How to Style a Fashion Figure with Arms - dummies

How to Style a Fashion Figure with Arms

By Lisa Arnold, Marianne Egan

Creating great arm attitude is tough enough to do in person, and you, as a fashion illustrator, have the extra challenge of capturing those same attitudes on paper. Fashion models practice moving their arms to create seductive and graceful poses, alluring and charming poses, and shocking and powerful poses. If a model can’t work those arms in different ways, she’ll be lost in the modeling industry.

You aren’t figure drawing; rather, you’re styling the fashion figure with your signature drawing lines. Realistic arms aren’t the idea here!


Arms can add fun personality to your drawing, but don’t stray too much from proportional rules! Stand up and let your arms hang down. In general, your hand begins a little below the horizontal line of your crotch with the fingers hitting at mid-thigh. Keep this in mind as you bend and pose your model’s arm. More often than not, beginners make the arms too short rather than too long.

In addition to practicing how to draw women’s long, slender arms, you can try your hand at men’s and children’s arms in this section. The good news is that men and children pay much less attention to their arm positions than the ladies do, so male and kid arms are easier to get the hang of.

Women’s arms convey any number of moods and fashion types, from confident and sexy to on-the-go. Female fashion models use their arms to emphasize their bodies and their clothes. A woman may bend both arms at the elbows, let one arm hang at her side, or raise or extend her arms for a different look. Regardless of how a woman poses her arms, she does so with attitude and style.

No matter what attitude you want your model to send, her arms should be smooth, fluid, and shapely. You don’t want any chicken-wing arms here (you know what we mean: those flabby upper arms that flap when a woman waves).

You can tell the shape of a woman’s arms regardless of whether she’s dressed in casual weekend wear or grabbing attention in a little black dress that shows off her arms and shoulders, so make sure to draw your female arms long and lean.

As the arm tapers to an end, don’t forget to draw the wrist bone — the marvelous beginning of a fashion hand. When you first start drawing arms, don’t worry about getting the hands right. Let the arm taper off after the wrist bone with a simple line.