Top Tips for Enhancing Character Design in Fashion
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Research fashion history
  2. Study human anatomy
  3. Use reference images
  4. Experiment with styles
  5. Focus on silhouettes
  6. Pay attention to color theory
  7. Create character backgrounds
  8. Practice drawing fabric textures
  9. Illustrate movement
  10. Get feedback

Are you captivated by the world of fashion and character design? If you're looking to boost your skills, then you've arrived at the right spot. This blog will guide you on how to improve character design in fashion. We'll explore some top tips to inject creativity, personality, and depth into your designs. So, let's get started!

Research Fashion History

One of the first steps you can take is to delve into the fascinating world of fashion history. It's like going back in time, where you can explore different eras and their unique fashion trends. This knowledge will not only enhance your understanding of fashion evolution but will also provide you with a wealth of ideas to incorporate into your character designs.

From the elegant Victorian Era to the snazzy 60s, each period presents its distinct fashion characteristics. But why does this matter? Well, understanding these trends can help you create designs that are authentic and rooted in reality—even if your characters are purely fictional.

For instance, if you're designing a character from the 1920s, understanding that era's flapper style— with its loose dresses, low waistlines, and flamboyant accessories— will make your character more believable and relatable. It's details like these that can dramatically improve character design in fashion.

So, take out some time to study fashion trends from different eras. You can use books, documentaries, or even fashion magazines that focus on retro styles. Remember, the goal is to broaden your fashion vocabulary and gain inspiration from the past.

Not only will this research help you create period-appropriate designs, but it may also inspire you to combine elements from different eras to create something truly unique. This fusion of old and new can result in exciting character designs that stand out in the crowd.

Study Human Anatomy

Another key aspect of improving character design in fashion is understanding human anatomy. It might sound more like a biology lesson than a fashion tip, but trust me, it's incredibly useful. Why? Because the clothes your characters wear need to fit and move with their bodies realistically.

Think about it: if a sleeve is too tight, it'll restrict movement; if a pair of pants is too loose, it might not stay up. These are real-world issues that can translate into your designs. Getting a grip on human anatomy helps you design clothing that not only looks good but is functional and believable, too. So, how can you study human anatomy for fashion design? Here's how:

  1. Study Basic Body Proportions: Start with understanding the basic proportions of the human body—how the parts relate to the whole, and to each other. For instance, the arms typically extend to the middle of the thigh, and the torso is generally about two heads tall.
  2. Observe People: Take a walk in the park, sit in a café, or just keep your eyes open wherever you go. Observing people and how they move can give you a real-world understanding of human anatomy.
  3. Draw and Redraw: Practice drawing different body types and poses. This will help you get comfortable with different shapes and movements, making your character designs more varied and dynamic.

By focusing on human anatomy, you can ensure that your characters are proportionate and their clothes fit realistically. This will make your designs more convincing and relatable, which is a big step forward in improving character design in fashion.

Use Reference Images

Ever tried to draw something from memory and it just didn't look right? That's where reference images can help. They're a great tool to improve character design in fashion. By using reference images, you can capture the subtle details and nuances that make your designs more realistic and appealing.

So, how do you use reference images effectively? Here are a few tips:

  1. Collect a Variety of Images: Don't limit yourself to just one image. Gather different images of the same item from various angles, or different styles of the same piece of clothing. This will give you a more comprehensive view and help you understand the structure and form better.
  2. Don't Copy, Use for Inspiration: The goal isn't to replicate the image exactly. Instead, use it as a guide or inspiration. Incorporate your own style and creativity into the design.
  3. Observe the Details: Pay attention to the little things. How does the fabric fold? Where does it stretch or bunch up? These tiny details can make your designs more realistic.

Using reference images can significantly improve your understanding of how different clothing styles look and fit on different body types, which in turn, helps improve character design in fashion. Remember, the more you observe, the more you learn—so keep those eyes peeled!

Experiment with Styles

One of the best ways to improve character design in fashion is to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with various styles. Have you always stuck to modern, minimalist designs? Maybe it's time to give vintage or boho chic a shot. Or if you're used to designing formal wear, why not try your hand at sportswear or casual outfits?

Here's how to go about it:

  1. Explore Different Eras: Different time periods have unique fashion styles. The '20s flapper dresses, the '80s punk look, or the '90s grunge style, each era offers a treasure trove of inspiration. So, time travel through fashion history and get experimenting!
  2. Blend Styles: Who says you can't mix and match? Combining elements from different styles can lead to some unique and exciting results. So, go ahead, mix that Victorian gown with some futuristic accessories. Remember, fashion is all about breaking rules and setting new trends.
  3. Experiment with Proportions: Try playing around with different proportions. Maybe a character with an oversized jacket and skinny jeans, or a tiny hat with a voluminous dress. Experimenting with proportions can add a whole new dimension to your designs.

Remember, there's no right or wrong in fashion—only what works and what doesn't. So, don't be afraid to experiment and push the boundaries. Who knows, you might just create the next big fashion trend in character design!

