How to Design a Fashion Doll Part 1: Find Your Inspiration

Gypsy Chic Doll CollectionLast week I was going through folders on my desktop looking for some illustrations when I came across this set of articles on how to design a fashion doll. I wrote the piece a couple years ago as a guest post for another website. (As it turns out they never posted it, which upset me because as you’ll see I put a lot of work into the project!) I thought I would post it here as I know a lot of my readers are interested in how I create my designs.

There are four basic steps to the doll design process: Inspiration, Fabric Selection, Initial Designs/Revisions and Finished Illustrations.  This is the process I follow when I’m working for a client or on my own projects. In this instance I talk about designing the Gypsy Chic collection. You can see the finished designs in the image above. Even though I designed the outfits a few years ago I think they still look great.

Good design never comes from nothing so my first step is finding inspiration and ideas beyond the ones floating around my mind. At one time I leafed through magazines for images, but now I use the interet, especially Pinterest. I currently have a Toy Inspiration pin board where I keep all my favorite looks and ideas from around the web.

How to Design a Fashion Doll Collection

Step 1 – Find Your Inspiration

The last few weeks I have been knee-deep in design.  I’ve searched the net for fashion inspiration, shopped for fabric swatches, and scribbled ideas in sketchbooks.  All this advance work is key because the better prepared I am the better the finished design!

My working name for this collection is Gypsy Chic.  It’s heavily influenced by the bohemian looking separates and dresses that never really seem to go out of fashion.   Here is my concept board for what will eventually become a small collection of fashion dolls.

Gypsy Chic Mood Board by Heather Fonseca

The beauty of creating an inspiration board is it helps me narrow down my choices and focus on the look I’m trying to achieve.  I also use these collages, called mood boards, in meetings with clients to explain the look and feel I’m going for.  If they like the look of the board they’ll probably be happy with the look of the finished designs too. I put my collages together in Photoshop, but the same thing can be achieved by cutting out the images the old-fashioned way, with scissors, and gluing them onto foam core or poster board.  The terms “Mood Board”, “Concept Board” and “Inspiration Board” are pretty much interchangeable.

I make mood boards for all my design projects. You can see more of them on this page.

In the next post I’ll talk about the second step in the doll design process: fabric selection.

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