Fashion Sketching: a Step-by-step Guide to Drawing the Basic Fashion Croquis

A Croquis is a Drawing of a Fashion Model.

You trace over your croquis to design clothing.

Fashion croquis can be all different shapes, sizes, and styles. It all depends on the end use of your design and the demographic you are designing for. I’ve used different croquis throughout my career. Some were more stylized while others were super simple. 

Below is the croquis we will draw in this tutorial.

 


What are the Proportions of a Fashion Croquis? 

The standard fashion croquis follows the proportions of runway models.

Let me first say that you can evolve your croquis to be any shape and size. This tutorial will teach you how to create the standard croquis (with the proportions that most fashion colleges teach students.) Once you have the standard template, you can adjust however best fits your personality, design aeshetic, and most importantly, your target demographic.

The standard croquis is an unrealistic (or idealized) figure with longer legs, a larger head, and thinner hips than the average woman, like a fashion model. The croquis is 9 heads tall from the top of the head to the ankles. (The feet are excluded from the equation since they can vary in height depending on type of shoes and heel height.) 

The above image illustrates the difference between a realistic body (left) and a fashion croquis with 9 heads proportion (right)

The above image illustrates the difference between a realistic body (left) and a fashion croquis with 9 heads proportion (right)

The point of view is that a fashion model’s length and simplicity of form help to display clothing with a dramatic effect. The design intent of a garment is exaggerated when displayed on an elongated scale, and this elongated scale helps to portray a fantasy (aka helps to advertise and sell more clothes.)

Personally, I think this is just another standard of beauty that is subject to change, as beauty standard have changed throughout history (and to hell with beauty standards, right?) 

Currently, there are more and more fashion models with relatable body proportions. The industry is learning that people buy clothes that they can personally relate to. Therefore, it’s best to be open, have you’re own point of view on beauty, and feel free to evolve your croquis once you’ve learned the basics.

What Does “9 heads” Tall Mean?

The height and width of the head is used as an index for the dimensions of the rest of the body. 

In this image, you can see how the body is broken up into 9 equal sections from the top of the head to the ankle bone. The feet are excluded because they can vary in height depending on the type of shoes and heel height.

It’s helpful to use the head as a point of measure instead of an actual measurement because your paper size can vary. From a tiny piece of paper to a billboard, you can map out the size and proportions of your figure by drawing 9 heads first.

If you are working with an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, you can have each head be roughly 1” tall but this measurement will change depending on your paper size.

 

Creating Guidelines

Before we begin, you will need paper and a pencil. A ruler and tracing paper would be helfpful but isn’t totally necessary. Draw lightly with pencil so you can erase easily.

Step 1: Divide the page into 9 equal sections.

Quick trick: lightly mark 4 equal sections of your paper, then split each section in half. Draw an oval in each section, labeling 1-9.

Step 2: Add a dashed line at roughly 1 1/2” and 4 1/4” heads

PART 1-03.png

Step 3: Label anatomy as marked on this page 
 

Creating the Croquis Skeleton

Step 1: Draw a vertical line, perpendicular to the horizontal guidelines. This will be the center line

Step 2: Draw an oval for the head 

Step 3: Draw a horizontal line for the shoulders (roughly 1 1/2” heads wide)

Step 4: Draw a horizontal line for the waist (roughly 1 head)

Step 5: Repeat step 3 for the hips (the hips and shoulders are the same width)

Step 6: Connect the shoulder, waist and hips

Step 7: Draw a guideline for the arms as pictured

Step 8: Draw a vertical line from the waist down

FASHION ILLUSTRATION2.jpg

Step 9: Draw a cylinder for the neck

Step 10: Connect the neck to the shoulder

Step 11: Draw small ovals for the knees

Step 12: Draw small ovals for the ankles

FASHION ILLUSTRATION3.jpg

Adding Shape

After the skeleton of the croquis is established, we can add muscular structure and shape. This is the most challenging part, it takes practice so be patient! Draw lightly with pencil so you can erase easily.

Step 13: Add shape to the neck and arm as illustrated. Repeat on other side

FASHION ILLUSTRATION5.jpg

Step 14: Add shape to the leg and foot as illustrated. Repeat on other side

Step 15: Your croquis will look something like this. If you’re not happy with the proportions, feel free to adjust as necessary. You can trace over your croquis with a darker pencil line, a different colored pencil, or tracing paper. 

Step 16: Add bust line

Step 17: Add underwear line

Step 18: Add a line separating the croquis in half 

The below guidelines will help you draw symmetrical and accurate garments

PRINTABLE CROQUIS TEMPLATE

I’ve added my croquis below. Feel free to print and use!

 

The Fashion Model vs. the Average Woman

Fashion models are significantly taller and slimmer than most women. The fashion model's length and simplicity of form help display clothing with a dramatic affect. Style lines, asymmetry, and silhouettes of garments are exaggerated when displayed on an elongated scale. This elongated scale helps to portray a fantasy. These garments are then edited into the real world to be enjoyed by a wider range of people. 

The image on the left is an average woman. The image on the right is photoshopped to represent an exaggerated fashion croquis or template that is 9 heads tall from the top of head to the ankles. This proportion is common to fashion sketching. 

 

Drawing the fashion figure with 9 heads proportion—Part 1 goes more into depth about the proportions of the fashion figure. This is the place to start if you're interested in fashion sketching. 

 

Drawing feet on the fashion figure: high heels vs. flats

Let's be honest, drawing feet is annoying. I find drawing flat shoes to be more challenging than drawing heels. Flat shoes often end up looking like little boats or skis or Donald Duck's flippers—not cute.

"Things don’t always work out the first time, but keep trying." – Donald Duck.

"Things don’t always work out the first time, but keep trying." – Donald Duck.

Out of frustration, I had a photoshoot with my feet to try and figure out how to draw heels and flats with ease. 

In the far left image, my heels are planted firmly on the ground (my feet are completely flat). In every following image, I am raising my heels slightly higher; the far right image displays my maximum heel hight. From studying this progression of heel hight (while standing forward in an upright position), I noticed this relationship:


The lower the heel, the more the feet face out away from the center body line.
The higher the heel, the more the feet face in towards the center body line. 


To help illustrate this point, note the red arrows on the below sketch. 

flat-vs-heel-amiko-simonetti

Also note that the placement of the feet from the bottom of the page stays consistent (this is the floor and floors don't move). The knees and ankles gradually gain height from the bottom of the page as the figure gets getting taller with the new heel height. 

I recommend exploring this relationship by standing in the mirror and slowly raising your heels off the ground.
How does your anatomy appear to be affected? 

  • What area on your foot begins to support the weight of your body?  
  • How does the activation of muscles affect the silhouette of your legs?
  • Are there any other structural changes you notice in your body?
  • Curiosity enhances learning, so try approaching this with the spirit of curiosity and exploration. 

See this article to learn how to draw the face on your fashion sketch.