Sketching 101: Stylized flats

Posted on | March 15, 2010 | 3 Comments

Once you’ve gotten the hang of drawing your run of the mill flat sketch, what type of things can you do to make your flat a little more stylized or interesting? And how do you draw a convincing looking stitch pattern on the body if that is what the design calls for? Here’s a few examples:

Line Interest

Giving a little expression to your lines can definitely liven things up. A little wiggle or wrinkle at the elbows or waist gives your sketch some movement and gives it less of a “stiff as a board” look. You can also play with the pressure used to draw your lines – maybe thick for an outline and thin for inside details. This is also easily achieved by using thick and thin markers if the smudgy look of pencils isn’t your thing. One other option is to use a fashion croquis, but don’t sketch the body. Just overlay your paper and draw the sweater on just like you would with your flat croquis. I am cheating a little with this example, it was done on Illustrator, but the idea is the same.

Add Color

Markers and colored pencils can also help bring your sketch alive. This is especially important when trying to communicate colorwork in a sketch – and even more so if you haven’t swatched in the intended colorway.

If you happen to be computer savvy, you can also scan in your swatch and use it as a pattern to fill in the sketch. It might save you some time and might look better than if it was done by hand. The sketch can either be hand drawn and scanned in, or you can sketch a flat in Adobe Illustrator.

A Touch of Pattern

When adding a pattern to your sketch, there is no need to overwhelm the sweater by filling the sketch completely with pattern. Leave a little bit of white space and sketch just enough of the pattern so you can get the overall idea. Try to keep the pattern to the same area though, don’t jump around too much.  Or in other words, don’t place your pattern on the upper left hand corner of the body and the right hand sleeve. Keep it all to the left as sketch 2 below.

Sketches and Finished Designs

Here are a few more examples of my actual submission sketches accompanied with a picture of the finished garment. The Double V Cardigan from Interweave Spring 2010 was drawn in Illustrator (last sketch), the other 3 were done by hand.

Q & A

Finally, I had a few questions from my last post I would like to answer:

I was wondering… on your croquis, why do the sleeves look like they’re sort of folded behind the garment, rather than the sleeve seam meeting the body at the underarm? — Karen

I put the sleeves a little behind the garment for three reasons: to save space, to keep the focus on the body, and to add personality to the sketch. When we drew technical flats in school, the sleeves were drawn away from the body and they took up a lot of space on the page. When you are drawing one sketch on a page, maybe that doesn’t matter so much, but when jotting down ideas, your page can quickly become very crowed with all those sleeves sticking out all over the place! Since you are looking to get the general idea of your design across, placing the sleeves a little behind the body also helps to keep the main focus on the body. While the sleeves can be a design feature of the sweater, more often than not, the most interesting details happen on the body of the sweater or just carry over to the sleeves. Finally, by placing the sleeves a little behind the body, it gives the sketch less of a board like feeling.

Is there any software to do this? — Maryse

I use Adobe Illustrator when I am working with sketches on the computer, but it still helps to know how to sketch by hand before moving on to the world of computer aided design (or CAD). There are also other programs such as Corel Draw, U4ia, Premavision, and Color Matters – but Illustrator is probably the most user friendly and most widely used. Marnie has a wonderful post on how to draw schematics in Illustrator that can get you started if you were interested in learning more. The post does deal with schematics, but the same functions are used when you are free sketching too and reading through her tutorial will familiarize you with what tools you need and how to use them.

Thanks for the questions! And if anyone out there has something on your mind, let me know! Feel free to leave it in the comments or to email me at melissa AT neoknits DOT com.

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  • Amy

    These are spectacularly helpful and informative posts! Thanks so much for this glimpse of the process.

  • Julie

    wow, this is so fascinating! I’m not likely to branch out into designing anytime soon, but it’s really neat to see and understand the process. Thank you!

  • YarnAddict

    I’m a designer and one of the most difficult aspects ofsubmissions for me is the sketch. I cannot draw at all although I think I’m slowly getting better at it but it’s still a struggle. So this series is excellent. I’m reall enjoying it. I’ve been thinking about getting illustrator.