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Forums » RP Discussion » Character Designs: Outfits, Fashion sense etc.

For those of you who draw your own character's art, how do you come up with outfits. I've always found clothing to be difficult for me, especially in a fantasy setting. I try to make outfits that are functional and I always envy those who have neat clothing designs. So I was curious to see how other people came up with the fashion sense of their Characters.
I dress them to represent what they are, although I can pretty much only draw cloth and leather; no plate mail 'cause that's really hard. :/

Like... Kiron has been living in a church for about twelve years now, so he's dressed as a priest would be in the setting he originally belongs to. Akiro is a Japanese samurai, so I gave him a kimono and other such things that hint to the Japanese vision of a warrior (as well as an accent when speaking).

Adventurer characters or those who have to travel a lot usually wear more clothes which are more rugged, and/or their sleeves are shorter or less open (I draw big, long sleeves a lot otherwise). Characters who are adept at fighting will have light and simple clothes.

I'm guessing I have a tendency to add leather belts and other such non-cloth clothing and accessories the more "badass" a character's usual attitude is. Commoners and non-fighters almost always wear cloth exclusively, whereas brawny brawlers will often have more leather and maybe metal, and agile fighters might not even wear that much. Then again, that's pretty subjective; I'm really unable to give a lot of complicated clothes to most of my characters; usually, it'll be basic shirt/tunic, basic pants/skirt, accessories, and done.
It depends on the character's setting. I have a few that live in the modern world who wear a lot of punky clothes that come off the top of my head. I love buckles and straps.

My fantasy characters tend to wear a lot of functional leather and corset; because again, I love buckles and straps XD I get reaaaaally into the tiny detail od laces and stuff.
In retrospect, of the characters I've entered on here only one of them has a fully drawn outfit XD Mephorae is the only one.

I also tend to really enjoy how the body comes out when I'm drawing something and regret covering it up with less interesting clothing.
tenzle Topic Starter

I usually don't have trouble designing my japanese characters since they're based on historical fashion and I have adequate enough resources for Kimono etc. But I meant by my question, Do you have a process? do you go through pictures, research fashion, or just draw whatever the heck you like?
Basically? All my characters wear jeans and a random shirt. XD

I just draw random clothing when I draw, and I avoid describing clothing beyond a general thing like 'rugged'. The most detailed I'll get is something character specific, like the fact that Nana carries several small pouches on her. Most of my characters are like me when it comes to clothing- they just plain don't care. They'd have to check to see what color their shirt is, they put on a coat when it's cold, and the warriors wear armor. I don't get much more specific than that unless I had to. I tell ya, designing Surinn's uniform beyond "it's white and he has a lot of medals" almost killed me. @.@

I usually play in a modern setting, though, so I've luckily never really had to go too far afield in what my characters wear. ^^;
As far as process? No I don't really have one. I get an idea in my head based on things I've seen or the character's personality/class type and I just go for it.
I used to be really into Fashion Design all throughout high school, so a lot of the clothing my characters wear I came up with. Though, I do have my inspirations. Those vary depending on what kind of character it is. When I'm low on inspiration or creative juice, google is my best friend. I just google 'sun dress' or whatever and browse around until an idea comes to mind.

I start by designing the top first. That's like... my centerpiece lol. Then the bottoms, then jewelry if there is any, shoes if there is any and then any other finishing touches.
No actual research process for me. I can't stand to feel like I'm copying off of something. I get an idea from what would be most practical for the role they serve and/or what is most likely for them to be wearing. It's really a lot more about the attitude of the character in my opinion; personality reflects through appearance.
tenzle Topic Starter

See if its historically based I look for fashion of the time/Region so I can at least get a general Idea of what the character could wear. Then I go from there.
Kim Site Admin

I try to start from historical sources, but when it's a fantasy universe, I generally feel fairly at liberty to fudge periods and add more fantastical touches. For instance, lockets weren't really popular until the Victorians (or so I'm told), but I don't feel that bad about letting a renaissance character have one. To me, it's not so glaring as to destroy a setting. Blue jeans and t-shirts in medieval settings, on the other hand, make me want to set things on fire.
It really depends on my character - a lot of the time they have very specific taste in clothing as dictated by their personalities: then I have a guideline to work in. I don't draw my characters but I do have a tendancy to give a short description of what they look like and what they're wearing when I introduce them in a story or rp. Their personalities and jobs lay out what they might wear: my Paladins share a tendancy to wear simple clothes that are cheap and easy to replace because they keep ruining them by getting stabbed.

