• Team DesignerShala

Fashion Illustration - A Visual Language of Fashion

Updated: Oct 9

Without the use of language, we’d all be emotionless and thoughtless beings, right? Language is what drives change, makes the world what it is, revolutionizes things, and it is what becomes the crux of all our communication needs in every way. Fashion illustration is exactly that – a visual language of fashion. It is basically laying down the fashion design, silhouette, the intricate detailing, including the colours and patterns on paper. It is the art of expressing your creative fashion vision on paper. When we think of it that way, the job of a fashion illustrator becomes all the more charming, doesn’t it?

Source: Photo by Charlota Blunarova on unsplash

Magical Power: Figment of Your Thoughts Become a Reality

To think of it, fashion as a whole wouldn’t be what it is today if it wouldn’t have been communicated correctly with the language of design. Every spectacular garment you see on the runway or the cover of a magazine, every couture you see on the red carpet or even your everyday fashion. All of it was first a sketch, an illustration. And, because it was all first articulated from an idea or a thought and on to the paper in the correct way, was it then translated well into a fashion piece.

So yes, it all starts on the paper. Of course, there is also a whole different process before that, but an illustration is where the concrete process of fashion design begins. Isn’t it almost magical? To have a simple vision in your head become a masterpiece that someone can actually wear? It is an extraordinary job if you see it. Fashion illustration is that tool, that medium that helps you translate that figment of your thought into reality. It can create magic!

Your Sketch-Book is Your Play Area

As an illustrator, you translate the vision you see in your head onto the paper, based on some solid conceptualization and theme. So ideally, your paper, your sketchbook is your play area. A place where you not only render your creativity and expertise in fashion but also create a blueprint of the end collection or outfit. It is where you unleash your creativity and experiment with different styles to finally come down to one that clicks. As a fashion illustrator, you have an open canvas before you to not only deliver your vision but also get experimenting. Art can only be perfected with practice and working around mistakes. Consider your sketchbook as an open ground for you, where you can try out ideas, make mistakes, revise them, experiment some more, and eventually craft a final design that is ready to become an outfit.

You know how the building of a house first takes a detailed plan, a blueprint in place? Your illustration serves the same purpose in fashion, and this also means that it serves as a foundation of the design. What this means is that if your illustration is perfect, the final product will be too, which makes your visual language of illustration a lot more important. One way to perfect that language and master the art is to get your basics right first. Here’s your cue! Fashion illustration, although a visual language of fashion, still takes techniques and certain processes as a part of it. There are steps, of course, each that leads to the final product in the end.


This is where you start!

Basic Fashion Figure

When you start out with the basic figurine, it’s fair to not focus on perfecting it right then or on the outfit. There’s still time for that. Instead, here you simply begin with a framework of the figure, focusing on the rough proportions. And, that can happen by drawing the first balance line across the page.

This works as a point of reference for your croquis. This also makes you deliver the right proportions to both sides of the body and other body parts. Then, you begin with sketching out the head on top and drawing lines for other body parts too, with that centre balance line as reference. Once you do that, you have your basic fashion figure in place, which you will build on in the next few steps.

Source: Photo by Maria Lupan on unsplash Work on Poses

Now that you have your basic figure, you can redefine the exact poses that you’re looking at. What mood do you want your final design to radiate? What pose will better help you strike that mood? Is it powerful, subtle, or traditional? The pose will depend on these factors, coupled with the crux and concept of the design. So, build on the poses on the existing rough croquis – the curves, edges, and the overall posture that will also be a part of your final design then. Perfect that Anatomy

Now, get into the other anatomical details – the feet, hands, hips, shoulders, etc. Perfect the details that lend it that realistic feel and add more definition to the whole croquis. As you do so, you’ll realize your figure looks closer to being ready for the final design.

Work on Facial Features and Hair

By the time you reach this point, you must already be ready with 80% of your figure. So now, you go ahead and fill the missing gaps with facial features and hair. Again, define these features with the mood that you eventually want to reflect on through the final design.

Work on Finer Details

Finally, you go ahead and add more character to the figure by defining each part of it with accents. Highlighting the figure and adding substance to it can be done with folds, shading, trims, and other accents. The goal is to add life to the figure, so it is ready to wear your design. Work on Designing Garments

Eventually, you go ahead and render the main element of the product – your design. With the final croquis as your reference now, design your piece to fit that pose and figure. Make use of all your illustration stationery essentials – your markers, colour pencils, and more. Just like with the progression of the figure, first sketch out the basic design silhouette, then fill out the gaps with details, colours, and realistic accents. So, here you go! A quick guide to the visual language of fashion – Fashion illustration. Are you ready to learn, upskill, or refine your aptitude yet?

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