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How to draw skin shadows

How to draw the skin. Draw shadows and highlights for realistic looking skin in fashion sketches and fashion illustrations There are many techniques of how to draw shadows for the skin of the fashion sketches. This is my preferred method, because it is quick and easy to do and the final result is a very nice mix between realistic looking skin and the manner that fashion sketches need to be done- not too overworked. Enjoy this how to draw skin tutorial and pick the best of it to apply to your personal style.

Step 1: Color the skin

The first thing you need to do is to fill your fashion figure with a solid skintone color. It could be brighter or darker, depending on your personal preferences. Just make sure the rendering is flat, with no gaps.
This coloring technique can be applied to almost every type of drawing media. You only need to get a skin color that you like and to follow the steps.

Tip: If you want to follow along and use the fashion template of the example illustrations click HERE to open and download it.

How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 2: Draw the face shadows

Fill the area between the eyes and the eyebrows with a darker shade of the skin color. Make the same with the space below the nose tip, the lips, cheekbones and the inner part of the ear if it is visible.
Notice the tiny shadow that is left at the side of the forehead and the very important shadow that the hair casts, because it is overlapping the face of the model.

Tip: For fashion illustrations you don’t need too dramatic shadows. Usually runway shows and magazine photo sessions are very well lightened and only the most essential shadows are kept visible.

How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 3: Face highlights

Once you are done with drawing the skin shadows it’s time to make some highlights. Take a white pencil or gauge paint and fill the areas shown. These are: the most bulged parts of the cheeks and the chin, a tiny circle of light on the tip of the nose and a dash of white on the bridge. Don’t forget the forehead area over the brows.
All the highlights should be gently blended with the skin color if they look like having very sharp boundaries. Make it look natural.How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 4: Draw the neck shadows

The shadows underneath the head is a must. Make sure you follow more or less the form of the chin and make this shadow wide enough. Draw some shadows around the collar bones of your fashion figure- this will make her look more skinny. However, if you overwork this area it is going to look not healthy and scary. Try to find the proper balance.
How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 5: Neck highlights

Emphasize that the neck is a cylindrical shape by putting a highlight by one of its sides. Finish the collar bones and highlight the shoulders.

Tip: Close your eyes slightly and look at your drawing. Check If the main color you see is the one of the skin. If it’s not, and you still can see a lot of the shadows and highlights- you have overworked it.

How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 6: How to draw chest shadows

One of the most frequent mistakes when drawing the chest is to cast the shadow under, while shadows are actually placed on the breasts. There is still a small amount of shadow underneath, but if you want to draw them looking real the shadows should be drawn more or less like shown on the example illustration.
Darken the area of the armholes and blend it with the rest of the skin.
You can also cast delicate shadows on the torso details if you like to have them in your fashion drawings.
How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 7: Chest highlights

Draw the highlights only at their upper half of the chests. Keep the shape of the highlights  rounded, curved and relatively small.
Add light to the torso details as shown.
How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 8: Shadows on the arms

Arms in fashion are not very detailed when it comes to rendering the skin. Just cast a shadow following the outline of the arm from its part closer to the body.

Tip: Try not to touch the outline with your shadow tone, but still keep the shadow very close to it. This will help you build more 3D look of your drawing. Goes the same for legs and arm.

How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 9: Highlights of the arms

Make the same as in the previous step, but with the opposite side of the arms. Make sure you have enough base color skin between the shadows and the light.
How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 10: Draw the legs shadows

Next comes drawing shadows on the legs. Look how they kind of repeat the outline of the leg, but the shadow gets a little bit thinner when reaching the knee area. Cast tiny, short shadows in the highest inner part of the tights and around the bone of the calves if you like to have it drawn.
How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 11: Legs highlights

In order to make it look realistic you need to add highlights too. Work on the inner part of the tights, the knee and a little bit on the calves. Don’t touch the outline.
How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step 12: Draw shadows to the hands and feet

Hands and feet in fashion illustrations are very specific. They have very few detail. Cast shadows to the bottom part of the fingers if they are clenched or if there are fingers behind others. A little bit on the knuckles too.
As for the feet- just continue the shadows the way you made the legs.
How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Step13: Hands and feet highlights

Highlight slightly the opposite side of the palm and also the finger knuckles.
Continue the highlight from the legs to the feet. Make sure you are following the form, and not drawing it straight.
How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches

Now you know how an easy way how to draw the skin for your fashion sketches. Finish the coloring of your illustration and give her (or not) some clothes.
How to draw skin and how to draw shadows step by step tutorial for drawing fashion sketches and fashion illustration

 

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15 comments

  1. Yeah, a good tuturial and all that – but do you guys seriously think it’s an okay body shape to use? The girl looks like she has BMI around 15, how can that be okay?? No wonder poor models get anorexia in the fashion world… Can’t we get a decent model with one metre shorter legs and some muscles so she can actually stand? Oh, yeah – and a waist that’s not the same width as her head?
    I liked your tutorial, good tips, but I can’t watch it. Makes me sick.

  2. I just found your site, and its super amazing. I love the tips and tutorials, the ones I’ve gotten around to and I must say they are very helpful.

  3. I recently found this website and I love it, Thanks for the help

  4. [quote name=”Charlotte”]You talk a lot about where to put the shadows and highlights, but I’m wondering how exactly you achieve the slightly darker color. I’m not really good with applying color yet. Thanks![/quote]
    Dependson the media you use. If you are using watercolors a darkaer shade can achieved by adding jyst a slight amount of black or dark purple to your base color.If you are using markers- go a second and even a third time over the plcece to make it darker if you don\t own a darker marker. Color pencils?- push harder and also add a little bit of dark brown/black ot dark purple.
    Inreal life light has a yellowish tone while shadows are slightly purple.

  5. You talk a lot about where to put the shadows and highlights, but I’m wondering how exactly you achieve the slightly darker color. I’m not really good with applying color yet. Thanks!

  6. can you make a step by step tutorial of this figure pls? i really love your tutorials!

  7. oprescu narcisa elen

    beautiful! very beautiful!

  8. Recently found this website, SO so helpful! Easy to follow and you’ve thought of EVERYTHING from basics to fidgety details. Love it! Keep the tutorials coming!!!

  9. i was wondering if u could do another standing figure tutorials?

  10. Hi I’m from Viet Nam. I want to say “Thank you” to you, your website is very helpful to me. Thanks so much :roll: . Hope that see more drawing lessons. (Sorry if my Eng is too bad :-) )

  11. i don’t know where i’d be without this website thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!!

  12. Thank you, Rita for your wonderful feedback! I really, really appreciate it :-)

  13. Gosh I love your website and all your tutorials! there better than a book because they never stop, there is always something new to be added and all of your tutorials are so helpful and so easy to follow along, yet you teach so much detail!

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