There are a lot of things that go into visually designing a character. Among those things is developing hair and wardrobe. It can be a simple task to find a pose or body reference but what do you do when you need some inspiration on creating style? This week in Creative 5, we’ll look at five sites you may not have thought of that can make creating style a breeze.
Why Does Style Matter in Character Design?
There a tons of things that go into making characters great and infusing a personal style into their clothing and hair is one of those things. As people, we tend to cultivate unique preferences and styles that make us who we are and that same personalized touch can also add to the characters we create. The problem lies in finding the right references and tools to aid you in such a task.
While there are a myriad of sites that focus on pose and body references, finding a site that gives you some inspiration for things like shoes,hair, and clothing can be a bit tougher. It can seem like how a character dresses and styles their hair is a minuscule element, but when done correctly, it can be a become a defining trait that adds to the character.
Now this and the next issue will be a slight detour from previous blogs because I won’t be grading anything. Also, I want to make a note that while I did search pretty diligently I couldn’t find any sites for prop references. It was something I wanted but I just couldn’t find it. You can be rest assured that I’ll be on the lookout for that though. Also, keep in mind that even though a lot of these references have more modern appeal to them, you can get creative and modify them to work for characters of other genres so if you design fantasy,sci-fi, or other types of characters you can still consider these a good jumping off point for your designs.
Originally this spot was meant for Polyvore which was apparently shut down recently, but instead of getting bummed I dug around on the internet and found Fashmates. The wonderful thing about Polyvore and now Fashmates is that it allows you to build ensemble collages. Now the con is that it mainly features modern fashions but the pro is that you have a ton of different items to play around with including bags,shoes,jewelry and makeup so you can create a great starting point for wardrobe design and use your imagination to suit some of the clothing for other genres of characters. For me personally, I just like having a visual point for clothing design, so I can easily take a basic shirt and bottom and tailor it to be suited for anything from fantasy to horror. From what I can tell the app on Fashmates is close to identical to what Polyvore had and they also have an app which adds a bit of mobile value to it.
Shoes of Prey
As a lady, I truly believe you can’t live happily as a woman if you aren’t obsessed with either purses or shoes. I happen to like both and have more sets of high heels than I will ever use,especially as a freelance writer. But shoes are an important part of an outfit and can show just as much about a person’s personality as the rest of their clothes. Custom shoes aren’t a new thing and are in fact more popular now than ever. Shoes of Prey stands out because it has one of the most intuitive and detailed customization engines I’ve ever seen. Now the con is that you can really only design women’s shoes but I’ve included a few other sites that allow you to customize athletic and men’s shoes in a sort of similar fashion in the section after this one. I just felt like Shoes of Prey was the most impressive of the custom shoe sites that I found so it made the big list.
Designer’s Nexus is a little bit different as a resource because it provides a more traditional and not app-based approach. They have a large number of really affordable or free fashion design resources such as croquis,fashion flats, and pattern swatches that you can use in a program like Illustrator for a more hands-on approach. While these resources are aimed at burgeoning fashion designers, they can also be a great resources for designing wardrobe for a character.
Encyclopedia of Fashion
Now it should be noted that if you google this you will find a lot of great physical books exist on this sort of thing but for the purposes of this article I wanted to find something based purely online. The Encyclopedia of Fashion has few visuals but a ton of great information. What stood out the most to me was that it provides fashion information for different cultures and eras as well. It even goes into the less tangible fashion facts for different cultures like what influenced their clothing choices,the culture itself, body decorations, and even the fabrics that would have been used. This is one I would definitely recommend if you’re doing a character design that requires some cultural accuracy or even if you want to base a fictional people from a particular fashion era.
UK Hairdressers is as you would expect a site about hair, but what makes it an extraordinary resource is what a great resource for hairstyles it is. Their gallery contains thousands of well organized hairstyle references and as a bonus a great virtual salon tool that could be easily utilized to work with an uploaded character graphic since you can upload your own model or face to use.
Other Sites of Interest
So instead of honorable mentions for this topic I have a list of other interesting and inspiring sites you might find helpful in your character design endeavors. Some of them are directly related to dressing and styling but some of them are just great references to have in general.
More Custom Shoes
In my searches I found other sites that do custom shoes so I wanted to include those links in case someone might find them interesting to check out.
If visualizing some athletic shoes is your aim, you can check out custom shoe design apps on the sites for brand giants such as Converse, Adidas, and Vans. You can also try out visualizing some snazzy men’s shoes on Awl and Sundry.
Characterdesignreferences.com Visual Library
The characterdesignreferences.com site is a really nice resource in general but the visual library is where it really shines. The library has everything from anatomy to clothes and is actually really well organized considering the sheer amount of content in it. You can check it out here.
Clothing Store and Costume Shop Websites
There are hundreds of sites on the web for clothing stores and costume outlets that can be character design aids if you look at them the right way. I’ve found that costume shop sites are especially great for inspiration on fantasy and non-human characters or even period costumes. For example, I found this great site called OSF Costume Rentals that has a ton of inspiring costumes just begging to be added to someone’s OC but if you explore a little there is really no shortage of clothing inspiration to be found out there.
Comic Book [Graphic Design]
This is a site I came across a while ago that is apparently run by one guy who is an aspiring comic book writer and artist. The site has some amazing tutorials and resources on it that are definitely worth checking out. You can take a look at that site here.
This site is a little strange to navigate but has some gems of resources on it. You can check that site out here and I would encourage you to browse a bit. It’s worth being a little patient and seeing what the page has to offer.
This one is a Tumblr and can be a bit messy to navigate but if you give it a chance it has some great resources to offer and links to F**k Yeah References which are amazing in ways I can’t explain. You can check that site out here.
So that’s it for this Creative 5 but I hope you can walk away from reading this completely excited about creating characters with flair.
Thanks for reading this issue of Creative 5!
Do you agree or disagree with me? What sites do you use when you create a character? Please feel free to let me know by leaving a comment or using the contact form on my site here to reach out to me. Also if you like my work and would like to see more of it or support it I’d love it if you’d check out my Patreon page or follow me on Facebook or Twitter via @themeinav!