Illustration • How-To How to Make a Fashion Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

Draw fashion illustrations with overlapping lines, colors, and patterns.

Audrey Marion’s signature style includes overlapping lines, vivid colors, and distinctive patterns. See how she uses the Pencil, Pen, and Swatches to create fashion illustrations in Adobe Illustrator.

Headshot of Audrey Marion wearing sunglasses

I’m Audrey Marion, a graphic designer, illustrator, and stylist based in Brussels. I create digital and handcraft images made with deconstructed ideas and repeating symbols.

Colorful illustrations of models against a black background, each has a long ponytail with different color hair

Take a one-minute look at my technique. I’ve also provided the steps below.

Before You Start

Use this sample project if you’d like, or practice with your own.

Step 1: Start with a Sketch

The first thing I did was use the Pencil (N) tool to draw a face on my Wacom tablet. Feel free to use my drawing in the practice file if you’d like to follow along with these steps. You can use the Pencil tool from a drawing tablet or directly within Illustrator.

Off-white outline drawing of a head against an almost black background

Step 2: Draw the Features

I used the Pencil to draw the nose and mouth in a continuous path. With the Pencil tool selected, click Tool Options in the Properties panel to adjust the Pencil settings.

Pencil tool shows in upper left; shape of nose and mouth is on the canvas; Pencil tool options dialog on the right

Step 3: Color the Lines

With the Swatches panel open, set the Stroke color to beige and the Fill color to the same black color that matches the canvas background.

Pencil tool is upper left; outline of nose is off-white; Swatches panel shows fill set to black and stroke is off-white

Step 4: Define the Lines

After I drew the initial shape of the nose and mouth, I used the Direct Selection (A) tool to adjust points along the path. Click and drag to reposition some and use the handles to finesse others.

Direct Selection tool is upper left, anchor points highlighted along the shape of the nose and mouth

Step 5: Fit the Contours

When I was happy with the nose and mouth, I used the Selection (V) tool to move it into place. Use the Direct Selection tool to tweak the path so it blends with the initial drawing of the face.

Direct Selection tool is upper left; anchor points are on the outline of the mouth and nose which has been added to the head

Step 6: Dress Your Drawing

I used the Pen (P) tool to draw the sleeve. Set the Stroke to none and the Fill color to ochre. When you use the Pen tool, click to add angled points, and click and drag handles to create curves. Finish the path by clicking the original anchor point in your drawing.

Pen tool is upper left, an ochre-colored sleeve has been drawn on the model, Swatches panel shows the color used

Step 7: Add a Fashion Print

When you’re finished drawing the sleeve, use the Selection tool to select it and then fill it with a pattern from the Swatches panel.

Selection tool is upper left, a flower pattern fills the sleeve, the Swatches panel shows the pattern used

Step 8: Create Accessories

I drew the rest of the clothes and hair using the Pencil and Pen tools, and then used the Rectangle (M) tool to draw the hair ties. Use the Selection tool to move them into place and hover and drag just outside the corner handles to rotate each rectangle.

Line tool with Rectangle sub-tool selected in upper left, model has a long, off-white ponytail and 2 rectangle hair ties

Step 9: Design a Backdrop

I chose the Rectangular Grid tool and drag to add a grid to the background. In the Properties panel, set the Fill to none, Stroke color to beige, and width to 1. Right-click the grid and hold Control (Windows) or Command (macOS) and then press [ until the grid is behind the illustration.

If you are using the Rectangular Grid tool for the first time, you can click the Edit Toolbar icon (ellipsis on the toolbar) and drag it from the All Tools listing onto the main toolbar. If you’d like to group it with another tool, such as the Rectangle tool, drag it on top of that tool to add it to the group.

All tools icon shows upper left with the Rectangular Grid Tool selected, a tan-colored grid displays on the black background

Step 10: Reflect on the Design

Hide the grid by clicking the eye icon next to the grid layer in the Layers panel. Shift+click to select all parts of the drawing, choose Object > Transform > Reflect, and click Vertical and Copy to make a duplicate of the illustration. Make that second version unique by applying new colors and patterns to it. When you’re finished, make the grid visible again.

Vertical Reflect tool shows upper left, the Reflect dialog shows Copy selected, canvas shows 2 versions of the drawing

Define Your Style

Create your own brand of fashion illustrations using drawing tools, color palettes, and patterns in Adobe Illustrator. Be sure to tag @AdobeCreate so we can keep up with your fashion sense.

Fashion illustration displays in white frame on a white shelf next to a planter and a gold pyramid decoration

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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