How to Design a Fashion Doll Part 3: Rough Sketches

Here is part three of the “How to Design a Fashion Doll” series. There are four basic steps to the doll design process: Inspiration, Fabric Selection, Initial Designs/Revisions and Finished Illustrations. In this post I talk about rough sketches and revisions to the designs.

How to Design a Fashion Doll Part 3

Rough Sketches

“Rough sketches”, “pencil sketches”, “croquis”, and “quick sketches” are all terms used to describe the moment when you move your ideas from your mind to a piece of paper.  The sketches are then reworked and redrawn, starting with a really quick pencil drawing and then being revised and redrawn into a full-color sketch that has all, or most, of the final design elements incorporated into the drawing.

Pencil sketches

Many of my toy clients like to see “pencil sketches” as a first step in the approval process.  To tell the truth I really don’t like to e-mail pencil drawn sketches to clients, not because I don’t think they’re cute in real life, but because I don’t like the way pencil line looks once its scanned into the computer. Because of this I try to finish up my work to at least a black and white ink drawing before e-mailing them to the client.  I’ve learned the hard way never to send a client anything I wouldn’t want to be seen in a presentation, because my fuzzy pencil drawings have found their way into formal meetings, much to my horror!

Black and white sketches

I worked on the Gypsy Chic collection a few years ago, and unfortunately I seem to have misplaced the pencil sketches. I do have some quick sketches to show you, however. Here is an example of some of my quick pen and ink drawings.

Quick sketches of a fashion doll collection - heather Fonseca

Black and white fashion sketch

As students we were encouraged to do dozens of black and white as well as full color “croquis” for each fashion design.  The idea was to try as many looks as possible to stretch your imagination.  Usually the first designs are the most obvious, while later drawings can really hit on something unusual and exciting.

Quick color sketches of the fashion doll design

Usually my clients like to see at least one round of revisions to my initial, black and white ink or pencil sketches. At this stage I will make the necessary changes to the designs and incorporate color into the sketch as well. Before I purchased a new Cintiq (you can read about this technological marvel here.) I would use marker to quickly color in my sketches. Now I use Adobe Photoshop or Corel Painter.

Below is a quick marker drawing that eventually became a finished illustration. You can seem my final Edwardian-Goth doll design here.

Quick sketch of an Edwardian Gothic doll by Heather Fonseca

When designing a doll collection my goal is for each design to stand on it’s own and yet work with the whole collection to create a group that looks great together. Each doll in the collection should offer include a “girl friendly” color.  In general girls really respond to blue, purple and pink, though mint green is often a favorite as well. The collection should offer different hair colors and hair dos, the skin colors and eye color should vary as well.

Next up, the final step! Finishing the designs.

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