Introduction – Advanced Fashion Drawing, Lifestyle Illustration


This book is unique.

The exercises are geared toward illustrators with the intention of simplifying the principles and ideas that are associated with the genre of fashion illustration and the lifestyle market. Although the figure is initially used as a template to examine these principles and ideas, this book is not only about drawing the traditional fashion illustration figure. There are no systematic charts of nine or ten heads to measure a typical first croquis. The focus is not on how to draw a collar or cuff, or render fur or satin, or draw an eye. The idea is not to reinforce a particular method of drawing. Instead, the exercises in the book challenge the student to reinvent their notions of looking and drawing and to analyze the visual of the figure in terms of line, shape, and value.

This book is geared toward the advanced student who has a working knowledge of the figure and drawing. However, the information provided will be of use to anyone at any level, as the exercises promote observation and draftsmanship. Structured around the method of using weekly sessions to expand the visual vocabulary of students, the book is primarily about the possibilities of drawing the figure and capturing a lifestyle.

Lifestyle illustration can seem an elusive term that defies definition. “Lifestyle” reflects the style of dress, environment, entertainment, consumption, and social habits of a culture. Illustrations that visually capture the essence of the lifestyle of a segment of society are, therefore, defined as lifestyle illustration. Advertising and promotional campaigns are geared toward such targeted audiences; the role of the illustrator working in this market is to create an illustration that not only reflects a particular lifestyle but also is attractive to the audience. This can be achieved by incorporating a fashion sensibility into an illustration, whether it is of a fashion show, luxury hotel suite, cruise ship, cocktail glass, or urban skateboarders.

The aim of this book is to provide the artist with the tools to transform the most mundane of settings into a stylized and graphic visual. In addition, because the exercises focus on thinking and choice, the information is not limited to a lifestyle market; they can as easily be applied to the genres of caricature, graphic novels, and general illustration as well.

How the Exercises Work

The exercises are structured in a simple format to nurture draftsmanship, sharpen drawing skills, and incorporate composition into the equation.

The book begins with the slow methodical drawing process that I refer to as the balancing act. This fosters a solid observational skill, which in turn nurtures the draftsmanship of the student. The next exercise, breaking the figure into simple contour lines, reinvents the figure as a template for composition.

Composition is the main backdrop upon which the exercises in shape and line quality perform. The ability to see the figure in terms of shapes allows for a quick rationalization of the visual, which can then be translated through line, value, and technique. Exercises in line quality simplify this elusive concept and introduce the student to a simple process of incorporating line quality into an illustration. They also demonstrate how to use the idea of line quality to indicate depth and space on the figure.

Throughout all the exercises, selectivity challenges the student to think, before drawing a line or placing a shape within the figure, about how that line or shape will affect the whole of the figure—much like analyzing the layout of a framed space to apply the principles of composition.

All of the exercises in this book nurture the concept of composition. The student, using the premises of selectivity, contrasting shapes, and negative space from the first half of the book, will already be acquainted with some of the terms and principles of composition in layout and design that are promoted in the second half of the book.

Here, using the principles of composition—perspective, symmetry, the rule of thirds, scale, positive and negative space, repetition and pattern, value and color—the student will begin to create a finished illustration that reflects the lifestyle market.

To complete that illustration, the student will also learn how to explore and use a wide range of media, from brush and ink to collage and Photoshop, in the second half of the book.

The world of illustration and art is organic and constantly evolving to reflect trends and changes in the marketplace. To meet the needs of that market, an illustrator needs not only to find his or her own style, but also to feel comfortable with changing and reinventing that style. Suggestions for finding a style and then breaking the rules in order to explore new avenues form the closing discussion in the book. It is my hope that this will inspire and motivate those who are as passionate about drawing as I am.