How to draw sequins for fashion

Clearly, it can be really daunting to think about how to draw sequins. All those tiny, shiny discs….

But what we THINK and NOW about sequins is way more complex than what it takes to draw them. SEQUINS is an EFFECT. IT’s a texture.

And it’s totally doable. I’ll walk you through it today.

NOTE: My example includes mulitcolored sequins, not single colored sequins, from this photo sequins in fashion desgin illustration by Laura VOlpintesta

See, once you get to really learn how to draw, spending some time working only in black and white–

Studying how lights and darks interact, and the how shapes of edges create line  and “HOW TO SEE” (some of the techniques I love to get deep into in my Model Magic (model) drawing online course) or practice in weekly Fashion Sketch Group!

…then nothing is too scary to draw or render!

This article is designed to help beginners… but, even if you are already quite comfortable drawing, it can shed new light on the subject to learn new approaches and techniques.  So your fashion illustrations are lively, dynamic, professional and dazzling.

Like you!

here are my tips for how to draw sequins, plus examples:

sequins in fashion desgin illustration by Laura VOlpintestaI posted a few steps from my process below (screen shots of my Adobe Illustrator drawing from iPad screen).

So here’s a recent fashion illustration of mine (this one is a digital fashion illustration, but the concept applies to any medium).

The fashion illustration images of the process are below (scroll down), similar to the GLITTER process..  And you’ll notice there are TWO kinds of sequins. Tiny sequins on a hot pant (model at left) and large, transparent iridescent sequins on the sheer kimono (model at right)

Certainly, it will be easier for you to understand when you can see some of the visual steps along the way, in the images below.

Let’s go:

How to draw Sequins guidelines

digital fashion illustration of sequins for fashion design by Laura Volpintesta

    1. First, Sketch out the SHAPE of the fashion illustration. For me, this usually means sketching out the figures, then sketching the clothes onto them. When I say clothing, this means silhouette first. Then seams, gathers. THEN SHADOWS. (For me, the shadows are actually “part of the garment” because they give the 3d effect to the fashion garment. )If you zoom in you’ll see very light grey “pencil lines” that I used to do that foundation first. This gives me confidence to move forward boldly because I’ve “worked out the kinks” lightly in pencil. I’m not someone who advocates erasing because I love process IN ART. I love art that shows the human hand in it.
    2. Next I chose a black ink pen. In Adobe Draw app, that’s choosing color BLACK, then choosing a very fine line. In analog, that means using a PITT PEN or MICRON, PRISMACOLOR, or other waterproof black felt pen. Also, Uniball Deluxe is a nice waterproof black BALLPOINT pen, if you prefer ball points.
    3. In image #1, above, you can see there are different line weights that I used to draw sequins. I did the finest first. I always LOOK FOR TEXTURES that are going to EFFECT the EDGES of the garment first. So you can see that I found large sequins that appear to stick out on her back and drew those first. Additionally, and this is one of the biggest tips, I draw INCOMPLETE circles. Drawing only 3/4 of the circles is more similar to the way we see sequins: with dark shadow on one side and high shine on the other.
    4. Notice then (still on image #1 above) that I also picked out some deep black shadows (a shape of tone. One near the wrist and one behind the sleeve there). Because I know the lightest shine colors are going to look brighter in contrast to that deep black.
    5. After finishing the “drawing”, it’s time to add some color.    Remember, I worked from a photograph here (from Ela O Globo magazine in Brazil- posted below.) I“ve been illustrating Brazilian Carnaval here on the blog for WEEKS- click around for more articles! I started sketching with a base tonethat’s slightly sheer. (Because the sequins and the fabric they were attached to looked sheer) and started with the GENERAL overall color.sequins in fashion desgin illustration by Laura VOlpintesta using adobe fresco for fashion
    6. Because the sequins showed up in many colors, I did all anyone can do: I felt it out, one color at a fashion sketch process sequins in fashion desgin illustration by Laura VOlpintesta
    7. Also, I used another favorite tool in my mind— which is to laser focus on the key colors (NARROW IT DOWN TO THE ESSENTIALS). .. and “filter out” all of the mid-tones and variations in between.
    8. Of course, a dark foundation is going to make all fo the shiny bright bits look brighter. I know that I can use sheer color (whether digital painting or watercolor) for the sheer garment, but that I can go flat -out OPAQUE to make the brightest sequins BRIGHT and standing out. In Adobe Draw, I just adjust the opacity with a slider. In gouache I use either an artist quality pencil for opacity (like Prismacolor Premier) OR use gouache full-strengthsequins in digital fashion desgin illustration by Laura VOlpintesta
    9. At the left, the model is wearing hot-pants in a much tinier sequin that are darker in color. The key difference in these two is the SCALE of the reflections, the SCALE of the texture.
    10. Use the tip of your brush or pencil, or even gel pens to create a pattern of super-light dots next to super black dots. I add black to the basic color for those tones. Inversely, I add white to the basic color for the shiny highlights! IN Adobe Draw app, it’s funny that if you tap the screen you’ll get perfect circles. Which can be really annoying but fun for shiny sequins!

So, you can see that whether digital or analog, sequins can be approached the same way.

Actually, the BIGGEST differences between digital fashion illustration and analog , in my opinion are:

    • setup, cleanup, and space needed to work in

What do you want to learn about fashion design or fashion illustration?


To practice how to draw sequins:

    1. Try out some sequins sketching ( I do recommend doing a few “studies” by sketching from a photo first) –
    2. try black and white first,
    3. Then try color.
    4. then sketch out some original eveningwear or an illustration from your imaginiation, featuring sequins.
    5. Share in/ join my eveningwear course to take it all further!

Did this HELP YOU learn how to draw sequins?  Let me know in the comments below!



Don’t forget I have a digital fashion illustration course all about fashion and faces, and also a core fashion design and fashion sketching course program that’s equal to a semester-long Parsons course I’ve taught for years online and on campus. Also I have an eveningwear course and an intensive model drawing bootcamp online that’s transformational- designed to loosed you up and change the way you see things, while actually increasing your skill! Check them out! 

You can start today with the bonuses that come with subscribing to our newsletter or an online mini-workshop

FAbric , Form and Flow: learn to illustrate and design with special fabrics and silhouettes for eveningwear and beyond
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