I AM SO EXCITED, but also I waiting to see the official announce before I start freaking out. :) Really cool to see the recent art leak, even if it does just look like cell-shaded Naoko art- curious to see if that reflects the final style of the show.
I think more than anything I’m psyched to see how they revamp the villains, and the clothing- the original BSSM anime was a paragon of 90’s fashion, and I’d love to see how that gets updated for a new generation some twenty-odd years later.
Still alive! I promise. I’m trying to put a sketchbook together for Emerald City Comic-con, so that’s going to chew up the next couple of weekends.
What would you guys want to see? I think the daily robots will be a lot of what makes in it in, but for the rest I’m trying to decide between a lot of smaller, looser sketches, or a couple of finished illustrations. hrm hrm.
COLIN’S DOING A BOOK FOR ECCC! Go tell him what you wanna see. :)
YOU WERE FEATURED ON I09! I felt a huge sense of pride and validation seeing you there. And I don't even know you. How are you not raving on about this?
haha, aww thanks! It might be because it’s the third time they’ve featured my art, but it is actually rad to see an article about my entire oeuvre and not just the princesses. I am definitely chuffed. :D
Claire's fancy-pants HISTORICAL FASHION MASTER POST
So my historical costuming resources list from 2011 was less than a page long- I’m not saying that I’ve learned a lot in the past three years, but this list is now sitting pretty at a solid nine pages. Whew. And people wonder why I want to redo this damn series.
This list is by no means an exhaustive one- it’s a list of (primarily western) historical fashion resources, both online and offline, that is limited to what I know, own, or use! It’s a work in progress, and I’m definitely hoping to expand on it as my knowledge base grows. First things first, how about a little:
ADVICE FOR RESEARCHING HISTORICAL FASHION
Read, and read about more than just costuming. Allowing yourself to understand the cultural and historical context surrounding the clothing of a particular region/period can be invaluable in sussing out good costume design. Looking at pictures is all well and good, but reading about societal pressures, about construction techniques, daily routines, local symbolism, whatever else will really help you understand the rhyme and reason behind costuming from any given context.
Expand your costume vocabulary. When you’re delving into a new topic, costuming or otherwise, picking up new terminology is essential to proper understanding and furthering your research. Write down or take note of terms as you come across them- google them, look up synonyms, and use those words as a jumping off point for more research. What’s a wire rebato? How does it differ from a supportasse? Inquiring minds want to know.
Double-check your sources. Especially on the internet, and double especially on tumblr. I love it, but it’s ground zero for rapidly spreading misinformation. Books are usually your safest bet, but also take into account their date of publication, who’s writing them- an author’s biases can severely mangle their original source material.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do everything you can to find out information on your own, but feel free to reach out to people with more specialized areas of knowledge for help! Be considerate about it- the people you’re asking are busy as well- but a specific line of questioning that proves you’re passionate and that you respect their subject matter expertise can work wonders.
Okay, onto the links!
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of getting off the internet and looking into books! God bless the internet, but books are (generally, this isn’t a rule) better-researched and better-sourced. Bibliographies also mean each individual books can be a jumping off point for further research, which is always a fantastic thing.
Remember- owning books is awesome and you should absolutely assemble your own library of resources, but LIBRARIES. Libraries. You’ll be surprised to find what books are available to you at your local library.
A History of Costume A lot of good text and info, to be taken with a grain of salt. Be wary of any reconstructions and or “supposed” patterns that aren’t directly based on extant garments or firsthand accounts.
Fashion in Detail books Not what you want if you’re looking for photos of entire costumes- note the “in detail” bit up there. Just a beautiful series, and great reference for all the little things you might miss otherwise. The V&A has an amazing fashion collection, and it’s great to see them share it with the world.
So I’ve been answering asks about where to start digging for resources individually, but I’m getting a bit overwhelmed- while my FAQ has a small sampling of historical costuming resources, I’m actually working on a huge update with tons more books, links, blogs, the works! Hoping to post it soon, so stay tuned. :)
Hi Lissa! I love your work and your stories. I hope to work as a story artist myself, and I was wondering if you could give me some tips! Thanks a bunch!
