Each month, our resident book club reviews a new must-read volume that will help to educate, inform, entertain, and thrill you.
This issue, Rhiannon D’Averc gets stuck into the tutorials provided in fashion illustrator Francesco Lo Iacono’s new book – Watercolor Fashion Illustration: Step-by-step techniques for illustrating fashion and figures in watercolors.
The first thing I want to say about Watercolor Fashion Illustration is this: it’s a beautiful, beautiful book.
We first worked with Francesco Lo Iacono back in Issue 15, when we featured his fashion illustrations on our cover. Since then, it’s been rewarding to see him continue to go from strength to strength, a journey that has culminated in this new book. Intended as a guide to getting started with fashion illustration, it takes us through the very basics of watercolour usage so that even a total novice could pick it up and expect great results.
Francesco’s own illustrations are scattered throughout the pages like jewels waiting to be found, each of them detailed and gorgeously coloured. Even looking at them is inspiring, although a total beginner may also feel a sense of trepidation.
After all, it’s a hard act to follow, and you may start to think that you’ll never be able to achieve something quite so amazing.
However, the tone of the book is very reassuring. From the beginning, the author tells us everything we need to know about watercolour illustration. We begin by going through the necessary tools, a guide which covers exactly what you’ll need to have on hand to start your career as a fashion illustrator. Francesco recommends specific types of brush, explains the pros and cons of pans vs tubes for your paint, and also gives lots of handy tips and tricks along the way for those hacks that professional artists have already figured out.
Next, we learn all about the basic techniques of watercolour. How to get paint down on the page to achieve specific effects, and which brushes to use in which scenarios. How water can be used as a major part of your arsenal to create lots of different results. How to take care of your brushes and ensure that they last as long as possible.
With that covered and some basic exercises completed, we start to move on to the more serious techniques. Understanding colour, light, and shading seems much easier after following the instructions in the book. Francesco also gives some insight into what kind of work fashion illustrators can get, and who their clients are – alongside examples of his own work for the likes of Vogue Japan, Ted Baker, and GQ Mexico.
In order to create a fully-realised character in each illustration, Francesco does not skip from the basics straight to the depiction of clothing.
First, he explains to us everything we need to know about painting faces and hair, and how to express movement or make the images more dynamic through the use of poses. This is combined with an understanding of fabric and texture to help us understand how to create an illustration which is more than just a flat rendering of the pattern on clothing, but really brings the essence and vibe of the look.
Now, finally, we move on to the tutorials. Yes, that’s right – all of this content, which is invaluable in itself, is only the lead-up to the main event! There are a series of twenty tutorials contained within the rest of the book, graded from the most simple all the way up to the most complex.
In each case, there is a larger example of the finished image you are aiming for, helping you to see what your project should look like once complete. There are also step by step images showing how you will develop from the first pencil sketch, to the first layer of paint, onwards through the layers of detail and colour until you finish with those last touches. Alongside these are written instructions so you can understand precisely what to do in each step.
Even the colours of the paint are picked out for you, along with explanations of which brush or tool to use in each case. And, best of all for fashion fans, the tutorials are all based on actual looks and products produced by top fashion houses such as Bottega Veneta, Miu Miu, Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, and more.
From the first illustration of a simple bag, you’ll move through the steps until you are able to produce a whole scene: a model wearing items of clothing from an editorial, along with the full background.
As an illustration teacher for several years, Francesco clearly has an understanding of where beginners need to be guided in order to build up a portfolio of not just their own work, but also of the techniques and tricks that will help them improve the fastest. And the journey doesn’t end when you have finished the last of the tutorials, as you might easily expect!
To conclude, Francesco explains how to digitise your work, and how to use mixed media for even more stunning effects. He also explains his techniques for working in a live environment, such as at a fashion show, and how you can go on to develop your own personal style.
Overall, I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in fashion illustration. Whether as a career or simply a hobby, there is so much information contained here that you will get an unbelievable amount of sheer value out of it. It’s packed with handy tips and tricks that are worth their weight in gold, the kind of instructions that only someone who has a lot of experience in the medium can give.
With Christmas coming up, this would be a perfect gift to anyone in your life who is a little bit artsy – or for yourself to kickstart a new hobby as we move into January! Best of all, we’re giving you an opportunity to win a copy of the book for yourself, so don’t miss out on that – the details are coming right up…
Watercolor Fashion Illustration by Francesco Lo Iacono: published by David & Charles, RRP £15.99, on sale now.
Enter the giveaways below on our Instagram* for a chance to win your own copy of Francesco Lo Iacono’s Watercolor Fashion Illustration Book!
- REVIEW GIVEAWAY
A FREE copy will be given to any lucky participant
How to enter:
- Follow @londonrunwaymag, @franloiacono & @dandcbooks on Instagram.
- Like our giveaway post!
- Tag a friend!
2. PRINT COPY GIVEAWAY
3 FREE copies will be given at random to issue 68 print orders!
How to enter:
- Purchase a copy of issue 68
Enter both to increase your chances of being the lucky winner!
You can also purchase a copy of this book on https://www.francescoloiacono.com/book if you wanted to get one as a gift for friends and family or just cannot wait to own your own copy!
*More details will be available on our Instagram posts regarding the giveaways.