretative

visualisation, which is an essential release for fashion drawing. 1

The fashion figure

The fashion figure54 / 55

Understanding fashion proportions > Drawing from life > Creating poses

1–3 A series of observational

life drawings by Helena

Kruczynska.The fashion figure

The fashion figure

1 Line drawing of pose by

Holly Mae Gooch.

Fashion drawings are frequently characterised by gesture and

movement, both of which are ideally suited to exploration through

drawing the fashion figure from life. Part of a fashion drawing’s allure

is its seemingly effortless style, which is sometimes the result of a

careful selection of lines and what is left to the imagination of the

viewer. In this regard it is important to note the value of line quality

in the fashion-drawing process.

Line quality describes the varieties of drawn lines or marks that

have their own inherent characteristics depending on the media

that is used, the paper quality, the speed at which the line is made

and even the angle of the pen or pencil as it moves along the

surface of the paper. Distinct from adding tone and shading

techniques, the use of line to convey essential information is integral

to most fashion drawings.

Some of the most expressive and visually engaging fashion poses

are the result of linear drawings, where selective line quality is used

to maximum effect. An understanding of fashion proportions and

the standing balance line is essential as a building block for more

gestural poses, which instil movement and personality into a fashion

drawing. In addition to studying poses from life, it is also possible to

develop poses by tracing over figurative photographs in magazines,

but this needs to be approached with care: consider the image only

as a starting point. Fashion is, after all, a human activity so it follows

that developing and creating studied poses is a useful exercise and

will aid the development of templates or croquis for future use.

Creating poses56 / 57

Drawing from life > Creating poses > Fashion heads, faces and hair

It should be possible to use a pose more than once and for a

template figure to present different design ideas. While the pose

should be relevant to the context of the clothing (for example, it

would make little sense to draw a sporty pose for a wedding dress

or an evening gown), creating the pose is much more about the

body underneath. Look for movement lines that run through the

body – not the outline of the figure – noting the intersections of the

pose at the bust, waist and hip positions. The leg supporting the

weight must be grounded, but the other limbs can be modified or

adapted to enhance gestural qualities. In this way, the resulting

fashion poses can exaggerate the ‘actual’ to project a more

expressive ‘ideal’.


Croquis is a French word

for a sketch. In fashion

terms, it describes a linear

drawing of a figure that may

be used as a template over

which to trace and draw a

design or garment. Figurative

fashion templates or croquis

are typically exaggerated

to a nine- or ten-heads

proportion.2 1

The fashion figure

The fashion figure58 / 59

Drawing from life > Creating poses > Fashion heads, faces and hair

1–4 Selection of drawings by

Holly Mae Gooch. The

figures in 2 and 4 are line

drawings of different poses;

1 and 3 show studies of

poses in a fashion context.1

The fashion figure

The fashion figure

1 Developing a study of

a fashion face by

Holly Mae Gooch.

Fashion heads, facial features and hairstyles are worthy of special

consideration in fashion drawing; they can convey a multitude of

essential style and gender information. The very personal and unique

attributes that a face can contribute to a drawing are worth exploring

through practice and exercises. Much like the evolution of fashion

drawing itself, the ‘ideal’ face changes over time and takes on many

guises. Make-up trends continue to have a direct influence on

contemporary fashion faces and it is always useful to collect

magazine tear sheets from which to study and evaluate different

faces and proportions.

Fashion heads, faces and hair60 / 61

Creating poses > Fashion heads, faces and hair > Arms, hands, legs and feet1

The fashion figure

The fashion figure62 / 63

Creating poses > Fashion heads, faces and hair > Arms, hands, legs and feet

1 Study of a fashion face by

Holly Mae Gooch.1 2

The fashion figure

The fashion figure


Although faces can be drawn in

the linear style that is so often

used in fashion, they can also

lend themselves to applications of

tone and shade. Structurally, the

forward-facing head is oval in shape

for women – much like an egg

shape – and should be horizontally

intersected at mid-point to position

the eyes. The mouth is usually

arranged halfway between the eyes

and the base of the chin. The mouth

could be considered in two parts

with its upper and lower lips. The

upper lip should include an ‘M’

shape definition. The nose may either

be represented with dots for the

nostrils above the top lip of the

mouth or with an added off-centre

vertical line from the front of the face

as if to indicate a shadow. Noses

are rarely given any prominence in

fashion faces as the eyes and lips

become the main features.

