Fashion Illustration 1920-1950: Techniques and Examples


 Comprehensive and user-friendly, this volume combines four vintage instructional manuals by Walter T. Foster, the world-famous art teacher and publisher. In addition to explaining the principles of figure drawing, it provides a handy retrospective of fashions for men, women, and children from the first half of the twentieth century.
This authentic guide to vintage styles features a splendid range of apparel, from ladies' lingerie and evening gowns to men's business suits and children's play clothes. ...
See more details below
Paperback (Unabridged)
$10.94 price
(Save 15%)$12.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (4) from $6.76   
  • New (3) from $6.76   
  • Used (1) from $10.93   
Fashion Illustration 1920-1950: Techniques and Examples

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49 price
(Save 18%)$12.95 List Price


 Comprehensive and user-friendly, this volume combines four vintage instructional manuals by Walter T. Foster, the world-famous art teacher and publisher. In addition to explaining the principles of figure drawing, it provides a handy retrospective of fashions for men, women, and children from the first half of the twentieth century.
This authentic guide to vintage styles features a splendid range of apparel, from ladies' lingerie and evening gowns to men's business suits and children's play clothes. Artists at every level of experience will benefit from tips on portraying figures in motion and at rest, along with advice on accurate renditions of clothing folds and patterns. Step-by-step drawings with helpful comments explain a variety of techniques, including pencil, pen, wash, and opaque.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486474717
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 4/21/2010
  • Series: Dover Art Instruction Series
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 420,908
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 11.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Fashion Illustration, 1920â?"1950

Techniques and Examples

By Walter T. Foster

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-13580-9


How to Draw the Figure: Female Fashions

Part I

In this book I show a number of proportions that can be used. You may choose the figure you like best and apply it to all other figures. My system is flexible and you may adjust it to meet your own needs.

In order to keep up with the fashions there should be a change every three months, but that would be impractical in a book. The dresses are suggested and the draping shown. You may use any current fashion magazine or create your own designs. It will be oi great value to know that the figure also changes.

The first figure book I published in 1920, the proportions were 7¼ to 8 heads to the ankle, 1½ heads for the circles, elbows at 3 and the circles at 2 and 4, a much shorter figure. The fourth edition not quite a year old, the figures were 8 and 8½ heads to the ankle, 1½ heads for circle; elbows at 3 and the circles at 2 and 4, a fine figure for the short dresses. In this book, the fifth edition, you will find the proportions vary and the figures more slender and taller, to show the short waistline and long dresses to a better advantage. The elbows are above 3 heads in some figures.

To the teachers who are using my books in their school work Each student should practice blocking in with pencil through tissue until they memorize the proportions and formation, then practice inking in through tissue for clean cut lines. You will be surprised at the quick results you will have with the students.

Be sure that they do not make a hard, laborious job of tracing which will do them but little good. The strokes should be free and easy, with little or no attention given to the likeness.


How to Draw the Figure: Female Fashion

Part II

Join a life class and make dozens of two to five minute sketches of hands feet, ears and most of all for a good understanding of the body. You must make the clothing look like it covers a real body, so you must know anatomy.

I wish to emphasize how necessary it is to first think what you are doing—get out of the habit of scratchy lines. A few well-chosen pencil strokes will be less confusing and show through your finished work, giving crispness and freedom, whether oil, water color, pen and ink or wash

If this is followed you will develop a style all your own, will be able to visualize measurements and eliminate much of the guesswork.

To learn the use of opaque, as with transparent wash, it takes much practice, also many mistakes, but you learn by them.

While opaque is used a lot, many artists prefer transparent wash. Opaque is lampblack, ivory black or any color with Chinese white added so it is creamy, yes, about the consistency of cream. Use No. 6 watercolor brush.

The Illustrating of Men's Fashions has always been one of the most lucrative and highly specialized branches of commercial art. It requires a good understanding of the idealistic male figure and how to drape it in a style so attractive that it creates a desire to possess the suit he is wearing.

To get action into a front view figure is quite a problem even for an experienced artist, but you will note the swing of the arms (one arm in back of the body to give depth), the placement of one foot some distance back of the other, gives the appearance of action and takes care of a difficult foreshortening.

In this figure we have the left foot forward. Study this and figure on preceding page and you have two walking figures that you can use many times.

The steps in a wash drawing can be cut to few if you will think before starting. Mix up enough for your lightest wash, apply it over all parts of figure and head that is not white (leave the paper for the white as much as you can, as the white often chips off). After this dries, use same wash for next tone. For your very dark tones add more color or use out of pan. If you wish, use India ink for your solid blacks.

If you feel the need of more accurate measurements, use the edge of a large envelope or folded paper. Mark off eight heads, divide one space in halves, one into thirds, one into fourths, or any measurement of which you are in doubt. Use this for a rule and after doing it for a while all measurements needed will become a part of you and your eye will soon know a head, half-head, etc., without the measure.

On many of these figures I have left off the 2, 4, 6, 8, also the circles. This is so that you will not lean upon them too much and have to count down to know where certain heads and half-heads come. You can learn them in an hour or so, then you will always have them. It isn't difficult; try it, I dare you!

A little trick I play on myself—and it works—is to place upon my desk, just as I quit for the day, the most interesting page or drawing to be done; this gives me a good start the next morning! Another is, never to stop at a place in your work where you will hate to start again. If you do, you will try to sidetrack it and do something that is pleasant or you like to do and you will put it off for days.

