Fashion Sketching 101: How to Draw Fashion Figures

Fashion sketching tutorial. Learn to draw fashion figures and croquis in minutes with our step-by-step tutorial.

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Fashion sketching 101: How to make fashion sketches and draw fashion figures

One of the cornerstones of fashion school is learning how to sketch fashion figures. However, as fashion school students learn, there’s a big difference between proper body proportions in art and in fashion.

In art, the body’s proportions are measured in heads. The average figure is about 7-7 1/2 heads, including the actual head, tall.

However, in fashion, the body proportions are elongated in order to better represent the models, who are above average in height. Because of this, the figures become 8-10 heads tall. Though the basic proportions of the fashion figure are about the same — give or take 1/4-1/2 of a head — every illustrator adds their own style to the formula.

If you want to embrace your inner fashion designer, or just want to learn more about what fashion school is like, read on!

Today, I’ll teach you how to sketch a proportionate female fashion figure and how to translate the measurements into a walking pose. Scroll down to learn more:

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Ruler (if you want to be extremely precise)
  • A sketchpad (duh!)

Fashion Sketching 101: How to Draw a Female Fashion Figure

Step #1

Draw a line. This is the balance line, a.k.a. the line which determines the body’s center of gravity. The balance line always extends from the base of the neck (where it meets the shoulders) straight to the ground.

Step #2

Draw a head with the middle of it on the line. To draw a head, sketch a large circle on top with a smaller circle below it. Connect these two on the sides with slightly rounded diagonal lines, as shown in the sketch below.

fashion figure sketch steps

Step #3

Measure the head, either with your pencil or the ruler. Using this measurement, draw nine small dashes equal distance apart, then number them from the bottom of the chin (#1) down to the bottom of the feet (#10).

Step #4

For the top half of the body, draw lines extending from 1 1/2 heads, 2 1/4, 3, 3 1/2, and 4 1/4 heads, as outlined below. These marks are where the shoulders, bust, waist, high hip, and crotch are located, respectively. The elbows are also located with the waist at the 3 heads mark.

Upper body proportions

Step #5

Draw the features in, using straight lines: The shoulders on the woman fashion figure are 1 1/2 heads wide, the waist is a head’s width, while the hips should be about 1 1/4 heads wide. Therefore, the woman fashion figure should have an hourglass silhouette.

Step #6

For the lower half of the body, mark 6 1/2 heads as well as 9 for the knees and ankles, respectively.

Sketch bottom half

Step #7

Draw the legs by making lines which curve and narrow as they go from the high hip to the knee for the thighs. For the calves, make a smaller cylindrical shape by curving the lines from the knees and then tapering them at the ankles, which jut out slightly on the inner half of each leg.

The thighs (from high hip to knee) and the calves (from knee to ankle) should be the same length.

Step #8

The last head is for the feet, which begin at the ankle to flare out in diagonal lines for 3/4 of the length of the head before they meet at a point.

Step #9

Draw the hands similarly. These begin with the wrist at the crotch. The fingers should end a little above the 5 heads mark.

Fashion Sketching 102: How to Draw Figure Movement

Once you get the proportions down, now it’s time to give the figure movement! There are three crucial components which all fashion figures require: a balance line, a high shoulder, and an opposing high hip.

Start by sketching a new figure. However, this time (after drawing the balance line and putting down the 10 head marks) tilt the shoulder line so that one side is higher. Tilt the high hip, too, but with the opposite side higher.

Sketch tilt

For example below, I made the right shoulder higher so the left hip would be higher in order to keep the figure balanced. Try it yourself: If you tilt your shoulders, what happens to your hips?

Additionally, by tilting parts of the body, the rest of the body will follow suit. Anything above the high hip will follow the tilt of the shoulders, while everything below will follow the tilt of the hips, however all of these tilts will not be as severe as the shoulders and hips.

There’s one more rule that fashion figures must follow: the leg which comes from the high hip cannot be bent and that foot must touch the balance line. This keeps the figure balanced. Again, you can try this by shifting your weight to one foot . When this happens, the leg supporting all the weight cannot be bent.

Example of a walking pose:

Notice the tilts including the subtle differences between the two knees.

Croquis

Now you can have fun and try drawing your own fashion figures!

To start, find poses to mimic by looking through magazines. To copy the pose, just remember to identify the balance line, the high shoulder, high hip, and the supporting leg (the one which touches the balance line).

What do you think?

Did you know about fashion proportions? Have you heard about measuring the body using heads? Did you find this tutorial helpful? Would you like to learn how to draw some basic poses? Tell me what you think by leaving a comment!

