Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Sewing, Theory | Comments Off on Making a Croquis

Today, we’re going to talk about croquis. In French, the word croquis (pronounced croa-key) means “sketch,” and in fashion, it’s a simple lineart of an individual that’s used as a base for design. In short, it’s the hanger that a fashion designer uses to hang their clothing ideas on.

croquis to design

There are plenty of croquis (the plural of croquis is croquis) available for free all over the internet. In fact, the site I get most of mine off of is Designers Nexus. You have to sign up for a free account to get access to them, but there are hundreds available in all different shapes and sizes.

The only problem with them is that they’re incredibly idealized. As you can see in the above picture, the fashion croquis has very long limbs and a perfect hourglass shape that very few women have. She also has a flat stomach and no wayward bulges. In other words, she’s great for designing clothing for “the perfect woman,” but seriously, what’s the point in calling anyone perfect if she’s not you?

When I was doing all my research last summer, I came across a book that detailed how to make a croquis from your own form, and I thought it was quite brilliant. Now, the difference in my method versus that of that author (I swear, someday, I’m going to find my notes from that time and properly cite my sources) is that I’m going to show you how to make a croquis digitally. The reason I think that making a digital croquis is so important is because you can always save it to your computer and re-print it if you lose it. You’re welcome to follow the instructions I lay out by hand instead of the computer, if you’re more comfortable.

The graphics program I’m going to be using is named GIMP. It’s a 100% free graphics program that does pretty much everything that Photoshop does, but…well…free. I’m a big fan of the free things. You can download the program here.

First, you’re going to want to find a blank wall in your house somewhere.

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This may be more difficult than it sounds.

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Find a large piece of white paper and tape it to the wall so that you have a blank background. I used some of the newsprint I use for making my patterns.

2014-09-11 12.55.30Okay, Internet, this is the point where I put a picture of myself in all my “big girl” glory up and I trust you to not make nasty comments. Luckily, I have moderation on all comments, but seriously, just don’t.

Stand in front of your piece of paper facing straight out. I think it’s optimal to put one hand on your hip because that makes designing sleeves easier. It also makes your form a little more interesting for clothing design. I used a timer camera on my iPad, but you could also have someone else take your picture.

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This picture’s a real mess. We’ll clean it up soon.

Okay, onto the part where we digitize it. Upload the picture to your computer and open it in GIMP.

1Open the Colors (sorry, it’s in American spelling) dialogue, and under the “Auto” subheading, choose “White Balance.” This will make the whites in your photo more white.

2Then, open the Image dialogue, and under the “Mode” subheading choose “Grayscale.” This will make it easier to pick out the edges of your croquis so much easier. Also, it makes it easier to trace the edges of your form, if you choose to make your croquis manually.

Choose the Rectangle Marquis tool from the upper left corner of your Toolbox.  By default, you can choose this tool by pressing (R) on your keyboard. Click and drag a box around your body. GIMP has this great option where you can actually adjust the edges up and down and side to side if you need to.

4Under the Image dialogue, choose “Crop to Selection.” This will cut off all of the parts of the picture that aren’t your body.

5Okay, let’s take a detour for those of you who want to hand-draw your croquis. From the File Dialogue, choose “Export As…” so that you can save the cropped picture.


Look a circle! Can you tell that I did this at two different times? Sorry about that.

Using the “Export As…” function allows you to save the image in the most common image formats. Type your file’s new name followed by the extension “.jpg” (the period is really important).

7To print this photo, double-click it to see it in the Windows Photo Viewer. (If you have a Mac, I have no idea. Someone tell me how to do that).

8Choose the “Print” function to open the Print Options window.

9The Print options window will have a series of options. Choose “Full Page Photo” from the right column.


Just pretend that GIMP isn’t in the background here.

Uncheck the box that says “Fit picture to frame” which will fit your picture to go all the way across the piece of paper.

11From here, you can print out the picture and follow the next steps by hand instead of on the computer. It’s up to you.

In GIMP, open a new layer by clicking the piece of paper in the Layers window. By Default, this layer will be set to “Transparent.” You can move layers around by dragging them up and down in the Layers window. Make sure this new layer is above the current layer. While you’re at it, create a second white layer that’s under the picture.

The rest of this tutorial will rely on using the Paths tool. By default, you can access this tool by pressing (B) on your keyboard. The paths tool is a pen that allows you to draw a line that is able to be dragged and curved to meet your needs. In the below picture you can see a path I drew to follow the curve of my neck. The circled box is an “anchor” point. If you press your Control button on your keyboard and drag that anchor back to the point it originates from, the curve will stay the same, and the next path will come out straight. If you drag the other anchor, you can adjust the curve. This will take some practice.

13Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to use the Paths tool to draw one continuous path around a section of your body. Make sure the transparent layer is highlighted in the Layers window while you do this.


I do not try to make my hands look like hands. They are simply polygons.

Once you’ve reached a stopping point, open the Edit dialogue and choose “Stroke Path…”

15This will open up a new window with many options. Don’t change any of them except for the “Line width.” It’s default, 6 pixels, is far too wide for this use. I change it to 3.0 pixels.

16Once you press “Stroke,” the program will draw a line along the path you created earlier.

18If you’d like to see how this looks without your picture in the way, click the icon that looks like an eye next to the layer that has your picture on it. Pro-tip, if the line disappears with your picture, you didn’t highlight the transparent layer before you started drawing your path. Told you!

19Keep drawing paths until you’ve outlined the whole body. I made about 3 or 4 paths to do this. You can do as many or as few as you’re comfortable.


My thighs totes touch in real life, but this works for now.

With the image layer turned on, mark off your chest, waist, and hips. I used an advanced technique to draw all three of these at once, but you should draw them one at a time if this is your first foray into the world of graphics programs.

22Stroke all three of these paths as well.

23Draw a curved mark for the neck.

24Draw a straight line down the centre of the body. You can move the anchors by clicking and dragging them, if they aren’t straight. 25Mark from the centre of the shoulder to the high point of the bust then to along the high points on the hips and waist as well. Do this on both sides

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Finally, using the Ellipse Select Tool (Default [E]), draw an oval around your face. Again, you can adjust the selection to make it fit a little bit better.

28Choose “Stroke Selection…” under the Edit dialogue. It should already be set to a 3 pixel stroke width from before, but if it’s not, change it to 3 pixels.

Your final view should look like a wireframe version of you.

30You can now save and print it just like we did earlier with the photograph.

Now you can design clothes that will look amazing for YOU!

Did you learn something from this post? Consider:

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