Answering publicly, because i get this question a lot :) Sorry to anyone who’s asked this before and gotten an abbreviated answer (or no answer, sorrysorrysorry!), it’s a big thing to sit down and write and i want to be as thorough as i can. But i hope this helps anyone who needs it!
Story tips, wow. I’ll try and list as many as i can! I’ll try to keep it from getting too ramble-y because man, there’s just so much to talk about! I know i’ll leave some out anyway, because there’s stuff i forget all the time. I’ve had the benefit of learning from some really awesome people and goodness knows i’m still learning from them. I’ll try and get the biggies :)
NOTE: These are all coming from my experience working in feature animation at one studio. Different studios will have different cultures and ways of working, and i understand that boarding for T.V. is a whole different animal from boarding for feature, but i think most of these should apply to visual story-telling across the board.
And as always, these are TIPS not RULES :)
- CHARACTER IS KEY. Always think about your character, what they are doing and why they are doing it. This applies to camerawork too. THE CAMERA IS THE INVISIBLE CHARACTER IN EVERY SCENE. Just as a character wouldn’t do something unmotivated, camera moves and shots need motivation too. What are we looking at? WHY are we looking at it? HOW are we seeing it? How is it making the AUDIENCE FEEL? That’s the core of any visual story-telling medium, and in a time-based medium like film you get a whole other level added on.
- Related note: we should always be with the main character. this doesn’t necessarily mean always LOOKING at them, but we should know what’s in their head, what they want, how they feel about what’s going on at any given point in the story. Usually they are the anchor for how the audience is supposed to feel about what’s happening. You lose them, you lose emotion.
- YOU ARE AN ENTERTAINER! "Entertainment" doesn’t always equal "comedy"; it equals "What i’m watching makes me feel something". I’ve found that entertainment often comes from specificity. Think about how you do ordinary things, how people you know do them. Say you have a scene where your character is cooking breakfast. How does she do it in a way that no other character would? Maybe she does a little dance while she’s making an omelette if no one else is around. Maybe she NEVER gets a clean break in an egg and always has to pick bits of eggshell out of there. Maybe she’s out of milk and has to sub in yogurt or something and just prays it doesn’t make her omelette totally gross… (…sorry, i’m digressing, this is just… a description of me making an omelette.) Think about specifics, make your character feel real, no matter if they’re making an omelette or falling in love or fighting giant robots.
- All that being said, you also have to be CLEAR and ECONOMICAL with screen time. Consider how much time you have to convey an idea. Sometimes you have time to linger and do fun character stuff. Sometimes you just have a few shots to convey a plot point. Learn to gauge what a scene NEEDS and try and see it in the context of the story as a whole. (note: there are usually still ways to get character specificity in these quick beats. try and find them!)
- CLARITY IN DRAWING. Clarity is important for drawing boards too. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be detailed (and in many cases it SHOULDN’T be), it doesn’t have to be finished… as long as it’s CLEAR. This is probably the big difference between storyboarding and illustration; story is NOT the place for making pretty pictures :)
- Hand in hand with the last point, is for story you need to be able to draw clear and FAST. Sequence turn-around can be quick (i once had to do three passes on one scene in a week), and in the course of working on a project most of what you do will be redrawn many, many times. Don’t be precious, don’t be afraid to kill your babies.
- KNOW STORYTELLING. As a lot of these tips have probably implied, drawing is only a part of storyboarding. You have to understand story structure and film making. There are a lot of resources out there for this. Robert Mckee’s book, simply titled “Story” is a good starting point for understanding story structure, and Bruce Block’s book “The Visual Story” is an amazing breakdown of all the elements of visual story telling as applied to film (but really it applies to anything). I also always direct people to Mark Kennedy’s blog. Mark is a head of story here at Disney, amazing board artist, teacher, and all around good dude. His blog is a masterclass in itself, and he covers a variety of topics from drawing to composition to story: http://sevencamels.blogspot.com/
- DON’T HAVE AN EGO. This is a big one and functions on many levels; you have to work with a team; you have to be able to give notes constructively and not get offended if your notes aren’t taken; you have to remember that you’re working to support the DIRECTORS vision, not your own; you have to be able to take the notes you’re given and not take them PERSONALLY; you have to be willing to throw out all the boards you’ve spent the last week working on and start over if the production requires it; you have to be willing to see your sequence handed off to a different artist who will probably re-draw most of it. You can’t have an ego because almost NONE of these things are actually about you. They very rarely have any bearing on your ability as an artist. This is just how the process works, and at the end of the day almost no one will actually see the thousands of drawings and all the hard work you’ve done over the course of about two years. They say “all story no glory” and it’s absolutely true.
