There are many genres when it comes to fashion. Among them we have modern fashion, avant-garde fashion, historical fashion, and of course, my favorite─ fantasy fashion. Today, I will be discussing my tips and tricks when designing the outfit for my fantasy characters.
The main reason why I have chosen fantasy genre is because you can take creative liberty with it. You are free to mix and match any fashion genre for your fantasy characters as long as it stays in concept of your fantasy universe. Another reason why I have chosen this particular genre, aside from the fact I love designing fantasy outfit, is because fantasy fashion is something that people like to give their original characters to wear but have difficulty to expand upon. With modern fashion, there are a lot of sources that we can use as our reference (pictures of Instagram influencers, celebrities, clothing stores, #OOTD) but there’s no exact reference or right or wrong when it comes to designing fantasy fashion.
I've done a video for this tutorial as well, do check it out!
The Basic: Concept and Model
SETTING YOUR CONCEPT
The most important thing before designing the outfit for your character is of course, to set the concept first so you can stick through with it. You cannot just create a medieval fantasy princess and put her in a flannel shirt and khaki pants.
Do some research first on what concept you would like to establish on your fantasy characters. Mix and match different fashion genre up to your creativity─ historical East Asian fashion meet with modern fashion, futuristic fantasy with retro scheme, conservative or revealing, and more! After all, fantasy design is all about your imagination! What important is to stick with your concept throughout.
Shown above are several examples of my original characters and written below are their concept, just to give you an idea on how to set up the concept.
The first one is a princess, her concept is "elegant, mature, western historical" so I made sure to always draw her in an elegant fancy dress. The second one has the concept of "soft, neat, modern" so he will always be fashioned in modern clothing which he will wear neatly (buttoned up, tucked in). The last one shows a girl whose concept is "laid-back, practical, casual" thus her clothing will always be something simple and comfortable to move in.
SETTING YOUR MODEL
Next up, you cannot have the outfit if you do not have any character to wear it for you. Draw the full body of your model first.
If you have difficulty drawing a full body anatomy, use the free 3D models provided in your Clip Studio Paint software! They’re very easy to use and very customizable. You can keep the 3D models or trace over it for your character.
First up, look to the right side of your software and there should be a "<<" sign on top, right beside the navigation window. Click on it and the window will expand. Scroll down and look for [3D]. Click on the [3D] and it will reveal several categories under it. Click on either [Body type] or [Pose] and the list of models will show to its right.
Click on the model you want and drag it to your canvas.
And voila, your 3D model is now on the canvas! You can immediately just draw your fashion design on the 3D models but if you want to keep your model 2D, create a new layer on top of the layer the model is in and trace over the model's silhouette.
However, when it comes to fashioning my characters, I personally prefer to draw them in “chibi” form. This is because it is much faster and simpler to design when your characters are in chibi form, especially if you’re planning to test out a number of outfit and color scheme for them.
Yes, when drawing in chibi form you will not be able to draw all those small details but the point of doing it this way is to decide on the overall look and color. Once you have settled with the outfit you want, redraw the entire thing in normal size. This is the part where you will be able to draw the accessories and decorations in detail.
Getting into Designing
Before we start designing, we have some things we need to take note of first.
First thing first, you need to remember that you are designing the outfit for your character so you really need to consider their personality and body type. Design outfit that would be able to complement their body and try to utilize the fashion to visually tell about the character’s personality.
For example, high waisted bottom compliments those with large chest, flowy outfit symbolizes maturity or soft personality, those who buttoned up their shirts are neat or serious, and so on.
Next, there are various types of fabrics. Some are bouncier, some are shinier and some are transparent or translucent. Knowing about different types of fabrics will be able to help you in adjusting how to draw and color them later.
Lastly, make sure your design is tailored to fit your model. The last thing we would want is an ill-fitting outfit that causes your character to look sloppy.
Now that we’re done with that, let’s start!
Tip 1: Mix and Match
When designing for fantasy characters, don’t be afraid to go all out! They’re in a fantasy universe so it’s alright if they’re wearing one too many layers of clothing, wearing clothing that normally wouldn’t be worn together or merging pre-existing design altogether.
Let me show you what I meant by using my characters as example.