Eyes lend themselves to thicker lines

and smudging effects but take care

not to overwork them. Eye shadow

can be added for greater effect and

to provide colour. Lashes should

also be considered and can have a

dramatic effect on the overall visual

appeal of the drawing.

The ears may be discreetly added at

the side of the head starting at eye

level and ending just above the

nostrils; they can be useful for

displaying earrings, if appropriate. 64 / 65

4 3

Creating poses > Fashion heads, faces and hair > Arms, hands, legs and feet


The hair should be carefully

considered as this can have

a transforming effect on the

appearance of the fashion head.

Again, collect tear sheets from

magazines in order to build up a

visual file of hairstyles as it can be

quite challenging to imagine them

without a reference point and of

course, hairstyles for women vary

enormously. If it is visible the hairline

should be drawn around a quarter

of the way down from the top of

the oval shape of the head. Line,

shade and colour can all be added

according to the style requirements

and context.

1–2 Study of lips and eyes by

Holly Mae Gooch.

3–4 Two hairstyle studies by

Holly Mae Gooch, showing

the drawing development.2 1

The fashion figure

The fashion figure

1–3 Studies of hands and arms

by Holly Mae Gooch.

When drawing a fashion figure it is important to consider the hands,

arms, legs and feet in relation to the pose and gestural qualities. The

standing figure needs to be drawn with due consideration of the

balance line, so that the leg that supports the weight of the figure is

drawn at a gentle curve down to the floor, with the outside edge of

the foot placed where it meets the balance line. Correctly positioning

the leg that supports the weight of the figure is critical in determining

the credibility of the pose; consider this in relation to the upper body

position and the placement of the arms, which can often

counterbalance the exaggerated form of the legs.

Although it is helpful to understand anatomy and muscle tone in

relation to figure drawing, for fashion drawings the arm muscles are

not emphasised on women. Instead, the lines of the female figure

should remain gently curved and drawn as a continuous line

wherever possible. Longer lines are a discernible characteristic of

fashion drawing and help to convey a sense of style and confidence.

Arms, hands, legs and feet66 / 67

Drawing arms and hands

When drawing an arm, consider it in

three parts: the upper arm, the elbow

and the lower arm. The upper arm is

attached to the shoulder from which

it may pivot depending on the angle

of the torso. It has a smooth, gently

tapering upper section that reaches

down to the elbow position. The

elbow can be drawn in a variety of

ways depending on whether the

arm is viewed from the front, in

which case a discreet line is usually

sufficient; or from the side, when its

flexible, more ‘pointed’ character

defines the angle of the lower arm.

This part of the arm tapers more

visibly to where it joins the hand.

Women’s wrists should be narrow

just above the hand and may

sometimes be adorned with a

bracelet or bangle depending

on the desired look.

In drawing terms, the hands have

two main parts: the front or back of

the palm and the fingers and thumb.

Both parts may be elongated to offer

the fashion figure a range of gestures

and actions, which will all enhance

the drawing. Consider the angle of

the lower arm when drawing the

hand. Fingernails may be included

but knuckles are not usually

emphasised: too much detail

on a hand can make it look wrinkled.

You could also try drawing the hand

resting on the hip with the fingers

hidden from view.



Ïî ñïèñêó


The fashion figure


The feet are usually drawn in a

simplified way that mostly assumes

a shoe line. When starting out it is

helpful to practise sketching bare

feet, but the foot will usually be

hidden from view within a shoe,

which can be drawn in a huge

variety of styles. The overall look will

be determined by the angle of the

foot and whether or not the shoe

has a heel.


As fashion drawing is largely

concerned with presenting an

interpretation of an ideal figure rather

than realistic proportions, so it

follows that drawing the legs is an

exercise in artistic licence. Fashion

legs are routinely extended in the

upper leg and thigh, and below the

knee to where the ankle meets the

foot. Referring to the principle of

head heights in fashion, half the total

height of the female figure (i.e. four

head heights) is taken up by the legs

from below the crotch position.

When drawing a leg, approach it as

three parts: the upper leg or thigh;

the knee; and the lower leg or calf,

which joins the foot. The upper leg

should be gently rounded and taper

to the knee position; this can be

sketched out as a circle but on a

finished drawing is usually indicated

with a slightly extended line from

one side of the upper leg to indicate

its forward position. It is not

emphasised but marks the position

from which the lower leg starts and

gently curves down to the narrowest

part of the leg just above the ankle. 68 / 69

Fashion heads, faces and hair > Arms, hands, legs and feet > Drawing men

1–2 Legs and shoes by

Holly Mae Gooch.

