How To: Make a Christmas Fashion Illustration

by Cass Art Student Ambassador

Festive fashion may have a bad reputation, but Fashion student and Cass Art Ambassador, Livia Pinheiro, knows how to keep the colder season stylish with her elegant snowflake-inspired designs. She is giving us some inside knowledge into how to MAKE CHRISTMAS, and create beautifully simple Christmas fashion illustrations.

Watercolour pencils are a great starting tool for anyone looking to create simple and effective fashion illustrations. The ability to blend tones, experiment with finishes and combine with different mediums gives any budding designer the scope to explore their ideas. It may even sew the seeds for beautiful future garments.

When it comes to using watercolour pencils there are no big secrets: it's really quite simple. However, some of the tips and techniques shown in this article may help you achieve a cleaner and more colourful result.


Watercolour pencils

Medium-sized soft paintbrush 

Small-sized soft paintbrush

Watercolour paper (recommend 300 GSM for a textured finish)


Fineliner or hard pencil (optional)

Start off by drawing the general idea of your piece with light hues, such as yellow, light pink and sea green. After you have completed the base outline, start to add the stronger tones on top, to create layers of colour. Use different pencil strokes, using the side of the pencil for a smooth effect, or press more heavily and create cross-hatching for darker, shaded areas. Remember that when you add water the colours will blend, so keeping within the same colour palette will result in a smoother gradient effect. 

Once you are happy with your drawing, it is time to start adding water. Wet your brush carefully, making sure that is does not become too saturated; dip your brush into the water once, and squeeze it out lightly before applying to the paper. At this stage I recommend using a medium-sized, soft brush. Don't worry too much about small details, and instead focus on creating a surface which you can work onto.

Notice how the colours blend as you guide them with your brush, and use the water to create subltle shades of your chosen colours. Different brush strokes can replicate different types of clothing; for example dabbing your brush repeatedly onto the paper can mirror the appearance of heavy fabrics such as fur or wool, whereas light, extended strokes can be used for flowing materials such as satin or silk.

 TOP TIP: Leave a space on your paper to experiment with colour mixing, before applying to your actual drawing - it can help to test ideas, and may also end up as part of your piece.

Using a thick watercolour paper allows you to add multiple layers to your illustration. When the base is dry, you can start to work into your drawing by adding new colours and marks with the watercolour pencils.

To create detail, use a fine brush or leave the pencil marks un-blended. In this case, I have left some of the more delicate patterns as dry pencil, such as the snow flakes on the model's jumper. Further detail and varied texture can be created with a hard pencil or fineliner. Keeping finishing details fine will prevent these marks from dominating the subtle watercolour strokes.

Now your Christmas jumper design is complete all there is left to do is sit in front of the fire and get knitting!

Feeling inspired?

Follow Livia's work here.

Shop for watercolour pencils and other drawing materials online at Cass Art.

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