Here, you can see she wears a bikini top, a pair of shorts with suspenders, an oversized sailor top with a ribbon loop holding it from falling and lastly a pair of thigh high socks and simple sneakers to finish the look.
And for this one, I merged the style of high collar windbreaker with East Asian influence. I made the ‘windbreaker’ sleeveless and made the sleeves as separate articles of clothing. To add to the look, I also gave the character a short blusher veil, to fit his ‘saintly angel’ concept.
These are only some of the examples when it comes to mix and matching clothing for your fashion design. Try out anything that you think will fit your character’s concept and personality, and most importantly, make sure it looks good on them.
Tip 2: Reconstructing Pre-Existing Design
From my experience, there are two common ways how you can reconstruct pre-existing design; either you cut out parts from it or you replace the shape.
An example for the cutting out parts, did you guys remember the virgin-killer sweater? It’s basically a normal sweater with its back cut out.
I have used this method for several of my characters. Like these two characters below, I’ve cut out holes from the sleeves, allowing you to see the clothes underneath.
It doesn’t have to be on the sleeves, you can cut out a hole on the chest, at the back, side of torso, etc. Feel free to experiment it out!
This method helps in making your design more unique and interesting, especially if you wanted to show off or hints what’s underneath the outer layer.
As for replacing the shape, since we’re designing fantasy fashion, you’re free to use shapes that you normally wouldn’t use in real life. Aesthetic over practicality.
Tip 3: Customize and Accessorize
Since there’s no exact rules for fantasy clothing, you’re free to customize to your heart’s content. Pants or dress looking too plain? Add in some patterns, stripes, decorations, folds and frills. Still not enough? Accessorize them with accessories such as belts, ribbons, zippers, jewels, flowers, laces and the list goes on!
In this section, I will show you how to utilize the tools in Clip Studio Paint in customizing your own fashion design.
3.1 Adding folds and frills
When you design something, one way to avoid it from looking too plain is to add folds or frills. This normally applies to female’s clothing, but you are free to add for male’s clothing as well. The sky’s your limit.
Adding folds is pretty easy. You simply take your outfit and draw thin lines which makes it seemed like the fabric is folded together. Folds are usually added on the sleeves, the front of a torso or a dress. Folds help to make the clothing appear bouncy or look sophisticated.
And now’s the fun part: the frills. If you’re not used to drawing frills, you might try to avoid drawing them since they’re complicated to draw, just like how I used to avoid them in the past. However, once you’ve gotten the grasp of how frills work, everything else is pretty much smooth sailing from thereon.
Basically, frills are made from repeatedly folding a long fabric and sewing the top or middle part of the fabric together. When you view stationary frills from the front, you can only see the top part of the folds. To create a bouncy look, draw the folds of the frills closely to each other. If you want to make it loose, simply draw the frills' folds apart with large gaps in between.
When you want draw a dynamic pose and make the frills on the dress flowing, you repeat the curve motion. If you have a hard time of drawing it, draw the dress without the frills first and draw the frills on top.
There is another way where you can add frills quickly on your outfit and that is by using the decoration tool on Clip Studio Paint! If you don’t know what the decoration tool is, it’s a tool with pre-set patterns or shapes brush that you can create yourself or download what others have made from the Clip Studio Asset. You use this tool when you wanted to immediately decorate certain patterns or shapes on your artwork.
Look to the left side of your Clip Studio Paint software and you will see a list of tools. Go down and select the tool named [Decoration], located underneath the [Airbrush] tool. You will see many sub tool under [Decoration].
Click on the button that says [Clothing] and there should already be a pre-set decoration called [Simple frill] provided by CSP. Select that one and just as how you'd use normal brush, brush the selected decoration on your design.
If you want more variations of frills, check out the Clip Studio Assets and see what others have made!
3.2 Customizing the edges
While clothes usually have straight edges, some of them don’t follow the rules. There are curved edges, rounded edges, spiky edges, and so on.
In the [Decoration] tool, Clip Studio Paint has supplied you with several types of lines underneath the [Ruled line] section which you can use.
Another fun way that you can use is via the vector layer! Vector layer allows you to use the [Correct line] tool which means you are free to alter the line at any given time.
If you check at your layer window, you might be familiar with the [New Raster Layer] button which you use to add new layer to your artwork. If you notice, there's a similar button beside it but with a cube symbol. That is the [New Vector Layer] button which you use to add vector layer to your artwork.