3 ‘Talons’ illustration by

Lovisa Burfitt.1

The fashion figure

The fashion figure

1 Linear menswear drawings

by Fiona Hillhouse.

2 Menswear illustration by

Thomas Rothery.

It has already been noted that fashion drawing is largely concerned

with presenting an ideal figure rather than an actual body shape

and this principle also applies to drawing men. Physical gender

differences must be taken into account and are usually emphasised

in order to assert a position of masculinity, depending on the desired

age and attitude to be conveyed. In fashion drawing terms, men can

cover a wider age range than most fashion drawings of women,

rather like male models whose careers tend to extend beyond their

female counterparts. The male figure can be elongated to nine or ten

heads in height; when compared to the female figure the torso is

longer and correspondingly the overall leg length is slightly shorter,

particularly the lower leg from below the knee. Perhaps the most

striking difference, however, is the emphasis of muscle tone, which

is applied more readily to the male figure. When drawing male and

female fashion figures on the same page, the male figure should

stand slightly taller than the female, or at the same height.

Drawing men70 / 71

Arms, hands, legs and feet > Drawing men > Howard Tangye2 1

The fashion figure

The fashion figure

The male fashion figure

Starting from the head and working

down to the feet, let’s consider the

male figure in more detail. First the

head shape is drawn differently.

Instead of an oval egg shape the

head usually appears more angular

and chiselled with a squared-off

jawline. A jaw dimple is sometimes

added. Eyes are positioned at mid-

point. Eyebrows add definition and

can be emphasised as a horizontal

line, but not the upper lid of the eye

as this might appear like make-up.

The mouth is drawn wider and

straighter than for women; ears can

be added to the side of the head

from eye level to just above the

nostril level. The neck is not used

to gain height and is drawn to a

more natural length than for women,

appearing thicker and less curved

as it joins up with the shoulder.

The upper torso of the male figure is

drawn as the widest part of the body

before the addition of the arms, and

tapers slightly to the waist. The waist

size is much thicker than for women

but the line from the waist to the hips

is almost parallel and should always

appear trim, as the hips are not

emphasised on a man and should

look noticeably narrower than the

chest width. Stomach muscles

may be defined where it is

appropriate to the look. The arms

and shoulders add further width to

the male silhouette and are thicker

and more muscular than for women.

Wrists and hands can also be drawn

thicker; the fingers are blunter and

less tapered than for women. It is

interesting to note the different

approaches to male and female

gestures. Arms are generally drawn

closer to the body unless specifically

engaged in an activity such as

holding a ball or an umbrella.

The hands are not used as

expressively as they are for women,

much beyond gripping objects or

being positioned in pockets. Overall,

fashion poses for men are typically

less dramatic and certainly less fluid

than for women. 72 / 73

4 3

Arms, hands, legs and feet > Drawing men > Howard Tangye

The principle of the balance line

applies equally to standing poses

for men as it does for women.

Men’s legs are not drawn with

the same degree of curve and are

correspondingly thicker and more

muscular in character. The knees can

be drawn more prominently than for

women while feet are drawn larger

and more angular. Men can be

drawn in activity poses such as

walking, riding a bike or climbing

and can also look credible when they

are cropped, appearing to be closer

to the viewer, which also adds to

their physical presence.

Drawing from life provides a valuable

means of learning to draw men by

directly observing and studying male

proportions and credible masculine

poses. Magazine images can also be

useful for referencing hairstyles and

a range of movements. Longer lines

are generally preferred in fashion

drawings and while this is also true

for drawing men, the lines tend to

be straighter. They can almost

appear joined up, like a series of

interconnecting points, or with

inflections, which interrupt a line

that might otherwise look too

graceful and feminine.


1 Illustration by Aaron Lee


2 Line drawing by

Holly Mae Gooch.

3–4 Sketches by Richard Haines.1

Howard Tangye, fashion illustrator and senior lecturer at Central Saint Martins

The fashion figure

Please describe your current job

and your career path

I am the senior lecturer for

womenswear in the Fashion and

Textiles School at Central Saint

Martins College of Art and Design.

