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Making Fashion: Draw, Draft and Sew

Lesson 4 of 14

Drawing: Sketch a Figure and Define a Silhouette

Jay Calderin

Making Fashion: Draw, Draft and Sew

Jay Calderin

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Lesson Info

4. Drawing: Sketch a Figure and Define a Silhouette

Lesson Info

Drawing: Sketch a Figure and Define a Silhouette

So now we're going to work on the figure and where we're going to top it off with that head. So I'm gonna fold... I'm gonna fold this in half again. And I'm not gonna do fourths, I'm just gonna fold it in half again length-wise. And that's again, just for, same process we did for the head. Just so we have a center line for our girl; right here. Here, again, we wanna think about placement, 'cause in theory we would be transferring this over sketches to a board. So I'm gonna do half. Half like this. Okay, now the figure is all about breaking down these sizes again. People have all different techniques, like I said, some people think of the nine head fashion figure, or the 12 head. We're working more about the relationship of the proportions within this particular measurement. So, I'm gonna go halfway right there. I'm going to break this top half into three. And you can always check how equal they are with your pencil. Some people like to use a ruler. So basically, breaking that top secti...

on into three. And for this torso, all we're gonna do is block it off so it's a square. Like this. So, we're actually making this big clunky robot as a starting point. So, this top half, broken up into three, and the bottom two are immediately done into squares. So, we don't have to worry about them right now. And then this top section here, about two thirds of the way down, is going to be your oval placement. And we already know how to do that, right? We already did the face, and then all we need to add is a rectangle for her neck. So, top third, head is two thirds, neck is one third, then these two thirds are broken up, like this Now, here is where we can have some fun with it. We could start to sculpt it, so it looks more like something. So, I'm just gonna put in-- you don't have to worry about this 'cause I just wanna give her-- put in all the work we did for the face, but just put it on kind of in here. And we have the neck, and then so, here, we want to create a little transition from the neck to the shoulder, but not too much. So, here we add a little bit between these two lines. So, we blend it a little, we're softening her. On the outside of the square, we're not gonna add a curve, we're gonna cut away the corner. Think of it as you're working like a sculptor with a block of marble. And you're cutting off the corners, you're not adding. Because if we start to add, we get kinda football uniform. And then now, her waist, we have to figure out, and this is what I like about this process, you figure out how much of a waist you wanna emphasize. So, I'm gonna come in an equal amount on both sides. This is her waist, that middle line between the two blocks. So, I'm gonna say, from here to here is her waist, and here to here is her waist. So, we're bringing it in. And then we connect the dots, so to speak. We go from her shoulder to her waist. And then back out to the bottom line, which would be the hip. Now, you can make that as dramatic as you want, if the shoulders or the hips are too dramatic for you, what do you do? Anybody? You just come in a little bit. Okay, so you can adjust it, you can self correct as you go. So, here, we're gonna work with the bottom of the figure, we're going to basically bring down two lines that are parallel with this center line. And remember, we're cutting off here, and when it comes to the feet, the area for the feet, we're gonna take the measurement of the head, Alright, that little length of the head, and we're gonna come up from the edge, and that, is going to be, I did a little shorter, where her ankles are. Okay. Huh? The measurement of the height of the head, like from here to here, we're gonna put that here. Just as a little mark, to say that's about where her ankles are. And the key to all this is everything is about, right? If you're too worried about precision you're not gonna A, enjoy the process, and B, give yourself the freedom to experiment. So, now the only other notation I need are her knees. So, I'm gonna go from this hip line to here in the middle, and just give myself a line in the middle of this shape. From here to here. Okay? So here to here, after we knock off the bottom for her feet. Now, the reason we break it down like this, it looks like she's kinda wearing a big boxy pant, is because I want to put a center line, and you can think of it almost like a crease on a pair of pants. And the we start sculpting. So, to bring in the knee, we do the same thing did at the waist. So, here at this knee level from the outside, I'm gonna come in here, and then from this side, I'm gonna come in here, so you want equal amounts off that center line. Alright, we pinch in, and then we connect the dots again. We go from the knee to the hip, and we get a proper thigh. A lot of people skimp on the thighs. We have to remember, people have thighs. Okay, then now, for the lower half of the leg, about in this space, about a third down, we have to concern ourselves with the calf. And for the calf all we're doing is going a little further out than where her knee is. Just a drop, not all the way to the outside. And then, coming in to the two points we create at the bottom, where we're gonna pinch it again for her ankle. And we just try to make that as smooth a transition as possible, wherever you're pinching, like at the knee or at the waist, I like to smooth it out, 'cause otherwise it looks like, y'know, a cloth fabric doll. One of those little rag dolls. So, I like