Maxi Madness- Part 1

How to Sketch a Maxi Skirt

Do you often find it challenging to draw clothing and make it look realistic and proportionate? Do you find that your drawings often fall flat and lack enthusiasm? Are you excited about learning fashion sketching, but don’t know where to start? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, you are in the right place! My new series of fashion illustration tutorials will teach you the foundation.

 Follow the quick and easy steps in this tutorial and you will quickly become a fashion sketching pro. This is an introduction to sketching and that should be fairly simple and straightforward for all levels of experience. However, it is packed full with basic techniques that will continue to show up in future lessons and be built upon further. Today, we will start off by drawing maxi skirts on a fashion figure.


  • Multi or mixed media art paper
  • Sketching pencils
  • High quality, double tipped markers
  • Eraser

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Sketch #1: Full Circle Maxi Skirt

Start off with a fashion croquis- if you need help or instructions with how to do this, please refer to my Sketching Resources in my Resources tab.

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Use a pencil to sketch a long skirt on the croquis. Consider the design that you want your skirt to have. For this sketch, I am creating a full, circle, maxi skirt. The top of the skirt is sleek and slim with no fullness or gathers coming from the waistband and a dramatic circle skirt. To get the desired fullness and volume, draw a skirt with a long, curved hem. Draw lines coming up from the curves to mimic how fabric will drape and fold on a 3-dimensional form. These are known as style lines and communicate to designers, pattern-makers, and producers of a garment how to make it.

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Notice how I filled in the skin tone by shading in certain areas of the body.

Shading is a key aspect to creating a realistic representation of a garment and body. Shading represents where the light is hitting on the body and fabric. It can be from any direction, but be sure to stay consistent throughout the drawing. I typically have the light (sunshine) coming from the top right corner. This means that the left side of the body, including the hair, face, and arm on that side will be more shaded compared to the right side. Also pay attention to which side of an arm or leg is facing towards the light versus away from it. Not only is the direction of the light important, but consider other elements of shadow within a sketch including; how the hair creates shadows on the face and neck or how the hem of a dress forms on a shadow on the legs.

Try taking a photo of yourself and studying where the light is hitting your face, hair, arms, legs, clothing, etc. Use this as a guide for shading in your fashion figure. You can repeat this process in several positions, angles, and clothing styles. Shading will continue to be a prominent aspect of all future fashion sketching tutorials.

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Next, begin filling in the skirt with a very light layer of marker over the entire garment. This step does not have to be perfect, as it is only used as base layer.

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Add shading and depth to the skirt with the same marker. The parts of the hem that curve outward represent the fabric that drapes away from the body and is hit by the light. Use light strokes to fill in these sections. The parts of the hem that curve inward represent the fabric that drapes towards the body and is hidden by the light. Use darker strokes to shade in these areas. Use your marker to blend the transitions in shading.

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Finish off the sketch by focusing on the smaller details. Draw a top, accessories, and shoes to go with your skirt. Remember that that maxi skirt is the focal point in this sketch. The other pieces should only compliment it without out shining it. Outline, create a face, hair, and any other last minute touches.

Sketch #2: Straight, Simple Maxi Skirt

Follow and repeat the process from the first example, but watch out for the changes made in this drawing and be mindful of how much it changes the overall design.

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Again, begin with a basic croquis. I chose a back view to add drama to a simple sketch. Experiment and play around with different positions to portray attitude and drama. This is the fun part! Be purposeful with the details you choose to make your sketch stand out from the rest.

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Draw the basic outline of the maxi skirt. Unlike the first example, this skirt is much slimmer and has less volume. Notice how the skirt hugs the body and gently flares out at the knee. The hem is still curved, but has fewer drapes. This demonstrates that the design features only a slight flare and little to no volume. Also, the right side of the skirt flares out more than the left side. This is because of how the croquis is drawn. It is leaning to one side. Consider these elements when using different positions to make your sketches more realistic and closer to what it would look like on an actual body.

Try taking pictures of yourself trying on different garment styles and study how they fall across your body. This will be useful technique for learning how to sketch a variety of garments. It will be accurate and you won’t have to guess. The more you sketch and understand garment properties, the easier this will come to you.

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Simple, first layer of marker on the skirt.

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Here is the finished skirt with subtle shading to accentuate the details of the design. Skin tone and some other small details have been added.

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Completed sketch with all of the finished details. Notice how the shirt is drawn on an angle because her body is not a fully back view, it is a slight side angle.

Congrats! You’ve finished your first fashion illustration! Were you able to keep up? Leave comments or share with friends your thoughts or how your sketch turned out.

Stayed tuned for tomorrow, when we take our sketches from paper to fabric. Maxi Madness Part 2, is a tutorial on how to cut out and sew your very own maxi skirt!


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