I Can Draw Fashion: Step-by-Step Techniques, Styling Tips and Effects PDF by Robyn Neild


I Can Draw Fashion: Step-by-Step Techniques, Styling Tips and Effects

by Robyn Neild

I Can Draw Fashion_ Step-by-Step Techniques, Styling Tips and Effects



Where Do I Start?

Different media

Life drawing and line

Warm-up exercises


Female figure template

Fashion figure template


Proportion – Body blocking

Front, back and profile


Straight-on poses

High-hip pose

Walking woman pose

Three-quarter pose

Movement poses

Balance and detail

Eye level

Pose – Tracing method 1

Pose – Tracing method 2


Drawing faces

Refining the face shape

Drawing the features

The head in profile

The three-quarter head

Arms and legs


Drawing hair


Form and line

Black suit




Striped dresses

Patterned dresses

Underwear and swimwear



Checks and pinstripes

Chiffon lace


A simple plaid

A bold print

A floral print






Faux fur

Animal prints

This book looks at how to draw a fashion figure, developing techniques such as proportion, balance and other skills you will need to achieve striking results as an illustrator. It suggests exercises for loosening up and experimenting with your own style, and demonstrates how different garments react to and drape the body – literally, how they clothe the figure. After that, you can try your hand at the more challenging issues such as drawing pattern, texture, stripes and plaids.

It is nearly 25 years since I first started exploring the idea of becoming a fashion illustrator. From an early age I had wanted to draw – it was the only thing that truly made me feel happy. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to make a living from doing something I love.

Getting started as an illustrator is a combination of hard work and good luck. On graduating, I was fortunate enough to be accepted at Victor Edelstein, an old-school couturier in Mayfair, London. The clientele was made up of very wealthy women who wanted clothing with flattering cuts in luxurious fabrics. It was a great chance to see a professional at work, designing for some very demanding clients. The attention to detail was phenomenal; I drew Victor’s fashion designs either from mock-ups (known as toiles) or from his initial sketches.

Several of my drawings were used in a brochure for his couture show in London. This was a great opportunity for my work to be seen by leading editors of British fashion magazines, and led to a call from Vogue. This first commission started me on the path I’m still on – it hasn’t always been steady, but it’s certainly been enjoyable. It has required determination and, more importantly, passion.

When I started out, inspiration was to be found in old leather-bound volumes of back copies of Vogue. I would spend hours poring over these in the library of my art college. They were full of drawings from the 40s and 50s, a golden period of illustration, and contained wonderful sketches by Marcel Vertés, Christian Bérard, René Gruau, Carl Erickson (‘Eric’) and René Bouet-Willaumez, among others.

They were a remarkable resource for anyone interested in illustration. The drawings dated from a time when photography wasn’t allowed in magazines or at the big couture houses, so the new collections were captured by illustrators. This way of documenting fashion has seen a resurgence in recent years, as the Internet has opened up a world of resources, from museum websites and stock image sites to multifaceted sources of inspiration, such as Pinterest.

By looking back at successful illustrators from different eras, you often hit upon a long-forgotten style that has a resonance in the modern world and can be given a fresh lease of life by way of an unconventional perspective. This has frequently worked for me. When I start a drawing, the hardest part is the first mark on the blank piece of paper. If I need to be inspired by other artists to make this mark, then I am happy to do so. Most illustrators have had to learn their style and technique from someone with experience – only a very few are genuinely unique. Take Gladys Perint Palmer, for example, whose work has the freedom and looseness of Toulouse-Lautrec. She pays no regard to recording the hands in a realistic manner, but is more concerned with capturing the spirit of movement and the essence of the moment, and her work is all the more exhilarating for it.

Fine artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse or Degas can inspire and enlighten your work with their wonderful use of line and color. Toulouse-Lautrec shows how to capture the character of an individual with an astonishing economy of line; the dynamic quality of his brushstrokes tells you that the painting has been done at pace, but with a skill that comes only from confidence. Gaining that confidence takes practice. Toulouse-Lautrec spent his nights endlessly drawing the characters who inhabited the bars and clubs of Paris.

Similarly, Matisse’s figures possess a color and boldness that is intoxicating, and using his paper cut-outs as templates is a great way to get started with collage. I draw quickly; I hate having to sit and draw the same thing for more than half an hour. In life-drawing classes, I move around sketching the model from different angles, otherwise I get bored and it shows in the drawing. While unlike Toulouse-Lautrec we no longer have access to the bars and bordellos of 19th-century Paris, sketching backstage at a fashion show has a similar sense of chaotic movement and fleeting moments. Just being in among the anarchy and glamour and trying to capture a beautiful model in an outfit or, better still, managing to nail the spirit of the whole show, is exhilarating.

Vivienne Westwood’s designs, with her wonderful silhouettes, historical references and use of fabrics, encapsulate the movement and passion that swirls around at a fashion show. Trying to capture tartan in an easy and uncontrived way is hard enough, but doing so surrounded by the distractions and noise of a party atmosphere and the great characters and stridently individual models who Westwood uses is enough to test the hardiest of souls.

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