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Silhouettes serve as a defining feature in a fashion sketch or illustration.
image of a model wearing a yellow dress

In the context of figurative drawing, fashion silhouettes refer to the overall outline shape of the clothed fashion figure.

Silhouettes serve as a defining feature in a fashion sketch or illustration. Some may follow or accentuate the human form while others may obscure or deny it by introducing volume or structure. Over time, fashion silhouettes have provided a visual record of the main evolutionary changes in fashion styles such as the introduction of the high-waisted empire-line dress during the early nineteenth century or the square padded shoulders that graced many of the Paris fashion shows during the 1980s. From a fashion design perspective, silhouettes are the result of design decisions relating to cut, shape and fit. Individual garments such as a skirt or pants can also have a defined impact on the overall silhouette of a figure.

When drawing an individual garment or a collection line-up, the cut and drape of all the garments will produce a series of shapes and silhouettes that may be reviewed and evaluated as part of the design process for their consistency and aesthetic appeal. A fashion silhouette should be contemporary and relevant and also reflect an understanding of the fashion figure from a three-dimensional perspective. Fashion illustration may accommodate a breadth of artistic interpretation and expression when compared with a design sketch or technical drawing.

This has allowed some fashion artists and illustrators to produce artwork compositions with a bold, dramatic look or a soft romantic appearance. Many of the most accomplished fashion illustrators have an understanding of fabric and silhouette, using both components to communicate line and movement which contributes to the overall silhouette. Variations in line quality can be used to emphasize and enhance the silhouette of a figurative drawing while directing the viewer’s eye towards the main aspect of a design.

Expressive Lines and Color – Bold expressive lines and color can contribute to an effective fashion composition. Marker and acrylic paint. Credit: Petra Lunenburg.

In the next step, we will elaborate on the reasons why when drawing the male fashion form, muscle tone should be your main consideration.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Fashion Design

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