Okay, so now that you’ve put together some croquis figures… you gotta draw some clothes on them (well, you do if you want to be a fashion designer)! In order to give you some help on this topic (hopefully!), I’ve put together a tutorial on the basics of drawing clothing on the human form. If you’re interested, I’ve listed some books at the end that go MUCH more in depth.
Step 1: Design!
The first step to drawing clothes on a figure is to have a design in mind. When you’re just practicing, feel free to try and draw the clothes you already own or things you like in catalogs or on the internet. After you get the hang of it, it’s time to sketch out your own ideas! I like to keep a working notebook/sketchbook where I can jot down ideas quickly so I don’t loose them. As I explained in the last tutorial, these sketches aren’t the best, just a good way to get ideas out of my head. Also, if I’m working on a collection or fashion show, I like to sketch out each design on a separate page and then use that as a working page for that garment. Usually the page will have everything from front & back sketches, notes on construction details, fabric swatches, the order in the show and even info about which model will be wearing it (measurements, photo, contact info, shoe size, etc…). That way, everything relating to that garment is in one place and easily accessible to my scatter-brained mind.
Step 2: The World is Round
The next step is to realize that humans are full of curves (yes, even the boys) and that clothing wraps around the body. I had an art teacher in high school that once said “there isn’t a single straight line I the human form.” When you take a close look, you’ll realize that this is true and that we’re actually made up of a bunch of curving lines. Keep this in mind when you’re sketching. Even though your drawing is flat, you want it too look like it’s three-dimensional. If you draw straight lines for your clothes, they’ll look something like this:
Even garments that have hard, straight edges (like a pleated skirt) will still have some form around the body (see how the skirt still “wraps” around the legs):
Step 3: Work Those Curves
Below I’ve shown a progression of sketches starting with a basic figure showing how lines curve around the body. Keep this in mind when you make croquis in various poses. If an arm or a leg is coming forward, the perspective will be different and the curves might change. Remember that this is just a tool to get started on the sketch, you’re sketches and designs might not always follow these curves. The next sketch is showing the basic outfit drawn above, but this time I’ve followed the curved lines:
Step 4: Add Movement & Life
After you’ve got the basic garment down, now the time is to add some movement, life and details to the drawing. The first sketch shows how you can do this by making the edges start to curve back around the body (for example at the sleeves or neck) and by adding curves to the hem so it’s not a hard edge. I like to try and follow the leg “movement” and almost pretend that her knee is kicking up the front of the skirt in places. This is a good time to add movement lines where you think the fabric would drape (in this example on the skirt). Usually a quick stoke is good for this, don’t try to put too much thought into it or it will look forced.
The second sketch shows the same basic outfit, but on a different croquis and with a bunch of details. When I sketch, my figures are aprox 8-9” high so putting too many details can actually make it look worse and messy. The key is to add details without getting to bogged down in them. In order to add very small details (like topstitching) you might need to sketch them much larger than they would actually show up in real life. Also notice how the perspective has changed slightly in this croquis (she’s twisted to the right), so it’s something to keep in mind when drawing the clothes (see how the right shoulder of her top is “smaller” than the left due to the perspective?).
Since we’re talking about details, I figured this is a good spot to talk about croquis details such as face, hands and feet! As I said above, the key to drawing this small is to keep it simple and don’t be overly concerned with all the details. There are tons of ways to draw these details, so keep in mind that this is just my style. You should practice a lot and develop your own style as well!
Hands & Feet:
I try to keep hands and feet as simple as possible. I definitely don’t want to have to worry about drawing fingers and toes, so I try to get a basic shape down instead. Hands tend to look a bit like lobster claws and feet almost end up more like a flat-bottom diamond. On their own they don’t look like much, but in the full figure sketch when it’s finished and colored they work out pretty well:
I might sound like a broken record, but try to keep the face fairly simple too. Faces are REALLY hard to draw and you’re focus is to be a fashion designer right? The key to getting the face placement right is to draw a basic circle for the head and then to draw some cross lines indicating where the features should go. The first line is the vertical (Longitude on a map). This line should show the direction the head is turned (think about it as where your nose is pointing). The next lines are criss-crossing to show the placement of the eyes (think about where they cross as the point between your eyebrows). Now you should have a good indicator of where your facial features should be drawn (hopefully the sketches below will help make more sense!):
Now that you’re drawing the features, remember to keep them simple. My faces are just a bunch of easy shapes such as “L” shaped corners for the eyes, a squiggle for the mouth and just a tiny “U” line for a nose.
Here’s my favorite trick, make it sketchy! When in doubt about your drawing skills, just sketch A LOT over and over! I think that most things look better when you keep your sketching loose and a bit messy (see example below). That’s my trick for hair as well; I just sketch a bunch of squiggles until I get the shape I like.
And as a final note… remember that your style of sketching will probably change a lot over the years. I found these while cleaning out my studio and thought you’d like to see examples of how my sketches have changed:
My early sketches were very long and skinny with spindly legs and arms:
Next I tried to move to a more realistic body shape:
Then I got on my badass “Tank Girl” spree:
Coming off of the “tough girl” thing, I started moving into a softer, cuter look:
And last but not least… my current style (and some preliminary sketches for my spring 2008 collection!)