Updated: Jan 8, 2022
Your line plan is all put together. You have a budget. You’ve completed research on your competitors, current trends and your target customer. At this stage, you can probably imagine what your ideal product will look like, feel like and how it will fit on the body. But can you pull that vision out of your head and put it down on paper?
Croquis ideation sketching is meant to be a fast way of iterating on your idea, using a template to sketch out differing silhouettes, details, finishings and textures. The trick to croquis ideations is coming up with a style that you feel represents you, your brand and that you’re comfortable using over and over again. The best resources that I know of to hone in on your croquis style are: 9 Heads by Nancy Riegelman and Fashion Sketchbook by Bina Abling. I started by studying these books in school and eventually applied their principles to create my own style of croquis.
Some of the basics of croquis drawing that both books focus on:
Using a balance or axis line will help to make your croquis look like they’re in graceful movement or standing on solid ground. Without using a proper balance line, your models will look like they’re going to tip over, which draws the eye away from the focal point: the garments.
Fashion proportions are taller than an anatomically correct sketch. So if someone was trained in the fine arts and knows how to properly draw the human body, they’ll want to take a look at how fashion sketching adds length and perspective in a different way. This is rooted in the fashion industry’s long standing use of tall, thin models in runway shows. As the industry shifts and changes to be more inclusive, we could find croquis sketches changing, too. You can start your learning in the foundations of these sketching practices, but revise them to be true to what you believe is right for your apparel line.
Even though fashion proportions are unique, it is super important to maintain those proportions for all of your sketches, all of the time. This allows you to represent the correct length, shape and measurements of your garment without even having to think about it. Without constant proportions in your drawings, it will be impossible for you, your team and your manufacturers to interpret what you want out of the real garments.
Some have spent years in the classroom, practicing croquis sketching skills in various mediums. Graphite, markers, watercolor paints and specialty art pens are just a few that are focused on. I had an amazing drawing professor who could free-hand sketch his croquis on a giant whiteboard using dry-erase markers! He was super talented though, and I’ve never known anybody who could sketch as beautifully as him. Talent or tremendous practice can help you create a unique look of your own, but I’ll let you in on a secret… you can also just use an existing croquis as your template to get started. If you were to purchase one of the above books, you could even use the forms inside as your template to start. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Once a croquis is where you want it to be, it’s a typical practice out in the real world to save it as a template, and use it over and over again. Just trace them or sketch over them in your preferred medium. After all, the focus should be on the garments you’re sketching, not the croquis themselves. And once you start sketching, you can play with seam placements, proportions, leg widths, hem heights, you name it! Sketching over and over again will also remind you of the details you consistently draw on every form, which will tell you that those features are key to your design.
It is not uncommon in an academic setting to iterate at least 300 different croquis sketches for submission to the professors before starting any sewing. Forcing yourself to think about that many designs, ideas and changes to your initial thought really opens the doors for better options. It allows you to picture your idea in different ways, allowing you to think outside the box.
From here, you can start adding color with markers or paints, and pinning up your favorite sketches next to magazine tears that inspired you to choose that drawing. Now you’ve got the beginnings of a unique, personalized inspiration board. This board is going to be your beacon to come back to as you’re creating technical details and fitting prototypes throughout the rest of your process. We’ll talk more about vision and inspiration boards next week. Until then, happy sketching!
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, may earn me a small commission.