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Top 7 Illustration Apps for Fashion Designers

Many fashion designers use a variety of fashion apps to bring their fashion illustrations to life. 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the good ol’ pen-and-paper method, and some designers still use it, especially for initial concept sketches. 

But if you’re looking for a more modern way to create your designs (and want fixing mistakes to be as easy as cmd+Z 😉), fashion illustration apps are the way to go. 

There are a lot of choices out there, and it’s difficult to choose just which one is the BEST for your needs.

So, in this article, I’ve rounded up the top 7 tried and tested fashion illustration apps that will make your design life so much easier.

First, I’ll give you a high-level overview of each app, what it does, and how much it costs.

Then, at the end, I’ll give you my personal opinion on the best apps based on my experience and everyone I know in fashion.

Let’s dive right in!

Why am I qualified to write about this stuff? In my 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, I’ve journeyed from being an in-house designer, starting my own brand (yep!), to growing my freelance career to $100,000+. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned along the way, I want to help fashion designers (and PDs, TDs, etc.) like you make it in the industry.

Table Of Contents

Top 7 Fashion Illustration Apps for Designers

It’s common for fashion designers to use a couple of illustration apps – or at the very least one app for technical sketches (a.k.a. flat sketches) and another one for creative illustrations or just doodling random ideas, so you’ll see a variety of both in the list.

If you’re working for a fashion brand, these applications might be available at your disposal, but if you’re a freelance fashion designer (or technical designer, fashion illustrator, etc.), you’re probably paying for your own apps. 

So, I made sure to include both paid apps (but affordable!) and FREE apps. 

Drum roll please…

1. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is an industry level illustration software widely used by fashion designers creating vector and graphic illustrations like technical drawings and patterns.

Although it’s a pricier option on this list, its versatility and integration with other Adobe tools makes it a top choice in the industry. 

Most fashion brands and jobs in the industry require proficiency in Illustrator.

Compatibility: Mac and Windows, available for PC and tablets

Price: Subscription-based with various plans starting from $20.99/month for PC, $9.99 for tablet

2. Affinity Designer

Another well-known vector graphics software, Affinity Designer is a fashion design app that offers professional-level tools without breaking the bank. 

Affinity Designer’s uses are diverse – from fashion drawings, technical sketches to creating detailed patterns and textures. Despite being a more basic app (compared to AI), Affinity Designer is known as a great alternative for designers who work both with Photoshop and Illustrator simultaneously. 

And the best part is, you can purchase Affinity Designer on a one-time payment. So, if subscription-based payment is not your jam, then Affinity Designer might be a good option.

Compatibility: Mac and Windows, available for PC and tablets

Price: One-time payment of $69.99 for PC, $18.49 for tablet

3. CorelDRAW

Photo from CorelDRAW website

CorelDRAW is another great professional vector graphics software trusted by fashion designers for vector drawing, layout, and various design work. It offers a wide range of tools, making it suitable for fashion designers who need to create tech flats, fashion illustrations, pattern design, etc.

Compatibility: Mac and Windows, available for PC and tablets

Price: Subscription-based with various plans starting from $36.58/month

4. Repsketch

Photo from Repsketch website

If you’re tired of always having to create your sketches from scratch, Repsketch is a cool platform that helps fashion designers create technical sketches easily. It houses an extensive collection of editable technical sketches, fashion illustrations, and CAD drawings that designers can easily edit and customize online.

Compatibility: Mac and Windows PC

Price: FREE for web only

5. Pret-a-Template

Photo from Pret-a-Template website

Another awesome platform that helps fashion designers get the work done with ease is Pret-a-Template. This app offers hundreds of templates including garments, shoes, bags, jewelry, and other accessories that designers can easily use as a base when creating any fashion drawings.

Compatibility: iPad and iPhone

Price: FREE (with in-app purchases)

6. Procreate

Procreate is another great digital illustration app that lets you create detailed hand sketches right on your iPad or iPhone.

This app is known for its user-friendly interface and massive library of customizable brushes. Procreate is great for hand sketching ideas, fashion illustrations, concept sketches, mood boards, even technical illustrations, if you’re up for it!

Compatibility: iPad and iPhone

Price: One-time payment of $9.99 for iPad, $5.99 for iPhone

7. Sketchbook

If you’re on the hunt for a FREE app for sketching, then, Sketchbook (also known as Autodesk Sketchbook) is a good option.

The app has a good selection of customizable brushes and tools for fashion designers to create digital sketches, concept drawings, fashion illustrations etc.

Compatibility: Apple and Android, available for phone and tablets

Price: FREE

What’s the Best Illustration App for Fashion Designers?

To cut it short – Adobe Illustrator is still the #1 software used professionally in the fashion industry. So, if you want to work in fashion as a freelancer or employee, you need to know Adobe Illustrator. Industry level – it’s what brands use, and that’s what will be required. 

While I personally stick with Illustrator for fashion design, here’s what I know about other illustration software options after teaching Illustrator for 10+ years and interacting with thousands of fashion designers around the world.

Corel Draw does have some popularity in the UK, but worldwide, Adobe Illustrator is still the industry standard. 

Applications such as Affinity Designer, Procreate, Sketchbook, Repsketch, and Pret-a-Template are great for concept work and are also great alternative apps for those who prefer shorter learning curves (and are lighter on the pocket 😉). 

But the thing about using more affordable (or free) apps that are less widely used is that they are suited for designers who do not need to work collaboratively with a client or team members that might need to edit the work. 

Basically, if you’re using fashion illustration apps for personal purposes or for files that no one else needs to use, you can pick whichever suits your needs (and your budget!) best.

At the end of the day, if you want to work professionally or need to share files with other industry people, you NEED to use AI. It’s a very powerful and robust software that you can use to do a lot of cool things with repeating patterns, pattern brushes, and more to create realistic and accurate sketches which are required for tech packs and production. 

Compared to all the other options though, it does have a steep learning curve. But OFC I got you covered!

You can go check out my free AI Guide – Ultimate Guide to Adobe Illustrator for Fashion Design where I cover all that you need to know on Adobe Illustrator for fashion design.

Creating Beautiful Fashion Illustrations

The truth is – creating stunning fashion illustrations goes beyond simply having the best apps and tools within reach. It takes continuous practice and LOTS of dedication. 

Great fashion illustrators have put in hundreds of hours of practice to master those skills. Despite the common misconception, fashion illustration is a skill that can be LEARNED, and not just purely talent.

So, whether you’re using free basic fashion illustration apps or advanced apps don’t be afraid to sketch away!


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