55 thoughts on “Fashion Sketching 101: How to Draw Fashion Figures”

  1. Fashion designing is my top hobby. From a very little age I always drew something which is related to fashion. I tried to take lessons from a professional but could not able to find one to guide me. This article has some amazing lessons. Making the head is so easy I never knew that. Following this steps can make anyone create an female image within a minute. Thanks for the amazing lessons.

    Reply
  2. l ask my boss to teach me this And he never did and now I know. God bless u very much.
    but plesse, I want to know about the poses in dress. thank u.

    Reply
  3. Whitney, the Samsung note 10.1 which I use is beautiful. It’s great for sketching. The sketchpad app has various pencil and brush heads and you also get to pick from a wide range of colours from the pre installed colour pallette. And you can record your sketch session also! You should look up the features on gsmarena.com.

    Reply
  4. I love this!!..i had tried different methods previously and couldnt get it right but one shot at yours and i’m a sketch guru already!.thank u

    Reply
  5. So much helpful .I was looking for the tutorials like this one ..thanx guyss..plz provide some more tutorials for the same.

    Reply
  6. Thanks so much! I’ve just started doing fashion watercolor and this is the best info I’ve found! I hope you have more!

    Reply
  7. Thank you for this information. I have been trying to draw fashion figures for some time. This information you provided is a lot clearer. Thank youagain

    Reply
  8. m&Gold
    thank you so much, really cool and easy way to learn sketching fashion figures. God bless you for sharing such great skill set, am really grateful. would you be kind to share how to endow the figure with dress styles etc?

    thank you so much regardless.

    Reply
  9. It’s almost 2 AM here in the Philippines but your tutorial kept me awake. This is very helpful. Now there’s something I can start with, I’ve always wanted to learn how to draw/sketch fashion figures. May God’s grace be upon you. You inspire people. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Good morning, really appreciate this class of teaching how to do sketch a figure have tried my 101 and was perfect but the moving sketch 102 I didn’t get it perfectly kindly come to my aid want to be perfect.
    How can I download the whole course I mean pdf pls, thanks so much I appreciate your immense effort and may God provide for all your needs.

    Reply
  11. Hi my name is opal and I want know how to become a fashion designer for a living I’ll be draw very since I was 12 years old.

    Reply
  12. this was incredibly helpful, I almost gave up on learning. thank you so much. hope to see more of your posts 🙂

    Reply
  13. This is the very best of the best sketching tutorial I have ever seen. This is so simple.
    Now I can actually put something on paper.
    Thank you so much.

    Reply
  14. I’m in love with this! I’m only 13 years old and fashion design is what I want to for a living. And this has helped me so much! Could you maybe post something about how to sketch a male figure still and in motion? Thank you so much

    Reply
  15. I was on the verge of paying to be taught how to sketch but then I stumbled on this post. It is so invaluable. I spent my early morning hours recreating this sketches and for the first time in my life I did great (smiling from ear to ear). One point I don’t understand though is which leg should not be bent and should touch the balance line?
    Thank you again Whitney. My day will be a great one because of you.

    Reply
  16. Hello,thanks for this tutorial,I love it,am new here.I want to become a fashion designer,but no finacial support to go to school looking a begginers fashion design tutorial nd I found this. But I don’t understand the fashion proportions,pls kindly throw more light.thanks

    Reply
  17. Thanks for the tutorial! It was great and easy to follow. Personally, I’m not that good with drawing but this really helped! Thanks again!

    Reply
  18. Love the post!

    However I am struggling a bit to understand it.
    When you keep saying head, for example 1 1/2 head and 3 1/4 head what do you mean?
    Do you mean the head measurement you told us to take in step 3 ?

    Also what is 1/4? is that meant to be inches ?

    Sorry for being a bit slow but i really don’t understand that part. Everything else seems straightforward. I am sure I can do it if you will just explain that head thing.

    Thanks x

    Reply
    • hi..1/2 of head means the head you drew draw a line halfway through it..and for 1/4 draw a line halfway through the half way line…hope this helped

      Reply
  19. “However, in fashion, the body proportions are elongated in order to better represent the models, who are above average in height. Because of this, the figures become 8-10 heads tall.”

    This explains a lot.
    Great series, by the way!

    Reply
  20. This was exteremely helpful- especially for someone who is as clumsy with a pencil as myself! I’m glad someone else recognizes that you draw fashion figures slightly elongated, it’s something my friends and I argue about.

    Reply

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