Top 5 Fashion Illustration Books

I know it can be very frustrating to have a fantastic idea and not be able to put it on a paper equally brilliant.
In this post I suggest some good fashion illustration books that will help to put your idea where you thoughts are.

Best books on Fashion Illustration OpenFashionIllustrationBooks


  • Fashion Illustration Techniques: A Super Reference Book for Beginners by Zeshu Takamura
  • ZeshuTakamuraFashionDesignTechniquesBookCover If you need fast results and have no time to comprehend body anatomy in details go for Fashion Illustration Techniques: A Super Reference Book for Beginners by Zeshu Takamura. With a bit of practice you will be able to draw a decent fashion figure in a week.
    In this book Zeshu Takamura introduces original figure drawing technique which is considerably different from the European art traditions. There is no complicated anatomy, just step by step guide: easy to follow and to produce invariably good results.

    Apart from featuring sufficiently great amount of model poses the book also covers almost all subjects an amateur fashion artist or designer will need. It includes textile rendering techniques, chapters of depicting fashion flats (technical drawings) and clothing, explicit “drawing from the photo” tutorials as well as loads of tips and tricks to give a sketch more professional look.

    At a glance
    Body measurement system 8 heads
    Illustrating men No
    Illustrating children No
    Colouring and fabric rendering techniques Yes
    Exploring media Yes
    Drawing fashion flats (technical drawings) Yes
    Figure stylization No
    Drawing from a photograph Yes
    Drawing accessories Yes

  • Drawing for Fashion Designers by Angel Fernandez and Gabriel Martin Roig
  • AngelFernandezDrawingForFashionDesignersBookCover This brilliantly illustrated compendium hits broad range of topics from drawing a croquis to developing a collection. It describes how to gather and organize sources of inspiration, to alter a portfolio and illustrations to industry standards, or to perform market research and meet the expectations of target group and much more. Though some subjects are covered in brief with not many details I still recommend this book for a number of good reasons.

    1. Media

    The reason number 1 is the chapter “Selection and use of materials”. This section is a great time-saver as it contains many helpful tips of applying various paints and brushes on a myriad types of paper (I don’t even think that there are so many of them!). Also it explains clearly which medium to choose for desired result. Whether we’d like to resemble a printed illustration with clean outlines and opaque colours or wish a gentle transparent look for the drawing.

    2. Folds and drapes

    This book is one of the few that pays great attention to depicting dressed figure. In the way many authors study the construction of human body, Angel Fernandez and Gabriel Martin Roig, on other hand, examine the anatomy of folds and drapes, as well as difference between drawing bias and grain cut. These explanations are priceless!

    3. Stylization

    Distinctive style, author’s manner is the main difference between professional illustrator and inexperienced one. However, not many books include a guide on how to develop it. Drawing for Fashion Designers reveals main principles that can help to develop unique style and express the design idea in full.

    At a glance
    Body measurement system 8, 9, 10 heads
    Illustrating men No
    Illustrating children No
    Colouring and fabric rendering techniques Yes
    Exploring media Yes
    Drawing fashion flats (technical drawings) Yes
    Figure stylization Yes
    Drawing from a photograph No
    Drawing accessories Yes

  • Fashion illustration. Inspiration and Technique by Anna Kiper
  • I absolutely love this book!
    AnnaKiperFashionIllustrationBookCover This book is brilliant. It does not have comprehensive point by point tutorials, you will not find much about the anatomy or about the use of painting materials, but it is good!

    Filled with colourful and vivid drawings the book unfolds the subject of fashion illustration in exiting and artsy way.

    I recommend it for everyone who enjoys drawing fashion illustrations. You will have fun, and even more if you have prior experience in drawing.

    So if you are after brushing up the drawing skills – Anna Kiper’s Fashion Illustration: Inspiration and Technique is definitely worth to read.

