How to Use Copic Markers in Fashion Design

Holly Nichols | June 26, 2017

Learn how to apply the techniques of fahion illustration using Copic Markers, with the support of professional Holly Nichols!


"This fashion week, I have observed many Spring/Summer collections featuring a lot of sheer, layered, garments. In observance of this trend, I have compiled a tutorial which describes techniques I use to achieve the illusion of a sheer, semi-transparent fabric using Copic Sketch Markers, Multiliners, and Opaque White Paint." -- Holly Nichols

Materials Used: 

  • Smooth Bristol Paper
  • 2H Pencil
  • Black Colored Pencil 
  • Water
  • Small detail brush
  • Copic Sketch Markers: E00, E11, B39, R00, R11, E70, E71, RV95, E47, E49
  • Copic Multiliners (Black) 0.03, 0.3
  • Copic Opaque White Paint Pot 



 Step 1: Light pencil sketch


I start all my figures with a very light pencil sketch so it doesn't smudge the graphite when I apply color. I have used a 2H pencil here to sketch the figure as well as my ideas for the garment design. This step takes a lot of sketching and erasing while I work out all my ideas. The vision of this design was a draped gown with a sheer embellished robe. 

Step 2: The skin


I sketch the skin with a layer of E00. After the first layer is applied, I create shadows (in most of my sketches, my source of light is coming from the right, so shadows are seen on the left) with another layer of E00. To add a little more depth, I apply a bit of E11 over the existing shadows. 

Step 3: The gown


To sketch the draped gown, I apply a flat layer of B39 with the chisel edge of the marker, which I find easier to use when covering a large area. Similar to the way I created shadows with the skin, I reapply a second layer of B39 to create more depth. 

Step 4: The robe


I begin with the color for the robe. I apply a first layer of R00 with the brush tip. My strokes are light but long. At this stage, I try to keep the application gentle and move my hand as if I am "feathering" with the marker. This light application helps give the illusion of transparent material. 


Step 5: Darken the folds

I add R11 to darken the areas where the fabric folds or creases. I want to keep the majority of the robe the lighter shade, but I add shadows at the edges and where the fabric turns. After I have applied R11, I apply E70 right over it. Again, I am keeping consistent with the "feathering" motion. (Side note: It may be helpful to practice this motion on a piece of scrap paper before trying it on the actual drawing. After a while, your hand will become used to making this motion). 


Over the first two shadow colors on the robe, I will apply E71 sparingly to certain areas. The areas I have added E71 include the edges, creases, and a bit in the gap behind her legs where the robe falls behind her. 


Step 6: Embellishments

Now comes what I consider the fun part, where I begin all the embellishments. In this step, I have used the brush tip of E71 to apply a stylized floral pattern. The flowers are meant to lift off the sheer fabric. I want them to look as if they have fallen on the garment, so most of the volume of the floral pattern will fall at the bottom, but I have left some trickling up toward the top. 


To indicate that the fabric is sheer over the top of the figure (where it falls over the blue dress) I will apply Copic Opaque White mixed with water with a small round brush. I have used about 3 parts water and one part paint. Just at the edge of the sheer fabric, I have drawn a very thin line of just the opaque paint (without water mixed in). 


Step 7: Opaque white

While the paint is drying, I will return to the floral embellishing. I apply RV95 over what I already have to add a deeper value (this will be important in later steps, when I add opaque white over the floral embellishments. The darker the background, the better the opaque white stands out). After I apply the RV95, I apply a very small amount of B39 over the flowers and have it act as their outline. It is important not to use too much, because the robe should not look weighed down. 


Step 8: The hair

I have applied E47 to her hair. I use the brush tip almost always when doing hair. Again, I use my feathering motion technique. Image


I apply E49 to the roots of the hair and toward her neck to create a shadow. In this step I have also added more shadows to her skin, using another layer of E11 and also introducing E13. 


Step 9: Final details

I have begun to apply details, such as lips with the brush tip of RV95, more shadows to the robe using E71, and I have given her shoes using B39. Notice that I am pulling a lot of the colors I have already used into these details- I find that it helps unite the piece. 


For me, this is the step that starts to finally bring it all together. I use Copic Multiliners 0.03 and 0.3 to outline the skin, face, and hair. For her skin, I use 0.03 to outline most areas, and provide a heavier line using 0.03 to the left side of her body. When drawing the face, I use 0.03 entirely. This takes a lot of concentration. I spend a lot of time making sure the face is done with very intentional movements. When doing the hair, I outline with a mix of both 0.03 and 0.3. I sweep the outline past the color to give the effect of windblown hair. To outline the garments, I use a black colored pencil. I prefer the clothing to have less of a strong outline than her skin, face, and hair, which is why I use the pencil and not the multiliners. 


I step back, glance over the whole sketch, and see what needs last minute attention. For this sketch, and many others, this means adding a bit more value with shadows, highlights, and outlines. Finally, I sign my work with the 0.3 multiliner, and the drawing is complete!

If you want to see more of Holly's work, check out her website and Etsy store. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!


Topics: Illustration, Copic

Holly Nichols
Holly Nichols on June 26, 2017

Holly graduated from Endicott College with a BFA in Studio Art. She merged her love of fashion with art using her beloved artist markers. Her work is sold internationally and she works with corporate clients to create fashion and beauty illustrations for campaigns, live-sketch events, and more from her studio just south of Boston, MA