We’ve got our Inspiration and ideas, now it’s time to start working on the sketches!

What you’ll Need

Get in the Mood

So we’ve got our mood board set up so go ahead and pull that out since it’ll be our main source as we work on ideas for our design. Depending on how you like to work,

Mohammed Ashi designs, fall/winter 2015


Sketch Sketch Sketch

Not a great artist? No Problem.

Meet the Croquis.

No, sadly not a food. Though it sounds like a little pastry that crisps when you bite into it and is filled with crème fraiche. Instead, it’s something BETTER! (for us non-gluten-folks who wouldn’t be able to eat the pastry anyways).

A croquis is the shape of a person that is used for fashion illustration. Basically you’re meant to draw over the shape so you don’t have to worry about anatomy and why one leg is shorter and bent weird, and can move on to trying to get the ruffles to look right, damnit.


This is a Croquis book from Fashionary, and while it’s hard to see, there’s tiny orange dots that make up figures on the page. Fashionary sketchbooks don’t have ‘sketchbook’ paper, it’s fairly thin, but it’s meant for getting ideas down quickly, not full-on final fashion illustrations.

The nice thing about these books are that the croquis bound together (no more losing sketches!), and at the front of the book is a section explaining what different cuts, fabric and garments are called. With pictures! So you can see what the name of that ruffly kind of blouse is called so you can google “[name of ruffly kind of blouse] patterns” and life is easier.

Ahem. Right. Back to croquis in general.


You can also find Croquis online for free at DesignersNexus.com, that include Plus size, women, men, children, multiple angles, basically everything you could imagine. To download the croquis without the watermark, you have to make an account, but I’ve had one for years and don’t get any spam email. I noticed that they now have sections for Flats/Technical drawings too, but we’ll get to that in the next section.


You can either draw straight over the croquis (like I did above, note: not my design here) or trace the shape of the croquis lightly onto a blank page in pencil. Then after you’re done sketching, you can erase the lines you don’t want to use. Do whatever works best for you!


If you’re not familiar with Zoe Hong, but are interested in learning about fashion design, go subscribe to her Youtube channel. She’s a designer and a professor of Fashion Illustration, shares her knowledge and advice in her videos, and she’s amazing. Anyways, she has a playlist of videos called “Watch me Design” that’s worth watching from start to finish. But for today, here’s her sketching video where she talks about working on ideas:

You can see her croquis really faintly on the video’s thumbnail. Grab a drink, watch and meet me back here.

Ready? Cool. I’ve been sketching out some ideas of varying ‘good’ness. One meeting I had to sit through was deadly boring, and most of it didn’t apply to me, so I did a few doodles in my notebook. Sadly, no croquis were handy, but I was aiming for general shape and silhouette experimentation not a detailed sketch.


While I liked the fox-hat, I find it’s a little more like ‘wearing’ the fox instead of ‘being’ the fox, so I dropped the idea for the next set of sketches. After I had a general idea of shape, I went on to experiment with it. Some of the sketches are sleeker than others, some are messy and softer, but until you try an idea you don’t know how it’ll turn out.

While I went over my sketch with ink to make it easier to photograph with my phone and poor apartment lighting, if you don’t feel like it, there’s really not that much need to do so. These are supposed to be sketchy, not finished illustrations.


Design Concepts to Keep in Mind


These three dresses are all similar in silhouette which in a collection would be something that would get boring, fast. sketch4

To keep the dresses from being too similar, we can create shapes using different PARTS of the costume. This helps break up the silhouette into shapes by using texture, colour, or fabric type.


Even though this isn’t a collection, I tried to maintain a few similar shapes across the three dresses above. The ears, ‘tail shaped’ train and  v neck help make the designs seem related even though they’re all elements that I chose because they resembled elements of the fox itself.


Lines help draw the eye to, well, where you want eyes to go to. Lines don’t have to be actual literal lines printed on the fabric, they can be created by folds, pleats, hems and so on.

Above, I chose two of the sketches that on the surface are similar but have a few key differences. On the left, there’s no waist seam, and the folds pull the eye up directly to the face and shoulder. BUT. The ruffles are too soft. This would be great for a goddess or cloud costume, but not so much for a spiky crystal fox.

On the right, The folds are more geometric, zigzags that are better at evoking that spiky look the fox has. The top has gathers like the design on the left, but it feels sharper because the empire waist creates a sharp change from the larger pleats of the skirt. Which leads us to…


If we imagine dark colours, dense texture and large shapes as “heavy”, and lighter colours, no texture and small shapes as ‘light’, the idea of visual balance makes much more sense. If you’ve ever looked at a costume design and wondered why it feels off, but can’t put your finger on why… it might be that the balance of the visual elements is off.



Above I have two examples circled with red. The one on the left has a ‘dense’ bodice that is relatively small in size compared to the large, lighter skirt. To the right is a similar design but with a larger bodice and smaller skirt. While the texture isn’t as dense, I don’t feel that it’s as successful as the design on the left. Part of that is due to the shape and single shoulder being too bulky and square, but also the balance between the two main parts of the dress just don’t read as balanced to me.

Continuing to the right, I tried different ways of fixing that balance, Adding in a deep V neck to open up  the dense texture, and removing the fluffy skirt to see how that would look.

Keep in mind these are all suggestions and guidelines, not absolute law. if you find that something isn’t working for you, try something new. Experiment. Don’t be afraid to make sketches and designs you don’t like. That’s just part of design and cosplay.


Join me next segment as we pick a sketch and work on developing it into a more detailed and refined design.

Thanks for reading <3

xox Calamity

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com