Art Supplies for Fashion Illustration – Beginner Kit

by Helena  - July 2, 2016

If you are just starting out with fashion illustration, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start when it comes to buying art supplies. You will probably find many suggestions and lists of products to buy online, but honestly all you need at the beginning are a piece of paper and a pencil.

The first thing you will do on your journey to becoming a fashion illustrator is practice drawing fashion figures and that means discovering movement, body positions, shapes and shades. For this purpose you don't need anything fancy or expensive, you can use a regular HB pencil or a mechanical pen if you prefer and a piece of copy or print paper.

The only thing I would recommend to buy extra at the beginning is tracing paper, as this will make your life easier and you will progress much faster with your croquis development.

Beginner Art Kit for Fashion Illustration

After you have been practicing sketching with a regular pencil and paper and you know for sure you want to start illustrating and become a fashion illustrator then you can start by building your first art kit.

Paper and Sketchbooks

Figure drawing practice and your basic croquis can be drawn on any kind of paper or format. When you start sketching clothes and working on details a bit more, it is good to work on a larger format like A3.

There are several types of paper useful in the beginning:

Semi-transparent Paper or Tracing paper - perfect for tracing and sketching until you are satisfied with the final work. You can try different brands to see which one works best for you. My favorites is Canson Artist Series which can be used with pencils, ink and markers.

Canson Tracing Paper (Amazon Link)

All-purpose paper or sketchpad - don't waste your money on buying different papers for each media you will use, because in the beginning that is really not necessary. Aim for all purpose papers so that you can experiment, use mixed media and try different techniques without fear. My favorite is Canson Mix Media Paper and I usually use it as a sketchbook for developing design ideas and also for illustrations featuring different media.

Canson Mixed Media Paper (Amazon Link)

Sketchbook - there are so many types to choose from in this area. You can buy a basic pocket one that you can carry around and sketch on the go or one with cute design and layout that will boost your creative. Here you can do quick sketches of ideas that come to you during the day or use it as a general design ideas book. This one below is a good choice for beginners because it also contains various templates inside.

Fashion Sketchbook (Amazon Link)

Drawing and sketching media

Graphite Pencils - these are the basic tool of every artist. They come in different degrees of hardness, with HB being the "regular" one with medium hardness. The set below contains 6 pencils, each a different degree so you can practice and experiment.

Faber Castel Pencils (Amazon Link)

Fine Liners - it is very useful to have black fine liners in several sizes for finishing your work or finalizing a sketch. Sakura Micron is one of the best options and the set below comes with 6 pens of different size. If you think you won't be needed the thicker ones, Sakura has plenty of other sets to choose from.

Sakura Pigma Micron (Amazon Link)

Coloring Media

When you are buying a coloring media, usually it is great to figure out what would you prefer to try first and then buy a small set with skin, hair tones and basic colors. When you master one media, you will be able to enrich that media adding other techniques as well throughout your projects.

Colored Pencils - my personal favorite, but they are a very slow media to work with, especially when you have large areas to color. They are fairly easy to start with because you can build color as you go so it is harder to mess up and you can erase and fix things easily.

If you use soft core pencils like Prismacolor Premier then you have the ability to blend with ease and create all kinds of textures and fabrics. In combination with hard led pencils like Prismacolor Verithin your possibilities are endless as you can do even more gorgeous textures and add details to your work quickly.

Prismacolor Premier (Amazon Link)

Prismacolor Verithin (Amazon Link)

Markers - they are most commonly used among fashion illustrators and designers as they are quick to use and give an acceptable representation of fabric and color. If you decide to illustrate with markers, start by purchasing a set for skin tones, then add a few for blonde and brown hair, light grey for shading and afterwards just build up your supply based on the projects you will be working on.

The brand I use is Copic which are top quality markers. I love them because of their wonderful brush tip as well as the range of colors available and their great blending ability. You can read more about Copic markers and how to start building your collection in my article below. Alternatively, you can start with a budget option like Ohuhu which I also reviewed.

Art Materials and Supplies

Review: Ohuhu 72 Sketch Marker Set

Watercolors - you can use watercolor pencils in the beginning as they are easier to use than watercolors, because you are more in control and less likely to mess up your work. With watercolor pencils you just color the area as you would with colored pencils and then just go over it with a wet brush for a watercolor effect. If you are using regular watercolors, then you need brushes in different sizes as well and a mixing palette.


You will need something to store your artwork and usually it is preferable to use larger portfolio that can be zipped to protect your artwork and make a design presentation. If you are serious about your artwork, it is smart to invest into a quality portfolio that will last you a long time.

A quality portfolio will:

  • keep your work in order
  • protect your drawings from being damaged and keep them clean (waterproof)
  • be a practical and professional solution for showing your work to your teachers or clients

You can find plenty of various options on Amazon.

Art Portfolios on Amazon (Amazon Link)


There are many other things you could add to your illustration kit but it is better to keep it simple in the beginning and then add things as you go. You don't want to spend all your money right away before you event start drawing, or try different media and then decide it isn't for you and just be left with a bunch of art supplies you will never use.

Practice and patience are virtues that every artist should have in order to be the best at what he/she does, so try not to rush things and the results will be closer with each step.

How to Become a Fashion Illustrator
Expert Fashion Illustration Art Kit
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