Hi, everyone! I’m Skyribbonsteph, and I’m here to give you some drawing tips on fashion design!
These tips work for designing a character for a story idea you may have in your head or any illustration where you want the person you’re drawing to look really cool!
The Three Main Ideas: Aesthetic
When it comes to fashion design, it's important to consider three key ideas: aesthetic, practicality, and personality.
Let’s talk aesthetic first. Aesthetic is just the very basic “look” or “vibe” you want your character to give off. Do they want to draw people in with what they’re wearing, or do they want to be invisible and ignored?
I’m drawing two teens who I want to come off as trendy, confident, and cool. Here's a concept sketch I made with some basic color blocking.
The Three Main Ideas: Practicality
Practicality is choosing what styles of clothing make sense for your characters based on the aesthetic you’ve chosen.
In this illustration, I’m drawing these two teens in Asian street fashion, so it makes sense to draw them in modern clothes that are baggy and form-fitting. I’m also making sure to use reference photos of people in this style so I can put my own twist on it here.
Remember to look up reference photos for everything! No matter how realistic or cartoony your style is, your character’s clothes will look great if they’re grounded in reality in terms of how different fabrics hug the body, where seams are, etc.
Here's my neatened line art so far.
The Three Main Ideas: Personality
The last thing to consider is personality! Personality is thinking about how your character’s outfit can tell a story. Think about what condition your characters’ clothes are in, or how they wear their clothes. For example, I drew the female character here with her jacket off her shoulders to imply that she might be a little messy or immature.
Accessories like jewelry can also serve as a great storytelling tool. I gave the two characters here matching necklaces to imply that they’re close—either best friends or dating.
Now I’m adding another story with the made-up character on the girl’s jacket and the boy’s keychain. This character could be the logo of a fashion brand they’re wearing or from a TV show they both like!
I’ve boxed some areas of interest below that demonstrate the assumptions you could make on their personalities.
Now I'm finished with these characters! They fit the aesthetic I want while looking unique and original.
Part Two: Fashion Designs for Professional Media
Now, say you’re working on something more than just a picture—you have an idea in your head for a book, videogame, cartoon—anything, really—and you want your character designs to be stronger.
I’m going to demonstrate how to use color and shape to make unique character designs!
Here, I’m sketching two characters: the one on the left will be an evil queen and the one on the right a good-hearted prince.
I already spoke on the importance of aesthetic, practicality, personality, and using references, which I did to come up with their basic character designs—But now, I’m going to go a little deeper.
Using Shape in Fashion Design
How can I make the queen look evil? Many character designs for villains or bad characters incorporate sharp shapes because we associate them with danger of getting hurt. To make my queen character seem violent and scary, I’m exaggerating every edge of her body and dress to look extremely pointy. Obviously, her hairstyle and dress don’t make much sense in reality, but it’s okay to push the boundaries to get the point across for your character designs.
Now for the prince! How can I make him look like a good-hearted person just by his design? Typically, round shapes are used in character design to imply softness or friendliness. I’m making him smaller and rounder in body shape to make him seem less threatening. I’m even rounding out the sharper parts of his silhouette, like his blade and shoulder pads, to come off as someone who is strong, but not intimidating.
Using Color in Fashion Design
Now it’s time for color! I’m going to color the prince and queen with the same three colors—blue, yellow, and orange—to demonstrate how you can use color to emphasize your characters’ traits.
Most good character designs use a color scheme that involves one central color and at least two or three supporting colors. So, when coloring your character, think about where you want your viewers’ eyes to be drawn to first.
I wanted the queen’s color scheme to be mostly orange, so I made sure to use that for her sharp hair, dress, and piercing eyes.
“Bad” characters are also associated with dark colors or bleak, desaturated colors. I made the blues on the queen’s dress very dark and used very pale blues and yellows on her skin, gloves, and collar to make some nice contrast.
For the brave and noble prince, it would make sense to use bright colors because they are friendly and inviting. I’m using blue and orange as his two main colors and using yellow as an accent on the rims on his clothing and little highlights in his hair.
Now here they are side-to-side! It's pretty easy to tell who's good and who's evil.
That’s all I have to say on fashion design! It’s important to remember when you’re drawing that nothing comes out perfectly on the first try, so don’t beat yourself up if you struggle a bit! It took me multiple tries before finalizing any of the designs you see here.
I hope this helps, and happy drawing! Check out the video version of these tips below!