Technical sketch, technical drawing, flat sketch, fashion flats, CADs – if you’ve dabbled into the world of fashion design, these terms are likely familiar.
In the fashion industry, technical sketches are must-have visual guides that prompt the process of bringing creative design concepts to life.
Whether you’re a budding freelance fashion designer, working in a fashion job, or just wanting to polish up on your technical sketching skills, this article will guide you through all things tech sketch related – from its definition and purpose to the process behind creating them.
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.
Usually seen in a tech pack, a technical sketch in fashion design is a detailed illustration of a product, like garments and accessories.
Technical drawings act as a practical guide, showcasing how a garment looks, including its silhouette, construction details, colors, and accessories.
Technical designers are usually the ones in charge of creating them but depending on the structure of specific fashion brands, it’s not unusual to see creative fashion designers also illustrating tech flats.
Flat sketches are essential tools that go beyond just helping designers, pattern makers, and manufacturers collaborate effectively.
Here’s why they’re so important:
Now, just having a technical sketch doesn’t guarantee you all the benefits above.
The truth is – in a lot of cases, a poorly drawn technical sketch can do you more harm than good. (Just like how sample-makers misinterpreted my fold lines into topstitching when I was just starting out. 🙃 And I’ve since learned a lot from then, but more on that later!)
So, it’s really important to learn how to make effective and industry level technical sketches.
These are the key elements that you should include in a technical sketch:
While technical sketches are usually made to be put in a tech pack, their use goes way beyond this.
Here’s a list of how technical drawings can be used in the fashion industry:
Fashion designers create technical drawings to visualize and communicate their clothing designs to other team members, manufacturers, or clients.
Technical sketches serve as a common visual language that helps designers, pattern makers, sample makers, and manufacturers understand and execute the design ideas accurately during apparel production.
Your sewing or pattern making books make use of technical drawings to illustrate design ideas and provide insights into garment design and construction. Case in point – you can go check out Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing – one of my fave books in garment construction and sewing.
Beyond apparel production and educational use, flat sketches are also used to promote or explain the product itself, such as in collaterals like hang tags or clothing labels. The drawings act as a visual representation of the design, offering customers a clear idea of what they are purchasing along with other nifty functions.
As a self-taught fashion designer with a graphic design background, I learned that many fashion designers – including technical designers, use a lot of time-consuming and inefficient methods when creating technical drawings.
The thing is – spending 2 hours on a single technical sketch is just NOT practical.
And I know there’s a learning curve to it, that even with my background, I had to learn the nooks and crannies of Adobe Illustrator (which is hands down still the best technical drawing software IMHO).
And if you’re in need of some inspiration, just try to guess how much time I spent on the flat drawing on the left vs the newer one on the right.
It took me a WHOLE HOUR to finish the one on the left, while the new one only took me 30 minutes. Yep, that’s right! That’s all it should take!
To be perfectly honest with you, it took looots of polishing to get to where I’m at now in tech illustration. And if you’re 2009 me who’s interested in simplifying your process and making your technical drawings look more profesh, or still telling yourself you can’t draw even if your life depended on it (trust me, YOU CAN) – I’ve got the perfect guide for you.
In my Guide on How to Create Technical Flat Sketches in Adobe Illustrator, I break it down and share practical tips I’ve learned along the way.
Now, I want to share it with designers like you to make sure you’re getting your work done in waaay less time but with waaay more accuracy.
And if you’re looking to dive deeper in the process, you can explore my Ultimate Guide on Adobe Illustrator for Fashion Design, where I cover everything you should know to create fashion flats (with no sweat!).
And no matter your background, whether you’re just starting in fashion design or a seasoned pro, there’s surely something for you in there!