Shufa and the fashion illustration_part IV: David Downton


To be a better fashion illustrator you will have to follow some basic rules. And some of them are written in my previous posts here:

Shufa and the fashion illustration_part III

Shufa and the fashion illustration_part II

Shufa and the fashion illustration_part I

In short, I will make a list below with some steps that will help you learn how to draw. It will be easier for you to have them all gathered here, in order:

1. Study Shufa (First you will have to study Shufa, as seen in the posts mentioned above. You will learn how to handle your brush, how to coordinate your hand with your mind and forget about the inertia – because your hand already knows “by heart” some movements and it is very difficult to get rid of them.)

2. Study the history of art and traditional painting: Giovanni Boldini, John Singer Sargent. Also see the artists I mentioned in the previous post here. (Soulages, Robert Motherwell, Hans Hartung )

3. Study the modern art: Edgar Degas, Gustav Klimt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Egon Schiele.

4. Study the landscape: do as many landscape watercolors as you can. Study the classics and improve your spirit of observing things, the proportions, the depth, the perspective and the construction. Clear your color and make it juicy.

5. Study the fashion illustration: David Downton, (learn watercolor and ink illustration, modern style, simple style, composition, fresh brush strokes) René Gruau (for a decorative, simple style, excellent brush and composition) and Ohgushi (study all his work: eyes, lips, particles, floating).


david downton illustration

But today, I wanted to share with you some of David Downtons drawings and talk a little bit about his works. You will study his technique of speed brush but first, see him working:

David Downton studied at Canterbury and Wolverhampton and then moved to Brighton and began his illustration career. For 12 years he worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from advertising to illustrating and occasionally, fashion. He became known as a fashion illustrator in 1996, when the Financial Times commissioned him to draw at the couture shows. There are some rules Gary mentioned last time we met. These rules are the result of some studies he made on fashion illustrations: he calls them “secrets”.

First of all, how do you prepare your pink? The pink color for your skin is made of different colors: orange, purple, a touch of blue and a touch of green, plus water to dilute the color. Secondly, in each drawing you need 3 different brush sizes: a large one, a medium one and the small one – for details. Any color must be formed by at least 5 other colors – to have depth, to be “rich” and to be special. You will know how to paint when you will be able to draw the lines with your right hand as you do with your left one. The left hand is pure and it draws beautifully non-altered by inertia lines. The eyes will be made only by 5 brush strokes. Every stroke that you will add will make your drawing seem crowded and not fresh.

The lines must be done without breathing because breathing will alter your straight lines: they will look curved and trembled. The drawing must have no excessive lines and shape: you must keep it simple and fresh. Don’t overlap the strokes and don’t create too many layers in watercolor. It is not a study, it is a piece of art and it must be clean and crisp. At the end, you will have only 3 chances to use your dry brush (so you will need only 3 strokes with the bigger size brush) to create the hair like in this post here.

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