    If I may draw a parallel between fashion illustration and cook books I’d say that while Zeshu Takamura’s Fashion design Techniques is like step by step recipe book, Anna Kiper’s Fashion Illustration is more like compendium of colourful food photography and decorating table ideas. Being very laconic it features abundance of stunning illustrations, so it really doesn’t matter that there are so little words, it leaves more space for designs.

    This is surely a kind of book you would want to go through few times scrutinizing details and apprehending the way drawings were made.

    At a glance
    Body measurement system 10 heads
    Illustrating men Yes
    Illustrating children Yes
    Colouring and fabric rendering techniques Yes
    Exploring media Yes
    Drawing fashion flats (technical drawings) Yes
    Figure stylization Yes
    Drawing from a photograph No
    Drawing accessories Yes

  • Fashion Illustration School. A Complete Handbook for Aspiring Designers and Illustrators by Carol A. Nunnelly
  • CarolNunnellyFashionIllustrationSchoolBookCover The book focuses on the traditional drawing topics from the figure basics to drawing flats.

    Carol A. Nunnelly deploys a great variety of poses and positioning within her book. She also introduces the body mapping concept of drawing garments on figure which I found extremely helpful.
    However, the book could be much better if the chapter of texture rendering were a bit more carefully arranged. Now it looks oversimplified.

    At a glance
    Body measurement system 9 heads
    Illustrating men Yes
    Illustrating children No
    Colouring and fabric rendering techniques Yes
    Exploring media Yes
    Drawing fashion flats (technical drawings) Yes
    Figure stylization Yes
    Drawing from a photograph No
    Drawing accessories Yes

  • Figure Drawing for Fashion Design by Elisabetta Drudi and Tisiana Paci
  • ElizabettaDrudiFigureDrawingBookCover If Fashion Design Techniques by Zeshu Takamura is a step by step recipe book, Anna Kiper’s Fashion illustration. Inspiration and Technique is an inspiration book, Figure Drawing for Fashion Design is definitely a reference book.

    It can be very helpful both for novice and seasoned illustrators, and all of those in between.

    This comprehensive course on drawing fashion figures lays good foundation to work with and provides the most sufficient way to draw a large variety of fashion elements: from any part of the human’s body to clothing and accessories. It is really helpful as reference while depicting various poses and body movements.

    Though teaching the basics is accompanied with extensive detailing which may seems to be superfluous for ordinary fashion sketch, I’m sure extra knowledge won’t hurt. At least you would know where to find it where you need it later on.

    I have the first edition of the book dated 2001. Some reviews complain it was systematized and lacks clearness jumping from one subject to another. Apparently, this was one of the reasons for the second version to see shop shelves in 2010. Now it is believed to be greatly expanded and updated. Also it seems to be more structured and logical then first one. I think there is nothing wrong with older version if that’s what you can get.

    At a glance
    Body measurement system 8, 9, 10 heads
    Illustrating men No
    Illustrating children No
    Colouring and fabric rendering techniques No
    Exploring media No
    Drawing fashion flats (technical drawings) Yes
    Figure stylization Yes
    Drawing from a photograph No
    Drawing accessories Yes



    At the end I’d also like to mention Figure Poses for Fashion Illustrators. 250 Templates for Professional Results by Sha Tahmasebi.

    The title reflects it all. There are 250 royalty free templates featuring different poses in the book as well as some basic information on the subject of drawing. All poses are duplicated on CD as .tif and .jpeg images.




    Free Fashion Figure Templates from Purfe

    While reading these books and trying different techniques I made some croquis of 9 head models.

    They are free to download and can be used for individual purposes or as reference to your own illustrations (Attribution-NonCommercial License). Looking forward to see your designs!

    Download Fashion Figure Template Download Fashion Figure Template Download Fashion Figure Template
    Front pose Hand on hip pose Diagonal pose




    How to Coordinate Colours in Outfit, Designer’s Method

    How often while putting together the outfit do you limit your use of colour to just a few or rely on neutral hues only?