When you click on it, a new layer will appear with the cube symbol on it. This means the layer is a vector layer.
On the vector layer, all you have to do is draw normally using the tool of your choice.
Once you're done drawing, click on the [Correct line] tool located at the bottom of the tools list. Then, select the [Control point] and you should be able to edit the lines of your drawing however you like!
3.3 Adding patterns
What are patterns? Patterns refer to the repeated decorative design on the fabric, such as plaids, checkers, polka dots, tribal, laces, etc. There are three methods you can use when adding in patterns to your design.
1. You can draw the patterns manually.
Time consuming but you will get to strategically alter the positioning of the patterns to your liking.
2. You can use the [Decoration] tool, the one I have mentioned previously, for the pattern.
This is the faster and more practical way if you wanted to decorate your design with patterns.
3. You can design the pattern yourself and register it as “pattern” which you can later drag and drop whenever you like!
Before I show you how to do that, let me first show you a cool method how you can design a custom pattern:
First thing first, select the [Ruler] tool, located above the [Text] tool and select the [Symmetrical ruler]. This ruler will immediately mirror what you draw on one side of the line.
Increase or decrease the number of lines to your liking. For this example, I have decided to go with 7 lines. Then, click on your canvas for the lines to appear.
Use a drawing tool of your choice and start drawing around until you get a design you're satisfied with.
Now, we're going to register our design as pattern but before we do that, right click on the ruler symbol on the design layer and click on [Delete ruler]. We need to delete the ruler first before registering the design or else the software will register our design as "ruler" instead of a "pattern".
Now that your design is a normal layer instead of a ruler, you can now register your design! To do that, click the "<<" symbol on top, beside the navigation window, to expand the material window. To organize your patterns, you might want to create your own folders under the proper category however it is not compulsory to do so.
Click and drag the layer with your design into the material window to have it registered. Simple as that.
Then, double click on your design. It will open a window where you will be able to edit how you'd want the pattern to look later when you drag and drop it your artwork. You can choose the way you wanted it to be scaled or tiled.
By the way, this setting can be changed at any time so you don't have to worry about it.
To use the design you've made is very easy! Simply click, drag and drop the design to your canvas and alter it accordingly.
3.4 Adding accessories
When it comes to adding the accessories, it’s hard to pinpoint what is the ‘correct’ location to place them. What I can say is trust in your sense, judgment, and creativity. As for the accessories themselves, there are not limit to what you can use. You can use ornaments, a useless number of belts and ribbons, dangling keys, band aids and stickers, flowers, buttons, zippers... pretty much anything really!
Just like the frills, you can draw the accessories yourself but you can also make use of the [Decoration] tool. Check out the Clip Studio Assets, there are many free materials such as premade zippers and jewelry you can download and use.
For accessorizing, I recommend using the [Decoration] tool instead of drawing it on your own since it's faster, more accurate, and easier. However, in case you wanted to create the accessories on your own, I have just the trick for you!
We use the [Figure] tool.
If you look at your list of tools on the left, there's a tool named [Figure] tool located in between the [Gradient] tool and [Frame Border] tool. There are many geometrical shapes that you can choose form to help you create shapes accurately.
In the example shown above, I have used a combination of the [Straight line] and [Rectangle] to create a cube for this cubic-shaped ornament. Meanwhile, I used the [Ellipse] shape to create a circle for my orb ornament.
In case you'd want your ornament or accessory to be sized correctly or you wanted guide lines when drawing them so they are aligned, use the grid function!
On the taskbar on top, select the [View] button and click on [Grid] to enable grid view. In case you're done and wanted to disable the grid view, simply select the [View] button again and click on [Grid] to disable it.
One last trick I wanted to share in this section is how to draw crisscross lace. When you give your characters corsets or shoes with shoelaces, it's difficult to keep the crisscross lacing aligned, right?
For this problem, we will using the [Symmetrical ruler] as the solution.
Select the [Ruler] tool and pick [Symmetrical ruler]. Then, draw the ruler in the direction you want your crisscross lacing to be. The layer with the ruler will have the "triangular ruler" symbol on it.
I forgot to point this in the image above but make sure your [Number or lines] is set to 2. As I've explained previously, symmetrical ruler will mirror whatever you draw on one side of the line so we only need 2 sides for crisscrossing.