This involves working with large

groups of very talented people who

have varying points of view and

tastes. Being part of student

development in art and design

and their related skills is incredibly

interesting and inspiring. My

responsibility is to keep the students

inspired and challenge their ability;

to set project briefs and encourage

a dialogue, so that there is always

something new and in-depth

coming through.

I have worked professionally as a

designer and an illustrator. But my

teaching position is now full-time so I

have to maintain a discipline of sorts

to practise my own personal work

alongside that. It works because I

love both equally.

How would you describe your

drawing style?

I think my drawing style has evolved

with, and been affected by, the

changes in my life. As a child I drew

naturally, in a naive way, from my

imagination. I loved colouring books

and illustrated reading books at

school. Then I was very fortunate to

be taught by Elizabeth Suter as a

student at Central Saint Martins.

She taught how to look properly,

to be aware of the body, in its

movement, proportion, the bones,

details, using the layout of the page,

use of media and so on. This

affected me in the most profound

way. Drawing was an elective subject

in the design school. When working

in the drawing studio we always

drew from life models of various

shapes and sizes. The quality of the

teaching was evident in the results

and the standards of both design

and drawing in the school. All the

tutors were able to draw. The

philosophy of the school then, as

now, was to enable the student

to develop their confidence, to

be themselves.

1–4 A vibrant use of colour is

characteristic of Howard

Tangye’s work (figures 3

and 4 shown overleaf).74 / 75


Drawing men > Howard Tangye

I have two different approaches to

drawing: working from the model,

looking and feeling the line or texture;

and from my imagination, usually in

small and intimate sketchbooks. The

two come together at some point.

What type of media do you like to

use when you draw?

I like to work with mixed media on

paper: oil sticks, pastels, graphite

pencils, inks, gouache, brushes and

pens. The quality of paper is very

important to me, both in terms of

the texture and also its ability to hold

all the above and I like to see the

paper through the media. I also like

to see what happens to the media

afterwards when it is viewed under a

magnifying glass. It is a whole other

world of marks and colour not seen

when just viewed with the naked eye.

It’s magic.

What common mistakes do

students make when drawing?

The most common mistakes

students make when drawing are

that they do not look at the figure

closely and they don’t concentrate.

Both are essential.

What elements make up a visually

engaging composition?


Ïî ñïèñêó

The elements that help make up a

visually engaging composition are the

use of the negative space and how

the figure is placed on the page.

Traditional Japanese artists are

masters of it.

What or who inspires you to draw?

Drawing is hard work. It is

demanding but I am inspired to

draw the figure by people who

have caught my eye, by the way

they look, the way they move, their

posture and so on. Everybody has

individual qualities that are attractive

but certain temperaments can be

the key. It’s a two-way thing: the

sitter has to work at it too. 3

Howard Tangye, fashion illustrator and senior lecturer at Central Saint Martins

The fashion figure

The fashion figure76 / 77

Drawing men > Howard Tangye78 / 79

This chapter considers the importance of understanding

how to draw individual garments as part of the fashion

drawing process. In contrast to the more stylised approach

used to draw the fashion figure, this chapter introduces the

realistic proportions and techniques for drawing flats and

specifications, or specs as they are more commonly known.

We discuss the role of computers in fashion drawing and

their application to a variety of presentation enhancements

and visual formats. This includes an introduction to dedicated

software programs that continue to be developed and refined

to meet the needs of the fashion industry. Visual examples

distinguish between the different presentation requirements

of technical drawings for fashion. Finally, there is an insightful

interview with the director of a design consultancy that

produces specs for a number of international clients.

Technical drawings

1 Students working with

Lectra software program.

Even when I work with computers, with high technology,

I always try to put in the touch of the hand.’

Issey Miyake

The fashion figure > Technical drawings > Colouring and rendering


Technical drawings

Technical drawings

1 Specification sheet by

Elmaz Hüseyin.

Understanding garments

The ability to demonstrate an understanding of individual garments

is fundamental to fashion design and covers an area that we might

broadly describe as ‘flats’ and ‘specs’. While both terms are widely

used in design education and across the ready-to-wear fashion

industry, there are some important differences between them.

A flat is an individual garment, or series of garments, drawn in the

flat to represent a three-dimensional form as if it was laid down and

viewed from above. Front and back views are usual, although side

views can also be included depending on the visual information to

be conveyed. Flats are essentially linear drawings, which may be

enhanced for presentation purposes.

