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


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


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


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


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