Fashion Illustration Part 3: Tracing our figure, Sketching and Inking

So when I set off on this task I envisioned borrowing my husbands Go Pro camera to record the drawing in real time. When I got down to it, I ran into a few issues.

The first issue was that I’m not a very fast drawer. I was drawing for over an hour, and the battery on the camera died. Then when I went to check the video and there was a giant smudge in the centre of the frame. I didn’t think to clean the case the Go Pro lives in. *facepalm* It’s cool though that drawing didn’t work out like I was hoping anyhow.

So the next night I start over with a freshly cleaned and charged camera. I hit record and again did about an hour of drawing. I still wasn’t happy with my drawing (I messed up inking her eye) but at that point – I say ‘good enough’! I check the video and – sigh- I have some kind of warbling interference in the audio.  Great!

So third time is a charm right? Nope. I decide at that point that I would just do this section of the tutorial the old fashioned way with words and pictures!


Here is what I had on hand:


  • A print out of my posed figure on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper (printed on my home printer)
  • Sketch paper
  • A 2H pencil
  • An Eraser
  • A pigment liner, I’ve used a 0.05 for this tutorial
  • Markers, pencil crayons or watercolour paints.
  • Light Board / Window Pane

Step 1: Trace your figure onto your art paper.

fashion_illustration_pt3_traceTrace your printed figure lightly onto your sketch paper using your pencil. At the end, most of the graphite will be erased from our drawing so, I recommend using a (sharp) 2H pencil because its allows you to draw fine lines with light pressure.

Instead of tracing line for line, you can also use the underlying print to draw the proportions of the figure using just basic shapes – and then create your own contour line drawing from that. It’s definitely the way to go if you want to develop that skill and I usually try but I do find that also cheat often and go back to my rendered figure for getting details like the knees and feet looking right.

Another thing I’ll note here, is that the Genesis 3 figure from Daz Studio, that we used to create our figure in step 1, has a fairly athletic build. Typically (and I be no means suggest that you be typical) fashion illustration figures are on the waify side.  Daz3D has an add-on available: for the Genesis 3 Figure: Genesis 3 Female Body Morphs. These allow you to change the body of your character using a series of appearance dials. I usually lengthen the arms, legs and neck values and might give he figure more of an hourglass shape. This add-on isn’t free, but if you like the process, is worth the investment.  Daz also offers the Genesis 3 Female Head Morphs pack to change the characters appearance and expression.

Step 2: Sketch your character

Using my 2H Pencil and my eraser I begin the refine my drawing, adding clothing, hair and accessories to my illustration. I recommend you spend the most time refining your image at this step.


Later on, as I was working on this drawing, I found that my line art didn’t leave enough detail in the hands, without the finger definition, the hands looked a bit like elongated lumps. Since I was already at the inking stage. I drew in a finger line with my pigment-liner – and instantly regretted it.


Second, is the left foot on the rear facing pose, I didn’t spend enough time working on the heel position and made some on the fly edits while inking and managed to mangle it good!

As I went through this exercise 3 times, I changed the outfit a bit each time. The first was a halter dress, the second a halter top and shorts similar to this one. Spend time working on the details – fashion illustration is all about the clothes after all!

Step 3: Ink & Color your illustration

Next up I used a 0.05 gauge Staedtler pigment-liner, and my Copic markers to colour the illustration. I like using pigment liners for illustration as they are waterproof and work well with wet color mediums like markers or watercolor. I used the pigment-liner to do the face details first. If you do color first, sometimes the fine details can get muddied – as I found when I botched the eye on my second attempt (stay tuned for my amazing solution)!


Copic markers are my medium of choice right now. I fell in love with them during my fashion illustration class at Red River College.  Copic markers are professional illustration markers that are refillable and come with 2 tips, a brush and a chisel point  (think highlighter). The markers are semi-transparent so can be easily layered to create different effects. They come in a large array of colors, check out the Copic Markers website for a color chart and handy Copic resources. They run between $6-10 each depending on where you get them from. I’ve been picking mine up at Cre8ive Supplies whenever I’m lurking around the Exchange District. They have a color of the month sale also so you get a bit of a discount when you buy markers (or other supplies) in that color!

After I finished the face details, I coloured the skin tone using [R00] Pinkish White as the base, with [E30] Bisque and [E51] Milky White for contour and shading.  For the halter base color I used [E71] Champagne and [Y28] Lionet Gold for the trim and belt buckle.  I then returned to the pigment liner and linked the body, halter and shorts detail – again getting the detailed work in before colouring for minimal loss from my pencil drawing.


I coloured the hair using [E47] Dark Brown and created some highlights layering [YR27] Tuscan Orange. I used [B45] Smoky Blue for the eye color and [E93] Tea Rose for the lip tint.


For the short colour I used [E42] Dull Ivory (which really comes across as a brown/tan to me), [W5] Warm Gray for the belt leather and [T5] Toner Gray for the shoe color (look at that mangled foot … look at it!). I worked it up a bit more, going over colours and refining some details and finished up around here:


If I were to say the take away from this final part of my workflow is that the more you practice the more your improve. I learned things each time I went through the drawing and inking process, and adjusted my technique until I had a product I was happy with in the end.


Thank you for your time and interest. If you find this blog interesting or useful please feel free to share it with your friends! Thank you for your support!

In case you missed it:

Fashion Illustration Part 1: Starting with a 3D Figure using Daz Studio
Fashion Illustration Part 2: 3D Render to Comic Line Art using Photoshop CC Actions

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About the author

Jill of everything master of nothing. Digital Communications Specialist, Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Developer, Artist, Marketer, Trainer & Writer.