A spec (short for specification) is a more technically orientated and

exacting presentation of an individual garment, drawn in a precise

linear style to convey detailed technical information. The drawing is

presented on a specification sheet, an internal document that a

company uses for manufacturing purposes, which contains

essential technical information such as the assembly processes,

fabric, trimmings and costings. 80 / 81

Understanding garments > Drawing fashion flats1

Technical drawings

Technical drawings

Garment characteristics

There are different approaches to

drawing flats and specs, yet each

requires a fashion student or

designer to demonstrate their

knowledge and understanding of an

individual garment. Flats and specs

are therefore not as much concerned

with the overall look, as a figurative

drawing might be, but rather with

the detail and characteristics of the

garment. These characteristics could

be defined through a series of three

main visualisation processes. The

first is an understanding of the

overall silhouette and proportion of

the garment. Flats and specs are

drawn with much more proportional

accuracy than equivalent figurative

illustrations, so instead of a nine-

or ten-heads figure, a more realistic

eight-heads figure is used.

The second requirement of flats and

specs is to document the style lines.

This includes drawing all seams and

darts that shape the garment and

any additional features such as

gathers or pleats. All style lines can

be drawn using linear techniques

that shouldn’t rely on shading, colour

or tone. It is also important to include

back views of all style lines to

demonstrate a full understanding of

the garment. Style lines such as

ruffles, added fullness or pleating

variations can be drawn in a variety

of ways, all of which are achieved

through drawing technique and

practice. Look at examples of other

flats or specs to increase your own

knowledge and understanding. As

your level of technical knowledge

increases, and your practical skills

improve through pattern making and

draping in the studio, so too will your

ability to draw garments efficiently

and effectively. In short, a student

who does not understand the basic

elements of fit and shape will be less

able to draw competent flats that are

indicative of a fully resolved garment

design in two dimensions. It is

always a good idea to draw a flat

or spec as if you had to give it to

someone to cut or drape without

you there to explain it.

The third visualisation process that

makes up a flat or spec is the

application of detail lines. These

include topstitching and other visual

surface applications, such as a patch

pocket, for example, which does not

affect the fit of the garment but is

integral to its final presentation.82 / 83

Understanding garments > Drawing fashion flats

1–2 A selection of flats by

SnapFashun, a specialist

company that provides

vector graphics templates.1

Technical drawings

Technical drawings

1 Presentation of flats

on design board by

Emma Frame.

2 Flats by Nuttawan

Ness Kraikhajornkiti.

Drawing fashion flats

The approach to drawing fashion flats is generally more varied

and less formal than drawing a corresponding specification drawing.

It is important to consider what the purpose of the flat will be. This

might sound rather obvious, but flats can be applied to several

different end uses. The first of these might be to demonstrate a full

understanding of a design that is presented as an artistic illustration

or figurative drawing. It can sometimes be appropriate to include

a flat alongside a figurative drawing in order to better explain the

design. However, this has to be considered in relation to the

compositional value of the drawing; for some illustrations it may

be unsuitable. Arranging flats on a separate presentation board

is another option.

Another purpose of flats is to demonstrate range planning skills.

In this regard flats serve an important function: they are extremely

useful for breaking down a collection into its component parts.

This can be by product, such as a visual analysis of all the skirts

or tops within a collection; or by theme, such as grouping together

all garments that make up a travel-themed capsule within a larger

seasonal collection. In this way flats provide a distinct and additional

presentation value to a designer’s portfolio. 84 / 85


Understanding garments > Drawing fashion flats > Drawing technical specifications

Although flats can be drawn with the aid of software programs,

when starting out they are best drawn by hand. Use a pencil or pen

to trace over a realistically proportioned eight-heads template/croquis

figure. You can either refer to an existing figure or create your own by

tracing over a standing pose in a magazine and refining the pose to

a simple outline of realistic proportions. Use the same template or

croquis figure for all your flats within the same presentation to

achieve visual consistency and scale. Hand-drawn flats can also

be drawn larger than their intended scale and reduced down to the

required size. This is a good way to get started and allows for an

enhanced level of detailing, such as topstitching. While flats should

be drawn with a high level of clarity, there are a number of views on

whether a flat should be drawn symmetrically or not. It is good to

practise drawing a symmetrical garment by hand: draw half the

garment and fold it over to trace off the other half. However, perfect

symmetry is not essential: one sleeve could be folded at the elbow,

for example, to show more detail or simply to enhance the visual

effect. There are limits to taking a more relaxed approach when

drawing flats but by adding a few drape lines or using a variety

of line thicknesses, flats can appear less ‘flat’ and begin to take

on more three-dimensional qualities.