Have a place to work where you will not have to put all your work and materials away. Getting them out each time has discouraged more beginners than hard problems.

Any form of work needs a change in tempo, a change in kind or a rest from it. If your work becomes tiresome, walk around the block, read a short story, work in your garden, or do something different, then-come back to it. You will find your drawing will have a new meaning as well as new interest.

The fashion figure height will vary and you should learn to make them tall or short. The main difference is in the leg length, and, of course, the arm length must correspond. Before you are conscious of it you will have your own pet height for the figures you draw and many other little mannerisms that will creep in and later be known as "Petty style" or whatever YOUR name is. Style and individuality are developed through working out your own ideas, trying different things and effects. It isn't inherited—it is up to you.

The first stages of your layout is like shorthand to a stenographer—you can read it but no one else can.

After making the first one it will bring on another idea or layout and then others, but you must set the thoughts in motion, and it cannot be done by saying, "I can't think of an idea to save my neck!" If the first idea doesn't come, look through ads in the magazines or newspapers and by the time you reach the back you will have more ideas than you can put down.

AN IDEA is one thing, developing it and bringing it to completion is quite another, and you do not do it all. When you see an ad in a national magazine if usually represents the following procedure: The advertising men meet, together with the layout artist (an artist with ideas and capable of expressing them in few lines); then the Art Director gives out lettering to Lettering Artist, ad space to Copywriter, pen drawing to another artist and, say, large drawing of overcoat ad to you. You will be given layout showing size and shape your drawing will occupy (in this case 5"×5") then you make your drawing: if in wash, about 10"×10"; if in oil, 14" × 14" or larger. By the time you are this good you will have your own pet brushes, canvas, paints and know the size at which you work best. Not only that, the ones you work for will be more conscious of your little pet whims than you are—only they will call it temperament and, of course, they also have more forceful words for it—Ha, Ha! However, if your work is in demand, you will find it pays well, is a very pleasant and interesting profession and that it is not wise to be too temperamental.

If you do not know about reproduction, the overcoat ad on the right-hand page is an 85line highlight halftone for newspaper (85 dots to the running inch or 7225 dots to the square inch). Other wash drawings in this book are I 33-line halftone screen (17,689 dots to the square inch).

Space will not permit explanation of reproduction in full, but hope to have a book out on it one of these days.


How to Draw the Figure: Male Fashion

Part III

A WORD TO THE PROFESSIONAL AND ADVANCED STUDENT. If you have trained your eye to divide and judge distances. study charts and draw line of balance free hand. Visualize circles and proceed with drawing. If you have a fixed space to place figure draw line of balance marking where You want top of head and feet to come to. Divide in half which will be four heads. Divide upper half which will be two Swing lower circle from side to side for action. See directions in my book "How to Draw the Figure." (Female fashions.)

On side view the circles are smaller. Place compass point on chin line, extend to eyebrow. This will give you half the diameter of the circle.

Do not confuse this drawing with the one on the opposite page. The outlines are made the same but you use blue crayon or blue watercolor to show where you want the tones. Blue will not photograph but it will show the engraver where you want "Ben Day" or tones. As I write this I can see a great need for a book on how to make your drawings for reproduction. I will start on this soon.

The solid blacks are made with India ink; hat, face and overcoat with transparent wash and suit with opaque wash. The original drawing was 20 inches, more than twice the size of the one you see here.

All engraving houses have charts showing the different Ben Day patterns (they give them to artists for whom they make cuts). Each pattern has a number. You make the outline drawing, using blue to show where you want tone and number to show tone (Ben Day) to be used.

Foreshortening of this sort is advanced work, even artists that have been at the work for years have trouble with it. I would suggest to learn the straight views and good blocking in first, then foreshortening will come easier to you.

The male figure changes with the styles the same as the female figure, but the changes are not so radical. It is very easy to change the figure by reducing or enlarging the circles. Some artists are making the hips smaller this year, as shown in this figure.

J. C. Leyendecker is making the figures for the House of Kuppenheimer, with broader shoulders, smaller hips and longer bodies; in doing this it makes the heads look too small and it takes a master artist to make them look good.

Never be discouraged by a spoiled drawing. Profit by it and make the next one better. Our great artists draw and re-draw until they have the drawing right, and that is the reason they are great. In using ink, oils, pastel, watercolor, or opaque, the blocking in is the same.

Hands and feet are one of the artists' greatest stumbling blocks. It will be well for you to practice the leaf shape for hands shown in my book "How to Draw the Figure: Female Fashions." Also, feet and hands that are blocked in on other pages of this book.

The pencil blocking in (or drawing) is for placement on paper, proportions and formation, and after practicing a lot you will find it is not necessary to make a detailed pencil drawing to ink in over.

Still life must look new but not give the appearance of being made with a ruler and right line pen.

It is best not to make the detailed pencil drawing but learn to ink in over your blocking in as shown on opposite page.


Excerpted from Fashion Illustration, 1920â?"1950 by Walter T. Foster. Copyright © 2010 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Page,
How to Draw the Figure: Female Fashions - Part I,
How to Draw the Figure: Female Fashion - Part II,
How to Draw the Figure: Male Fashion - Part III,

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2011

    highly recommended

    Is really nice for vintage figure drawing. Is a book that you need to have as collection.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)