Thoughts on Fashion Sketchbooks and Illustrations

I have mentioned before, when I started college in September I knew nothing about sketchbooks except that they were somewhere you drew. As I've gone along I've found out that they are evolving books. You use them to develop ideas into designs and then into real things.

The design process seems to vary from "expert" to "expert", but this is how I think it goes:

1. You have an inkling of a concept.

2. You brain-storm that concept with words and quick drawings that help you to "solidify" the idea and clarify it in your mind.

3. You research the concept based on your brainstorming, gathering images from real life and that other people have taken/made. You also get things like trims and fabric swatches that fit in with the idea you have.

4. You sketch little drawings, developing potential design ideas, be they fabrics, trims, embellishments, silhouettes, general attitudes, etc. from your research.

5. You develop these into full designs and add samples of buttons, zips etc., swatches of fabric that matches the colour or texture etc., and sometimes sewn samples of special features like a stylised pocket, unusual opening etc.

All the way through this you make notes (called "annotating") explaining for future reference and for "thinking on paper".

And that is how I think you make a sketchbook.

All this goes with mood boards, trend boards, fabric boards, technicals boards, design boards, and final design boards.

The mood board is a big (A3) version of the steps 2 and 3. It gives you the "feel" of your collection, hence "mood board".

A trend board is similar to a mood board, but is not specific to your collection, more the general trend.

A fabric board is basically a collage of swatches (real or digital) with information about the fabrics.

A technicals board has pictures like those in the sewing supplement of BurdaStyle magazine (the technical illustrations). It also has information about the designs. You have to write down what you can't see in the illustration. Technicals look the most professional if you redo them on Photoshop or Illustrator.

The design board has your final designs, a background image for context, and your logo.

The final design board in my project refers to the board of the one design you are going to make (front and back images, and possibly side view), along with swatches and samples, technical illustrations and your logo.

We are handing in all of the above with our sketchbooks and an evaluation (a 500 word essay about the module) this coming Tuesday. We also have to do a presentation about our collection, as if we were selling it. It's all good practice I suppose, however unaccustomed we may all be to doing it. But I suppose that's why we do it; we'll have to when we're professionals.

When I started the assignment I didn't know about research so (being me) I looked to books for help. There wasn't much specifically helpful in the college library, but there were two books. My friend Hannah who lives at college brought a couple of her books to the class for me to look at. One of them was the same as one that was in the library but to which I hadn't paid much attention. She had another one as well, but I couldn't find that at Amazon when I looked later. The three most helpful books were:

The ones I got are the first two. The middle one is more helpful the more you use it and helped my get the gist of Sketchbooks. The first one is helpful for people who don't know about research. Being a whole book on the subject as it applies to fashion design, it can talk about it in depth for which other books haven't space.

Onto the topic of illustrations. My tutor want me to learnt to draw ugly, grotesque "grunge" style illustrations, because mine "need updating" to be more contemporary and less "Disney".  Personally, I don't see the point in drawing alien models in illustration styles that prevent your seeing the clothes. Cartoony, cutesy styles are quite as bad because the styles all end up being like children's wear, and grown-ups should not dress like children (and vice versa of course).

I think she want me to draw things like the black illustrations on this page.

This is how I usually draw (click for a larger image):
Disney-ish Illustration of one of my final designs
(outer lines redone in Photoshop for clarity on design board)

One of my final designs

This is a cutesy drawing I did this morning:
Cutesy Fashion Illustration

And this is the best horrid drawing I did yesterday:
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"Fashion Zombie"

What do you think about all this? Can you draw realistically or Disney-ishly, or do you have to stylise your illustrations?

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