Everything you need in art supplies for fashion illustration!

Watch the videos  below for art supplies for fashion illustration IN ACTION as I build a whole fashion sketch. VIDEO IN THIS POST! Also, link to my art supplies cart :

HERE’s a quick-reference link to the supply kit I use in Freedom Fashion. (It’s not an affiliate link, it’s a useful way that you can see exactly what my students buy for their fashion studies with me at Parsons and in my FREEDOM FASHION program).

Ohhhh, how I LOVE to nerd-out with other creatives about my favorite art supplies for fashion illustration!!

Actually, people are ALWAYS asking about them and most visits to my blog are looking for this kind of information.  WHILE THERE ARE NO ABSOLUTE RULES, you can bet I’m going to tell you some of my preferences!!!

As we speak, I’m planning a new video on this topic too, but let’s get down to business RIGHT NOW.

Why do you need art supplies for fashion illustration?

Well, it depends why you need your illustrations. The need determines the art supplies.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Are you creating fabulous art for business or pleasure? Something moody, experimental, exciting, innovative? Or for a brand or for personal creative expression?

Wonderfully, that opens up the possiblilities endlessly. Could be collage, 3d, digital, any kind of paint, pastels, pencils, just ANYTHING to get an effect.

(Fabric, Form and Flow is my course that walks you through gouache, marker, and digital processes to sketch designs so that you can get a feel for each and how they are similar and how they are different! The goal is that all of these media will become a part of your life for years to come )

This is just a quickie  timelapse illustration, further down this  this page is a 4 minute video where I explain more. OK? (I’ve also inserted a digital fashion illustration video below in case you’re curious about that topic too)

But what about

Fashion design sketching?

THEN what art supplies for fashion DESIGN illustration?  Or for building a fashion portfolio? In that case,  we get into a different set of needs and goals. I’ll focus more on that today because so many of my students are wanting to get specific about design in their sketching.

pencil art supplies for fashion illustration laura volpintesta

1. PENCIL for fashion illustration

First, I almost always work with pencil. Whether I’m working digitally or on paper, like in today’s images, I use a pencil NOT BECAUSE IT’s eraseable, per -se… Actually, I discourage erasing in my classes. Rather, we develop a skill of sketching super lightly to map out our drawings so that we can “plan them” gently before making dark lines.

Pencils are perfect art supplies for this. From a 2b mechanical pencil to a 2B-6B soft graphite or Ebony pencil. Certainly, I am someone who prefers the softer pencils because I can use them very lightly or very darkly without scratching up my paper. If you want to “ink those” later you can use a fine line waterproof felt pen to clean up and erase away the pencil lines underneath. If you know me, you know I love to see the process.


Once you’ve determined that you want/need fashion illustrations that can show specific details from the design (like seams, pleats, gathers, buttons, zippers, closures, pockets, collars, stitching, hems, straps, yokes, things like that….) Then, it’s time to decide if you want to do quick sketches to develop ideas or final illustrations to PRESENT ideas that feel more “final”.

For quick sketches, I recommend a SKETCH pad with a spiral binding so you can stuff your book with swatches and sketches. SKETCH paper is sheer enough to trace a sketch you love so you can recolor it or change just some details on it. A SKETCH pad is also great because it’s portable, and holds the continuity of a whole season of sketches and ideas inside. Size is important, I would recommend 14×17″ paper minimum and use it in a landscape format so you can “stretch out”.

Newsprint is great for live class warmups and exploration in charcoal, pencils, washes in a playful, experimental setting like weekly online Fashion Sketch Group.

Digitally, Tayasui Sketches is an app that has “sketchbooks” within the app so you can organize, title and color code/ design your own sketchbooks.


Gouache on Bristol VELLUM is just delectable- rich, velvety, brilliant! and loves colored pencil for print work over it.


BRISTOL vellum or WATERCOLOR PAPER. We don’t always think of paper as art supplies, but- it’s very much like the fabric in a dress!!! Essential. How does your paper interact with your brush, pencil or pen???

I prefer cold press or vellum surface to get the gritty, fabric-like texture in my fashion illustrations. Normally, I use  11.14 verticcal or 14×17: horizontal for a lineup of sketches is my favorite format. It’s just so nice and big gives room for fitting in lots of detail in FINISHED ILLUSTRATIONS. 

