How to Illustrate Fashion Week Runway Looks

by Helena  - May 20, 2018

Fashion week is quite an exciting time for any fashion lover, especially for us who love to sketch runway looks. It's just such a magical moment seeing all the wonderful design collections and elements, color stories and different inspiration behind the design. I also love the fact that you get a glimpse into the future when watching the runway show because than you can predict what styles, colors and materials will be in for the upcoming season.

If you are interested in seeing how to easily illustrate fashion week runway looks, here is my way of doing it through a few simple steps.

1. Selection

If I could, I would probably illustrate hundreds of runway looks but as I do have a life beside drawing, I usually pick a couple of favorite designers and choose 3-6 outfits from their show.

The best place to find runway looks is Vogue under the section that covers fashion week shows. On the cover page you will see the latest fashion week happening and highlights from that event. From the navigation bar,you can discover and choose a season or a designer you wish to illustrate.

how to illustrate fashion runway looks

At this moment, the latest shows are for Resort 2019 so I went through my usual favorite designers and have chosen to illustrate Chanel Resort 2019 collection. Then I go through all the runway looks from this collection and choose 3-6 favorite outfits to illustrate.

how to illustrate fashion runway looks

This usually takes just a few minutes, depending on the number of runway looks in this collection. Sometimes I adore everything so it takes me a little bit longer to choose only a couple of my favorite outfits.

2. Preparation

When I know what looks I want to illustrate, then the next step is to prepare materials for sketching. I always use my Fashionary sketchbook for runway looks because it has convenient figure templates and it just fits my needs the best. You can check my review of this sketchbook here

how to illustrate fashion runway looks

I write down the name of the designer and the season for collection I'm illustrating and outfit numbers that I will sketch, for example Look 5/65 etc.

After that I prepare markers and pencils I will use for this illustration. And here is the list of materials used for this particular one:

how to draw fashion runway looks

This usually takes a couple of minutes as well and it makes sketching so much faster, easier and more enjoyable. There is nothing worse than looking for materials in the middle of the creation process.

3. Rough Sketching

The next step is a rough sketch of the looks and I usually use a mechanical pen as it makes a cleaner sketch in my opinion. I sketch all the looks at once and without any details, just face features, shapes of the garments and simplified sketch of the model. 

This is how it looks when I'm done and it takes a minute or two per look so for these 6 looks it took me around 3-4 minutes for a rough sketch.

how to illustrate fashion runway looks

4. Fine Lines

When I have my basic sketch then I use a fine liner for the finished sketch. It's very simple, just go over your pen marks and try to make the lines steady and firm. Here I will usually add some details as well such as buttons or pockets. Also, takes another 3-4 minutes.

how to illustrate fashion runway looks

5. Hair and Skin Tone

Next step is to add hair color and skin tone. As I previously mentioned, the most common Copics I use for skin are E00, E11 and E13. E00 is my base tone and when it dries I add first layer of shadow with E11 like under the neck, inside parts of the limbs, cast shadow from clothing. Then I use E13 to add a little bit more dimension. For hair color I usually use only a base color and two or three shades darker color for the shadows.

how to illustrate fashion runway looks

6. Foundation Layer

After finishing the skin and hair part, then comes the fun part and that means coloring the designs. Choosing the right colors beforehand saves a lot of time in this phase. You can choose the lightest shade of a color and start with the foundation layer. This is a very quick process and takes about a minute or two.

7. Shadows and Details

Then I use a couple of shades darker marker or pencil to add shadow onto the foundation layer. The last part is adding patterns, prints or embellishments. The best materials for this part include fine liners, gel pens, metallic pens or acrylic paint. And this part usually takes a little bit more depending on the number of details on the design.

how to illustrate fashion runway looks
how to illustrate fashion runway looks

And here you have all the steps for a quick fashion runway sketching. Usually takes about 20-30 min depending on how complex the designs are. These are great to keep in your fashion resource folder for whenever you need a little bit of inspiration in the design process.

Review: Fashion Sketchbook – A Designer’s Companion
Drawing Hands in Fashion Illustration
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