Day 9 — Putting It All Together

I’ve come to the final day of my “quick course” in fashion illustration, all lessons taken from Master Fashion Sketches in 9 Days.

Here is my “final assignment”. How did I do?

I did use a pre-made template provided in the book since my hand-drawn “croquis” aren’t quite as good as I’d like. But credit, please, where credit is due. I did draw the form-fitting tank top and capri pants. OK, right. I don’t get much credit for those since they were very easy garments to put on the model.

The topic for today’s lesson was on how to “dress” the croquis and specifically how shading is used to create realistic effects.

As with everything else in this quick course, the emphasis is on doing things as easily as possible. Shading is no exception.

So, forget all the rules about the light source and where the shadows will fall, and just follow these simple tips in fashion illustration:

  • Where there are lines, there will be shadows.
  • Highlights go in the center.
  • Corners are darkest.

These are “rules” — well, guidelines, at least — made up by the author. And, you know what? For all intents and purposes, they work just fine. They will serve me well for my little fashion illustrations.

In my illustration (above) I tried using watercolor pencils for the clothing. I could have made the colors deeper, but I wanted to be sure I had definite shadows and highlights. The model’s skin and hair were painted with my gansai, and her hair coloring ran into her face a bit. Oops! I also got a bit heavy-handed with the shading under her chin.

So, I’ve completed this 9-day course. Am I now a master at fashion sketching? No, but I’m well on my way! And that’s the true purpose of this book. In a few concluding words, the author has this to say:

“By now you successfully know how to draw fashion figures and are able to draw very easily. Maybe not perfectly, but you know everything about it. All you need is a few days of practice.”

Everything said here is true. Yes, I know now how to draw fashion figures, and I can draw them fairly easily. But not perfectly. With practice, I’ll improve. The important thing is that I do know how to do it.

This highlights the important difference between “knowing” and “doing”. In anything we learn, both aspects are necessary for success. Nine days ago I had no real idea how to even begin to do a fashion illustration. Over the last nine days, I’ve gained most of the knowledge I need, enough to allow me to sit down and sketch my own croquis, to put faces on the models I draw, to add hairstyles, to give them clothes to wear. As the author says, from here, it’s a matter of practice.

I’ll disagree somewhat, though, with the claim that upon completing the book a reader knows “everything about it.” There’s a lot more to fashion illustration than this book covers. In time, I’ll learn more about creating the textures of various fabrics, about draping, and if I choose to move from illustration to design, I’ll learn pattern-making, maybe play with textile design.

Seriously? Well, yes, and no. I’ve no intentions of starting a new career here, but I’ll say again that learning fashion illustration and design is something I’ve always wanted to do, but something I never thought possible because of my lack of “art talent.”

My models aren’t great. My drawings are getting more proportionally correct — in the weird, elongated way of high fashion — but they’re overall still too chunky and clunky. Some look almost masculine. Their faces are usually too fat, too round, their features still a bit skewed, but… so what? I’m doing this for me. I’m doing this because this is something I love. I’m doing this because this is an essential part of who I am, of who I’ve always been.

I look forward now to practicing fashion illustration, improving my skills, and having a great time creating models in various poses, designing all sorts of clothes for them to wear, and pinning them up on the walls of my studio.

It doesn’t even matter how you might grade me for this quick 9-day class. I loved every minute of it, and I’m eager to learn more. This is perhaps the highest compliment that can be paid to any instructor, I think. As simple as Master Fashion Sketches in 9 Days may be, the author has given me a good start, a lot of encouragement, and has made me excited for all that lies ahead in this incredible world of fashion.







  1. Re pattern making—A v-e-r-y long time ago I took a pattern making class because I wanted to make my own flamenco dresses and each one is always custom made. It wasn’t a typical pattern making class where you learned to create various sizes and such, but it was perfect for me and all my flamenco friends who ended up being customers. I even used the techniques I learned to make a complicated wedding dress for one friend. It’s pretty rewarding to find out you can make all kinds of neat stuff without giving Butterick, Simplicity, or Vogue a penny of your money!

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