"I make clothes, women make fashion." -Azzedine Alaïa

The world of fashion is glamorous, artistic, and competitive; only the designers with the best designs and most stellar reputation survive.

Alexander Wang, Donatella Versace, Stella Mccartney, Marc Jacobs, and Karl Lagerfeld all acquired fame and fortune for their passion for design and artistic abilities. They found beauty in the mundane and simplistic things in life.

However, how does an idea become clothes that people actually wear? 

Simple, through stunning fashion sketches. A fashion concept comes to life when the designer hones his or her drawing skills on a sketching pad to create something beautiful that can be called art.

In today's article, we will analyse how aspiring fashion designers can become skilled in fashion illustration to make their dreams a reality.

Fashion Sketching for Beginners: Steps to Follow

what equipment do you need for fashion design?
In the beginning, sketching new fashion items might not come easily to everyone. (Source: Unsplash)

Grab your sketch pad, favourite drawing utensils, and get ready to draw! 

The majority of fashion enthusiasts recognise the fact that before a new design is ready to be cut and sewn, the hand-drawn sketch must be presented and approved.

However, if you are better suited using a sewing machine and the fact of sketching designs scares you, there is no need to fret; there are many steps and tips to follow to become a better fashion illustrator.

Remember that without a sketch it's quite difficult to see your vision take form.

The following are some essential steps to follow to become a masterful fashion illustrator:

  • Choose the "Write" Drawing Materials: see what I did there? How punny! Anyway, when sketching, it is of the utmost importance to possess the correct pencils. For example, drawing with a hard lead pencil is the best since it makes marks that are light and easy to erase. Therefore, choose wisely and consult with more experienced fashion illustrators.
  • Creating a Croquis: that model that you sketch should be drawn in a position that will show off the items you are designing in the best possible way. As a beginner, it is sometimes recommended to start with sketching the model in a simple pose such as walking down the runway.
  • Practise Makes Perfect: don't spend too much time stressing about creating perfect sketches; you don't become Miuccia Prada overnight! Focus on where you are at the moment and continually practise. Many designers spend years exercising sketches in their notepads before showing anyone their talent.
  • Create Your Signature Style: think about what you want your sketches to look like, do you want only to use pencils and different shading? Do you want to use watercolours? Will you illustrate the faces of your models or leave them blank? By practising and spending time developing your creativity, a fashion sketcher becomes a beautiful artist.

By following the previously mentioned steps, aspiring designers become skilled in their domain and slowly progress to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry.

Also, it is important to state that by following other fashion illustrators on Instagram, new techniques are observed and imitated.

Where to Study Fashion Sketching in the UK

Fashion design equipment
Sketching a new design is essential before the sewing process can begin. (Source: Unsplash)

Do you want to hone your fashion and design skills? Do you want to study alongside other passionate individuals? 

Look no further than studying fashion drawing and illustration at one of the many fashion schools in the UK.

Nevertheless, it is essential to state that it comes as no surprise that the majority of fashion institutes are located in London since it is a significant fashion city boasting the work of designers such as Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano.

The following are highly recommended institutes to study fashion illustration in one of the UK's most prevalent cities:

  • University of the Arts London: an online short course in fashion illustration is taught at London's College of Fashion. The program is taught by Ana Stankovic-Fitzgerald and helps students to develop their creative ideas and skills. Aspiring designers analyse different methods of drawing and go over modules such as developing a visual vocabulary, exploring media and techniques, interpreting concepts and ideas, developing personal drawing style, and understanding the role of fashion illustration. Consider visiting the course's webpage to learn more.
  • London Art Portfolio: the fashion illustration course offered by the London Art Portfolio is highly recommended for those who wish to start a new creative interest and extend their knowledge of fashion sketching. The 'hands-on' classes offer support for those who want to start sketching on paper or canvas and for individuals who wish to use creative programmes such as AutoCAD or Adobe Suite. Fashion illustration class times are Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:30-9 pm. Explore their website to find out more!

