Costume design/making and 3D software

During my MA various lecturers have mentioned that Cosplayers are extremely resourceful as they have a culture of sharing patterns and how-to videos. Cosplayers run their own websites/online shops. Social media, YouTube, and other sharing platforms make their resources such as patterns or making tutorials very easily accessible and inexpensive. Unlike many professional makers who tend to either keep their making processes to themselves or publish books which may be costly, especially if only one pattern is needed from the whole book. From my own experience, I can confirm that having instantly accessible patterns and tutorials such as Lost Wax’s online store and YouTube tutorials is super convenient and user-friendly. Thus, one might wonder why is it that costume makers are less likely to share their patterns and processes?

Previous experiences have taught me that generally, a maker has very tight deadlines and often is tasked with back-to-back projects and little time in between. Thus, one can understand why they generally do not have the liberty of also generating and uploading digital patterns/tutorials. But, I strongly believe that accessibility would really help develop practitioner's knowledge and allow further experimentation and discovery.

Img 1 — The famous blue dress designed by Sandra Powell and made by Jane Law

For example, if I wanted to use fiber optic fabric to make a Cinderella dress inspired by Sandra Powell’s design — the process would be a lot shorter if the patterns were accessible with some making instructions/tips. Unfortunately, these patterns are not accessible so the making process would involve creating the patterns, creating a toile, and fitting that before starting the final piece. Since this blue dress needs 246.888 m of fabric and 4828.03m of hemming this will be a very lengthy and wasteful project. Imagine, if Jane Law (the costume maker) had to share the pattern (in a manner by which it can be changed for different sizes or with clear instructions of how to scale it up and down), a maker would skip the bulk of the above process and have time to really focus on experimenting with the fiberoptic fabric. In this case, the time saved from not needing to start the project from scratch could be in part used to share information about working with fiberoptic fabric. In turn, the next maker might want to make a quick change fiberoptic Cinderella dress, having all the above information would allow this maker to really focus on the next development.

Other than helping develop costume practices as we know them, selling patterns individually will be a profitable practice for the makers. Thus, the question stands, how will makers who already have very little time digitize their patterns?

While researching the above, I came across an article on Business of Fashion that discusses how fashion schools are teaching their designers 3D digital media. This spiked my interest and I found that tg3d is the software adopted by these schools. This software provides makers and designers with the opportunity to input the wearer’s measurements and model correct figure size, upload digital patterns and add the fabric choices. These will then create an animated 3D version of the clothing on the desired figure shape and allow makers to see how the clothing moves and looks from all angles in the final fabric. At this stage changing the pattern and fabric choice should be much easier than if this process had followed more traditional and conventional techniques.

My BFA in Digital Art provided me with a basic understanding of how to work with Maya (3D modeling software), and different digital designing software. I hope that my understanding of this software will help me, but realise that having never constructed my pattern cutting digitally and used that to create clothing will be challenging. Having researched tg3d, I was not convinced that it was user-friendly enough, or included all the features needed to create clothing from start to finish.

Img 2 — Job opportunity

Further research was conducted and it was learned that Parsons is using CLO3D for its 3D. When accessing www.clo3d.com one will notice that the website is very easy to navigate and includes tutorials on the whole making process, from the initial pattern cutting to creating photo-ready and animatable results. When looking at their YouTube channel it was noted that they have a playlist of collaborations, focusing on how the software may be adopted for more than just mainstream fashion, but costume making is not mentioned, thus, I wish to focus on this gap in the market. I found a listing for a costume designer who can use the software dating to May 2021, this encourages me to believe that the research will be beneficial for my professional development.

My research aims to document the following:

  • How long it will take to learn to use the software using the online tutorials.
  • Whether the tutorials are sufficient for costume makers/designers to teach themselves to use the software.
  • Is the 3D software useful when creating unconventional garments/masks, or is it most beneficial when creating more mainstream looks?
  • Is pattern alteration as easy as it seems?
  • Would adapting a pattern for a whole chorus of characters in different sizes be easier or more complex on such software?
  • Would such software make selling/sharing patterns easier?
  • Is it really more time/cost/resource-efficient to create the patterns digitally?
  • Is the digital version of the clothing very similar to the real create a piece or is there a big discrepancy between the real and 3D version?

The bulk of my research will involve educating myself about the software. After I have come to grasp the basics of digital pattern cutting and 3D animation I would like to create a costume/s of a Maltese Monster. It will be really interesting to see how the digital version will look and then

Initially, my plan was to see whether I could create a monster costume that looks as terrifying/real as a CGI monster. Ironically, the way my project has developed I will now be creating the CGI version myself in order to make the costume. Of course, my digital version will probably not be able to compare with a professional rigger’s monster, but that is not the purpose of my rendering. Rather, it is to focus on digitising patterns and digital 3D costumes.

Even though I’m Maltese, I know very little about the Maltese traditional folklore tales of beasts and monsters. My initial thoughts were that my lack of knowledge was due to my upbringing but later found out that a lot of my generation back home in Malta do not know about them either. By creating this/these costume/s and presenting them via social media platforms I hope to spike viewers’ interests and educate them about these monsters and their stories. Since I am not reading for my masters in Malta this study will present our small island stories to a wider public who may have otherwise never had the chance to learn about the culture.

