Design, Photography, & Fashion

Step-by-Step Fashion Drawings: How to Draw a Fashion Figure in 10 Steps

Written by MasterClass

May 22, 2019 • 3 min read

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Marc Jacobs Teaches Fashion Design

Drawing fashion figures is the first step in bringing designs to life. Fashion figures serve as the template for a fashion designer’s vision. From flat fashion sketches to three-dimensional illustrations, fashion figures help bring flair and emotion from the sketchbook to the runway.


What Is a Fashion Drawing?

Fashion designing begins with a fashion drawing. Fashion drawings are the blueprint for a design, and can vary in style and amount of detail.

  • A flat sketch is usually used to outline the shape and silhouette of a garment.
  • Fashion drawings can also be three-dimensional fashion figures with texture, shading, and movement lines for fabric draping.
  • A fashion illustration is a more detailed type of fashion drawing that might include color and accessories—and the fashion figure might have a detailed face or hairstyle to showcase a head-to-toe look.

Why Are Fashion Drawings Important?

Fashion drawings help communicate the technical elements of a design, such as length and fit, to a patternmaker. Fashion drawings can also serve as a mood board, illustrating the emotional language of a design.

  • Fashion designers can use drawings to convey their own style through different kinds of poses or drawing tools.
  • For example, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s fashion sketches are distinctive because of the designer’s use of pencil and crayon.
  • The atelier Dolce & Gabbana includes embellishment details in fashion drawings, like individual sequins on garments.

What Is a Croquis?

The first step in fashion figure drawing is to create a fashion croquis. A croquis is a quick sketch outlining the proportions of the fashion figure. A croquis is almost like a paper doll—it is a template and can be placed under a piece of paper for drawing garments. If it’s your first time creating a figure drawing, try crafting the croquis on a pre-made fashion croquis template. Learn more about croquis here.

What Do You Need for Fashion Drawing?

If you would like to try your hand at building your own croquis, or fashion figure template, here is what you will need:

  • An 8.5x11 inch paper
  • A hard pencil
  • A ruler
  • An eraser

Learn How to Draw Fashion Figure In 10 Steps

The body proportions of a fashion figure are not proportional to the human body. Generally, a fashion figure follows the industry standard of the “nine head” length: this means the length of a fashion figure is approximately nine times the size of the drawing’s head. These elongated fashion figures help to showcase garments, particularly dresses and skirts.

Here is a step-by-step guide to completing a fashion drawing:

  1. Draw a vertical line down the center of the paper. This line, which stretches from the head to the feet, will be the fashion figure’s center of balance.
  2. Separate the paper into nine equal sections. The nine sections will include the fashion figure’s head, bust, waist, hips, thigh, calves, ankles, and feet. You can draw horizontal lines, approximately an inch and one-eighth each, to separate the nine sections.
  3. Draw the pelvic area. In the middle of the balance line, draw a square for the fashion figure’s pelvis. This can be angled in different directions to create different poses.
  4. Draw the torso and shoulders. Draw two lines upward from the top of the pelvic square to create the torso. The lines curve inward and outward again to create the waist. The shoulders should be approximately the same width as the pelvis, but the shoulder lines can be angled to create a pose that is rounded forward.
  5. Draw the neck and head. The neck should be one-third of the shoulder width, and half the length of the head. Draw a circle for the head in proportion to the body.
  6. Draw the legs. The figure’s legs should be approximately four times the length of the head drawn. The legs are portioned into two sections: the thighs and the calves. The top of the thighs should span the same length as the head. Taper the line down to the knee, and again to the ankle so that the ankles are approximately one fourth the size of the head.
  7. Draw the arms. Create the arms with tapered lines to the elbow and then again to the wrist. The arms can be positioned alongside the figure’s body, or posed on the hips. Finish with the hands and fingers.
  8. Draw the feet. The feet should be approximately the length of the head.
  9. Create your fashion design. Now that the fashion figure is sketched, you can begin to build your design creations on top of the figure.
  10. Illustrate your design. Shade the design to show the movement of the fabric or to highlight where material gathers on the garment. Color in the fashion drawing to add dimension. Add embellishments to the fabric to demonstrate your own style. Add facial details or a hairstyle to complete the look.

Learn more about fashion design in Marc Jacobs’s MasterClass.