My goal for any illustration is to do more than create a pretty picture. I want to capture and convey a feeling or vibe in every illustration I create. I apply the same approach when I am hired to create a custom fashion illustration. In order to truly make it custom, I know I need to capture the personality and likeness of the person I’m drawing.
I believe that there are a lot of similarities between the process of creating a custom illustration and creating a couture piece. Just like a custom illustration, couture pieces are designed to reflect a client’s personal style. Also, a couture piece often requires multiple fittings to ensure the garment fits perfectly. Similar to the couture process, I tailor the illustration to the preferences of my client by soliciting client feedback at several points along the illustration process. Below are some details regarding my custom fashion illustration process, along with an example that shows the each phase of the process.
Pre Drawing Phase: Initial Consult
My custom fashion illustration process allows me to collaborate with my client from start to finish. The first phase of the process, which is the most crucial in my opinion, is the Initial Consult. During the Initial Consult, I uncover the client’s vision for the illustration through various methods including asking the client for:
- A description of the desired pose and clothing preferences.
- Pictures that convey the desired pose and outfit for the illustration. These pics do not have to be of the client and can be images that capture the vibe or feeling they want the illustration to capture.
- At least 4-5 pictures of the client (or the person to be drawn, if the client is commissioning me to draw a loved one), both close ups and full body.
If the client is open to it, I love creating a private shared Pinterest board as a way to comprehend their vision. Because Pinterest is primarily a visual platform, I find that it is an ideal way to discuss visual concepts. Ultimately, this first phase is all about listening to the client and understanding what they hope to see in the final illustration.
Illustration Stage 1: Black and White Sketches
Once I feel I have a good understanding of what the client wants, I start drawing. First, I create 2-4 black and white sketches with different options for pose and garment. Consider this description I put together based on my Initial Consult with a client, my client wanted:
- A pose with movement
- A pose that had her looking over her shoulder as she walked the other way
- To be wearing a Self-Portrait dress
For this client I created 2 sketches (see image below), each with a different take of her desired pose. Also, each pose featured a different Self-Portrait dress.
The Black and White sketches allow me to give clients options based on their preferences. Also, It is an opportunity for the client to get a rough sense of what the final illustration might look like. During this stage, the client picks the preferred sketch (see “1st Stage” in the image below), and can give additional feedback on the sketch.
Illustration Stage 2: Full Color Rough Draft
Once the client indicates the Black and White Sketch they prefer, I create a Full Color Rough Draft (“2nd Stage” in the image above). It is unpolished, but gives the client a good sense of how the final drawing will look. This stage of the process allows yet another opportunity to communicate with the client so I can discern the alterations that need to be made to the illustration. And because capturing the client’s likeness is of the upmost importance to me, this second stage is a great way to find out if the client thinks the illustration actually looks like them. I use all the feedback that I receive on the Full Color Rough Draft to guide the my work on the Final Illustration.
Illustration Stage 3: Final Illustration
I call it “final” but that’s a bit of a misnomer. The Final Illustration (“3rd Stage” in the image above) is polished, but is not technically finished because clients can request up to 3 minor revisions on the Final Illustration.
The Key to a “Made to Order” Illustration
Ultimately, I feel that communication and collaboration are crucial in creating a custom piece that truely captures the vision of a client. Although I could streamline the process by reducing the number of opportunities for client revisions, I think it would make the process far less collaborative. And the collaboration between a client and myself is the key to making my custom fashion illustrations more “couture” and less “off the rack.”
If you’d like to learn more about my custom process or you’re interested in commissioning a custom illustration, please email me at email@example.com
Also, you can click here to see my pricing for my custom fashion illustrations.