It’s been a bit crazy around here and a lot of exciting things are coming up (most of which I’ll be able to share with you VERY soon!), but I needed to escape for a few minutes, take a deep breath and share something that I have been obsessing over lately. Fashion illustration.
If you’ve known me for a long time, you know I’ve been sketching little models and dressing them up since I was teenie. If I got a bad grade in school, it could usually be attributed to classroom hours spent doodling dresses in my marble notebooks instead of listening to a lecture. The notebooks were bursting with pencil or pen-drawn characters in an assortment of outfits — some of my own design, others straight from my real life wish list (probably Delia’s). I would share them with my friends and get excited about the idea of designing clothing someday. We would fantasize about creating our own wedding gowns and opening a shop with all the outfits we could dream up.
I honored my childhood aspirations in a somewhat strange way by getting into 3D clothing design when I was 19. This next part will probably require revisiting and further explanation, but in a nutshell, I made an account in a virtual world called Second Life and opened up a clothing store. Second Life is sort of like The Sims, only you can walk around and chat with other people who are logging in all over the world — and if you’re a 3D designer, texture mapping artist, etc., you can sell your creations to other users and make real money. This was how I earned part time income while in college (in addition to babysitting), and it has kept my love of fashion design/creation alive to this day.
The coolest thing about designing clothing in Second Life was that I got to share my creations in a much more personal way than just sketching them out on lined paper. I was able to put them up for sale and other people could purchase them, wear them, and walk around a virtual world all dressed up in something I made. The sharing of creativity that takes place there is incredible.
After years of doing only 3D and digital fashion design, I decided to pick up a pencil again when I came across the blog of Katie Rodgers, who has become my all time favorite fashion illustrator. Her blog/business is called PaperFashion, and she focuses primarily on watercolor. I was so inspired browsing through her work that I immediately went out and purchased a rinky dink set of watercolors, some brushes and a watercolor pad. Consider my 2D fashion journey revived!
I took a class Katie was teaching on SkillShare about how to do quick fashion sketches and watercoloring based on runway looks. It was super helpful, a TON of fun, and I was able to broaden my technique horizons significantly with her instruction. My goal was to produce pieces that were good enough to sell, so I kept at it and eventually opened a little shop on Society6 where I could sell prints, stationary and iPhone cases. Society6 is so cool because I just upload my artwork, they do the rest, and I’m able to share my creations similarly to how I’ve been able to share them in Second Life.
Copic Markers entered the scene most recently, after I got lost on YouTube for 4 hours watching a slew of video tutorials featuring Copics used for anime illustrations and product design renderings. I was fascinated by the blending capabilities of these alcohol-based markers. I ordered a few at a steep discount on Amazon (they’re pricey), and put them right to work. I did some pieces using only Copics and really liked the results, but then I started blending Copics with watercolors and fell in love.
I’m now doing at least 3 new pieces each week, and I’ve really enjoyed sharing work-in-progress shots and finished illustrations on Instagram (@tifforelie). I can’t tell you how relaxing it is to wake up in the morning, get a cup of coffee, sit down with my blank paper and a room full of soft sunlight, and make whatever pops into my head come to life with some ink and some paint.
If you’re feeling inspired, here’s the full list of what I’ve been using in case you want to get started on some fashion illustrations of your own:
XL Mixed Media Pad by Canson - for Copic illustrations
Arches Watercolor Block 140 Pound Hot Press Paper - for watercolors and watercolor/Copic hybrids
General’s Semi-Hex Graphite Pencils
Simply Simmons Brushes - my most used being #2, #4, #8 and #12
Reeves Gouache Paints - gouache is very similar to watercolor, though a bit thicker and more pigmented – but it can be sheered out with water the same exact way so I’ve been using these more often than my watercolor cakes. They also last longer and only squeezing out what you need preserves the original colors in the tubes.
Micron Pens - for outlining and detailing
Copic Sketch Markers
Martha Stewart Fine Glitter - for embellishing your colored work
Martha Stewart Fine Tip Glue Pen - for drawing out the area you want the glitter to stick to before giving it a light dusting.
In addition to the above list, you’ll need a cup of water, some paper towels for brush dabbing, a little watercolor palette (or waxed paper plate) for paint mixing, and your imagination!
Glitters were provided by CreateforLess.com — check out their site for more gorgeous Martha Stewart glitters and other crafting supplies!
All of the pieces I shared in this post are available as prints, stationary and iPhone cases on my Society6 page. If you’re interested in custom work or in purchasing originals, you can e-mail me here!
Do you have any artistic hobbies or passions that have been shelved for a while or that you’ve just been keeping to yourself? Why not share them? Let me know what they are in the comments below! I would LOVE to see your stuff on Instagram too! Hashtag your work (whatever it may be) with #oaibloginspired