Fashion Design: Combining Aesthetics with the Environment

Whilst brainstorming for ideas for my fashion design project, I wanted to create a collection that both represented my design philosophy as well as being related to the environment that the clothing would be placed in. Henceforth, a dynamic creative explosion of ideas emerged and it marked the start of an exciting design journey ahead.

To enable a flow of creative energy, I decided to set an ambiguous platform on the environment which I would like the clothing of the model to be inspired from. I finalised on three scenes – land, air and sea. The models in each scene would adorn clothing that included elements from their respective environment, in addition to the concept of a dinosaur inspired fashion design collection.

To better draw a focus for this design project, I did sketches of dinosaurs and narrowed down to the usage of the unique bone structure and armour-like coverings as part of the design element of the models’ clothing.

Next, I sketched the body language of the respective models, taking note of the form of the body contours so as to best complement with the flow and the lines of the clothing. Sketching is an integral part of the development of clothing ideas and I did roughly 50 sketches before settling on the best few clothing designs which best married the environment with dinosaur inspired elements.

Using the selected designs, I further improved on the sketches by stylization of form and elogating the proportions. I began to add colour onto it, taking note of the lighting and flow of the drapery, making sure that the clothing complements with the position and the expression of the model.

Using watercolour, I explored a range of colour combinations to bring out the mood and intensity of the model in the land, air and sea scenes. After drafting and sketching, I produced the final selection of designs which best combined the environment with the clothing. The style of the fashion design remains very personal – elegant yet assertive, rugged yet chic.

While my intial sketches were from pencil, subsequently to ink and progressively to watercolour, I decided to further enhance the quality of the design using Adobe Photoshop CS. I manipulated the contrast of colours and cleaned up the lines on the form to bring out the beauty of the clothing on the model.

The project was a success as these models formed the foundation of another exciting project which comprises of a 2-D graphic animation of these models in their environment, using After Effects 6.5 programme. I believe that while fashion design may be one design aspect, it can be corporated into different design programmes to produce another dimension away from pure drawing and illustration. Embracing Final Cut Pro, After Effects 6.5 and 3DMax would definitely differentiate one from the traditional concept of fashion design

About The Author

Alice Wu is a freelance graphic designer, painter, fine artist, music junkie and a fashion fanatic. Her works are hosted on , and she divulges much of her time in her pursuit for the excellence in the arts.




Pushpins – illustration with gradient and blend

Done for Illustration class, where we were to take a household object and draw it in Illustrator, taking care to use gradients and blends to achieve the final look.

“Illustrate an everyday household object for your next assignment.” my instructor had written in the assignment book. In our discussions, I had noticed that most people were centering on household items found in the kitchen, and I knew that wasn’t for me. I try to spend as little time as possible in that room of my house, as things tend to burn for no good reason on me there. For the week leading up to this assignment, I would stop randomly and look at things that I took for granted everyday, wondering if they would be worthwhile objects to illustrate.

Finally, pulling down some old notes from the corkboard beside the computer, I set some pushpins down on the table. Eureka! my mind jumped up and down. Grabbing my camera, I got a really good closeup to use as a reference, though I neglected to notice that I should have put a blank sheet of paper down under them so I could get the shadow correct as they sat on the table.

Working on it for two days, as the Gradient Mesh tool in Adobe Illustrator was a brand-new concept to me, along with Blends, I was finally happy with the finished project. I had almost changed the plastic tops to an opaque versus the transparent, because the tools were so hard to get “just right”. In the end, though, I loved my project. The only points that I had deducted from my final grade were for the fact that the shadow, grounding them, was missing. My instructor understood that because of the picture that I had taken of them why I missed this, but I still received an excellent grade for this piece, and it has become one of my most popular illustration pieces in my portfolio.

About The Author

I’m a 32 year old mother, web and graphic designer, singer, ameteur historian and pop culture junkie.

Acrylic Painting – Planet

Acrylic paint is a great medium because it is easy to mix, sovaldi sale quick drying and washes off! I started painting with acrylics a few years ago and sold some paintings in cafes. My preferred technique is to use fine brushes and toothpicks for tiny detail.

Getting started

I bought a canvas (available from art stores), acrylic paints in blue, magenta, red, white, yellow and black, a packet of fine brushes, kebab sticks and some toothpicks. During all my paintings I have used a plastic palette with concave areas, a water mug and newspaper for underneath the painting area.

I painted the canvas with white acrylic paint (including the sides) and let it dry. I repeated this twice. Painting the background with white means the colours are more vibrant and also provides a better texture than the original canvas grain.

Then I drew on with a pencil a rough design of what I wanted to paint (in this case, the circle for the planet, the continents and the checkerboard area). I find this helps to keep shapes in position and proportion while painting.


Using a large brush, I started by painting the large areas of colour (like oceans, black background, grey/white of moon and green land patches). I also painted the sides of the canvas in black. While the colour was still drying, I added some dabs of yellow and white for the oceans and land with a medium size brush.

