by Nicole Constantin of Rose Nectar Fibre Couture
For this segment of ‘From Fibre to Couture’ by: Nicole Constantin (Rose Nectar Fibre Couture) I would like to get into some practical design tools. We discussed inspiration in our last segment, now…what to do when inspiration strikes! We all have different processes, I would like to share one aspect of mine that has been extremely helpful: Fashion Sketching.
Fashion Sketching has been a tool for me, in many situations. First, and most common, I use fashion sketching to ‘record’ my idea for later, when I actually have time to fully develop my thoughts, prep the fiber I need, spin it, and start designing the finished wearable. Sometimes, ideas just pop into my head very suddenly and at very inconvenient times. This is a great situation where fashion sketching can be of help! I will quickly sketch out what has occurred to me while out shopping, walking in the woods, or driving down the road…as soon as I can scrounge up a paper and pen, sit down for a minute, and record my idea for later. I feel much safer knowing that I won’t forget any of the details later on when I want to do the actual work.
Secondly, another time when fashion sketching has been helpful to me is when I have a partial idea, a hint of where I want to go, or an incomplete design, and I need to work out the complete look or ‘play’ with idea. This is when I am on the verge of a look I want to achieve but need to experiment with it a little bit. The idea is not yet clear and this is when some of my favorite ideas come: when I sit down to really explore all the possibilities for color, detail, or overall feel of a design. This is when you realize all the different directions you can go in with just a seedling of an idea. Fashion sketching helps me go down those many different paths before I commit to one.
And finally, fashion sketching has helped me when I have needed to communicate an idea to someone else. For example, if I am starting a custom design for someone and I want to get their feedback or approval. The fashion sketch is a tool of communication when language isn’t enough. Have you ever tried to describe to someone an abstract image that is floating around in your mind or even a clear, concise and well planned out image? Sketching it out can really bridge that gap between two people in discussing creative ideas.
In this day in age, we are a collective of free-thinking designers and our culturally influenced tastes of the past eras have shifted to much more individualized style. No longer are the moralists and philosophers of our generation dictating the fashion of the time. Getting dressed is so much more of a personal journey now, each day, and this is the greatest time ever to be a designer with exploding ideas. I hope that the fashion sketching medium will help you on the road to becoming the oracle of your own unique design philosophy.
Here are a few tips to getting started:
1. Begin the practice to achieving the appropriately proportioned fashion figure. In the industry this figure is referred to as a “croquis”… pronounced ‘croaky’, like a frog. A well-sketched croquis can greatly enhance your illustrations and get you on the road to a nicely represented fashion idea. Don’t wait for this to come about before starting to sketch out your ideas, but eventually with some practice, as you get better, it will help in your enjoyment and effectiveness when trying to draw out an idea. Imagine your collection all drawn up on nicely rendered figures, making it easier to plan out your details and path to bringing your designs to creation! 2. After some practice on a pleasingly proportioned croquis, playing and experimenting are the most important ways to get this tool to work for you. Keep supplies handy for sketching, not put away where you have to get them out each and every time you feel like doodling. Spend a few minutes as often as possible, sketching and playing with ideas to see how you will grow in your visions. This part of your design process will come to be a real pleasure if you get past the initial fear of ‘doing it right’ and just dive in! Eventually you will notice a style develop! It is important to let go of thinking that your style has to look like the traditional fashion illustrations done by classically trained designers. This would be a counter-productive expectation and can hinder the creativity that is supposed to come of sketching in the first place.
3. As you grow in your sketching and begin to view the process as a valuable tool in your creative journey, it helps to acquire a few quality supplies such as a sketchbook, art pencils, colored pencils, pens, watercolors, erasers, and a good ruler. These supplies are always necessary, and often are not available when sketching on-the-fly, but keeping some around will help you get more satisfying results as you progress and want to go deeper with your work.
4. And lastly, to get started, I recommend having a bit of patience, willingness to practice, and sense of fun and adventure. Let’s face it, most of us are not trained fine-artists, and the idea of drawing can be very intimidating to many people. This skill can be quite helpful, though, to some, in their design process, so the investment in patience and practice does pay off. As far as approach, this is where the sense of fun and adventure come in! Keep in mind that we are not always drawing here, we are sketching and that is the greatest excuse for some sloppy lines and ‘imperfections’. Also, after a bit of practice, if your figures are still a bit off, such a very boxy, instead of curvy, or whatever the case may be, just embrace it and chalk it up as your personal ‘style’! Personal style is what makes the world so rich and colorful and if you can just own it, it will be embraced as your own unique beauty by others! The most important thing with sketching is to keep the perspective that this is just a tool to help get you experience the most satisfying creative process! For me, it has helped to make the journey more rich and enjoyable, but also helps me to get the results I like in my finished products which are the real goal…not perfect fashion sketches.
I have produced a video for a little bit of demonstration on how I recommend getting started with your fashion sketching. Keep in mind, there are many ways to get started! I have recorded what I think is the best place to start, after formal schooling in fashion illustration, I would recommend learning these basics, to get the best foundation, for a lifetime of enjoyment in sketching out your ideas onto paper. There are shortcuts, such as tracing a model out of a magazine, but I think it is good to get just a bit of practice and instruction in drawing your own croquis. Beware: This video is a bit long but I wanted to do a complete job of introducing you to fashion sketching. Later, in future segments, I would like to go into some more detail such as color, facial features, hairstyles, other flourishes and techniques, etc. for your sketches.I apologize in advance for any failures in quality, in the video, as I am just beginning to record videos for demonstration and have a lot of room for improvement. Thanks for your patience! I hope you enjoy fashion sketching, it has been such a fun tool for me, and I welcome anyone to share their practice sketches to encourage us all! Enjoy!