I'm lazy, though - even my Troubadour (who should really be a bit of a dandy) dresses simply for convenience. ^^;
All i honestly do is draw the base outline, and then start thinking of ideas...For example, for a demon character, i think of what colors demons would wear, and then put those aside, and think...well demons are normally sharp, spike, cunning, deadly... Etc etc, and start with the basic of the uniform< THEN i add the details. I start with one or two things, then build up and up until i have a complex work of art that i could never repeat.
More often then not, I just find taking step by steo the best idea.
Ilmarinen Moderator

I try to start from historical sources, but when it's a fantasy universe, I generally feel fairly at liberty to fudge periods and add more fantastical touches. For instance, lockets weren't really popular until the Victorians (or so I'm told), but I don't feel that bad about letting a renaissance character have one. To me, it's not so glaring as to destroy a setting. Blue jeans and t-shirts in medieval settings, on the other hand, make me want to set things on fire.

This is the way I do it, too, even in fantasy settings. Fantasy settings are almost always influenced by real-life historical periods, so I look at those influences and pick something to match. If it ISN'T influenced by anything/is really its own thing, then the creator of the setting probably has examples and descriptions of clothing. That's just the way it usually goes. :P So setting comes first, for me! Then comes the character's likes. Do they like to look good or be comfortable? Are they messy or neat? Are they rich or poor (this is a BIG one!)? I find that designing clothing almost always comes naturally to me when I think in this process.
As previous folks have mentioned, I think you're okay if you stick with the general feel of the setting your character is in. A few anachronisms shouldn't harm anything--they could, in fact, enhance what you're going for, so long as everything else is relatively period accurate. For example, glasses were somewhere between non-existent and barely used at around the Time of the early middle ages, but if you're playing in a medieval setting with a fantasy flavor, you could probably get away with giving your character a pair. Another thing to logically consider in these cases, though, is how these anachronisms would be treated if they were in an older period than the actually date from. Taking the glasses example again, if they did exist in such an era, they'd probably be extremely expensive and relatively basic-looking, and they'd work less like prescription glasses and more like magnifying lenses. Here, you have different parameters to have to work around; would your character be able to afford glasses? Did they maybe obtain a pair from someone or something else, and if so, how likely is it that they might not work so well, or that they're damaged?

So, long story short, while I wholly approve of cleverly utilizing non-obnoxious anachronisms in fantastical character design, that doesn't mean you can chuck all logic right out the window!

As for my actual design process, I generally begin with a basic idea about the character, their personality, their usual location and what they do, and then I just kind of build on that. I attempt to cause each of my characters to strongly exude a particular theme (or even several), and their clothing is one way I do that. I think the best clothing designs are the ones that reflect a lot about the character's personal life, cares or interests in a natural way. For example, somebody wearing 9000 spikes and chains is clearly TRYING to come off as badass, or has a player who wants them to seem so; a character who dresses more logically but still has a hint of that sort of thing here and there where it isn't excessively obvious and seems more like minor, personal taste than a demand for people to perceive them a certain way will probably make the impression stronger, believe it or not.
Kim Site Admin

Excellent points, Wizard! I'm so glad you threw that in.

My process is kind of vague. I just think of an outfit I would like. I tend to lean toward loin cloths, extremely long pleated/layered skirts, and corsets/girdles/sashes. I also enjoy robes if I'm playing a magic user.

Mostly, I just give my characters things that look nice to me. I guess usually I try to pick colors and designs that fit their personality. Suwoh is a playful, innocent little fox, and I like loincloths and breast bands, so I gave her a frilly, pristine white matching loincloth and breast band set. Jevaku favors earthy tones, to match his earthy personality, so he'll probably wear grey, brown, and maroon.

Sneeuw tends to wear black, though sometime she'll wear black and daffodil yellow, or black and red, or black and pale blue. But usually there's always black.

Eirwyn also tends toward black, usually all-black instead of black-and-another-color. And then sometimes she forgoes black and picks very vivid, intense colors. An example would be a rich peacock blue dress, or perhaps a robe covered in colors that sort of blend into each other- aquacyan, indigo, cerulean- with gold hems. So her choice of clothing on any given day reflects an aspect of her- the dark part, or the vivid, glamorous part.

Edit: Heh, I felt it important to add I'm also very fond of gloves and sarees. And veils, and masks. And shawls.
Well, I normally research different clothing before I decide on an outfit. I used to not be good at fashion design at all, and rummaging through countless portfolios and image search engines have helped me develop my own ideas on fashion. That said, however, most of my characters have very functional clothing. My nurse, who is currently on an adventure across the world, still has on her uniform under her heavy coat/clothing because her home town was invaded and destroyed while she was still at work!

I tend to give my characters their outfits based on their jobs, personalities, and the geography/weather of their area. Once I have researched and have a good idea of all the components I could use, I then stitch parts together in a few rough sketches until I decide. I have gone a little overboard with my bellydancer, though. She has as many outfits as I have other characters! But I suppose that is because I do bellydance myself and understand the significance of having multiple outfits.

tl;dr, It depends on the character how I research and build their clothes.
Kim Site Admin

Clearly, we need to have some kind of RPR fashion show.
Clearly, you are on to something.

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