After the first layer had dried, I repainted the black background and canvas sides and also the oceans, land etc. I also re-dabbed with the yellow and white (this allowed me to work out what looked best and rectify it on the second layer). I also painted the checkerboard pattern, making sure to paint another coat of white over the background canvas (to keep the layers even). Although acrylic paint doesn’t build up much thickness, I still find that a few levels above the background canvas can meet unevenly with it.

After the second layer dried, I did a third layer where I went over all areas completed so far with a light coating of the same colour. While this layer was still wet, I used a fine brush to detail the yellow beach areas, blue rivers, red teardrop with eye and whirligig thing. Some of the elements of this painting were influenced by my favourite two artists, Wassily Kandinsky and Miro.

When the third layer had dried, I repainted over the yellow beaches etc from the second layer to bring out the vibrant colour.

Fine Detail

For the fourth layer, I used toothpicks to dab paint on small objects, such as the yachts, hearts, trees, flowers, birds, mushrooms and sheep. I was after an effect of busyness that would make people want to look closely at the painting.

The fifth layer consisted of touching up the white yacht sails etc, but I also used the end of a kebab stick to paint the moon craters. I dipped the kebab stick in black paint, blotted it a few times on newspaper until it showed a crescent shape, then applied it to the moon.


To finish, I let the painting dry and applied a clear gloss varnish of two coats (drying 24 hours in between each). I usually find either nail varnish or spray varnish is quite effective.

I found a very cheap picture framer and got a wooden knot frame put on the canvas. There was no need for glass, due to the gloss varnish and I am pleased to say, that after many years of being exposed to cigarette smoke in crowded rooms, the colours in my paintings still look good!




Cartoon Character Design

When I was a kid, viagra the first thing I would do in the morning was rip open the newspaper and flip to the comics sections. Multiple bowls of cereal and lots of orange juice were spilled while scrutinizing the latest Calvin and Hobbes or Doonesbury. What still amazes me is the ability of Bill Watterson and Gary Trudeau to convey the emotions and thoughts of their characters through simple, clean line drawings. Artists like those guys (and certainly many others) are the real deal.

While I’m no Bill Watterson, I strive to bring complexities to my character design with clean lines. I think the single most important aspect of drawing characters is to develop their background. Give them a story. Write it out or just go through it in your mind. This doesn’t have to be complex, but it will give a better idea of what the character should be wearing, how they should be postured, and whether or not they need any props. This is an excellent way to get those development juices flowing if you hit a dead end.

Many other artists like to sketch out their characters. They’ll draw out the ovals and rectangles to represent various body parts. Not me. I like to jump right in. I picture the character in my mind and it seems like I can’t get the character on the paper quickly enough. Even though I may have to draw the character multiple times, my drawing process seems to just flow and it either clicks or it doesn’t. However, I would caution anyone starting out from using this technique. Even if you don’t want to sketch out the entire character, I would suggest trying out a few body parts before jumping in headfirst.

I like to begin with just a paper and mechanical pencil. Mechanical pencils do a great job of providing smooth lines, rather than the rougher and easily smudged lines left by wooden pencils. Also, never underestimate the power of a quality eraser. This is where the fun begins.

I start with the eyebrows. When you are designing a 2D character, and especially in comic or cartoon styles, the eyebrows are your best expressive weapon. Image 1 shows how you can convey many different expressions with the same eyes and expressive eyebrows.

Once the eyebrows and eyes are settled, I will naturally complete the rest of the face and head. The mouth is almost as important as the eyebrows, and Image 2 shows how various mouths can really seal the deal on your character.

Hair always seems to give me some slight hang-ups. Short hair is relatively easy, but longer, flowing hair is difficult to draw to look natural. Here it is just practice makes perfect. Usually, if there is a particular style I am shooting for; I like to have a picture in front of me. This is one of those places the eraser comes in pretty handy. (Image 3)

From here, I will move down the body creating the torso and arms. If the clothes are tightly fitting, I like to use smooth curves. Rigid lines do a much better job conveying loose fitting clothes such as coats or button down shirts. (Image 4)

Like hair, hands can sometimes be a problem. Sometimes they are too big, fingers are too skinny, or they just don’t feel “right.” The best way I have found to getting better at drawing hands is to draw the characters holding something in their hands. Of course, a quick out is to put the character’s hands in their pockets.

Pants are pretty easy, and it is often easier to draw them slightly larger then they might be naturally. This will allow you to make up any difficulties in drawing body shapes and sizes. The shoes and feet are probably the least important, but are not to be overlooked. Make sure the shoes match the rest of the character. Again, you can always hide any shoes problem by hiding most of them with some pants overlap.

Once you have everything together, I like to add little extras. Maybe some light shading or a logo on the shirt. Maybe the character has a tattoo. This is when you can really have your character’s personality shine through.

From here, I like to ink my drawings using a felt tip pen and scan them into my computer. I like to use Adobe Photoshop to manipulate my drawings and add some color, but there are many good image manipulation software packages out there.

