Designing clothes for characters

Discussion in 'Creative Discussion' started by NiinaEveliina, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. NiinaEveliina

    NiinaEveliina 4-Stripe White Belt

    So I'm really bad at this. I'd love to hear your tips and tricks on designing the clothes/style for your characters. How do you do it?

    Do you look for some designers for inspiration or perhaps other artists? Do you have some set of rules for each characters preference/style? Or do you even bother to think of this stuff?
    Cleo-San likes this.
  2. JamieMe

    JamieMe Administrator Staff Member

    I guess this really depends on your comic, but because mine take place in alternate versions of the real world it really is down to what you'd see out and about.
    J. Flores likes this.
  3. Infected Blood

    Infected Blood Blue Belt

    I mostly have already something in mind and then use the almighty Google to find images for that. But in some cases, I just improvise, especially for clothes/designs that are crystal clear in my mind.
  4. SpaceTurtleArt

    SpaceTurtleArt 4-Stripe White Belt

    Google image search + fashion blogs + Pinterest + random cool outfits I see online.

    Basically, build up a crapton of reference photos, then mix and match as needed.
  5. Cleo-San

    Cleo-San Blue Belt

    First off: I'm bad at this too XD My tipps and tricks is: Asking your friends, show them what you've done to your chara- I mean: What you've designed for them and ask for their opinion. It might be just a small detail you hear but it can trigger an arsenal of ideas <3

    otherwise I agree with @SpaceTurtleArt on google images or pinterest (plz note that pinterest can be a really bad trap. Once you are on this site it's almost impossible to leave because there is SO MUCH AWESOME STUFF! XD)
    NiinaEveliina likes this.
  6. Anna Landin

    Anna Landin Purple Belt

    References and research are your friend! Even if you're drawing a comic set in the plain ol' regular world, street-fashion blogs are a really good resource if you're drawing a blank. There are plenty of fashion-blogs - contemporary, historical, based on tv-show costumes, etc., etc - on tumblr, so follow a bunch of those to keep yourself in the loop

    Some people use pinterest to collect their findings - I'm a bit more old-school and save it to an external harddrive, sorted by theme/era:
    (some of them have subfolders)

    (some of those subfolders have subfolders)

    (it's folders all the way down)

    Having all that visual research - and try to make sure you find a whole bunch of different sources and versions of what you're looking for; drawing from more than one source means you won't get stuck just copying something you've found - means you've got a good library of images to flip through when you need them.
    Tait, Shaneoid, DMBrigman and 5 others like this.
  7. Cleo-San

    Cleo-San Blue Belt

    I'd LOVE to have one day time to simply browse through your folders! O_O
  8. ZTG

    ZTG 4-Stripe White Belt

    Everyone has already mentioned researching clothes and such, so I won't add that. But, what I WILL add is looking for a theme or motif for your character. For my comic, FON, a lot of characters and areas are based off of music I love listening to, so their appearances are often based off the songs they take inspiration from, a lot of this being from either the lyrics, or the album art.

    With Dwight, most of his character inspiration takes from bands like Kansas, Whitesnake and Elvis, so his color scheme reflects some of their album covers, his shoes are based off of Blue Swede shoes ((like the song)), and his biker motif is based off of Whitesnake's song, "Here I go Again"

    Freak's based heavily off the band DC Talk, Fleetwood Mac, and Johnny Cash, so their music inspired how his appearance would look. DC Talk's album, Jesus Freak, inspired the new trench coat color, taking inspiration from the album art. Freak's trench coat design came from Johnny Cash's album art of "American Recordings", as well as Fleetwood Mac's album, "Rumors"

    Toma's outfit mainly came from the various country music she's based off of, namely the Daisy Dukes ((from the song, Honky Tonk Badonkadonk by Trace Adkins)), and the red boots from the musical, Footloose.

    Point is, sometimes researching clothes isn't enough, sometimes you gotta find something else to help get you an idea for how the character will look like. Is it an animalistic motif? An occupation? A culture? Music? A theme brings the fashion together, so be sure to look for one


    Attached Files:

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  9. SpaceTurtleArt

    SpaceTurtleArt 4-Stripe White Belt

    Yeah, I wanted to add a little bit more to this-- looking at historical reference is good, but you probably need to do some basic building-block work before that. However, it's not really that hard if you start to think about it. People dress in different ways to convey something about themselves. So when you're picking out an outfit for your character, what do you want to convey about their personality and attitude?