Img 3–5 — Maltese Mythological creatures/fables illustrated

While researching the mythology, it was intriguing to find out about traditions and creatures I had never heard of and learn about their stories. For example, the Maltese version of the siren ‘Sirena’ has two legs with a fin at the end of each. The monster which really intrigued me was ‘Ċensa l-mewt’ (Ċ sound is the same as ch) which literally translates to Ċensa (her name-an old typical Maltese name) the death. This mythical creature is only seen by old people/those near death. She wears a traditional Maltese għonella (which looks like a wired hood) which somewhat covers their skeletal features. It would be really interesting to line the inside of the hood with lighting and make her skeletal mask out of gems. If this costume were to be worn in a staged production it would be really interesting to have Ċensa engulf the dying character into her għonella. When she opens the għonella to engulf the character the audience will see all the light hidden in the darkness of her costume and it will look as though the character is ‘going towards the light’.

My aim is to see how far I can push textiles and transform the human’s natural physical body shapes to fit the fantastical shapes and bodies of these folklore monsters. Having worked as both a costume designer and maker, I aim to do both the designing/costume illustrations as well as the 3D development and making.

Conclusion:

My reading list for the digital aspect of this project will grow organically, as I will mostly need to follow tutorials and blog posts as the project grows. I bought ‘The Maltese Bestiary’ for my initial research on Maltese Monsters. The aim of this. book is to present as many Maltese Monsters and traditions as possible and does not have as much detail as I would need if I choose to focus on one or two monsters. Thus, I compiled the below list of individuals who would be interesting to interview and hopefully present more details on the stories of these magnificent mythological creatures.

I recently watched Encoanto and the costumes are so well thought through that it shows that they had a professional costume designer coordinating and designing them. A couple of years ago I looked into whether there was work for costume designers and makers in animated films. At the time costumes for animated films were taken care of by the character designers. Now, like when animated films had originally started, animation studios are giving priority to the costumes and allowing professionals to work on them. I believe that being able to create 3D clothing at the designing stage would be really useful when working in this part of the industry.

Finally, once I have learned how to use the software, weighed out the pros and cons of generating costumes in this way, I would like to take my works and ideas to industry practitioners and see what they think about it. I would also like to present it to my fellow student peers and see if their opinion is the same as practitioners'. As it may be that students may be more willing to learn how to use the new software than practitioners who have managed to succeed in their career without it.

People I would like to interview about the monsters

Stephan D Mifsud (Author of ‘The Maltese Bestiary’.)

Pierre Portelli (Designer of ‘The Maltese Bestiary’.)

Maltese artists inspired by the monsters:

Eric Leone https://www.instagram.com/ericleoneart/

Joseph Bugeja https://www.instagram.com/josephbugejart/?hl=en

https://www.maltacomiccon.com/hotel-babaw-fantasy-art-exhibition-joseph-bugeja/

https://www.josephbugejart.com/uploads/1/6/4/2/16422808/17498876_1607691629260339_3352219208236678259_n.jpg

Bibliography

  • Bain, M., 2022. The New Technologies Fashion Schools Are Teaching Students. [online] The Business of Fashion. Available at: <https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/technology/the-new-technologies-fashion-schools-are-teaching-students/?utm_source=instagram&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=feed&utm_content=later-23532289> [Accessed 13 January 2022].
  • CLO Official Site. 2021. CLO | 3D Fashion Design Software. [online] Available at: <https://www.clo3d.com/users/recruitview/299> [Accessed 13 January 2022].
  • Digital Fashion Evolution with 3D Fashion Technologies | TG3D Studio. n.d. Digital Fashion Evolution with 3D Fashion Technologies | TG3D Studio. [online] Available at: <https://www.tg3ds.com/> [Accessed 13 January 2022].
  • Janelaw.co.uk. 2022. Jane Law — Bespoke Costumes. [online] Available at: <http://www.janelaw.co.uk/gallery/cinderella/index.html> [Accessed 13 January 2022].
  • Kurtti, J., 2019. The Art of Disney Costuming (Disney Editions Deluxe): Heroes, Villains, & Spaces Between. New York: Hyperion, pp.33, 36.
  • Lost Wax. n.d. Pattern Shop — Lost Wax. [online] Available at: <https://www.lostwaxoz.com/shop> [Accessed 13 January 2022].
  • Marketing, C., 2020. Parsons Fashion Design Students Unveil Final Presentations Using CLO — CLO Virtual Fashion. [online] CLO Virtual Fashion. Available at: <https://clovirtualfashion.blog/2020/01/17/parsons-fashion-design-students-unveil-final-presentations-using-clo/> [Accessed 13 January 2022].
  • Mifsud, S., 2014. The Maltese bestiary. Blata l-Bajda: Merlin Publishers.
  • Youtube.com. 2022. Before you continue to YouTube. [online] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCApF8J_2QeJ8QPXIAZ25uhw> [Accessed 13 January 2022].
  • Youtube.com. 2021. Making Pattern: Pattern Drafting (EN). [online] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4uUScYmY9Q&list=PLqL8Ymi3Z68CVPyVcVMfVgVwsEXDy0hOh> [Accessed 13 January 2022].

Table of Images

Img 1 — Cinderella costume — Janelaw.co.uk. 2022. Jane Law — Bespoke Costumes. [online] Available at: <http://www.janelaw.co.uk/gallery/cinderella/index.html> [Accessed 13 January 2022].

Img 2 — Job opportunity — CLO Official Site. 2021. CLO | 3D Fashion Design Software. [online] Available at: <https://www.clo3d.com/users/recruitview/299> [Accessed 13 January 2022].

Img 3–5 — Maltese Mythological creatures/fables illustrated (Manduca2022)

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Michela Manduca

Michela Manduca

Maltese student at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, currently reading for my MA in costume making.