10 Steps to Draw Fashion Design Sketches
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Gather your materials
  2. Start with a rough sketch
  3. Define the body proportions
  4. Design the clothing
  5. Add details to the clothing
  6. Give life to your design with shading
  7. Draw the face and hair
  8. Add color to your design
  9. Add the finishing touches
  10. How to improve your fashion sketching skills

Ever found yourself gazing at a fashion magazine, completely mesmerized by the detailed sketches of high-end designs? You're not alone. Many of us have marveled at the creativity and precision that goes into a fashion design sketch. It's a vibrant combination of art and style — but did you know you can learn to create these illustrations too? With the right approach, you can learn how to draw a fashion design sketch with a model. It's not as complicated as it seems, and this guide will help you get there, one step at a time. Let's get started!

Gather your materials

Before you dive headfirst into fashion sketching, you need to make sure you've got all your tools ready. Just like a chef prepping for a big meal, having your materials organized helps the process go smoothly. Here's what you'll need:

  • Pencils: A set of good quality pencils is a must. You'll need a variety of hard and soft pencils, ranging from H to B. The H pencils are great for light lines and initial sketches, while the B pencils are perfect for adding darker lines and shading.
  • Eraser: Everyone makes mistakes, and that's what erasers are for. Opt for a kneaded eraser since it can be shaped to erase small areas without affecting the rest of your sketch.
  • Sharpener: Keep your pencils sharp! A sharp pencil can make a world of difference in the quality of your lines.
  • Drawing paper: This is your canvas. You want something thick enough to hold your design but not so heavy that it becomes unwieldy. Sketch pads often offer the best balance.
  • Colored pencils, markers, or watercolors: These are to bring your fashion design sketches to life. Choose whichever medium you're most comfortable with.
  • A good fashion model reference: This could be a photo, an online image, or even a fashion doll. It's helpful to have a reference when you're learning how to draw a fashion design sketch with a model.

With these materials at your disposal, you're ready for the next step in your fashion sketching journey. Remember, the quality of your tools can have a big impact on your end result, so choose wisely.

Start with a rough sketch

Sketching is a lot like storytelling, you begin with a rough draft and then refine it as you go along. In the same way, your first step in learning how to draw a fashion design sketch with a model is to start with a simple, rough outline of your model. Remember, this initial sketch is just a guide, so don't worry about getting things perfect. Here's how to do it:

  1. Draw a vertical line: This will serve as your model's center line or spine. It's the backbone of your sketch.
  2. Mark the head and feet: Make a small mark along the line for where the head and feet will be. This helps you establish the height of your model.
  3. Outline the body: Starting from the top, lightly draw an oval for the head, followed by lines for the neck and shoulders. Then, draw circles for the chest and hips, and lines for the arms and legs. Remember, these are just rough shapes and lines — the goal is to get the basic pose and proportions.

At this stage, your sketch might look more like a stick figure than a fashion model, but that's okay! This is just the skeleton of your sketch. The magic happens when you start adding flesh to these bones. So, keep your pencils at the ready, and remember, it's all part of the process in learning how to draw a fashion design sketch with a model.

Define the body proportions

The next step in learning how to draw a fashion design sketch with a model involves defining the body proportions. In fashion sketching, proportions can be exaggerated to highlight the design, but it's still important to maintain a sense of balance and realism. Here's a simple way to get those proportions right:

  1. Divide the body into sections: Starting from the top, divide your sketch into equal parts. Most fashion figures are 8 to 10 heads tall, with the waist usually landing around the third head mark. This might seem a bit extreme, but it's a trick used in the fashion industry to make the clothes look more striking.
  2. Draw the torso and legs: Using your divisions as a guide, shape the torso and legs. Remember, the body isn't made of straight lines. So, use gentle curves to suggest muscles and bones.
  3. Fill in the arms: Arms usually start at the shoulder and end around the mid-thigh area. Draw them with a slight bend to avoid a stiff look.

Once you have your proportions defined, you'll see your stick figure transform into a more realistic model. But don't worry if it's not perfect. In fashion sketching, there's always room for your unique touch and style. So keep practicing, and soon you'll master the art of drawing fashion design sketches with a model.

Design the clothing

Now comes the exciting part—designing the clothing. This is where your creative ideas get to shine. But before you dive in, consider these steps to guide you through the process:

  1. Decide on a concept: The first step to drawing your fashion design sketch with a model is to decide on a concept. Are you designing a flowing evening gown or a chic business suit? Having a clear idea of what you want to design will make the drawing process smoother.
  2. Draw the outline of the clothing: Start by drawing the outline of the clothing. Keep it loose and simple at this stage. You're not adding details yet—just the basic shape of the garment.
  3. Consider how the clothing fits on the model: Remember, clothes don't lie flat. They drape and fold over the body. So, consider how your design will fit on your model. For example, a tight dress will follow the body's curves more closely than a loose sweater.

The key to designing clothing in your fashion sketch is to remember that you're not just drawing clothes—you're drawing them as they are worn by your model. So, think about how the clothes would move and change shape as your model poses. Continuing to practice will make this easier, and soon you'll be creating fashion sketches that truly capture your design vision.

Add details to the clothing

Details are what make a fashion design sketch stand out. They add character and express the unique style of the outfit. Here are some steps on how to add details to your fashion design sketch with a model:

  1. Add Seams and Stitching: Seams and stitching lines can significantly impact the overall appearance of your design. Whether it's a side seam on a dress or top-stitching on a pair of jeans, these details can add a lot of depth to your design.
  2. Draw Patterns or Prints: If your design includes patterns or prints, now is the time to add them. Whether it's a floral print on a skirt or stripes on a shirt, patterns can bring a lot of life to your design. Remember, the way the pattern lays on the outfit can tell a lot about the fabric's texture and how it falls on the model.
  3. Include Textures: Different fabrics have different textures. Silk is smooth and shiny, while denim is more rugged and sturdy. Show these differences in your sketch to give a more realistic feel.

