Laura Hickman introduces Graphic Pencils to the catwalk!

I’ve been using graphic pencils since my first tin purchased for Art GCSE some 20 years ago so I was excited when Derwent asked if I’d like to try out their newly launched Graphic collection.  At first sight I loved the newly designed tins featuring Alexis Marcou‘s artwork and the elegant matte finish of the pencils themselves.

As a fashion illustrator my work varies from loose, expressive colour illustrations to precise, detailed drawings of garments used during the manufacturing process. Graphic pencils are perfect for these clean, highly detailed illustrations with a full range of tonal values.

I began by creating a test sheet of each grade of pencil from 9B to 9H, this is a great way to test the values of each pencil which I keep for future reference when choosing which pencils to use for a new drawing.

My subject of choice was the Alexander McQueen SS14 Victorian puckering dress – a signature style revisited each season, the dress is a jacquard knit giving the illusion of intricate lace work.

Images: Alexander McQueen

For this illustration I chose to use a 250gsm Bristol board. A bright white, smooth paper, well suited to detailed work which results in clean, crisp drawings which scan well. I used an A3 sheet – a must to replicate the fine detail in this garment.

After sourcing high resolution reference images of the knit, I began by sketching an outline and the rough lace pattern in a light 2H which is easily erasable. I then lightly shaded selected areas which would eventually add depth under the stitches.

Switching to a B pencil I added rough details and cross hatching to suggest the lace mesh. I then used a 2B to shade in larger, darker areas of the dress which was layered on top of the detail, then a 4B to neatly define the darker areas of stitches and outlines.

You can see in this image how the 2H and B pencil work creates a light map of the lace design to build upon. Finally, I used a 6B for the darkest areas, this pencil provides a great coverage for densely stitched areas and opaque fabrics.

After 10 hours drawing I still have a beautifully clean sheet which scans easily, this saves additional time spent cleaning up the illustration before it is sent to clients.

Laura Hickman, Fashion Illustrator & Graphic Designer