Spring time in New York – ‘Assembly’ fashion illustration 

fashion illustration assembly spring 2018

I love, love, love fashion week! I am always so excited to see what’s on the runway.  New York has not disappointed so far and there is still a day to go!

Image credit: Vogue and The impression

Last fashion week (Fall 2017) I set myself the task of producing one look from each city (New York – Jenny Packham; London – Anya Hindmarch; Milan- Gabriele Colangelo; Paris – Saint Laurent).  My focus was on capturing as much detail as I could and pushing myself to draw different textures (leather, plaid, satin, fur, sheepskin!).  You can view the final images in my Instagram feed.

This time round I wanted to be a little less literal and, rather than capture all the detail of the clothing, get more the ‘essence’ of it (that sounds so arty!).  I also wanted to work quick and have the final illustration completed within a couple of the days of the show.

The Assembly runway show really said “New York summer” to me.  A very cool, effortless, individual New Yorker.  Exactly the kind of girl I image is wandering the streets of New York in a Carrie Bradshaw – 2017 – kind of way. (Clearly I have only ever spent 48 hours in New York and know nothing of what New York women are really like).

Anyway for details and photos of the process keep reading below!

img_1270Image Credit: Vogue

Assembly Spring 2018 - work in progress

I almost always start with eyes because if I mess these up I know I can’t salvage the image. Honestly, if the eyes are not right I need to scrap the whole thing then and there and start again.  Maybe its something to do with eyes being windows to the soul!?.  The other reason I like to start with eyes is they have so much contrast and it helps me set my ‘white balance’; how dark my darkest areas are going to be and how white my whites.  Eyes also have crisp, hard edges and softer, more indistinct edges, and plenty of detail; so I feel like with a bit of everything happening they are the perfect ‘warm up’ area for me to get the flow happening.

So what to do when there are no eyes?  I couldn’t start with the glasses as these would be the darkest part of the drawing and one lesson I’ve learnt the hard way is nothing (ok maybe chocolate) smudges quite as much as a 6B pencil!  It’s safest to leave the darkest parts to the end to limit the amount of smeared graphite pencil.  For this image, in the absence of eyes, the ear offered the next best ‘high contrast/detailed’ feature for a starting point.  I basically worked left to right from the left ear.  As usual I jumped between pencil areas and painted areas.  There’s no real rhyme or reason for me to do this other than I find large areas of skin get a bit tedious so it’s nice to hop over to a completely different medium and break up the monotony.

I worked fast on this one as I wanted to finish it before the end of fashion week.  So for something I spent less time on than I usually would I was pretty happy that I managed to capture some of the little bumps on her head.  I think it is these ‘imperfections’ like pimples, freckles, wrinkles, that give a face character.  Capturing them makes a drawing so much more realistic and interesting.  It’s something I really want to work on in my future pieces.

Fashion illustration work in progress

I love the idea of contrasting detailed realism with something more abstract.  So for the dress I just wanted to do a simple red splash of colour and leave it at that.  I don’t have a wide flat edge paint brush and was stranded at home with no car to go to the Art store to get one so I found an old paint brush (like a proper house-painting-paint-brush!) loaded it up, one sweep and it was done!

I find it quite scary to be bold in this way in my art.  I spend so long labouring away with my graphite pencils trying to capture all the details to then take to it with one uncontrolled swoosh of a paint is terrifying! (probably why I still insist on scanning everything before I make any bold moves… just in case).

I did the red streak first after a quick practice.  Then I decided it looked okay so why not REALLY let loose and do a black one (yes of course  I scanned it in between – I’m not CRAZY).
So here she is….. London is calling….

Fashion illustration of Assembly Spring 2018 collection

Short and Sweet

Arches Drawing Pad 200gsm Cream 100% cotton A4

Tombow mono 6B, 2B, HB, 2H and 5H

Daler Rowney and Winsor and Newton Gouache 


6 thoughts on “Spring time in New York – ‘Assembly’ fashion illustration 

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