Adding details to your fashion sketch is like adding the icing on the cake—it's what makes your design truly yours. So, take your time with this step. The more thought and attention you put into it, the more your style and creativity will shine through.

Give life to your design with shading

Shading is a powerful tool in your fashion design sketch toolbox. It's what gives your design depth, dimension, and a sense of realism. Here's how to bring life to your fashion design sketch with a model using shading:

  1. Identify the Light Source: Before you start shading, determine where the light in your sketch is coming from. This will guide you on where to put the shadows and highlights. Remember, shadows are generally on the opposite side of the light source.
  2. Shade the Clothing: Start shading your clothing designs. Pay attention to how different fabrics react to light. Some, like silk, might have sharp, high contrast shadows, while others, like wool, might have softer, more diffuse shadows.
  3. Don’t Forget the Model: The clothing isn't the only thing that needs shading. The model wearing your designs will also have shadows and highlights. Be aware of the human anatomy and how muscles, bones, and skin react to light.

Shading can feel intimidating at first, but don't worry. With practice, you'll soon get the hang of it. Just remember, the goal is not to create a photorealistic image, but to communicate your design as effectively as possible. So, be bold, be creative, and most importantly, have fun with it!

Draw the face and hair

Drawing the face and hair is like putting a personality to your fashion design sketch with a model. It's where your model comes to life and breathes a unique identity into your design. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Keep it Simple: When drawing the face, keep it simple. You don't need to draw every eyelash or wrinkle. The focus should be on the clothes, so a simple, minimalist face will do the trick. A couple of lines for the eyes, a dash for the nose, and a simple curve for the mouth should suffice.
  2. Express with Hair: Hair, on the other hand, is a great place to express personality. Is your model a fiery redhead with wild curls, a sophisticated brunette with a sleek bob, or a daring punk with a spiked mohawk? The way you draw the hair can say a lot about who your model is.
  3. Match the Outfit: Always remember to match the hair with the outfit. An elegant updo may not work with a casual, streetwear look, just as loose, boho waves may look out of place with a formal gown.

Remember, fashion sketching is about communicating a vision. It's not about creating a perfect portrait of a model, but about bringing a design to life. So, let your creativity loose and have fun with it!

Add color to your design

Okay, let's talk color. Adding color to your fashion design sketch with a model is like adding spices to a dish—it can truly transform your creation. Here's a simple, three-step approach to color your fashion sketch:

  1. Choose Your Palette: Start by choosing a color palette that complements your design. Are you going for bold and vibrant, or soft and pastel? Make sure your colors reflect the mood and style of your design.
  2. Apply Base Colors: Once you have your palette, apply your base colors. Use a light hand and build your color gradually. Remember, it's easier to add more color than to take it away.
  3. Build Depth and Detail: After your base colors are down, you can start to add depth and detail. Use darker shades to create shadows and lighter shades to highlight. This will give your design a more three-dimensional look.

Finally, always remember to color within the lines. This isn't just about neatness—it also helps your design look more professional. So, grab those colored pencils, markers, or whatever medium you prefer, and bring some color to your fashion design sketch with a model.

Add the finishing touches

Adding the finishing touches is the frosting on the cake when learning how to draw a fashion design sketch with a model. This is where you add those tiny details that make your design stand out.

  1. Accessorize: Think about the accessories your model would wear. A stylish handbag, some trendy sunglasses, or perhaps a bold statement necklace? These details can really make your design pop.
  2. Textures: Bring your design to life by adding textures. If your model is wearing a leather jacket, show this in your drawing. If she's wearing a silk dress, make sure it looks smooth and shiny.
  3. Patterns: If your design includes patterns, now's the time to draw them in. Whether it's stripes, polka dots, or an abstract print, make sure each pattern is clear and consistent.
  4. Shoes: Last but not least, don't forget the shoes! Are they high heels, boots, or sneakers? Make sure they match the outfit and complete the look.

Adding the finishing touches to your fashion design sketch takes patience and attention to detail. But it's worth it. Those little extras can turn a good sketch into a great one. So, take your time, enjoy the process, and watch your fashion design sketch with a model come to life.

How to improve your fashion sketching skills

Improving your skills in how to draw a fashion design sketch with a model involves more than just practice, though practice does indeed play a crucial role. Here are some specific steps you can take to get better:

  1. Study Fashion: Get familiar with different styles, fabrics, and trends. The more you know, the more ideas you'll have for your sketches. Look at fashion magazines, watch runway shows, or even people-watch at your local mall.
  2. Draw From Life: This means not only drawing from a live model but also drawing the clothes you see around you. Capture the way fabrics fall and fold, how clothing fits on different body types, and how colors work together.
  3. Take a Class: Consider taking a drawing or fashion design class. This can provide you with techniques, feedback, and the opportunity to learn from others.
  4. Experiment: Don't be afraid to try new things in your sketches. Use different materials, draw different types of clothing, or try a new style. You never know what you might discover.

Remember, every artist has their own journey. Don't compare your sketches to others. Instead, focus on your growth, celebrate your progress, and keep exploring the endless possibilities of fashion design sketches with a model.

If you enjoyed learning the 10 steps to draw fashion design sketches and want to further develop your drawing skills, check out Trey Zimmerman's workshop, 'How to Draw Beautiful Character Designs from Scratch.' This workshop will help you expand your creative skills and teach you how to create stunning character designs that showcase your unique artistic style.