Here it is, folks—my long-promised video tutorial on how I dress my digital croquis, based on my Colette Pastille vs. Colette Macaron sheath dress showdown! It's just three minutes long, so please take a look and share with your friends, embed on your own blog, whatever!
If you have any questions about a specific part of the video, leave them in the comments and I'll answer them in annotations directly on the video.
Now that I watch it critically, perhaps it's more of a "demo" than a tutorial, as it doesn't really go into the real nitty-gritty—what size paintbrushes to use, how to do a proper selection for filling, how to use layers, or how to create repeat fabric patterns, etc. Do you need to know that stuff too?
So I'd really love your feedback:
- How's my genereal script/approach/use of images/video?
- Is it too long/too short?
- Is my narration understandable, or too fast/mumbly?
- Are there some bits you're more interested in than others?
- Should I do more of these? The other tutorial I've been promising to do for about two years now is how to create a really robust digital croquis in the first place using a variety of methods—digital, hand, etc.
- Would it be better as a series of printable photos and text than a video?
The details: I captured the demo with iShowU, and edited it and recorded the voiceover in iMovie. I found the voiceover the most challenging part—at first I tried to wing it, but I kept stumbling over my words so my film-school-grad husband suggested I script it. Here's my rough script with some notes/links:
Mikhaela Reid here from Polka Dot Overload with a demo of how I “try on” sewing patterns using my customized digital dress form, or croquis.
With a little practice, you can plan your sewing wardrobe, design fun details and play with palettes and fabrics. Best of all, you can preview how a design will look on YOUR awesome shape before you cut—or even buy—your pattern or fabric. This is particularly great for use with vintage patterns with really stylized envelope drawings.
Back when I was super pregnant, I used my croquis to create storyboards and plan extensive modifications to non-maternity patterns.
So let’s talk tools:
- First, you need a croquis. This could be one you traced by hand and scanned or drew directly into the computer. (Tutorial forthcoming, I swear!)
- You’ll need images of your planned fabric, whether you’ve already purchased it or not. I keep all my fabric stash photos catalogued by color and type in Flickr, because I am obsessive.
- A pressure-sensitive graphics tablet is optional—but I can't recommend it highly enough. Drawing with a mouse is clumsy and awkward, like drawing with a bar of soap—a pen tablet lets you draw naturally and create thicks and thins that look brush or pen-drawn just by changing pressure. I use a Wacom Intuos, but you can get a small Wacom Bamboo for $77 new, and I've seen used Bamboos or Graphires go for as little as $20 on eBay—less than the cost of some presser feet. Don't worry about size—even the smallest one can do what you need for this.
- Finally, you’ll need digital image-manipulation software with the ability to paint and use layers and patterns. I use Manga Studio (speciality software for cartoonists—you don't really need it, I just happen to be really comfortable in it) and PhotoShop (just don't have TOO much fun with it) but GIMP is a great open-source PhotoShop alternative that does most of what PhotoShop can do for the excellent price of FREE GRATIS.
So let’s get started. I’m going to speed this up, but the entire process usually takes me from 15 minutes to an hour—drawing and coloring these two dresses took about 20 minutes total.
Here’s a grayed out photo of me in a tank top on which I’d already drawn my croquis on another layer. For reference, I’ve pulled up the pattern flats for the Colette Macaron and a photo of Mena from the Sew Weekly wearing her lovely version.
I usually start with one of the key lines of the design, in this case the mock sweetheart neckline. I keep the fabric in mind—is it stiff? soft? stretchy—and how it will hang from my body in real life. It wouldn’t be realistic to draw lots of soft pleats or folds in a stiff fabric with no drape. I also think carefully about ease. In this case I’m working with a firm cotton stretch woven and I plan to make the dress very fitted, so I draw the outlines very close to my actual contours...
And then I ran out of patience and winged the rest of it. And if you listen, you'll see I had to edit out a lot of the above for time's sake, too.
Recommended reading: If you're interested in a good reference book on how to render garment details...
- Fashion school textbooks like Fashion Sketchbook (which I bought used at the FIT bookstore) or 9 Heads are excellent but extremely expensive.
- Fantastic Fit For Every Body has a great section on drawing your own croquis, whether you're an artist or not!
- Also, remember, that they're teaching you to render the unrealistic and superstylized 9-heads-or-more-tall fashion figure—which is the opposite of what we're trying to do here with our custom-made-for-our-awesome-real-bodies croquis.
But really, the best thing is just to study real clothing and fabric, and practice, practice, practice. I love these sketches Lladybird has been doing with her croquis by hand, and she claims she's "no artist", just "pretty good at copying stuff."
Enjoy! I'm dying to know what you all think of this—please let me know. And if this tutorial/demo inspires you or helps you in your sewing planning adventures, please leave a comment with a link to your projects so I can see them.