Curve a Fashion Figure's Spine with the Letter S - dummies

Curve a Fashion Figure’s Spine with the Letter S

By Lisa Arnold, Marianne Egan

Fashion figures often twist and move into extreme positions. Nearly all wonderful fashion drawings start with the S curve. No, the S curve isn’t some special code that fashionistas use. It’s a drawing tool based on the letter S (or some form of it), and it’s critical when you’re drawing a model’s body. The S curve helps you achieve a graceful line of the spine in one swoop.


To master the S curve, practice drawing capital S’s. Draw large and small S’s, exaggerating or elongating the curves. Practice backward Ss as well.

After you’ve mastered capital S’s, use the following steps to start making your S’s look like a model:

  1. Draw a long, stretched out S with a sharper curve in the top half. At the top of the S, draw an angled line for the shoulders. Follow the slant of the S down and draw an oppositely angled line where the S curves back in, directly under the point of the top of the S.

  2. Draw a trapezoid for the upper half of the torso with the top of the trapezoid following the top angled line. For the lower half of the torso, draw a trapezoid following the bottom angled line.

  3. Add a cylinder for a neck and connect it to an oval for the head. Add bent lines for arms on either side.

    The bottom half of the S gives you a general idea of the line her legs will follow to keep her balanced.

The S curve provides a great base for drawing a fashion figure. You can take your S shape — and your model — in any direction you want simply by adjusting the curvature of the S. Eventually, you’ll be able to visualize the S curve without putting it down on paper so you can create sketches more quickly. The next sections show you how.