View Full Version : Fashion Sketching 101

12-05-2012, 05:35 AM
So a recurring problem I keep seeing with people who buy tails is that they're not quite what they expected. When you look at the sketches though that were sent to the tailmaker, you can't really blame the tailmaker. I think a brief lesson on fashion sketching/boarding might help people communicate what they want.

My aunt used to design for House of Dior in Paris, this is a sample of what her fashion board looked like for an Egyptian themed dress that was a center fold out spread of VOGUE. It's the gold one, it's made almost entirely out of safety pins and beads.

I don't have all the pictures, but here's the process for making a fashion board which is more than just a "sketch".

1.) Fashion Sketch: This is an artistic rendition of what you would want your tail to look like. This is more than an outline and color. You want to capture the essence of the piece. That means movement, texture, key points that are meant to stand out. Fashion sketches don't need to be to scale, they're the inspiration point. Like if you made a POTC tail, the accessory fins were meant to look like translucent fabrics flowing in the water. A fashion sketch would show that degree of movement along with a rough color palette.

2.) Materials usually come next, play with scraps and experiment with how you think you can make something work. If you figure it out it's a lot easier to communicate it to someone making a tail for you. If there are 10 standing orders for tails and you ask a tailmaker to figure out how to do some crazy detail, likely it won't be prioritized how you want it. Mailing a small scrap of your experiment can't hurt. This is what my Aunt's VOGUE dress materials looked like. If you copy down exact product numbers, distributors, etc it's a lot easier to replicate. It eliminates guesswork.



3.) A detailed design usually comes next. Figure out dimensions, garment patterns, whatever. Sending a duct tape cast of yourself probably wouldn't hurt either. A lot of designers measure differently and if you can't have the outfit maker take measurements in person a cast of yourself eliminates guesswork. If you have a POTC tail and you want the fin to be huge and flowing you should give measurements to indicate exactly how big you want it. Draw it out to scale on some poster paper, it'll only cost you a few dollars and can really help you figure out what it is you actually want vs. what you think you want.

4.) Board it. Get a big piece of poster cardboard and tack everything on. Fashion sketch, scrap/test materials, paint swatches, the garment plan, etc. See all the parts and make sure your plan fits the desired idea and figure out if the mechanics involved in turning the idea into the product actually work how you want them to.

5.) Have it made... or just make it yourself. It's cheaper to make your own tail. You can be nit picky all day with it.

6.) Get it in a magazine and end up with something like this for your portfolio.


SeaGlass Siren
12-05-2012, 08:27 PM
Interesting. and very detailed.
I keep all of mine in a sketchbook (although now i guess it's just a scrapbook..) the fashion sketch, swatches of fabric and paints, where to buy items...


12-05-2012, 08:30 PM
This is very interesting! I sketch a bit, but I get frustrated because I'm no good at it. XP I can't get body proportions or material drape...and those are two very important things. ;-P

SeaGlass Siren
12-05-2012, 08:46 PM
i always elongate the body to see what the outfit looks like. supposedly it helps you to see the outfit better. i haven't tried with mermaid tails though, but i think if you look at the sketches everyone puts up from time to time you can kind of see that they're elongated too.

12-05-2012, 08:48 PM
Do you have access to any of your aunt's sketches, Coradion? I think describing how the sketches should be done is nice, but images would be really helpful to make your point, especially for those of us who are more visually oriented.
I liked the suggestion about sending a cast of your body.

Mermaid Danielle
12-05-2012, 10:20 PM
Thanks for posting! I will have to keep this in mind for when I order a silicone tail (someday :D )

12-05-2012, 10:52 PM
I can't get her sketches, she'd kill me if I took a picture of them. Designers are secretive about their work since the fashion world has no copyright protection.