    We all know that choosing colour palette for an outfit could be a time consuming process. A lot of heroic attempts to conquer the colour reel end up going back to a simple traditional combination or, at worst, looking like an over-decorated Christmas tree.

    I suppose, perfect sense of colour is possessed by relatively small amount of people, rest of us (myself included) have to content with our own sense of beauty, intuition and, at best, with some knowledge of the colour theory.

    There is no doubt that understanding either consciously or unconsciously the basics of the colour theory is essential for creating a balanced set.

    To successfully use different hues in an outfit your own personal preferences will need to be in an agreement with certain rules. However, all these rules for creating colour schemes, hierarchy of colours, colour discords, value keys, etc. require a significant investment of time.

    Working with my clients I often feel a need to explain principles of colour mixing in brief, so they will be able to use it in real life. Theory itself is a bit dry and I found a good approach that is much easier and more fun.

    Extra bonus, it’s handy for other colouristic tasks like composing flower bouquets, choosing napkins for dining room or creating a landscape design for the backyard. It is very versatile and can be a great tool for finding unusual yet pleasant colour combinations.

    It is easy, intuitive and always works. Well, you‘ve got an idea, let’s get to it now.

    What is it all about?

    Did you know that designers quite often set up their colour palette from a single picture?

    We can do the same. That’s where landscape photography could be a great source of inspiration. Think of the picture as a set of colours that are combined into a single composition.

    Intrinsically, people tend to perceive all nature combinations as harmonious. The nature knows exactly which hues and in what proportions to use to create a masterpiece. To illustrate that, let’s take a classic sample of 2 complement colours such green and red. They are rarely used next to each other as put together they produce maximum vibrancy. However, when we see a strawberry garden patch or big flowerbed covered with red poppies it is always pleasant to the eye, isn’t it? The secret lies in proportions! Let’s get to the practical examples of how that can be used.

    How it works?

    Say, we have a sky blue dress and would like to find a perfect pair to it.

    Now, let see if we can find something that will give us an idea of what colours could work here. While browsing my personal collection I came across a beautiful photograph of the autumn sky. It is much the same colour with the dress and is opposed by strikingly bright red leaves. Blue and red combination does not look too bright here, on the contrary, it looks well balanced.

    Blue sky with red leaf
    Autumn sky

    With this in mind we can start to assemble the outfit looking for reds and different shades of greys. Let’s start from very light and pale (Battleship Grey like clouds) and continue to deep grey, a tree’s branch-like colour. There is no need to use all colours in one set, just choose a few.

    Another example is inspired by marcescent fern foliage.

    Marcescent fern leaves

    Combination of green and pink is quite vernal and dynamic and might be too much for an office dress code. Paying attention to proportion, intensity and hues of mixing colours, however, we can get quiet and restrained look with subtle allusions of wearer’s energetic personality and good taste.

    The third set is monochrome one.

    It is generally assumed that putting together similar hues is the safest way to create a nice looking attire, when in fact, even a small detail, such a wrong colour temperature of one piece, can offset the whole balance.

    Thus, to set a mind in the right direction we will use a picture with subtle colour differences for inspiration, as the one of a summer meadow below.

    Summer Meadow

    You can see it incorporates not only different shades of green and brownish-grey, but also tiny amounts of purple and yellow which are perfect as accent colours.

    This is another great benefit of analysing photos, it gives proven examples on how to use more than 3 colours, an area which usually requires experience and good knowledge of colour theory to get it all right.

    As you can see, you don’t need to go far for inspiration and for the tools to create a well-balanced colour palette. It’s all within a hand’s reach, be it a bouquet of wild flowers or a Google search.

    There are some great web-sites that can generate colour palette from images on-line. You can also search through existing palettes for inspiration and hints. My favorite one is COLOURlovers with it’s vast range of palettes and patterns.