Thursday, November 21, 2013

in the sketchbook

Since I'm currrently off Learning And Looking At Things in Germany, I figured that it might be a good time to post some of the sketches I did for various 'Girl Without Hands' characters. Most of these are just my initial impressions/ideas and most likely will not really resemble the final designs/illustrations much at all, but at least it shows a bit of what's been tumbling around in my head.  For working out ideas I like to scan pencil drawings into the computer and then mess around with color in photoshop... though I don't think I'll use this sort of technique for the final illustrations.

And tomorrow I get to look at original 19th century pieces of German folk costume... so hopefully I'll soon have a bunch of new research to incorporate!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doll progress progresses

While I have not yet finished the costume for the doll/tiny mannequin, a great deal of progress has been made.  Although incomplete, it is now in the general shape of a dress, with the general idea of fabrics and textures. I didn't get any fabrics especially for this project, and just relied on scraps that I had on hand. In this instance: silk georgette, stretch velvet (backed with cream taffeta to give it stability), and bits of antique lace.  A rough approximation of the sleeve is just pinned on, and the whole dress requires a LOT more beads, not to mention she still needs a headdress as well.

I won't be able to work on it for at least another week though, as I am leaving tomorrow for a research trip to Germany to study traditional 19th century Bavarian folk costume up close and personal.  I'm spending a week in Munich, and am going to several museums/institutions in the vicinity.  So exciting!  And for those of you who know the city, please let me know if there's anywhere or anything in Munich that I shouldn't miss seeing while I'm there!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Doll-sized costumes - trial and error in miniature

It's often easier for to work out a design and fabric choices in 3D than solely through sketches, and since I wanted to play around more with the 'wedding scene dress' from my last post without spending a bunch on money on a full scale costume, I decided to make up the design in miniature.

Initially I was going to drape it on one of the half scale mannequins stocked in the university's pattern cutting room, but when I went to get one I discovered that every single tiny mannequin was already checked out by other students.  Obviously, the next logical step was to make my own.  The next couple days were filled with making a wire mesh framework and then sculpting a head and shoulders on top before crafting a stable base for it to stand on.

The mesh form may look innocent... but that stuff chewed up my hands like you would not believe.  I don't know if there's some secret to working with it of which I am unaware, but by the end of the day my hands had been bleeding in at least five different places and my fingers looked like someone had taken a teeny-tiny cheese grater to them.

Then Super-Scupley moulded on top of the mesh base, baked, and painted with acrylics.  It's been ages and ages since I last sculpted anything, and final result is not quite as I'd have desired, but the point of my making this was to be able to work with the costume and not to make a beautiful doll, so I sucked it up and went with it.

I really wanted the doll/mannequin to be stable on its own, so I didn't even bother with legs and feet and instead formed a base of more wire mesh which I then covered with muslin.  Since just getting this far had already taken almost three days, I decided that arms were also not important at the moment, and moved on to the clothing.

Unfortuntely, I didn't take pictures of today's progress but as you can see from yesterday's bodice, she is no longer naked!  More to follow...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A lightbulb. It has gone off.

I had a personal revelation of sorts today in regards to my creative process, and why and when I'm actually being creative instead of just copying history in appropriate ways and places. 

Since starting the programme here, I feel like I've been flailing around a bit trying to figure out what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.  (in regards to my actual work, not career path)  It's sooo easy just to stay in the historically-accurate-clothing comfort zone, but I didn't come all this way just to do what I already know.  Of course, leaving the comfort zone is much easier said than done, and for the last month or so I feel like I've been just spinning my wheels and not really getting anywhere.

Then today I began really thinking about projects and drawings I've done in the past where I feel like I was actually achieving a level of originality, and I realised that in all of those cases I was pretending the characters were all for a video game.  This seems rather strange considering how much of a gamer I am not... in fact the only video game I've ever played all the way through was Fable.  The first one.  When it first came out years ago. 

Here's a little compare and contrast...

This sketch is one I did a weeks or two ago of ideas for the main character's wedding scene.  Pretty much straight up historical.

Then this evening I decided to approach the same character's costume in the same scene with the 'Video Game as influenced by History' approach, and ended up with this:
Without color (and in a not-very-well-lit phone pic) it's hard to properly tell what it is I see in my head, but I think this is definitely an approach I should try out.  Whether it works well in the long run or not I have no idea, but for now it seems to be worth exploring.

Monday, November 11, 2013

1825 Dress-Coat test run

I ought to have posted this earlier, since I put together this muslin/toile of the 1825 men's coat from Cut of Men's Clothes shortly after scaling up the pattern a couple weeks ago.

The only adjustment I made was to the collar at the center back, as the collar was originally too large to fit into the neckline properly.  The collar is too large in the diagram in the book as well, so it wasn't just me being sloppy with the scaling things up... as it was, I had to take a total of nearly four inches out of the collar for it to work properly.

The coat is quite small, too.  As a matter of fact, it fits me pretty well which makes me wonder about the person who owned the orginal!  Perhaps I'll have to make myself a tailcoat sometime in future...