Tutorial: Fashion Sketches


I’ve been so flattered with your sweet words about including my sketches in my refashion/sewing posts. Seriously, every time I read your comments I get a big smile on my face. Often times I share them with Chris and say, “Look, Chris!! People like what I do!” It never surprises him, but it surprises and delights me every time. Selena commented: “I need to learn to draw those fashion-y sketches… do you recommend a book or tutorial? Or perhaps you want to do a tutorial just for me? Pretty please?”

That made me think that she might not be the only one wanting to know how. Or hope at least. I’m excited to share with you my method for figure drawing. This method is a bit more on the traditional side, what I’m showing you is sort of a caricature of what I learned in figure drawing in college. With these instructions I hope you’ll be able to translate this into your own style fashion figure drawings. If you’d like to learn additional information on how to draw the body, I’d suggest Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist. It’s what we studied from at BYU, so it’s fairly conservative, but it’s still an anatomy book.

Now let’s get started!


• S K E T C H I N GT H EF E M A L EF I G U R E •

• T O O L S  •

  • pencil
  • eraser
  • paper
  • a model or mirror

I draw the figure from my head most of the time, but I’ve practiced drawing the figure loads of times. If you’re serious about figure drawing, check out your local museum to see if they do figure drawing sessions – keep in mind, most are nude. So, either that or get yourself a sister or close friend to model for you (a fitted shirt & shorts would would do just fine).

First, you want to mark down your reference points. Where’s the jugular notch (or pit of the neck)? Draw a circle there, then document the angle of the shoulders. Next, draw the linea alba (center line) from the jugular notch to the base of the pelvis. Draw the angle of the hips. Many poses kink the hips in the opposite angle of the shoulders, so keep that in mind.

Now that you have the angles down, sketch in all of the joints with lines & circles. Use full circles for parts that face straight on & ovals for parts that are 3/4 or profile. The line of the hip to the knee goes from the outside of the hip to the inside of the knee. Same with the shin. The shin makes sort of a lazy S shape.


Now that the figure is starting to take more shape, connect the circles. Literally flesh out the form with the contours of fat & muscle. Take note that the angles in the leg with the fat & muscle is very similar to your previous skeletal rendering. Erase the circles & lines from step 2.

Remember in art class in 7th grade how you were taught to start drawing the figure with the head & make the body 7-8 heads tall? Forget that. At least the starting with the head part. Now in step 4, you’ll want to draw the neck, it’s height and width is typically about 1/4th the breadth of the shoulder. The head is more of an oval-bottomed square than an exact oval. Draw the head. You can add hair & facial features if you’d like. Next you’ll attack the hands.

I leave the hands for last because they’re pretty tricky. Sometimes I’ll leave them as circles or mitts, but if I want to do something different, it’s in these last steps that I add them. The palm is a rounded pentagon with fries coming out of it. (maybe I’m hungry?) Again, if you’re serious about sketching the body, this is something that you’ll want to study & practice. Flesh out the feet by just adding their basic shape. I usually leave finishing them for last as they’re sort of tricky & I usually draw shoes on them anyway.

Now your drawing is ready to accessorize. Draw clothing on top of your figure & erase the under-drawing.

When it comes to the fashion sketches that I include with my refashions, I typically hurry to document my idea that I wing it & don’t do the whole under-drawing. I also often draw with a pen – so no erasing, either. I prefer to draw on paper with a pen or pencil over sketching my ideas with my Wacom. Maybe because I like the organic feel of paper & pen(cil) or maybe because I’m not as good with the Wacom as I could be!

As step 6 suggests, you can also download my drawing. I’ve included a front & a back for your convenience in planning refashions, sewing projects, etc! Click the button below to download.

This tutorial/freebie is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering the file NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this tutorial for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!

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  1. Marisa says:

    This is great! I’ve always wanted to learn human figure drawing, but never took the time. Can’t wait to practice. Thanks!

  2. YIPPEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! thank you SO much! and you are so speedy… goodness gracious! i am typically a “copy cat” sketch artist… if i can see it i can sketch it, but what is in my brain never turns out… this tutorial is SOOOOOO awesome! its exactly what i needed!!!



  3. Shaela says:

    AWESOME. You rock – thanks!

  4. Bmerry says:

    I don’t miss figure drawing. I feel far too familiar with those lines and measurements, but I haven’t used the circles before.

  5. This is amazing! thank you so much, My figure actually looks decent! you are a lifesaver, i love reading ISLY!

  6. Heidi says:

    Awesome, thanks so much! I pinned this to pinterest so I can look back once summer is over and I start sewing again!

  7. Miriam says:

    Cool cool cool. this is perfecto because I have been wanting to learn figure drawing lately–I was planning a trip to the library to see what I could find! this is a great starting place, and I really love your drawing style–i love every time you post sketches from your refashions etc. woo hoo!

  8. thank you so much for sharing this! i am going to have to get back into some designing, haven’t done that for a minute. your site is amazing. in this cyber crafting world, your blog is the one i truly follow and love the most.
    when i grow up can i be just like you!?
    love your stuff.

    {love} lauryn @ lovenotesbylauryn.blogspot.com

  9. Maya says:

    Thank you a million for the lovely tips!
    I’ve tried to draw a figure for so long using different techniques and whatever I did it still looked like a scarecrow! I know it takes practice to make it better and I am practicing hoping that your tips would help so that it would start to look a little bit more human :)

  10. Deb says:

    This is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. Rachel says:

    Went back to find this when I decided I wanted to draw a person for the first time in eons. Drawing didn’t quite come out the way I wanted it, but the tutorial was super helpful. Your drawings lately have inspired me to break out my sketchpad more often, so thank you. :)

  12. Allysa says:

    Thank you sooooooooo much!!!!!! Most tutorials aren’t very informative!!! Now I can really get drawing bodies right!! Thanks a million trillion!!

  13. Sara says:

    i can’t believe i missed this post. i was wondering how to do this ever since i saw you post one!

  14. Olivia Thompson says:

    Thank you so much for this! I am hoping to major in costume design and this is helping me soooo much! I haven’t quite got the design part down, but this is so helpful!!!

  15. Darlene says:

    Hi Melissa:

    Great Resource! I did a post about your tutorial and provided a link to your site:


    Have a great day, Darlene

  16. Dad says:

    Yup, my daughter is pretty amazing. What I find impressive is how she shares so much of her talent. Sort of, very, proud.

  17. jo says:

    Love love love everything about your blog! You are supertalented and a great inspiration. Just found you via Pinterest yesterday, but am already hooked.
    Will probably sign up for the calligraphy class. I live in the Netherlands and haven’t seen much modern calligraphy around here. Though I believe there’s an upcoming market for it. I need to learn how to do it! I can do lettering with a flat nib, learned how to in artschool, but I think the modern copperplate inspired writings are far more interesting.

    Thanks so much for everything and God bless you.

    Love Jo

  18. So COOL! Thanks for this, I always wanted to know.

  19. Marcia says:


  20. Marcia says:

    Thank you very much, I’ll try, your work is AMAZING…

  21. Dayna says:

    Can you show how to draw a body on the stomach lying down like on a beach? So rear view? Kind of like their feet toward the ocean and propped up on elbows?

  22. Lisa says:

    Ever since high school I’ve wanted to sketch drawings like this! I’m really excited to practise it! Thanks so much!

  23. leah says:

    My daughter’s art teacher is sending her middle school students here for a conservative option for figure drawing – thank you!! This is a nice first step for a child in middle school.

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