Drawing Fashion Flats in Illustrator:
Tips & Tricks

In process of compiling here a collection of Tutorials
on Adobe Illustrator Drawing Tools & Techniques. 
More to Come.

Basic Ruffle Skirt

How To Make A Basic Ruffle Skirt

How many ruffles to add, how close together they need to be, how narrow is the space in between each ruffle, depends on how big the circle of the skirt is –

Drawing ruffles so that they roll at hem of a full skirt – its illustration depends on “Ancient” Artistic Principle: the VANISHING POINT.


For simple rolls, ruffles coming toward you in front are wider and deeper, ruffles where turn back are narrower and less deep – by a considerable amount!

Step by Step

  1. On bottom of skirt add EVEN number of points – approx. same distance apart. Doesn’t have to be exact, we will be moving them.
  2. With (Change) Anchor Point tool, pull out handles – straight up and straight down – alternately, starting up, then down, then up, then down – keep lengths of handles approx. the same to begin with – DO NOT EXAGGERATE. We still will want the ruffles to look the same length, across hem of skirt. Handles should NEVER be any LONGER than necessary.

In the next two steps we reconfigure position of points and length of TOP handles.

  1. Using White Arrow, move Anchor Points so rolls coming forward are wider – and those with curves going back are MUCH narrower. Receding curves should be MINIMUM 1/4 as wide as those coming forward. Wider objects come forward, smaller objects recede into distance.
  2. Using White Arrow, go in on each anchor point and pull the TOP HANDLE down, so that it is MUCH shorter, top handles should be MINIUMUM 1/4 the size of bottom handles. For the moment keep the bottom handles at original length. Depths are larger coming forward, much narrower going back into distance.
  1. Using the straight Line Drawing tool, draw a line heading up the skirt at each point, alternating heights. Line on left side of wide rolls should angle right, line on right side of wide rolls should angle left. Angles are around +/-20 to 25deg, as the vanishing point softens when it crosses the hips.
  1. Select ONLY the lines (not the skirt) and apply a Tapered Stroke. This can be found in the Stroke panel. It is on the bottom, labeled Profile. For this issue, I tend to use Width Profile #4 – the one with a flat end. Taper should be AT TOP. (If Tapered Stroke gets applied in the wrong direction, there is a toggle to flip it, directly to right of Profile drop down menu.)

Adding Roundess

  1. Vanishing Points tend to flatten out over the hip. Rolls coming forward in middle of front of skirt should appear widest and deepest. As ruffles get closer to side seams, I tend to adjust them slightly, to shorten not only the back handles, but front handles as well – slightly, to make skirt look as though circling round.
  2. Ruffles right on the seam, treat a little differently. Corner points at the seam I usually nudge up 3 arrows (x 1pt), and also might add a point to move the center of the ruffle closer to the side of the skirt – so it looks as if it is rounding to the back.

Adding Shading

  1. Shading should be added from only one direction of light, for a simple skirt. A triangle can be added directly next to vanishing lines using the Rectangle drawing tool for speed. Draw out a narrow rectangle same height as vanishing line, adjust bottom points so rectangle sits up against the skirt hem, delete the left top point. Move the remaining top point directly against the tapered stroke so fits right in. Usually only add 2 or 3 patches of shading on a simple garment. There are two ways to add shading: 5-15% opacity black, or more traditionally – using a pattern for shading lines.
  1. TRANSPARENCY. Select the triangle, fill with pure black, in color picker where indicates number, write in #000000 (otherwise may come out a dark reddish grey). Go to Appearance Panel. Empty out stroke if necessary. Click on opacity, change to 15% or less – use your judgement, every printer is slightly different.
  2. PATTERN. Open up Pattern Library for Basic Line Patterns: Window>Swatch Libraries>Patterns>Basic Graphics>Basic Graphics Lines, add first stripe pattern to Fill, empty color from stroke if necessary. With Selected, open up Object>Transform>Rotate, check PATTERN ONLY (uncheck Transform Objects) – rotate MINUS 45deg. Then open up Object>Transform>Scale, check PATTERN ONLY, and scale by 50%.
  1. BACKS. Move the zipper pull to the other side if on the side, lower length of vanishing lines somewhat, as vanishing points tend to spread out further over the bum. Adjust ruffles so look a bit different. Also, remember – waists on backs generally round up, are higher than fronts – to cover the bum.