Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Costumes, Part 2

Continuing yesterday's costume tips:


7. You can improvise a lot of costume details with samples of fabric combined with old clothes from your closet. It doesn’t matter if the color matches or if it looks good enough to go on stage. You’re just looking for information about folds and drapery.

8. If you can’t fine the right costume, don’t worry! Remnants of leather, satin, brocade, or velvet from a fabric store can provide you with helpful information about the behavior of the fabric. Steel bowls from the kitchen can give ideas for how armor would look.

9. For simple togas and capes, you can drape and pin fabric samples over your artist mannikin or dressmaker’s dummy. For the fabric to scale down to a miniature size, it should be a very light weight. Cellophane scales down really well over a miniature figure, and can be spray painted to give it opacity (Thanks, Graydon).

10. Don’t be shy to ask for help. If you know someone who is clever with a sewing machine and can think laterally, they might be able to help you improvise a few basic things.

11. Once you get your model (or yourself) in costume, you can take reference photos in a variety of poses. If it’s an easy pose to hold, you can work directly from the model. That's how I did the painting of Oriana above, which appears in Dinotopia: The World Beneath. I put pieces of tape on the floor to mark where the model's feet should return between breaks. The whole session only took about an hour and a half, which saved time over shooting reference or doing drawn studies.

12. If you attend a sketch group, ask if your fellow artists might enjoy sketching from a costumed model. If so, everyone can pitch in a costume or two, or the models may come with something. You can usually pay the model to stay after the sketch session to work with you for reference.

10 comments:

Steve said...

These are great suggestions, James. I was reluctant to use myself as a model until about five years ago when I saw photos of Maxfield Parrish striking some poses he later painted. Also, I like that a Hudson's Bay trading blanket (four points) is featured in your photo sample!

dt said...

A sketch group! There's an idea. I should have thought of it earlier.

James Gurney said...

Good eye, Steve. Nothing beats those Hudson Bay blankets on a cold winter night.

Mary Bullock said...

I love all your tips! Once a mont I host a figure painting group and since I have collected antique clothing and costumes for years - it is always fun to dress the model different each time. It really makes for great paintings and sketches. I get a lot of my clothing from ebay, garage sales, and used clothing stores. Great fun!

Andrew Wales said...

This is quite the head of hair in the top photo!

Erik Bongers said...

I noticed that there is a toy castle on the floor in the model picture.
My god, don't tell me that the whole Dinotopia empire is based on some lego blocks...

Michael said...

Everyone may already know this: Wetting the fabric can help it to drape more like a full scale garment when using a miniature. It depends on the fabric. You can also dip it in diluted white glue and it will hold its folds. This can be painted as well.

woos said...

James- Thanks for the great tips! These are all SO useful!

I envy artists who have great sewing skills. One such artist is Meadow Gist. She makes beautiful, historically accurate costumes for her paintings. Sometimes she displays the costumes along with them. I believe she made all the costumes you see in these paintings: http://www.meadowpaint.com/npainting2.html

James Gurney said...

Woos, thanks for that link to Meadow Gist. Those are amazing paintings and really convincing constumes.

Michael, yes, the dilute glue is a good tip. The topic came up on a Gurney Journey post
here.

Erik, the box of Legos was always next to my ankles when the kids were little---back when I sported a good crop of hair, thanks, Andy!

ashton said...

Thank you so much for all you share here. I've had a great time reading everything over the past couple of weeks. Last night I was also pleased to discover some of your work in a National Geographic I was dissecting for reference pictures.