Whereas, in a sketchbook, I like to work smaller sometimes simply because it allows me to get my ideas out MORE QUICKLY!  (If you’re using MARKERS then you need marker paper ideally, but that’s an article for another day – and another course!!).

An alternate choice is to use a digital painting app for fashion illustration. Of course,  then you’ll choose a colored or white paper and a smooth or textured paper. Like I said, I really prefer textured papers like Tayasui Sketches offers, or REpaper app which has “rice papers” that I adore.

4.  COLOR MEDIA (paint, pencils)

-Next, you are going to be cutting your garments out of fabric and putting them on humans with skin and hair. 

USE WET MEDIA ART SUPPLIES.  This is where watercolor or gouache definitely add a lively, flowing feeling to fabric, skin and hair. Definitively, gouache is my very first choice because it’s texture mimics fabric so well. And because I like to be able to work quicly anywhere and everywhere with easy set up and cleanup, That’s why I  love dry pan gouache best. Pelikan, Grumbacher, Caran D’Ache, and other Opaque Tempera and gouache pan sets are all great for that.

See, for the sketch you see here, I used the Jane Davenport “NEUTRALS” set from Michaels which is a tiny litle waterclor box that includes ALL YOUR ESSENTIAL in one place.  Just look! Black, white, and grey, (for light and dark), red, yellow, and blue (primaries for mixing all colors), plus dark brown, yellow ochre,Naples yellow, burnt sienna. You’ve got to have the earth tones that are great for skin and hair.  I’ll be posting more about each of these over the year.  My favorite tube brands are Turner, Daler Rowney, Winsor and Newton. and Utretcht.   Reeves is VERY inexpensive and also good!

Colored pencils are not all created equal- my favorites are Prismacolor Premierj and Faber Castell colored pencils.


are round, pointed tips from size 8 to 10 I am happiest, plus I like to have a little one around too. I like synthetic ones for the price, and every single brand feels different. Alllow yourself to try different brands and see what YOU like. A lousy, squooshy, lifeless brush will always make you feel like it’s impossible for you to create anything beautiful. I like a brush that snaps back up straight after I pushe the bristles down to one side in the store.


Learn all about brushes for fashion illustration!


i use artist grade colored Prismacolor Premier Pencils for rendering highlights, deep shadows and prints/ patterns/ textures/ weaves. Sometimes I also use China Marker in white or black for super-high contrast. Also a black brush pen can give great striking visual contrast here and there for shadows or line. Digital apps offer endless thicknesses and textures, colors of colored pencils too.

art supplies for fashion Illustration by Laura Volpintesta

HERE”s the longer video (4mins) where I tell you more about art supplies for fashion illustration


7. Inspiration

What’s the point, if you aren’t filled up and excited, full of inspiration? Feel fired up and focused through resources and new tools, books, materials, references and techniques that keep your fashion feeling new and open ended. That’s what I’m here to help you with! SUBSCRIBE for a bundle that includes my ebook “100 Fashion Design Inspiration Prompts” and a video showing you my favorite 9 book recommendations for Fashion Design and Illustration! Also visit my resource page for fashion students.

8. Guidance

It helps to have an approach that is planned out as a roadmap that builds step by step to bring skills and creativity together in an intentional way that grows your ability. Working with a coach like me is priceless ! info@fashionillustrationtribe.com

9. Support

Make sure you have a tutor, community, or teacher that you can turn to when you feel you’ve hit a bump or block. Sometimes in helping OTHERS is when you most recognize how far you’ve come! Find a community of other positive creative learners os you can cheer each other on.

Did you get some clarity about art supplies for fashion illustration today?

What are you going to get? Is there a cetain brand or tool  you use now? What do you love? is there something you struggle with?

Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on instagram.

AH YES–and

Here is the  link to the DIGITAL FASHION ILLUSTRATION video I promised too. There are many many tips and tutorials on this blog for Digital Fashion Illustration too!

Much love always,


1 thought on “My Favorite Art Supplies for Fashion Illustration”

  1. Drawing ideas for kids can encompass a vast array of possibilities, encouraging creativity and imagination to flourish. From whimsical creatures and fantastical landscapes to favorite storybook characters and scenes from nature, the options are endless.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top