If you’ve gotten through all of this and aren’t totally terrified… then maybe story is for you :) Also, to reiterate; many studios work differently. Some places will give you more creative freedom as a story teller than others. I’m really fortunate to work in a place where i do have an amount of creative freedom and feel that my voice is heard and my opinion is valued. But no matter where you work, all of these things can always, always ALWAYS be applied to your own stories. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a big studio or paying the bills as a barista or are still in school, you can ALWAYS tell your own stories :)
Above all, work with confidence, listen to criticism without letting it own you, find the truth in it that will help you be better. And draw draw draw! :)
Im going to be thinking about this all day and flipping out when i remember things i’ve left out.
What sorts of corsets (or bustiers, unless those are ALWAYS intended as lingerie) can be worn outside clothing? I really like the visual design of corsets on women (and there are men who can rock it, sure) but I'd rather not seem generic or lazy about character design by just slapping a half-assed thing around her waist and going "there, now she's pretty"
well the thing to remember about character design is that you’re designing interesting, compelling characters that make sense within the context of the universe you’re creating- not necessarily just designing something you like the look of. :) I totally fall into that trap myself (if I had my way everyone would have jodhpurs and epaulettes and hussar jackets), but most of the characters I design at work have no reason to be wearing a visible corset- it goes against their personality, their station, their setting, what have you.
And, from a visual standpoint, I don’t necessarily want all of my costumes having a big band of fabric across the middle! Sometimes you want loose clothing, sometimes you want long, visual lines that continue through an entire garment- it would be like putting every male character you design in a vest.
Obviously everything’s fair game when you’re designing a universe from the ground up, but from a historical standpoint there are a couple of instances where you might see some corset-esque fashion motifs. I was just pointed to this amazing article on The Dreamstress about the differences between corsets and swiss waists/corsetlets, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.
The thing with the corsets is that people believe that they wore corsets on the outside back then. So whether or not they did doesn't really matter that much to someone basing a game on it. Giving the people what they expect to find in that time period actually makes them seem MORE historically accurate. If they had period correct attire most regular folks would complain that they didn't properly represent the clothing of that time. Perception is more important than Reality in this instance.
"people are idiots so we should cater to them" is the worst defense of bad designs I have ever heard
Who are these people? I know of no instance where there was a sudden OUTCRY because something that claimed to be historically accurate was actually historically accurate.
I agree with the new comic thinger you made. That being said, how do you feel about Elizabeth's design? She wears a corset too, though Bioshock Infinite is based in 1912.
Well this specific post is less about corsets on the outside (which is a whole ‘nother can of worms), and more about this specific type of generic waist cincher that I keep seeing over and over again… buuuuut I’m pretty against corsets on the outside either way, let’s be honest. :)
I don’t think visible corsetry is innately bad, I just think it’s a shame when it’s used in lieu of better, more character-driven options- or when the corset itself is just poorly-designed. I actually drew this a couple months back, showing what I would have liked to see for Liz’s second outfit:
It’s purportedly her mother’s clothing, so I wanted something that read as mature, austere, and slightly dated. You can still maintain a lot of the color blocking with a Belle Epoque-style corsetlet, and I think it would drive home the idea that Liz is uncomfortable and out of place in this costume.
