Illustration, No Illusion

Illustration, No Illusion

For those who know Prada, they and everybody else should also know what Miuccia Prada, Italian head designer of Prada once said. She quoted, “Fashion is instant language”.

Getting deeper into this quote, we can discover how this quote can open many doors to learn and engage in the language itself. One of the ways is fashion illustration.

In other words, if fashion is a language, let fashion illustration be the words. Fashion illustration is, in fact, like a picture worth 1000 words. But doesn’t a curious mind want to know, what exactly fashion illustration is?

As Wikipedia would say- fashion illustration is the art of communicating fashion ideas in visual form. Now there’s going to be people who’ll think, “If this writer needs to quote directly from Wikipedia, I could’ve done it on my own”, right?

Well, defending on the writer’s side, there is actually more to it. Fashion illustration indeed is a form of art. But it not only visualizes the idea what a clothing should look like, but it also shapes the style of the current generation.

As fashion illustrator Graeme Aymer said, “Fashion illustration is a style itself, and it is currently enjoying a Renaissance”. Designing clothes through drawings and colors are the basic tools.

But an illustrator also has to think about the future before the actual creation of the clothes.

Fashion illustration by hand depicts Illustration is no illusion in Fashionnovation.

Fashion Illustration by hand. Image courtesy: Author.

Now the question is, what should an illustrator put into a fashion sketch? One must ensure to put embellishments, render the fabric accurately, put the prints and seams. But before all of these, one must know how to draw the human figure with appropriate body size, shape and most importantly- expression! You got to admit, a figure wearing clothes with profound expression is what catches the attention of clients and persuades them to buy the dress!

Putting aside all these somewhat boring theories, let’s look at something more interesting and fascinating. In the fashion world, broadly speaking, one can find fashion illustration to be of 2 types-

  • The first type is what the writer would like to call ‘objective’. This refers to much realistic and sensible forms of arts. In this case, the fashion illustrator tries to put the fashion ideas in such a way so that the clients can easily understand what the clothing wants to say. Say, you are drawing a full-length evening gown made of silk with drapes and off-shoulder bodice, you may want to render the sketch off the fabric with shine and white highlights contrast to any other color you are using. And in case of making the sketch more ‘sensible’, one can try to sketch the figure with 8-head, 9-head or 10-head figures with appropriate measurements. This makes the sketch more lively and more relevant to real human figure.

This type of illustration helps the client to know exactly what the final outfit is going to be and this also helps to produce the garment if it is thought to be made in bulk.

As you’re interested in Fashion Illustration, you’ll also be excited to check 12 Fashion Illustrations Done by Students Which Will Blow Your Mind!

Now if an illustrator is enthusiastic and a big-dreamer who wants to start their own clothing business or wants to work with a design team, one must know the following 6 types of fashion sketches-

  • Fashion Flat:
    Technical Drawing Fashion Flat which depicts illustration is no illusion.

    Fashion flats. Image source: Pixabay

    This is a 2D sketch normally made in black & white. It can sometimes be a rough sketch. If further the designer has a solid idea, one can add details and color to the garment.

  • Tech Sketch:
    FASHION DESIGN | Technical Drawing / Flat Drawing / Trade Sketch Example of a shirt and close up of detail | Shirt S… | Technical drawing, Shirt sketch, Mens shirts. Fashion tech sketch depicts illustration no illusion

    Tech sketch. Image source:

    In this case, some details are added to the fashion flat in written form.

  • Spec: Specs have precise presentations of the illustration with specifications added such as trims, seams, cost, manufacturing process etc.
How to Make Spec Sheet For an Apparel Item?

Specs. Image source: Online clothing study.

  • Working Drawing: This drawing is made specifically for the pattern maker who would make pattern pieces according to the pattern drawings illustrated here.
  • Presentation Drawing: This is made for the client or producer to make them visualize the final dress.
fashion sketches and flats | Courtney Trowbridge

Presentation drawing. Image courtesy: Courtney Trowbridge

  • Fashion Croquis: The term Croquis refers to ‘sketch’ in French. This is a template drawing over which one can trace and draw a garment to remake it or to modify it. There are great books for helping in drawing fashion flats that also provides croquis.
Fashion Croquis Images, Stock Photos & Vectors |

Fashion Croquis. Image source: Shutterstock

Well, this objective drawing is now what makes the fashion world go forward. In many cases, designers or illustrators can recreate already famous dresses by adding their own persona but still keeping it sensible to the viewers on what the dress is actually defining.

  • Now the other type of illustration is both old and new. This is something that can be called ‘abstract’. In this case, you as an illustrator can draw fashion sketches in your own twisted and unreasonable way. There is no standard measurement, rather however you present a theme of a dress, it is perfect in any way. Although these illustrations are somewhat difficult to comprehend, they do give the essence to exaggerated and independent taste.

One of the famous fashion illustrators is Antonio Lopez.  This Puerto Rican illustrator was famous for his illustrations being futuristic, bold and dynamic. His first works of art was named El Museo del Barrio, which was made in 1978 using watercolors and pencils. You will definitely notice how the body structure and shape of the garment looks absurd but that is the way this creates the modern art look, putting fashion as a form of visual ornament in a non-representative way.

This form of illustrations is highly used to recreate already made garments in a new style to promote them in magazines and books and also to keep them in the history of fashion. This unusual type of illustrations are now becoming popular day-by-day, although these forms of art had a decline in the late 30’s when the magazine covers started to use photographic images instead of abstract arts.


Tasphia Zaman                                                                                              Department of Textile Fashion and Design,                                                                  Bangladesh University of Textiles.                                                                              ID: 2018-1-6-009, TFD-44


As you have read this interesting article about ‘illustration, no illusion’, you might want to learn how to do beautiful fashion illustrations. So, we have covered that for you here!

Free and Paid Fashion Illustration Courses for you

As you’re interested in Fashion Illustration, you’ll also be excited to check 12 Fashion Illustrations Done by Students Which Will Blow Your Mind!