Today we are going to learn how to draw figures, specifically the stylized body used for fashion design. This skill is very important for any fashion designer or aspiring designer because it is the first and most crucial step when communicating a design idea before bringing it to life on the dress form. This skill can also be helpful if you like to sew your own clothes because it helps you visualize your garment ideas and put together outfits.
The first thing you will notice in fashion illustration is that the basic body proportions are very different from the real human body proportions. This is why it’s called a “stylized” figure. It is an elongated figure that presents fictitious proportions. Let’s look at drawing the fashion figure in more detail.
Generally, there are two different head proportion systems. In art and anatomy the standard is the 7 to 7 1/2-head proportion, like you can see on the above left. On the other hand, we have the 9-head proportion, which is usually the standard in fashion design and illustration. Keep this system in mind when you are first starting out to help maintain the proportions you see above.
Drawing the fashion figure
Draw a wire frame of the basic structure of the figure. Using the fist image above as a guide, draw the head of your fashion figure and divide the length of the body into 9 heads. Then, locate the main landmarks of the body on the page, like the shoulders, waist, hips, hands, knees, ankles and feet.
Shape the arms and legs. To do so, draw long lines around the wire frame we just drew, to insinuate the shape of the extremities.
Begin to define the body further by drawing a more detailed and accurate outline of the waist, hips and arms. Erase the wire frame and guidelines we drew earlier. Draw the legs.
Clean up the drawing by erasing all unnecessary lines and circles and continue to add detail, like drawing the hands, shaping the legs and drawing the knees. Once you finish drawing your fashion figure you can either photocopy it, scan it or trace it multiple times to save them for later and keep them as templates to draw designs over them.
As with any creative and artistic craft, fashion illustrations can all be very expressive and different. This is a basic guideline to follow as you begin to learn, once you are comfortable with the basics you can start exploring different styles to discover your own personal aesthetic. It could be something detailed or a more loose and expressive style, as you can see above.
In future posts we will cover how to draw different poses, dressing the fashion figure and rendering clothes. So, if you are interested in this topic, stick around because there’s some good stuff to come.