Okay, here's just an idea I had... But what about a historical Nala done in the style of the Broadway Lion King? Like with the lion head piece and then historical African clothing? I don't know just something that I think would be really stunning :)
A lot of people have suggested this, oddly enough! This always seems a bit weird for me to lay out, but the reason I haven’t done this (or just drawn Nala in Himba garb, par example) is that there’s no challenge in it. Or, if there is, it’s at its best an arbitrary one. If that makes sense. Julie Taymor is a costuming goddess- I feel like trying to impose particular cultural/historical context onto her costumes does a disservice to the conscious, respectful thought and design that went into that entire production. At least for me! I’m sure others would love to do this, but I personally get no satisfaction from it. :)
This series was born out of a love for the Disney pantheon, yes, but more importantly it was born out of a love for historical costuming, and the challenge I got from breaking down a costume into its most basic elements and rebuilding it in a new, refreshed context. I’m less concerned about being able to check characters off of some massive checklist- and oh it is a massive checklist- and more about stretching my character/costume design muscles.
This series rapidly became, and continues to be, something of an obligation for me- I’m fighting against the urge to sate people’s requests and really trying to make sure that I’m focusing on what about this series makes me happy, and makes me feel artistically fulfilled. Esmeralda, Alice, Merida, Elsa and so many others have already been designed, but they’re just wasting away on my hard drive because I’m caught in a limbo where I’m tired of finishing these pieces in a style of mine from three years ago. It’s very weird.
There’s a reason why characters like Captain Amelia and Princess Kidagakash are on my “not interested” list- yes, it could be fun to draw either of these characters in historical costuming, but it’s a different challenge than the particular one I’m attacking with this series. I don’t want to force myself to take on characters if it’s not what I was trying to do in the first place. Not right now, anyway. :)
Sorry to use your ask as a jumping off point for a rant, aagh! I have just been thinking this a lot lately and needed to get it off of my chest.
I'm a big fan and I saw your post about artist attribution - or the lack of (& have seen many other artists on tumblr mention this problem). Now, this may be completely naive, but a way that I've tried to get round this happening is by setting a click-through link to my blog on blogger whenever I post a drawing on tumblr. That way, even when it's reblogged, the source is still visible. There might be a way people can get round this but so far it's worked for me. What do you think? Best wishes, T
Oh it’s absolutely a good idea, but I don’t think you and I are the problem! :) The issue is with people who (maliciously or not, lots of people do this unknowingly) strip art of its context and repost it without regard for the subtle-yet-damaging consequences.
The thing is, we have no way of knowing how many people download our art, crop out the watermark, put it on imgur, post it to their own blog, what have you. The person who posted my princesses clearly knew who I was and was capable of proper attribution but, las and fearful alack, didn’t really go out of their way to do so.
There’s only so much we can do on our end to prevent this from happening- I don’t want to slap a giant watermark on my work, so I just loose my art on the world and hope for the best. :P
Hi Heather. Your Book of Atrus comic has made my year. I have been deeply in love with cyan's world, and the books were a major part of my creative history. To this day I would put them in my top 5 stories/worlds/sub-creations/franchises (whatever you choose to call it). Your adaptation is pitch perfect. You're capturing the characters and locations beautifully. Seeing this beloved book brought to life had given me so much hope. You've reminded me why I got into this business to begin with.
Matt, you wrote this a while ago. I was overwhelmed by the fact that someone’s whose work I’VE ADORED SINCE FOREVER was writing such NICE THINGS to ME. Apologies for the delay. Thank you so much for writing this. It made MY YEAR. I’ve been following your work since I was in high school. I am a huge fan. I remember reading your comic of the ending to BoA and just having my mind blown. Your sense of drama and atmosphere just makes me so happy. I’m really honored that you are enjoying my BoA adaptation so far. Thank you!
I’m excited to follow you here on tumblr! I can dream that maybe, I don’t know, some new Myst fanart will appear on my dash??
Hey guys- if I was gonna do more walkthroughs/tutorials/process posts like those of recenthistory, is there anything in particular you’d like to see me cover? I get a lot of individual requests, but I’d love to focus on things that would hit home with a lot of people at once.
Also no “how do I art” tutorials, more like… specifics. tricks. That sort of thing. :)