How To Create a Custom Fashion Portrait – My Process!

how to create custom fashion illustrationI have always loved to paint and draw portraits of all kinds, and one of my favourite tasks is turning a photograph into a fashion illustration – so much fun! I thought I’d share a little of my process. I also have a shiny new Etsy shop, so if you think your bedroom or blog could do with a  little extra chic, or you’d like to treat a fashionable friend to something special, why not check it out?

First, a lovely photo of my tools of the trade: gouache!

Gouache paints and palette

Such gorgeous colours, right? I also use a medium-sized round brush from Windsor & Newton, plus a teeny weeny miniatures brush from ProArte for the smallest details and outlines.

First off, here’s my reference photo in all its glory! The beautiful Merissa is wearing a cute navy playsuit with little white stars and bell sleeves, plus that awesome crescent moon bag and white heels. Love it.

Merissa fashion illustration reference photo

I used the photo on the left as a reference to sketch her pose, plus a star background and name banner.

custom fashion illustration pencil sketch

I’m working in A4, so the sketch is around 6.5″ tall. When I’m happy with it I use a Faber Castell artists pen to go over the outlines. The outlines are going to be painted over, but still visible under the first layer, so I can use it as a reference as I work. I didn’t outline the star or name at this point – I’ll do them using my miniatures brush later.

fashion illustration in process - ink outline

Once I’ve inked the figure I paint in a flat base layer colour for each part of the picture. It looks kinda crappy at this stage! I also paint the star yellow before adding any outlines.

fashion illustration in progress with gouache paint

Once all the ugly, flat layers have been painted in, I make a darker shade of each colour and add depth to her clothes and skin, using the photo for reference. Then I add highlights with a lighter shade of each colour, and then add the tiniest details and outlines with acrylic ink.

fashion illustration process detail

custom fashion illustration painting process

Finally I added outlines to the star, and inked in the banner with her name. Here I’ve scanned in the final image and tweaked the brightness & contrast and levels in Photoshop to make it look a little cleaner for online use.

finished fashion portrait in gouache and ink

Here’s the original artwork, finished, framed and ready to go!

finished framed fashion portraitDone!

I hope you found this interesting / helpful – maybe I’ll do some more technical tutorial-y process posts in the future; I know this one was fairly light. I definitely want to figure out how to film my process with a stop-motion app; it’s always so interesting to see other artists’process in action!

Anyway – if you’d like you very own illustrated portrait (or one of a friend), please pay my shop a visit. I love working on this kind of thing, so if you have any special requests, please ask away!

– Rachel





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