to smooth out wherever there's a pinch. And for her foot, we're gonna do a very simple foot, which for right now we can keep it simple, we're gonna flare out again, just a little bit, and we're gonna go just a hair over this line by giving her a little triangle for the tip of her foot. And you always wanna kinda kill the corner on the triangle, 'cause unless she's wearing a steel-tipped toe, it's a little rounded at the bottom. But basically, a little triangle, and that's the toe box. So, now we have a leg, and you would do the same thing on the other side. And then for arms, I like to have my arms fall straight down. And again, you can change the poses when you get a little bit more comfortable with it. Now, her elbow, as I mentioned earlier, is gonna line up with her waist; the true waist. And if you think of the Virtruvian Man, da Vinci's Virtruvian Man with the arms in rotation, you can think about how it swings out. So, almost a little curve, and that's the upper arm. Now, for here, we don't wanna use this as our wrist. 'Cause this is the fuller side of the hip. But we wanna come up a little bit higher. And you can vary how high you wanna go. And draw in a panty line. That lengthens the leg, and it also gives us this point right here, where we can say, that's where her wrist is, 'Cause if you're standing out and you swing your arm into your side like this, your wrists, right about here, is gonna hit your hip joint. So, that'll help keep your arms from being too long or too short. That's a common mistake. Arms get really long or really short. For hands, we could spend a whole class on hands, So, I'm going to give you what I think is important about the hands, which is the gesture of the hand. So, all we need to know is, the hand, the digits, and the thumb. So, straight, straight, and a little bit of a curve. So, we go, straight, straight, and then on the inside, a little bit of the curve. Now, we can start to put in details like the thumb, and draw in her digits and all that kinda stuff, but for a lot of people starting out, the hands can be really intimidating, so, really what you want is the gesture, because if you can have her hands flexed or down, that'll add a little drama to your sketch. Now, the inside of the arm is very important, because you don't want it to go too high. There are three lines that we can look at the dress form and identify, which is, the highest point of the bust, which is the apex; right in the middle, right? How far out the bust goes. The line above the bust. Which would be, kinda for a strapless dress. And then the line below the bust, which is the umpire or empire line. So, again, about a third down in the torso area, You have the bust, and you have a little line above, and a little line below. And that'll give you the bust area, almost like she's wearing a bandeau. And that'll also help you with that bottom line; should be about where your arm comes in underneath. Because you don't wanna forget-- thank you. You don't wanna forget that. So, we are-- oh, sorry, there we go. The picture on the screen right now is showing kind of a normal body. Sort of, usually, eight to nine heads. And then an exaggerated fashion figure, which you could use the same formula, but just stretch it out. So, now we have everything we need except a couple of things inside the body. We wanna draw in that center line, and then we wanna draw in the princess line. Like, you notice there's a seam down the center of each side? That is the princess line. And you pick halfway on the shoulder, halfway in the bust, the center of the bust, halfway in the waist, and then halfway in the hips. And you create that line. And it should actually line up with that center line of your leg. So, now you have everything you need to draw almost any garment. Because this is the map underneath the clothes that allows you to figure out exactly where you wanna position a pocket, a seam, a dart, whatever it is. Okay? Alright, so, at this point, we're just gonna switch off a little bit, and talk about the proportions and the attitude. These silhouettes kind of emphasize where you can exaggerate things. So, these are all sketches that I did on the computer, but they all have a different emphasis, and they kind of go back to the silhouettes we talked about earlier, the H, the A, and the Y. The one on the left is more kind of proportional, almost the X frame or hourglass, a little bit more standard. And then the ruler, I've exaggerated her thinness, because she's not necessarily that thin, but I made the whole sketch, that whole shape, be long and narrow. Whereas, the one in the middle, I've exaggerated the base, by even making her feet bigger. A lot of times you'll see this in cartoons, where they'll put all the weight at the base of the character, So, we can exaggerate that way in fashion as well, and then, top one, sorry, the right one, is exaggerated on the top in a big way; creating really dramatic-- and, I always compare it to kinda superheros, where they're very exaggerated on the top, and get smaller, and smaller, and smaller, until they get to their feet. 