How to Trace a Photograph for a Fashion Sketch

Learn how to trace a photograph from fashion designer Garo Sparo in this Howcast video.

This is how you trace a photograph. It’s actually a handy tool if you’re not the best sketcher, if you want some strange body position, what have you. Find a pose that I like, and something that’s very important in this process is tracing paper, nice and sheer, comes in all sorts of weight, etc.

All right, here we go. You get your tracing paper centered beautifully over your photograph, and of course you’re going to need your mechanical pencil, because you’re going to make a mistake, who knows, you want to be able to erase it. So you want to start out by just concentrating on the silhouette. Use your pencil, you can erase it if you mess up, it’s a great thing. And, you know, you’re just worrying about silhouette right now, you could always go back in and do the details later. I pick this particular pose because she is doing something very unusual with her body, and it’s probably the ones that you’ll want to trace, you know. I want to trace something interesting.

I don’t know how I feel about her sweater, so I’m just going to eliminate her sweater altogether and go with her arms. So basically you want to take from this her body silhouette. It’s almost like you’re looking through with x-ray vision and see what her body’s doing underneath. It’s a good way to like study how the body bends and moves, and it will give you some versatility to your sketching. Here’s her neck, her ear, face at a really strange angle, which is cool. And you know you can always go in later and do all your shading, but right now we’re just going to worry about just tracing the photograph. And if you really just want to trace the outfit itself, you can do that too. I’ll just go ahead and trace what she has on. But as I said, I’m not a big fan of the sweater, so we’re going to ignore the sweater. I’m just going to do her in a short little dress she’s got on. I’m going to add some of my own design elements because I’m not thrilled with this design.

This is also just a great way to build your sketching skills, because it gets you really comfortable with a pencil, you know, it just gets your hand into the motion of doing all of this. I’m even going to draw her shoes, because her shoes are pretty fabulous. I give her her sunglasses, her nose, which is almost strange when I took the tracing paper off, but you go back in and fix all your details later. Every once in a while you lift the tracing paper off the page, just to see if you’ve missed any elements. All right, so now we can pull it all off, and this is how you trace a photograph. It’s a great way to get really comfortable with a pencil, or create a new fashion croquis.