If you do not have the possibility of moving or travelling to London to attend the previously mentioned courses, visit the Superprof website to find qualified fashion or drawing tutors offering private classes in a city near you!

The tutors offered on Superprof's website help amateur fashionistas gain experience in subjects such as creating a fashion portfolio, finding the best resources to learn more about fashion sketching, and which are the best materials to use.

Careers in Fashion Illustration

A career in fashion illustration is a perfect job for those who thoroughly enjoy to draw and have a passion for garment design. Fashion sketchers can make it big and accept employment as fashion designers and fine artists.

It is essential to state that after some years of practice, thorough training, and developing a portfolio, fashion sketchers can become employed at any of the following locations:

  • Design Firms: at design firms, sketchers spend their entire days drawing pictures or mockups of things that they enjoy,
  • Manufacturing Establishments: sketchers in the manufacturing sector will design items that are for the production line immediately,
  • Retailers: when working for retailers or apparel companies, fashion illustrators share their ideas with superiors to get clothing items manufactured,
  • Theatre or Dance Companies: many theatres houses stage plays every couple of weeks and frequently need new costumes; therefore, sketching new outfits that are approved by the theatre director is an in-demand job,
  • Self-Employment: opening your own studio to draw and design clothes is a bold move in the beginning but sometimes works for many talented illustrators. Also, freelancing your illustrations to fashion houses can be quite lucrative.

While the previously mentioned jobs are the most common for fashion illustrators, by doing adequate research, a career that best suits your unique illustrations can be found!

You can take drawing lessons on Superprof.

Famous Fashion Designers Who Frequently Sketch

A photo of Karl Lagerfeld
Karl Lagerfeld's sketches show emotion and tell a story. (Source: Harper's Bazaar)

There are many artists who frequently sketch to show others their brilliant ideas to become some of the best designers currently working in the industry. As a fashion student, it is an excellent idea to analyse the sketches of famous designers to get ideas and eventually become a better illustrator.

The following are famous designers who sketch along with some of their examples:

  • Christian Dior: a man who needs no introduction and has created a stellar reputation for himself is Christian Dior. His famous sketches of women with narrow waistlines and accentuated hips created a frenzy and changed the fashion world in the 1940s and 1950s.
  • Monique Lhuillier: a famed designer, Monique Lhuillier is known for her bridal wear and fantastic red carpet designs. Her sketches are the favourite of aspiring designers who are perfectionists since they are layered with intricate details.
  • Karl Lagerfeld: late and great Karl Lagerfeld has been claimed to be the most influential designer of the 21st century so far. His designs for Chanel and Fendi changed the fashion world each year. His sketches are deeply admired by illustrators not only for their outfits but their entire mood portrayed. His designs are sometimes incomplete yet build a full story that can be transmitted to fit the unique thoughts of the viewer.

There are many other famous sketches from well-known designers such as Giorgio Armani and Elie Saab that can be reviewed and studied by famous enthusiasts.

Take a drawing class London on Superprof.

Fashion Sketching Definitions

For those who are not familiar with the world of style, there are specific words and certain phrases that may not be understood at first; even some amateur fashion illustrators may need some time to learn the lingo!

What is a croquis? 

Croquis comes from the word "sketch" in French, and it signifies a quick sketch of a fashion figure. The word can also be used to refer to the practice of drawing live models. Fashion illustrators draw or trace a croquis in a matter of minutes to quickly sketch their designs over it to envision the final form.

Depending on the illustrator and the clothes being designed, croquis can be women, men, or children.

What is visual vocabulary?

I was as confused as you were when I first heard the phrase visual vocabulary. Nevertheless, a visual vocabulary can be understood as a representative list of images that fit specific criteria or domain. For example, a visual vocabulary may be necessary in the world of fashion to link pictures to one another. A visual vocabulary allows a user to base an entire search they may have on a single image.

By becoming familiar with specific terms used in the fashion world, sketchers prepare themselves for a beautiful career!

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