High Impact Model Drawing Exercises for Fashion Illustration

Model drawing for fashion illustration laura volpintesta

Today I want to talk to you about one of my most high Impact Model Drawing Exercises for Fashion Illustration. REMEMBER: when you subscribe for my newsletter, you’ll get a welcome packet that includes a model drawing tutorial!

The first weeks of teaching model drawing are always based on my own most influential teacher of all time, because it was such an awakening for me in so many ways.

Model Drawing for Fashion Illustration Laura Volpintesta

Even today, 3 decades later, I’m still excited and invigorated by the memory of having my eyes and attitudes opened up in such an exhilarating way.

It is an honor to share these processes with you in Model Drawing Magic, my model drawing intensive, but I’ll give you some of the insight here in text.

MODEL DRAWING EXERCISES

On this page, look at the images you see.

You’ll notice that some are done with gouache, and others are done with oil pastel.

I make a regular practice of sketching standing , posed models.

  • [You can visit my Pinterest boards for quick references to get right to work with your model drawing exercises, OR you can get curated video files packed with poses inside my model drawing for fashion illustration courses and sketch group!]
  • I specifically focus on standing, posed models because they are the most useful for fashion illustration and costume design sketches.
  • I specifically start with tight clothing or leotard so that the anatomy of the body is exposed for our study: the ankles, hips, crotch area and shoulders, (even hair can be a distraction) – are all important for us to practice and understand how the elements of the anatomy work together and come together in a pose.
  • I like to look for poses that look relaxed or dynamic, that catch my attention for a reason so I am compelled to sketch them
  • look for poses that reflect your customer or body type/ style that motivates your fashion designs and illustrations
  • model drawing exercises from photos with contrast lighting that gives shadows and highlights is super beneficial for fashion illustration!

Then I sketch

  • START WITH THE BALANCE LINE/ PLUMB LINE in mind! place the head in relation to the feet
  • sketch the figure SOLID with shapes- use a large brush and semi-opaque gouache in a medium or dark tone, or the size of a 1/2 ” broken piece of oil pastel or charcoal , to get marks that you can REALLY SEE and respond to immediately to feel the impact of your shapes
  • Work with full, loaded shape instead of drawing with lines. one stroke of the brush or charcoal will create a whole leg or arm, head, etc!
  • go “darker” where you feel darker- squint to easily see lights and darks
  • make sure she is full of tone and thus separate from the white background
  • use non-representative color (not skintone) to see shapes even more realistically
  • limit the time you spend on each sketch to 1 minute then go on to the next. TRUST ME ON THIS
  • keep doing this for 20 minutes, while listening to your favorite music
model drawing for fashion illustration laura volpintesta


The first step towards high impact model drawing for fashion illustration, in my experience, has to be a “healing”, or, an undoing of what we think of as drawing. This sets us free to explore more deeply in our sketchbooks.

model drawing for fashion illustration by laura volpintesta
These Sketches from Fashion Sketch Group are based on exercises from Model Drawing Magic, inspired by 20 years of both being a student and teacher of fashion illustration and fashion design!

Years of early childhood schooling had us entirely focused on lines and symbols from learning our alphabet and focusing on penmanship under pressure. This can really hamper our progress as we try to create images that are rich, deep, lively, textural, and realistic because this way of drawing can come through so thin, flat, and limited in range.

drawing is not writing–


When we draw as adults, we tend to carry that baggage from early childhood onto the drawing board without walking the path to get there first…. the path where reclaim our experience of creating lines and shapes for our own purposes.
The path Where lines don’t even really exist the way we thought they did!


Lines do exist, but then, not really– they are just the place where edges meet other edges or backgrounds.
I consider it my duty make sure my students and clients get immersed first in an experience of pure shape.
Pure silhouette.
Lines that are shapes, filled and full.

If your background is white and your foreground is white, your lines still need to carry a strong awareness of the shape that hey hold, and by working with full shapes,
(“As if made of clay”) i usually say-
We build a strong sense of solid, present, dimensional forms.

And fashion is SO MUCH about silhouette! Is it not???
So it’s perfect.
How do we accomplish this?

join Model Drawing Magic to explore in depth through 14 modules designed to hone figure drawing skills for fashion illustration that will have you drawing “from the inside out” rather than only having thin lines to work with.

ps there are free lessons on the sales pages regardless. GET STARTED! :0)

figure model drawing for fashion illustration laura volpintesta
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Whether you want to go deeper into FASHION DESIGN or FASHION ILLUSTRATION,

I know you will enjoy what I've created for you.

  • Beginner Model Drawing video lesson customizable for all body types 
  • PDF ebook download "101 Fashion Design Inspiration Prompts"- includes croquis templates for creative design idea sketching
  • Video "9 Top Fashion Design Resource Books"