Digital techniques

In considering the

commercial context of flats

and their presentation value

to buyers or as part of a

fashion designer’s portfolio, it

is possible to accommodate

enhancements such as

colour and line quality.

Increasingly, presentation

flats are being coloured up

using software programs

such as Illustrator or Lectra’s

Kaledo design software.


Ïî ñïèñêó


Technical drawings

Drawing technical specifications

Technical specifications or specs (also referred to as technical

drawings or schematic drawings) are approached in a more formal

fashion than flats. This is because a specification drawing has an

industrial context that is closely linked to a manufacturing

specification or cutting sheet instruction.

Technical specifications contain the visual information required for the

manufacture of an individual garment in relation to its associated unit

costs, such as all trimmings and design details, which might include

labels or an embroidered logo. They are not used for range planning

or to visualise an outfit unless, for example, the garment is made up

of two parts for manufacturing purposes, such as a coat with a

detachable hood. Specification drawings are always produced after

a design has been formulated. They are prepared in readiness for a

production run through a factory unit or for a ‘sealed sample’ for

assembly on a production line. Technical specifications should

always be drawn in a clear and linear style: they need to be accurate

and clear enough in their detail for a factory manager or garment

technologist to understand them and to provide sufficient information

for a sample machinist to be able to assemble the garment without

additional instruction.

1 Specification sheet by

Elmaz Hüseyin.

2 Spec drawing by

Aaron Lee Cooper.88 / 89

Drawing fashion flats > Drawing technical specifications > Vector graphics and bitmaps

The ability to draw an accurate fashion spec requires a high level

of technical knowledge combined with a steady hand. Most fashion

students will not be at this advanced level when starting out.

Moreover, not all fashion designers will be required to produce a

factory spec. However, in practice, fashion students and designers

should be able to understand them and produce a detailed line

drawing of a garment when working with a pattern maker.

Specification drawings serve an important function in identifying

and eliminating potential faults before production. As such, they

are increasingly being drawn with the aid of computers using a

variety of CAD/CAM programs, signalling a move towards a more

integrated design and manufacture approach.1

Technical drawings

Technical drawings

Vector graphics and bitmaps

Digital graphics media first emerged in the 1980s. Desktop scanners

and more efficient graphics tablets soon followed, enabling designers

to digitise hand-drawn artwork for the first time. The development

of digital drawing and image-editing software during the late 1980s

heralded the arrival of early vector graphics and bitmaps. In simple

terms, vector graphics are geometric formations such as lines,

points and curves, which are based on mathematical equations to

represent a digital image. They produce clear lines that are suitable

for drawing flats or specs; linear quality is not reduced when scaled

up or down in size. Bitmaps are the data structure represented by a

grid of pixels that makes up a digital image, measured as dots per

inch (dpi). Pixels are the building blocks of bitmap images such as

digital photographs and scanned images. The more pixels an image

has per unit, the better the quality of the image for colour and

resolution. Bitmaps are also known as raster graphics and are

stored in various image files such as JPEGs or TIFFs.

Since their early application, graphics software programs have

steadily developed and expanded into a variety of sophisticated user

platforms, which can be used for enhancing fashion presentations.

1–2 Vector graphic fashion

illustrations by Nuttawan

Ness Kraikhajornkiti.90 / 91

Drawing technical specifications > Vector graphics and bitmaps > Tomek Sowacki

Techniques include digital drawing, colouring, rendering and image

editing for visual formats. Foremost among the available software

are Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, which have become industry

