WORKSHOP: Fashion Illustration: Understanding your style

When it comes to fashion illustration, style is very personal. There is no right or wrong and in the greater picture, non-conformity is a win.

Personally I find illustrating a bit of a chore. I love to paint and have a great interest particularly in contemporary art however I often find myself relying too much on my inspiration to guide my drawing. I wanted to use this workshop to branch out a bit more and draw from a photograph rather than someone else’s work. I chose to start with something I am comfortable and familiar with so traced the outline of a woman’s face (found on Balenciaga’s Instagram (06/09/2018)) in biro. I like the feel of drawing in pen, especially onto tracing paper. It’s smooth, gives a clear outline and if you keep the pressure varied, doesn’t take away from displaying depth in highlights and shadows. The photo was appropriate because of my earlier research about Balenciaga’s WFP and additionally the link to my exploratory concept on prejudice against Muslims. The line  and shape, being very simple, enabled me to experiment widely with colour and texture, therefore transforming the tone of the piece. I used my understanding of three dimensional sketching to apply shading to the face and complete the illustration.


As mentioned, the idea was to find my own style. I didn’t have time to finish my illustration and was feeling particularly uninspired so left it until after the ‘fluid painting’ workshop the following week. A present and popular trend in fashion is layering so I used this to put together three more developed versions of the illustration. The first involved physically layering the original sketch over a sample of fluid painting.

The marbled effect of grey and black in conjunction with soft biro lines is harmonious but creates enough of a contrast to keep the illustration and background separate.

The next involved photoshop to use the blue marble as a hijab print. I also filled the eyes because it allowed the colours to flow and tie in with the face. I wasn’t planning on printing this illustration however I felt there was something missing. I used biro to finalise the image, darkening the original sketch lines and disgusting discrepancies in digital layering.

I like the outcomes but I don’t think I’ll be taking them any further. They’re not really a demonstration of fashion which for a ‘fashion illustration’ almost defeats the point. Despite this I’ve learned that I need to alter the focus of my illustrations and can improve for the next time.

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