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Make a Model: Drawing the Fashion Figure

Today we are going to learn how to draw figures, specifically the stylized body used for fashion design. This skill is very important for any fashion designer or aspiring designer because it is the first and most crucial step when communicating a design idea before bringing it to life on the dress form. This skill can also be helpful if you like to sew your own clothes because it helps you visualize your garment ideas and put together outfits.

The first thing you will notice in fashion illustration is that the basic body proportions are very different from the real human body proportions. This is why it’s called a “stylized” figure. It is an elongated figure that presents fictitious proportions. Let’s look at drawing the fashion figure in more detail.

drawing fashion figures


Generally, there are two different head proportion systems. In art and anatomy the standard is the 7 to 7 1/2-head proportion, like you can see on the above left. On the other hand, we have the 9-head proportion, which is usually the standard in fashion design and illustration. Keep this system in mind when you are first starting out to help maintain the proportions you see above.

Drawing the fashion figure

Fashion Figure Guide


wire frame

Step 1:

Draw a wire frame of the basic structure of the figure. Using the fist image above as a guide, draw the head of your fashion figure and divide the length of the body into 9 heads. Then, locate the main landmarks of the body on the page, like the shoulders, waist, hips, hands, knees, ankles and feet.


Step 2:

Shape the arms and legs. To do so, draw long lines around the wire frame we just drew, to insinuate the shape of the extremities.

Refining the figure

Step 3:

Begin to define the body further by drawing a more detailed and accurate outline of the waist, hips and arms. Erase the wire frame and guidelines we drew earlier. Draw the legs.

Final fashion illustration figure

Step 4:

Clean up the drawing by erasing all unnecessary lines and circles and continue to add detail, like drawing the hands, shaping the legs and drawing the knees. Once you finish drawing your fashion figure you can either photocopy it, scan it or trace it multiple times to save them for later and keep them as templates to draw designs over them.

fashion illustrations

As with any creative and artistic craft, fashion illustrations can all be very expressive and different. This is a basic guideline to follow as you begin to learn, once you are comfortable with the basics you can start exploring different styles to discover your own personal aesthetic. It could be something detailed or a more loose and expressive style, as you can see above.

In future posts we will cover how to draw different poses, dressing the fashion figure and rendering clothes. So, if you are interested in this topic, stick around because there’s some good stuff to come.

Check out our other free art classes!


Nita Green Ragan

WHAT HAPPENED 2 the options on left of these blogs 2 ‘Pin-It”!!???? —-HOW do we PIN these!!????? ——-I’ve asked this over & over & NO ANSWER!!—–That’s the ONLY. way 2 save these!!

Emily Stoffel

Would a screenshot work?

Nita Green Ragan

WHAT HAPPENED 2 the options on left of these blogs 2 ‘Pin-It”!!???? —-HOW do we PIN these!!????? ——-I’ve asked this over & over & NO ANSWER!!—–That’s the ONLY. way 2 save these!!

Bobbi Beharrell

This is my question too – I used to be able to save articles to my e-mail, now no provision for saving important info!

Samuel Wu

Still not quite sure why fashion croquis have long legs but the problem could be solved if we actually elongated the torso… :|. It would actually be proportionate too if we did that along with the legs. I’ve done it while drawing croquis but who knows I’ll probably continue to make more proportionate croquis just with slimmer profiles unless I’m getting graded and they require the “oh so long legged Mary Sue” ie. the Kraken. 😐

Veronica Bonilla

normally when you are drawing fashion is better to portrait longer legs than longer torso, reasons:
1. humans have longer legs than arms, longer torso also increases the arms and we would look sort of like monkeys.
2. the longer legs gives a taller illusion, a perspective thing, imagine yourself in a fashion show sitting on the front row, their legs will be a mile long, and also keep in mind that the average model is 5.10”


Drawing those legs do piss me off too


To those who question how to pin these articles. At the top of the article on the left there are symbol links to click, such as fb for facebook. Click the red one with the white P in it. That is for Pinterest, the site you can pin links to. I love pinterest, but if you haven’t used it yet, beware! It is a real time sucker! lol! You can get lost with all the wonderful things people have pinned. You sign up for free, then as you click a P link, it will open a little menu to pin the article and you can even create headings, like art, recipes, etc.


I forgot to mention that there are also links at the top under the title of this article for email, printing and facebook. These are also ways to keep the article.

yoseph berihun

thank you more information


My question is why to we continue to draw fashion figures in unrealistic proportions? It perpetuates the myth that this is the way we are meant to look. It leads to feelings of inadequacy. Why not design clothes that make shorter plumper women look their best and then display them on shorter plumper models rather than finding or drawing models that make the clothes you have designed look good?


This is a great post!! Exactly what I needed. I did have a bit of a problem in determining the placement of the shoulders and hips in terms of width. The article gives great detail about height but not width. My figure ended up with a wide body with a small head.


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