standards. Photoshop is a graphics editing program that is primarily

geared towards photo manipulation. Illustrator is a vector-based

drawing program, originally developed for the Apple Macintosh in

the mid-1980s. Today it has evolved into a sophisticated digital

drawing tool that allows for the conversion of bitmap imagery into

vector art. Illustrator’s versatility makes it well-suited for creating

composite illustrations and layouts, which are excellent for drawing

and presenting flats. Illustrator can also incorporate images and text

with vector graphics to enhance presentations. Other software

programs of note are CorelDRAW, a Windows-based vector

graphics program and its raster image creation and editing

counterpart, Corel PHOTO-PAINT. Macromedia Freehand is

another powerful vector graphics tool that is orientated towards

the desktop publishing market and now owned by Adobe.1

Technical drawings

Technical drawings

Fashion software

Specialist IT providers have

developed dedicated fashion

software applications. For example,

French company Lectra has

developed Kaledo, a Windows-

based fashion design software

package. SnapFashun in the United

States has developed a CAD system

to serve the fashion industry, which

includes an extensive library of

fashion flats and garment details

that digitally ‘snap’ together (see

page 82). Intended to assist busy

designers working in industry

or fashion students with creating and

drawing their flats, SnapFashun’s

vector graphics templates are

compatible with Adobe Illustrator.

As well as their labour-saving

capabilities, these graphics

applications and CAD solutions offer

extended opportunities for designers

to modify their ideas and working

processes. The ability to draw by

hand will always be relevant in

fashion and should be practised

and maintained. But increasingly, as

we shall see later, developments in

fashion illustration are witnessing a

synergy between hand-drawing

styles and digital enhancements.92 / 93

Drawing technical specifications > Vector graphics and bitmaps > Tomek Sowacki

1–7 A selection of screen

images showing Kaledo,

a fashion design software

program from French

company Lectra. 1

Technical drawings

Technical drawings

Please describe your current job

I work and manage a freelance

design consultancy agency:


It consists of a network of

experienced and dedicated

designers; we take on a variety of

projects from clients in the fashion

and textile sector. Our work includes

fashion design, graphic design and

logo design.

What was your career path

to your current job?

After completing my MA at Central

Saint Martins, I started to work for

sport-specific brands such as

Adidas, Puma and Tommy Hilfiger

Sports, as well as lifestyle brands

such as Levis and Rip Curl. I also

had my own brand, Yucon, which

was successful but we ran out of

funding. With my overall experience

as designer and manager I decided

that I prefer freelancing or self-

employment so my current situation,

managing my own freelance

business, suits me perfectly.

How would you describe

your artwork?

Carefully thought through and

usually rich in detail.

How important are computers

to what you draw?

Computers are vital to my work

as they allow me to be clear and

specific in detail; any alterations can

be done then and there. They make

it easier to share the information

between me, my clients and

factories; I think they are essential

to any business these days and I

would be lost without them.

Tomek Sowacki, design director94 / 95


Vector graphics and bitmaps > Tomek Sowacki

What type of software do

you need to be able to use?

My favourite is Illustrator on Mac as

it is fantastic for technical drawings

and it links up with the whole Adobe

Suite such as Photoshop and others.

What makes a good fashion

flat or technical drawing?

I would say a clear one: when you

are able to give the drawing to

production and the person ‘reading’

the drawing is able to execute the

design according to the information

given without having to ask any

further questions. Good drawings

are important as they can save time

and not halter the progress.

What are your favourite garments

or subjects to draw?

I really enjoy designing outerwear as

I think these garments in particular

require you to think jointly about

function, style and technical aspects

due to the different end use (such

as who will wear it, where, when, in

what weather and so on). This allows

me to indulge in the details of the

garment, internal as well as external,

to create maximum style and



Ïî ñïèñêó

Do you have any advice for

someone starting out in the

fashion industry?

Make sure you love it, persevere

in the industry and find a career

path that suits you!

1–2 Design and corresponding

spec sheet by Tomek


96 / 97

In this chapter we look at the influence of colour in fashion

drawing by considering how it affects design presentations

and media choices for artwork. Colour theory is also

introduced and evaluated in relation to hand-rendering

techniques and the development of computer-aided drawings

and associated colour schemes. The particular role of mixed

media and collage for fashion is considered, with a variety of

supporting visuals that provide an introduction to the wide

range of media choices that have become integrated into

contemporary fashion artwork. We also look at the

application of colour to different fabrics, textures and prints.

The chapter ends with an engaging interview with a fashion

design illustrator who has collaborated with a number of

international fashion houses to produce colour prints and

textiles for their seasonal collections.

Colouring and rendering

1 Illustration by Wendy


I like light, colour, luminosity. I like things full of colour

and vibrant.’

