Creative Careers - "I don't design clothes. I design dreams." - Ralph Lauren

High School Class of 2013 Early Admisssion

Seniors! It's Time to Make College Plans.

Start A Club. Win A Scholarship!

3 Days of Fashion Event

Section Heading

Lesson 1: Drawing the 9-Headed Figure

If you are interested in a career in fashion, learning how to sketch the 9-headed figure is essential. Look on to find out how you can get started.

Download a printable PDF

Lesson 1: Drawing the 9-Headed Figure: Prep

Before you start to sketch, it’s good to dedicate a few minutes to drawing Zen. Gather supplies; you’ll need a pencil, eraser, ruler, and sketchpad.

Sit down at your desk with the open sketchpad in front of you. Keep your eyes on the blank paper and breathe deeply as you clear your thoughts of clutter. Try to make your mind as clear and blank as the clean, white paper. Now you are ready to let your imagination take over and fill the white space with your fashion sketches!

The Natural Figure: 8 Heads; Croquis

Throughout these sketching lessons, we will refer to your figure as a “croquis”. “Croquis” is the French word for “sketch” and refers to a figure outline used as a basis to sketch designs on. Get to know the word!

The Fashion Figure: 9 Heads; Axis Line

You mark the figure’s position with an axis line. Mark two points on the paper, one for the top of the head and one for the bottom of the legs. Connect the dots! You now have an axis. Next, divide your line into nine equal sections so that we can begin to draw the figure.

The Fashion Figure: Drawing the Head

Give your figure a head. Draw an egg-shaped oval in the space between 0 and 1, moving frorm dot to dot to create a symmetrical oval. All the measurements of the figure are made in relation to the head you just drew. The head becomes a unit of measurement just like an inch or meter.

The Fashion Figure: Neck and Shoulders

Draw the neck, moving halfway down the axis line between (1) and (2). The neck is slimmer than the head. Take the length of the head and the neck (1 and 1/2 heads), and turn it sideways: this is the width of a woman’s shoulders. Draw the shoulder line slightly above the base of the neck.

The Fashion Figure: Bust and Waist

(2) is also the apex of the bust. Place a dot at (2) at an equal distance frrom the axis (center line). The waist is at (3) and can be drawn at approximately three-quarters heads width—decide for yourself whether you wish to make the waist thin, very thin, or super skinny.

The Fashion Figure: The Illium

The next dot is just below the waist at 3 1/4 heads. It’s the point at the top of the pelvis and is called the Illium. (Tap yourself at your side just below your waist and you will feel this bone). It is very important to establish this point on the figure in order to make an accurate drawing or pattern from that drawing. The Illium is the point at which a woman’s hip begins to differ from a man’s.

The Fashion Figure: The Hips and Knees

Our next point of reference is at the hip (4) and is the same width as the shoulders. Next, mark the crotch at 4 1/4 heads between the center of the legs. Now, travel a long distance down to the knee at (6). By following in a straight line from the crotch, (6) and place a point which will mark the knee. The knee is 1/2 head in width. The next job is to connect the hip to the knee.

The Fashion Figure: The Calf and Ankle

Our next point is at 7 1/2. This point marks the calf (a large muscle called the gastrocnemius). Move your line from the knee to the calf making the calf, just a bit wider than the knee. Now make the long glide down to the ankle. Slide from the calf back to a very thin ankle at (9) (or just above (9) for a sporty, younger looking croquis).

The Fashion Figure: The Arms

Add the arms, connecting the armhole to the elbow. Tap yourself at your waist and you will see that this is where your elbow fits. Remember: the waist is at (3) and the elbow is at (3). Finish your croquis placing the wrist at (4). Tap yourself again, feel your hip, and you’ll see an excellent fit.

The Fashion Figure: Line Quality

An important aspect of drawing the figure is line quality—the thickness of the line. A thick, bold line will give the figure a strong, graphic presence and make it appear to have physical weight on the page. A thin line will do the opposite, making the figure appear light and ethereal. A common mistake is to move the pencil slowly down the page with little strokes, called “chicken scratches.”

The Fashion Figure: Nancy Riegelman

Fashion Club would like to thank FIDM instructor, Nancy Riegelman for sharing her knowledge on drawing the beginning croquis with us. For more in-depth lessons on drawing the fashion figure, check out her amazing book, 9HEADS. To see more fashion sketches by FIDM Debut 2006 students, click here.

The Fashion Figure: Practice Drawing

EXERCISE: We need practice to draw well. Try the following exercises to gain speed and to learn the croquis measurements:

  1. Draw the figure five times with a light line. Use a mechanical pencil.
  2. Draw the figure 5 times using a dark line. Use a soft pencil, 3B or 4B.
  3. Draw the figure with a line that is nuanced.
Download a printable PDF Back

Page 1

Gainful Employment Disclosures

FIDM does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities, employment, and admission. For more information, visit