The character I designed for this project just walked into the restaurant where he saw his date flirting with another guy. Notice how the stubble and loose tie give the appearance that he is a bit down on his luck. The drooping flowers give a sense of rejection and the apparent shock and confusion on his face convey a sense of urgency. You will also notice how much color and shading can add to your drawing.

Once you find your own process, hopefully it will just flow naturally. For me another thing is to just have fun. If I don’t enjoy what my character is looking like, I’ll just cut my losses and move on. Especially if you are drawing for someone else, make sure it is still something you’ll enjoy creating and be proud of. Drawing for yourself means you’re drawing with confidence, and that is the best character design tip I can give you.

About The Author

Colin Mann is an avid artist and co-founder of Mercury Effects, where he serves as Art Director. Mercury Effects is an independent video game studio based in Pittsburgh, PA.





Design Principles in Abstract Art

Any type of design today must look good aesthetically and be functional. What do we mean by “look good”? It simply means that the design cannot be too common and boring. Functional means that it must be easily understood and usable. This article is a description of my attempt to try to combine chaos and pattern into a piece of artwork.

“House of Colours” is a personal project I did a few years ago during my free time. I wanted to combine the ideas of water flow, mountain and earth into an abstract piece of art. Created using Crayon, Color Pencil, Gouache, Paper Cutouts and Magic Ink, the final work is A3 mounted and measures 32cm by 32cm. The concept and design principles covered in this article should be helpful in designing web pages as well.

Other than using mother nature as the main theme, I also used different design principles and mediums to make the design unique.

I used a variation of blue, brown and green to represent nature. A curvy line is drawn around the square to represent completeness and unity of land. There are also isolated islands around the pool of colourful waters. The white square with a thick black border in the middle represents a change in the design. Using only black and white, the house in the middle stands out strongly, giving the design a focal point.

Different Graphic Design Principles are used to strengthen the visuals. As you can see, figure ground is used extensively to provide a contrast of colors and shapes. Collages are also used to enhanced the complexity of the design. I purposely coloured parts of the water with inconsistent strokes of crayon so that it looks abit like kid’s work.This is to represent the imperfection of nature and I want to convey that idea in this design. Other than the magic inked house in the middle, the rest of my gauche strokes were imperfect as well.

Lines and curves are used extensively in the design. To me, straight lines represent princples, rigidity and logic while curves represent creativity and flexibility. I feel that to be successful in what ever we do, we need to follow strict routines or discipline (lines) but yet able to inject creativity, humour and make flexible changes (Curves). This is like trying to unite “Form” and “Function” in the art of web design.

Symmetry is everywhere in the universe. As you can see, I used alot of symmetry in this work to prevent the art from becoming too abstract. People want to know what is going on with things around them and symmetry provides a recognizable clue.

To me, a strong design combines creativity and logic. In other words, there should be observable pattern in chaos and vice versa. If something is too abstract, people do not understand it and lose interest easily. On the other hand, if something is too easily recognized, people do not feel challenged and will not probed further. I feel that “House of Colours” is somewhere in between and should be able to entertain people visually, I hoped.

Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

When I first began my own business, Short And Sweet Web Design, I needed some mock ups for my website to show my clients what I was capable of. As my business caters to both corporate and personal websites, I felt that a page of illustration and customised graphics would help sell the personal website services.

I decided to make up a page showing my baby’s first Christmas, which would allow for lots of colour and design possibilities. While I have been partly university educated in art, I usually find that I put paint to paper a lot less these days, especially when software programs such as Adobe Illustrator CS can help me do the job even quicker. So long as I remember to press the SAVE button…..but that’s another story!

Obviously, being a Christmas webpage, I thought I would use Christmas colours and a few complimentary colours. The first thing I did was to close my eyes and imagine a very colourful page. Initially, I tried experimenting with red and green page backgrounds but it looked a little too gaudy, so I finally settled on making the illustrations gaudy and the background a lighter blue.

As illustration takes a lot longer to do than almost anything else in design, I wanted to do something a little different. Instead of a traditional pine Christmas tree, I created a topiary tree and decided to follow the style of Bob Staake ( which had interested me in the past.

After perusing Bob’s website once more, I decided to come up with the elements of the design (eg, Christmas tree, elves, holly etc) and drew up a few disjointed illustrations in Illustrator (see page of bits on right). My usual process is to sit, look and play with the bits until they form a coherent whole. For example, I believe it took an hour to make up my mind to have the topiary tree, the background and the elves as part of one illustration.

Once the separate parts I had created were combined, I was able to fill in the blank bits, such as adding the box of presents, the lollies and the plum pudding.

Illustration is one of the most relaxing forms of design, especially if you have time to do something for yourself! Often I find with creative projects like this that some sort of image comes to mind before I even begin (in this case it was a bit of a hazy image but worked in the end). I would definitely recommend using digital media as a medium as you can resize the images for print and web, and easily put them into any setting, especially if you don’t want to be bothered taking out the background!