    If they're a casual person, they may well wear basic jeans, a t-shirt, and some sneakers. Someone who is more formal might prefer dress pants and a polo shirt, or a polo shirt and khakis (for guys), or a skirt, nice blouse and heels (for women). If they're very into fashion, they might have more variety, a lot of accessories, and have designer clothes (this is where fashion magazines are super useful). Older folks might be wearing styles that are several decades out of date, since those are what they grew up with and are more comfortable in.

    Then there's color choices-- someone who wears bright neons or has dyed hair is going to come across differently than someone in full-on goth clothes and makeup. Personally, I like to pick 2-3 colors for a character to be their motif, and make sure they always have something of that color on them.

    Probably the best exercise you can do is to watch movies and pay attention to the costuming choices they've given the different characters, because movies have *entire departments* of people to convey very precise messages about the characters, often in subtle ways. (If you google "MCU costume analysis," there's a lot of good options out there.) A character wearing too-big clothes will look youthful and harmless. Shabby clothes or cheap fabrics can convey a lack of money -- or more specifically, clothes that LOOK rich but have cheap fabrics show a character who is trying to appear wealthier than they are. All that kinda stuff. It's not something I've studied in depth, but there are whole books on costume design and character design that are great resources.
    DMBrigman and NiinaEveliina like this.
  10. Mischy

    Mischy White Belt

    Figuring out what group your character fits in and really knowing their personality helps. You can also think about a key feature you want to emphasize. Some of mine are graffiti artists so I can look for street/hiphop/urban style clothing. So my character is a graffiti artist, has simple taste, and I really like to highlight her long curly hair. I have her in a basic hoodie, jeans, and some converse which doesn't distract from the hair so much - no accessories or anything and I can do variations of this. Her favorite color is purple so sometimes I have her in purple. One of my other characters is more "pretty" and feminine and likes pink colors so I tend to have her in skirts and heels.

    I don't really get too much into the symbolic stuff it makes me overthink and over design :confused: What do they like? What are their hobbies? Maybe they're a gamer and they're type that doesn't think about their clothing so much so they just wear a shirt and jeans, maybe a graphic tee sometimes. Are they into makeup? More likely they're into accessories and fashion trends. What's their culture or maybe they like another culture? Sometimes I use Japanese fashion trends like fairy kei or harujuku because that's what my character likes. I have folders for each character so if I come across a pic that I feels matches them I save it. Sometimes I save those color scheme pics or mood boards too. :p
    NiinaEveliina likes this.
  11. AnitaComics

    AnitaComics White Belt

    I've heard wonders of mood boards. It's basically a gathering of what everyone already suggested: it serves to structure the character, and helps building their appereance, too. Basically a collectin of every image that reminds you of that character, being it an outfit, a palette, a sunset, whatever. Just through researching and collecting the character should take a more definite form in your mind; not limiting yourself to clothes helps a lot. Character design stays in their posture, gesture, hairdos, and all
  12. Devika

    Devika 4-Stripe White Belt

    Pinterest is a savior. I pin everything relevant to a character to their own board, and then base designs off that. It's especially helpful in the early stages before you have the world and other characters' designs down, in order to stay on track and keep the visuals sorted.
    DMBrigman and NiinaEveliina like this.
  13. DMBrigman

    DMBrigman 4-Stripe White Belt

    I'm a big fan of Pinterest, but I also take inspiration from Tumblr fashion blogs, and Instagram. I really try to use costuming to add to the overall characterization of each character. As @SpaceTurtleArt mentioned people choose the clothes they do in order to "appear" a certain way to the outside world. I really think about the choices the characters make, in addition to culture, money, etc. anything that would influence how they dress.

    For instance, one character has been seen basically wearing the same outfit, one of the only ones to do so, and that is because he doesn't have the financial resources to own lots of clothes. His coat also has straps as closures and not buttons that could get lost and have to be replaced. This is in contrast to another character who is a rich kid, so he's been in a different outfit basically every time you see him and his outfits have extraneous decorative buttons, and seaming details. I've done this for each character from their hairstyle, makeup, grooming, and shoes! I don't know if anyone will ever notice :)
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  14. Shaneoid

    Shaneoid Purple Belt

    I have to admit, designing the civvies for my characters touches my inner gay. I'm actually trying to get my head around some characters who work their abilities through clothing a la Final Fantasy X-2 :D I reckoned at the start, my characters would have a lot of pre runs of their own merchandising ranges, so you see characters like Damoizelle and Power Pawz in their own clothing lines. My biggest problem has been getting fabric folds nailed, it's still not my forté. I'd say if I had a fashion conscious character I'd scour the internet for ideas, but if they're your average Joe on the street, it's not hard to come up with a look if you look around you.
    DMBrigman likes this.

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