'Cause a lot of those feet on superheros would be too small to hold somebody up. So, these things you can do by exaggerating the proportions here, So, we can go Y'know, much bigger up here, or much bigger on the bottom. So, at this point, I just wanna refer to the image 'Cause nowadays you can do so much with digital formats like Photoshop and Illustrator. And this is an example of bringing that photography and art together. On the left hand side, you'll see a garment that's draped in muslin. I just draped that, and pinned it to a dress form, and that was the basis for my design. And then I took Photoshop and Illustrator, and I worked with them to create, not only original patters, but then I figured out how they would drape on the figure. So, if you notice, that flower, is going in different, y'know that pattern on the upper left, is going in a direction following the fabric, and then it's going in a different direction when it gets to the skirt, and it's getting all kinda jumbled in the middle, very intentionally; so, it's being pinched. So, it's almost like a layer of fabric that you're putting in, and then manipulating the points to tie it all together. There are a lot of different techniques but the idea is that in a sketch or in a manipulated photograph like this, you can go to a buyer, and show them the whole range before it's even done. And they can actually just buy what they like before it's even made. So, it's almost like custom ordering, but using tech to kind of be able to see that. And you can obviously do it by hand, and do sketches of every variation, but this is another step, because once you do the one, you can just switch out the fabrics really fast, so it's a great tool to explore for something like that, if you kind of feel more comfortable in the digital realm. Cool? So, we have our foundations, and what we want to-- can I see that? What we want to do next, is think about the clothes. So, we're going to take our figure, and put it under another sheet. And then talk about defining the silhouette. Now, we talked a lot about silhouettes already, So, I think we're already familiar with the shapes. But, we want to always refer-- I always like to have the idea of a dress form in my mind. And all the lines that we put on our sketch are from the dress form. So, that's why we put 'em in there, 'cause they will help us place everything. And then when we're coming up with how we're introducing a silhouette or style lines, I get to my X Y axis formula. And some people get scared 'cause they think, oh math; not fun in fashion, but it's really simple concept of everything you do, you should be thinking about the X axis and the Y axis. And all that means, is, when you have a grid on the body, like this map, you're just asking yourself, how deep or how high, and then how wide? That's all. And this is where, like we did with the baez taupe on the dress form, we can say to ourselves, if we're talking about a v-neck line, where are we going on this line? On the Y axis, let's say. So, if we go to her belly button, somebody mentioned a J-Lo, right? I think in the online group about getting away with plunging neck lines and really wild garments. One of the things, if you go really plunging to the belly button, you have to ask yourself, how wide is the V at the top? So, does it start right here at her neck? Or does the V start here? Obviously if she started out here, she'd be completely exposed, right? So, we have to remember, that to get a plunging V, we probably have to have our lines come in there, and go to there. Now, the other thing to remember, is, that this whole area right here is the area we have to choose from on the X axis. So, we say, do I wanna start here, do I wanna start halfway, do I wanna start at the end? And then, let's say I wanna stop here. This is also a V neck line. So, always thinking about the X and Y is an easy way to remember how far out am I going away from the body, and then how deep or how high. Alright. We talked a little bit of quality of line. And when we're doing a silhouette, we wanna ask ourselves what do we wanna capture. So we'll move that here. So if we're doing that, let's say that ruler or A silhouette, we might want to bring the energy coming down. So that there's this weight at the top, and then it's releasing and coming straight. But, if you're doing a A frame, or a bell shape on the bottom, you might wanna go from the bottom to the top, so that there's the weight of the skirt is feeling like it's at the bottom. So, always think of where you want the emphasis to be. So, I'll draw it thicker, so that you can kind of get a sense of, it goes to nothing, and gets very light and delicate at the top. So, you have the waist, I love your lines. Hmm? I love the way you draw it. Well, it's just practice, and sometimes I miss. It's like throwing a dart. Y'know, you have to say, I wanna go from here to here, and I wanna little curve, and sometimes you get there, sometimes you're a little off, so remember, it's just gonna be-- it's like video games. I'm terrible at video games, but my nieces and nephews are great at them, and so you wanna get that hand-to-eye coordination going.

Class Description

Bring your designs to life with Jay Calderin in Making Fashion: Draw, Draft, and Sew!

Jay Calderin has been called a “a budding designer's best friend,” and in this class he’ll show you exactly what it takes to create and construct custom clothes. 

You’ll learn about:
  • Drawing and planning for clothing production
  • The stages of pattern making
  • Constructing and finishing garments
Jay will help you get started with smart drafting tips and offer insights on working with muslin so your patterns lay and drape properly.

If you want to produce one-of-a-kind garments, join Jay Calderin for a complete primer on getting started in Making Fashion: Draw, Draft and Sew.


Jacquelyn Bradley-Nelson

I love this class, I'm glad I found it. This what I want to learn or add to my knowledge. JayC you are awesome! I need more learning on rendering coloring for illustration for that is. I can't wait to see what's on the other class I will take. Thanks! Signed: rm515jb.

Andrea Leggett

I really enjoyed this and the draping really opened my eyes to what can be achieved. Jay made it look easy so I plan a shot at draping later and will post my effort on Instagram with thanks to him! Thank you Creative LIve for bringing this to me (in the UK) and special thanks to Jay. When I'm in Boston in August I"ll buy you a beer!


Loved the draping information. It was logical and clear enough to make me want to try it.