Patterns (not sewing ones) can really throw a fashion artist, but you can draw awesome fabric designs if you know a few artists’ tricks. So many illustrators opt out and just shade in fashion drawings.

But what happens when you want to draw a whimsical skirt sprinkled with polka dots or high rubber boots with a great-looking plaid on them? Stripes are a staple in fashion illustration; you can find them on everything from bathing suits to a winter scarf.


Draw a polka dot pattern.

Polka dots are forever. People wear them on clothes as babies and kids, and for tweens and teens, the print is perfect for bathing suits and sundresses.

When drawing polka dots, make sure that some fall into the folds, or else the look can be very flat. Not every dot has to be a complete circle — halve them as you reach hemlines and side seams.

Draw a fashion figure of a woman. Map out a short little romper for the figure.

Draw full and half polka dots that follow the folds of the fabric on the body’s curves. Break dots in half and place each side of the dot on the line of the fold but a little staggered.

Scatter dots all over the print for a polka dot look. Polka dots can be drawn evenly spaced, almost in a grid-like fashion, but often they occur in a more random pattern.


Draw stripes and more stripes.

Who doesn’t own a striped shirt or a striped tie or a striped pair of socks? Most people choose to wear stripes that run on the vertical because they’re more slimming, but when drawing a fashion figure, your stripes can go any way you choose. And don’t forget about diagonal stripes, which can add a fun feel to casual pieces, like a skirt.

To draw a woman in a jean mini skirt and striped tights, draw the bottom half of a fashion figure of a woman. Map out a jean mini skirt. Draw in stripes, making sure the lines are curving upward or downward. When coloring in the stripe, leave a little white to add dimension to the fabric.


Sketch in some practical plaids.

Practical plaids are just that: practical! You may use plaid on school uniform skirts, pajama pants, field hockey skirts, or flannel shirts, but chances are you’ll never draw a fashion figure wearing a plaid dress to a fancy event. Although you never know — designers such as Vivienne Westwood might! Use your basic cross-hatch technique with its parallel lines to create a plaid.

Draw a grid of vertical and horizontal lines. Leave a little more space between the lines than you do when drawing a cross-hatch texture.

Draw tight zigzags on every other vertical line. Draw tight zigzags on every other horizontal line.

When you’re drawing plaid on an item of clothing, don’t lay it out flat like a checkerboard. Make the plaid pattern follow the curves of the body and the drape of the fabric.


Draw a plaid print on an old-fashioned halter swimsuit.

Draw a fashion figure of a woman. Map out a halter swimsuit with a center front seam.

Draw a basic grid system on the swimsuit, starting with the center front line going straight down the center front of the body. Draw vertical lines that start at the neckline. The lines go straight down along her body and then radiate out at the hip area. Finish with horizontal lines that wrap around the curves of her body, such as at her breasts, hips, and waist.

Angling the plaid on both sides of the center front seam creates a chevron pattern. In woven fabrics, this angling is called placing the fabric on the bias. A bias-cut fabric has been cut at a 45-degree angle instead of along the threads, tilting any patterns (like taking a square and turning it into a diamond). This shows how the fabric stretches on your model; woven fabrics stretch slightly on the bias (the diagonal).

Add the tight zigzag lines on every other horizontal and vertical line.