Home » Industry » Fashion CAD – 6 Top Tips for Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop

For some of you it was pushed to the back of your minds when in the midst of your design projects, and for others it was the one thing you could not stop thinking about! Either way, the lack of practice sure creeps up on you closer to deadline day!

However frustrating or difficult you may find it, the harsh truth is… it’s an absolute ‘must have’ skill in today’s industry. It is asked for in every design job advert and agencies are not interested if you don’t have it… ‘Competent use of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop’. We see this sentence over and over and for some it can be the barrier between you and your dream job!

Forgive me for the negative tone so far! This is however, what I get from lots and lots of my students, they see it as a massive drain on their time and difficult to learn. This could not be further from the truth! CAD can save so much time and it opens up amazing possibilities and opportunities to improve your portfolio and the way you design.

I promise you all now, it does not have to be the thing you dread! The difficult things at first are all but forgotten, in that amazing moment you get to step back and say… “Hell yeah! I did that!”



Design Development

CAD does not (and should never!) replace hand drawing or ‘proper drawing’ as some people may think – its a good idea to sketch out lots of silhouette ideas and details on paper first, then draw the best ones up in Illustrator to develop. Once the silhouette is drawn up in Illustrator its easy to make changes to details, features and lengths.

Once the silhouette is drawn up its easy to make changes to details, features and lengths.

Observational Drawing

As you would, when drawing/sketching; always use reference garments/images in order to get an accurate representation. Not only can you see where the creases and shadows sit, but it helps a lot when drawing tricky things like collars, hoods or skirt hems.


Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 11.37.45 pm



Use a bodice template – as long as you stick to the proportions of the template you choose, features like necklines, sleeves etc. will always be interchangeable. This saves you lots of time and allows you to build a great library of design features! Just make sure you adapt your proportions accordingly when working across womens, mens and childrenswear.


Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 11.41.53 pm


Line quality

Such a simple thing as varying the stroke thickness can make a huge difference! Why not even play around with the brushes and the width profile and get those crease lines looking realistic.


Line Quality RGB



There is nothing you can’t solve by Googling it! (well… to some extent) If you have forgotten how to do something or you cant get something to work, ask the helpful world of the Internet. It is full of experts in everything, so there is no excuse not to keep going.


Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 11.47.53 pm


And finally… Practice!!!

It goes without saying, the more you practice the better you get! The pen tool can be a cruel mistress and if you don’t keep going back to practice you can forget all that you have learnt! Try drawing around something fun, for example; a favourite cartoon character, design one of your own or follow a tutorial on youtube to learn something new. The possibilities within Illustrator and Photoshop extend much further than you can imagine! So get playing!


Let me know the things you love or hate about CAD.  I would also love to hear about any experiences you may have had, where CAD skills (or even lack of them) have had an impact on your job hunt!

To find out more about CAD for Fashion, its courses and tuition, then get in touch via the website: www.erica-godfrey.co.uk

Hi :) I am a designer, tutor and lecturer at my company; CAD for Fashion. I teach illustrator and photoshop for fashion design as well as doing freelance design and...
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