Oscar de la Renta

Technical drawings > Colouring and rendering > Presentation formats

‘Colouring and rendering

Colouring and rendering

Colour for fashion

Colour media for fashion has evolved over the years and it has had

a direct influence upon the visual style and presentation of fashion

drawings. The introduction of marker pens in the 1960s confirmed

a particularly significant shift towards faster and more responsive

media, which were specifically design-orientated rather than

historically rooted in a tradition of artist materials. Marker pens still

exert a powerful influence over fashion sketching styles and drawing

techniques. Today, however, the range of colour media that is

available to fashion designers and design students must also be

considered in the context of computer-aided design software.

Let’s start by briefly considering what colour represents from a

fashion perspective. When most of us look at images of clothes

in a magazine or see a fashion window display we are immediately

drawn to the colour of the clothing and accessories. Moreover,

fashion collections are routinely designed and visually merchandised

into seasonal colour themes. Colour is a fundamental, powerful

force in the design process, from fabric selection through to the

completion of a design. It is also a vital component in fashion that

can have a transforming effect upon audience perceptions and

reactions. Some designers such as Matthew Williamson or Manish

Arora are well-known for their engaging use of colour, while other

designers use colour to make a statement or add specific pieces

to their collections.

Colour can also be expressed through embroidery, appliqué and a

variety of trimmings such as zips and buttons, as well as colour dyes

and printed textile designs. Fashion labels such as Basso Brooke,

Cacharel and Eley Kishimoto are all known for their use of colour

through printed textiles. The selection and application of colour is

a decision driven by emotion but it can have a transforming effect

on a design. Consider, for example, a dress design conceived and

drawn in beige and then the same design presented in red. We

would respond to them differently, even though the dress would

be in the same style. Such is the emotive power of colour. 98 / 99

Colour for fashion > Fabric rendering

1 Manish Arora S/S08.


2 Matthew Williamson S/S09.


Despite personal preferences there is really no such thing as a bad

colour. It is an artistic or design decision to select a colour and apply

it to a design, choosing whether or not to combine it with another

colour. The appearance of a colour is dependent on light: it will take

on a different appearance when viewed under different optical

conditions. The multitude of shades, tones and hues that are

available today through synthetic or natural processes can be

broadly identified within a colour wheel classification.2

Colouring and rendering

Colouring and rendering

The colour wheel

The colour wheel visually represents

the basic principles of colour theory.

The wheel is divided into three

categories: primary, secondary and

tertiary. The three primary colours are

red, yellow and blue. These may be

considered as the foundation colours

since they are used to create all

other colours and are equidistant on

the colour wheel. The combination of

two primary colours creates three

secondary colours: orange, green

and violet, which are also equidistant

on the colour wheel. The six tertiary

colours are made by combining a

primary and an adjacent secondary

colour. These equidistant colours

make up red-orange, red-violet,

yellow-green, yellow-orange, blue-

green and blue-violet. Colours may

also be divided into cool and warm

categories: cool colours are classified

as green, blue and violet. Warm

colours are classified as red, orange

and yellow. When mixing colours, a

tint of a colour is made by adding

white, while a darker shade is made

by adding black.

When working with colour media it is

worth remembering that there are

three basic colour schemes. The first

is a monochromatic colour scheme,

in which a single colour is used with

its various tints and shades. The

second is an analogous colour

scheme. This is when a colour such

as red is used in combination with its

adjacent hues such as red-orange

and red-violet. The third type of

colour scheme is made up of a

variety of contrasting colours and

includes the complementary scheme.

This is when two hues that are

opposite each other on the colour

wheel are used together. For

example, red and green are

opposites, and are considered

complementary colours when used

together as they make each other

appear brighter and more intense.

Other colour combinations exist such

as ‘split complementary’, which is a

derivation of the complementary

scheme and uses three colours

comprising any hue and the two

adjacent to its complement. This

could be, for example, a combination

of red, yellow-green and blue-green.

1 The colour wheel.

2 Examples of different

colour schemes.

Colour schemes

Complementary Split complementary Triads100 / 101

Colour for fashion > Fabric rendering

Analogous Mutual complements Double complements3


Colouring and rendering

Colouring and rendering

Selecting colours – or, more

specifically, the right colours for a

particular season – is crucial in the

fashion industry and can mean the

difference between success and

failure in terms of a label’s image and

sales. Fashion designers will often

visit their suppliers to discuss colours

for the coming season

Date: 2015-12-17; view: 111

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