Then, use the drawing tool of your choice and draw one side of the lace and the ruler will immediately mirror it for you.
Shown above is the example how you can apply the crisscrossing on your outfit design. Draw the ruler in the direction you want, select the drawing tool of your choice and draw on one side; it will automatically be mirrored.
Choosing the Colors
Once you’ve settled on a design, it’s time to move to selecting the colors.
When you want to try out different colors on your design, you can copy and paste the design and color them individually. This is the slower method but it allows you to play around with the color placement.
If not, you can use the faster method in which you color the design > place all the layers into one folder > duplicate the folder and use the tonal correction to change the colors! Let me show you:
First off, color separate sections of your clothes in different layer and put them into one folder. Do the same for the lineart layer (if you draw several parts separately). Then, create another folder and place the lineart and color folder inside that folder (as shown in the image above).
Afterwards, right click on the parent folder and select [Duplicate layer]. This action will automatically duplicate the folder and all folders and layers inside it. Select the [Move layer] tool (the one above the [Selection] tool on the toolbar on the very left) and drag the copy to the side.
Select the layer with the color that you wanted to change. As you can see in the example above, I have selected the "top dress" layer.
Then, head to the taskbar on top > select [Edit] > select [Tonal Correction] > select [Hue/Saturation/Luminosity..] or you can also just press the [Ctrl + U] button on your keyboard for quicker access.
Once you've done that, a small window will pop up and here you can play around and change the hue, saturation, and luminosity/ value. Do this for every layer with the colors you wanted to change.
Ta~da! This is how it should turn out. Duplicate as much as you want and edit the color until you've found a color combination that you like.
In terms of selecting the colors, I am not very strict in sticking to color theories. These are my personal tips when selecting the colors:
• keep the colors harmonious with each other
• avoid using too many colors if they are contrasting against one another
• try using the same color with different saturation and value if you’re stuck on what color to use
• use black, white, grey, brown, or gold for the decorations or accessories
Color Tip 1: Using Blending Modes
One thing you might want to try is to play around with the blending modes to add flare to the color of your design. In case you are unfamiliar with blending modes, it’s the drop-down menu located on your layer window. Blending modes functions as ‘filters’ that you use on top of another layer.
Anyway, the basic way of how to use it is by creating a new layer on top of the layer with the target color > clip the top layer > set the top layer to blending mode of your choice > choose airbrush (or any brush of your choice) and paint on the layer.
Shown above are some of the examples of applying blending modes to your design. I personally prefer to play around between multiply, overlay, and add (glow). Try out for yourself and look for which blending modes you like best to apply for your fashion design!
Color Tip 2: Using the Gradient Tool
There is another method of coloring the outfit which is by using the [Gradient] tool. Gradient tool helps you to immediately set the type of gradients you want onto the canvas.
The [Gradient] tool is located in between the [Fill] tool and [Figure] tool on the toolbar on the left. Click on it and you should see a number of gradient that you can use.
The gradient tool follows the direction that you drag (just like the [Ruler] tool) so you can manipulate how long or which direction you want the gradient to go.
In the tool property section, you are free to alter the color (in case you don't want to use the pre-set colors), intensity, opacity, angle, etc. of the gradient.
Color Tip 3: Coloring Translucent Fabric
Certain fabrics are see-through and how do you translate those in your illustrated design? There are two ways you can use.
1. You can color it the normal way but later on, turn down the opacity.
On the layer window, there's a slider for the [Opacity]. Once you have filled in the color for the fabric, slide the opacity slider to the left until you're satisfied.
2. Another way you can do it is to make use of blending modes and set your layer to multiply or darken. However, note that these blending modes only work if the fabric is in any other colors aside from white.
Well, I think I have covered everything on how my thought process works when it comes to fashioning fantasy characters. In the end, there’s never a right or wrong. What important is you having fun and loving your character design.
My one last advice would be, keep on designing as your sense for fashion design develop with your experience. Save a lot of reference. There are many artists, comics, movies, or games out there with fantastic character design. Take notes and inspiration on which aspects that fascinates you (but be careful to NOT PLAGIARIZE the character design).
That’s all, I hope my tutorial has helped in guiding you through fashioning your fantasy character, even if just a little. Thank you for reading!