Sunday, January 3, 2021

Weekend Review: The Secrets of Fashion Drawing

The Secrets of Fashion Drawing / Noel Chapman & Judith Cheek
London: Arcturus, c2014
160 p.

One of my delightful Christmas gifts this year was a set of EXTCCT fashion rulers, seen first on @Julie_Eilber's instagram account and then put onto my list. A nice little gift came from my Mom -- these rulers and a tube turner set. Love the enabling! :) I've already tried out the rulers -- there's a torso, legs, and three complete body shapes; one with arms, one without and one with no head on it. You can basically make any outline you want. I did a few quick pencil sketches over one of the body outlines to get a feel for them, and had quite a bit of fun. It's like playing paper dolls again! 

Anyhow, playing around with these made me think about fashion drawing, which then reminded me that I had The Secrets of Fashion Drawing on my shelves, but had never really looked into it much. And I'm so glad I pulled it out, because it's really interesting! 

It's written by two fashion industry types from England - one an illustrator and one a lecturer. The book is aimed at fashion students or beginners who want to break into the fashion illustration world. Well, that is definitely not me, but this book has a lot more to offer the casual reader too. 

After a clear intro, the book moves on to essential equipment for an illustrator -- papers, pens, brushes etc. As a stationery freak, I really enjoyed this even though it's not my aim to become an illustrator. But then there is a 17 page chapter on fashion terminology, ranging from types of fabrics and notions to fashion terms relevant to professionals. This glossary is useful for sewists as well, and suitably, the pages are sprinkled with lovely little illustrations of things being described -- and throughout the book there are many, many examples of fashion drawings in all sorts of styles by different illustrators, which is charming and visually so satisfying. 

After that comes a 30 page chapter on colour. I loved this. First there are pages with a breakdown of colour meaning across from a full page spread of that colour in a mood board style image. Then a few pages on colour palettes, choosing a colour to work with for a collection, and the like. This was such fun to read. 

And then begins the drawing instruction itself. They give tips on life drawing, drawing directly from a garment, creating flats and floats, and then doing more of a finished fashion illustration. It really covers it all for anyone in the field. It does assume a fair bit of art knowledge but that's kind of their market. 

The rest of the book is examples of successful fashion drawings and illustrators as well as a fair bit of business advice for the fledgling fashion artist. I skipped over some of this, just reading bios and looking at work samples that are surprisingly different from one another and enjoyable to skim through. 

My interest in fashion drawing is piqued by this, and I think some of the suggestions might come in handy when I'm using my new rulers and trying out project ideas on the page prior to sewing anything up. Even if I don't use them for practical purposes, I find that drawing outfits is relaxing and fun, and I think I'll keep on doing it this year. This book gives me some inspiration both in the drawing area and in more general sewing plans - the discussion of colour and collections and fashion planning may just be helpful when building the sewing queue! 


  1. I also got those rulers for Christmas. I think they will be fun to use.

    1. They are quite fun to play around with! Enjoy :)


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!