My One Approach In Illustrating Fashion

Don't get boxed into one style or technique!

My "style" of drawing is always changing because after a while of drawing in a particular way or discovering a new medium I'll run with it until the next idea or medium to explore pops up. I began drawing from a live model about 7 years ago and before that, I just drew from swipes that I would tear out of magazines for references. Jumping back to drawing from a live model woke me up from a mild depression that I was experiencing at that time about my talent as an artist.

I started with markers on vellum and realized that my ability to draw wasn't lost. Like exercising, I just needed to get back in shape. The more I drew the faster I was able to remember everything that I learned at Parsons. My drawings then were very clean and the lines sharp. I went through my linear period. No color, just black and white eventually shifting to charcoal pastels. I started on charcoal and pastels for my fashion drawings mainly because I can layout the figure or the outfit with broad strokes of the side of the pastels and a few lines for definition. The fewer details the better is how I see my style for fashion.

I've also accepted that in using this medium the possibility of a "clean" drawing is almost rare and that there will be smudges but I now welcome that. Generally during a fashion session poses are relatively short, about 5-10 minutes, so I have to assess the pose/angle of the figure and what they're wearing and decide how I'm going to interpret it in my style.

I find this medium comfortable and quick because I don't have to get to involve in the details and focus more on the overall attitude and proportions. With pastels, I can quickly put down shapes for the clothing and simple strokes to define the body.

Starting from the top.

For the drawing, Fleece Coat, I started with the head and shoulders, with broad strokes on the side of the pastel sticks and with charcoal pencils I'll define the profile of her face and hair. Then working my way down with simple shapes using the sides of charcoal sticks followed by some linear details.

I'm always checking myself with what the body is doing under the clothes and to exaggerate what the shoulders and hips are emphasizing. Her black leggings are just simple strokes indicating her legs under a simple red contour line of her skirt. The shape of her tan fleece coat was laid down first in broad strokes as a guide than with a gray charcoal pencil I added texture and a little suggested detail to it.

This is my basic approach to my style of fashion illustration that I like. The challenge is to know what to edit and when to stop. The overall look is loose, spontaneous and it captures the immediacy of the 8-minute pose.

Fleece Coat
from 119.99
Leopard Shorts
from 119.99

Keep it loose and effortless looking!

Nona is one of my favorite models to draw this past year. She made this drawing effortless to illustrate. Her features are much fuller and pronounce than other models and I just love drawing her profile and add that afro bun to that silhouette and you have perfection!

In the illustration, Leopard Shorts, or to be exact, Leopard Print Shorts, I again started with the side of brown charcoal to make broad strokes of her head/neck then black strokes of her hair. Then with charcoal pencils defined her profile and hair. Working my way down to the jacket, I used the side of the black charcoal stick to defining the bold shape of it and again used a black charcoal pencil to add some linear details.

Working my way down, I'm always building the figure with bold strokes and if they hold themselves enough to indicate the body or form I'll just use a minimal line. The leopard pattern of the shorts should be as loose as the figure. I never get into specific, tight details when merchandising a drawing, just the feel of what the fabric is. This also was an 8-minute pose.

Remember: Restraint is difficult but important!

Occasionally, I find myself guilty for the lack of restraint when adding details to an illustration but that has always been a part of my process after decades of drawing. While drawing I'm always questioning myself, Is that enough here? What should I emphasize? What is the shoulder doing? Where is the weight of the model anchored? How many minutes do I have left to get enough information to make this figure stand alone successfully without getting bogged down by more details? When should I stop?
I find that the time allowance will make the final decision of when to stop and in most cases I am very happy with the results even though the figure is not complete.

If you have any questions concerning my process of illustrating or any information that I might help you with to becoming a better artist please contact me here.

A hui hou, Aloha!
(Until we meet again, goodbye!)


Leonard Cadiente