Wednesday, August 29, 2018

How to draw fashion figures - Faces

Fashion drawing unlike any other ‘realistic fine art genre’ is quite achievable as it does not demand to be very detail oriented. As long as you get your proportions right (which I will talk about in another blog soon) you can pretty much qualify as a fashion illustrator. Firstly one needs to understand the basic idea behind making fashion drawings. Primarily fashion drawings are done to depict your design ideas on paper so that before you actually make an effort to sew them you can have a fair enough idea how they are going to look. Hence the emphasis is more on the Garments fall, draping, the fabric used and the details rather than the details of the fashion figure itself. It’s not meant to be very realistic in terms of the body details but as far as garment goes you can be as realistic as you want to be. I have also seen illustrations that have real pieces of fabric.

One of the most challenging part of a figure drawing however is the face. You can still get away with body not being perfect or looking a bit disproportionate but faces have expressions, they need to look balanced and human (and not aliens!) 
Having said that faces too need not be very detailed, for example you can get away with not drawing eyes or facial features all together but do get the positions and poses of the face right. It should be in sync with the body pose. You cannot have head looking backward when body is facing front (unless you are working on Gothic collection!) 

In order to achieve accurate and appropriate position of the head and face the best technique that I followed when and I initially started drawing fashion figures was by keeping a medium size ball with lines drawn as half and quarter circle. Though human face isn’t perfectly round, it’s more like an oval shape but that elongation could be added later on. Once you master making these round shapes you could easily fill in the lower jaw part. 

Here are some of the potential shapes that you can make. Try to figure out as many positions by turning the ball. 

Once you are confident making these round circles with the lines starts adding the lower part of the face, which would be slightly longer, turning this round shape into an oval one. Try to keep eye level line, nose line, lip line and chine line parallel to each other.  

Let’s try few poses - 

Once you are happy with the shapes, one of the best way to practice them and get a hang of them is by highlighting them with a black  marker pen and tracing these figures as many times as possible. Very soon you will be drawing them without any difficulty. 

Like any other art form these too require a lot of patience and practice so do keep a note pad handy and soon you will get a hang of it. 

All the best !

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Tailoring Baju Kurung, Cheongsam and Sari Blouse

When I started sewing at the age of 11, without my even realizing I was actually using the draping method to sew my own clothes. For those who are new to pattern drafting terms, Fashion draping is an important part of fashion design. Draping for fashion design is the process of positioning and pinning fabric on a dress form (in my case it was my own body using safety pins) to develop the structure of a garment design. After draping, the fabric is removed from the dress form and used to create the sewing pattern for the garment. 
Until I joined a proper fashion degree college I was quite happy and pleased by the results and had actually started considering myself a self –taught- genius- fashion designer! To my surprise and dismay all my beliefs were shaken to the core when I was introduced to the world of systematic and calculative pattern drafting. That’s when I realized that pattern drafting of any product is no joke. It’s a combination of science, math and loads of logics. I soon was humbled enough to adapt this new method and since then I have never taken my patterns lightly no matter how simple the design was. 
Now that I’m a professional dressmaker and a teacher more often than less I am confronted with this question - “how do Tailors make clothes with only few measurements and why does a particular tradition garment (sari blouse, cheongsam, Baju kurungs etc) are cut directly on fabric without having to make patterns!?”

To my understanding a dress maker should be able to make any design irrespective of their cultural background or expertise in a garment belonging to that particular culture. I believe the basics and fundamentals should and will remain the same no matter what. Your method can be different from mine but as long as it gives the same end result it shouldn’t matter. 
To answer this question I selected a sari blouse design and cut the pattern using my professional dress making basics the end result was fantastic but it took me twice as time as any local Tailor would take. So here’s my answer - yes it’s a fact that local Tailors take way too less measurements and often don’t  require to draft their patterns on paper before cutting the fabric but it is also a fact that besides their own traditional garments seldom they can sew any other designs. Try giving your local sari blouse or Punjabi suit tailor a western evening gown or boot cut pants! You’ll know what I mean. No offense to them they are by all means very skilled individuals with years of precious experience but the fact remains the same - their method of learning and practice is restricted to a particular design and is often learnt from a senior master tailor who passes on their own short cuts that they figured out during their own sewing journeys. These methods and tricks are learnt and absorbed without asking the “whys” behind them and hence although they give great results they often fail to display creativity and innovation in designs. 
As a dress maker you yourself will develop many tricks and short cuts of your own but when you teach someone your skill make sure you hand them down the full extensive methods and let them make their own mistakes and find their own tricks :)   

Happy Sewing !