Focus on Silhouettes

Another tip on how to improve character design in fashion is honing in on silhouettes. Silhouettes play a major role in the visual impact of a design. They're what you first notice from a distance, even before the details or the color.

Here's how you can perfect your silhouettes:

  1. Understand the Basics: Start by familiarizing yourself with basic silhouettes in fashion. From the hourglass and the pear shape to the column or the apple, understanding these can help you design clothes that flatter different body types.
  2. Create Contrast: Contrast in a silhouette can make your designs visually interesting. You could design a fitted top with a flared skirt or combine a loose, flowy top with slim-fit pants. It's all about balance.
  3. Experiment: Once you've got the basics down, feel free to experiment. Try exaggerating or minimizing certain parts of the silhouette. Remember, your character design should be bold and distinctive, and playing with silhouettes can help you achieve just that.

By focusing on silhouettes, you can create memorable and striking character designs that stand out. So, go ahead and let those silhouettes take center stage!

Pay Attention to Color Theory

Color is more than just a visual aspect of your design. It's a powerful tool that can evoke emotions, highlight aspects of your character, and even tell a story. Understanding color theory can significantly improve your character design in fashion.

  1. Understand the Color Wheel: The color wheel is your best friend when it comes to choosing colors. It helps you understand complementary colors (those opposite each other on the wheel) and analogous colors (those next to each other). This knowledge can help you make color choices that feel balanced and harmonious.
  2. Consider the Mood: Different colors can evoke different moods. Reds can indicate passion or danger, blues can convey calm or sadness, while yellows can suggest happiness or caution. Think about the personality of your character and the story you want to tell when you choose colors.
  3. Use Color to Highlight: You can use color to draw attention to certain parts of your design. Want to highlight a funky accessory or an interesting pattern? Use a pop of color!

Remember, color theory isn't a set of hard and fast rules. It's more like a guide that can help you make informed decisions about color in your designs. So, don't be afraid to play with color and see what works best for your characters.

Create Character Backgrounds

When you start designing a character, think of it as more than just a sketch on a page. Imagine your character as a real person with a life story. This can add depth to your fashion designs and make them feel more authentic.

  1. Imagine Their Life Story: What kind of life does your character lead? Are they a high-powered executive, a free-spirited artist, or a rebellious teenager? The answers to these questions can guide your design choices. For example, an executive might wear more formal and sophisticated attire, while an artist might prefer eclectic and creative outfits.
  2. Consider Their Personality: A character's personality can often be reflected in their fashion choices. A confident character might opt for bold, attention-grabbing clothes, while a shy character might prefer more subdued and understated outfits.
  3. Think About Their Environment: The place where your character lives can also influence their fashion choices. A character living in a bustling city might have a more modern and edgy style, while a character living in a rural setting might lean towards comfort and practicality.

By creating a comprehensive background for your characters, you can make them feel more real and relatable. This can help you make better design decisions and bring your fashion sketches to life.

Practice Drawing Fabric Textures

Textures can bring a sense of realism to your fashion designs. But, how do you improve character design in fashion by incorporating texture? It's all about practice and observation.

  1. Observe Real Fabrics: Take some time to study different types of fabrics. Notice how silk has a smooth and shiny texture, while denim has a rough and rugged one. Look at how light interacts with these fabrics and try to replicate these effects in your sketches.
  2. Experiment with Different Techniques: There are various ways to depict fabric textures in your designs. Cross-hatching, stippling, and blending are just a few techniques you can use. Don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.
  3. Practice Regularly: Like any other skill, drawing fabric textures requires consistent practice. Make it a habit to sketch a few fabric swatches every day. Over time, you'll notice your ability to depict different textures improving significantly.

Remember, the goal is not just to make your designs look more realistic, but also to help your audience visualize how the clothes would feel in real life. So, grab your sketchbook and start practicing — your future fashion designs will thank you!

Illustrate Movement

Have you ever wondered how to improve character design in fashion by making your designs feel more alive? The answer lies in illustrating movement.

  1. Understand the Mechanics: Each fabric moves differently based on its weight, cut, and style. For instance, a long silk gown flows differently than a short denim skirt. Understanding these mechanics will allow you to depict movement more accurately in your designs.
  2. Use Dynamic Poses: Static poses can make your designs feel flat and lifeless. Instead, try using dynamic poses that suggest movement. Imagine how a character would walk, run, or dance in the outfit you're designing, and use that to guide your sketches.
  3. Pay Attention to Details: Small details can make a big difference in illustrating movement. For example, the way a loose thread moves in the wind or how a piece of fabric folds when a character bends their knee. These fine details can add a lot of dynamism to your designs.

Remember, the key to illustrating movement is observation and practice. So, keep your eyes open and your sketchbook ready. The more you practice, the better you'll get at bringing your fashion designs to life.

Get Feedback

Now, you've put in the work, played with fabric textures, and even learned how to improve character design in fashion by illustrating movement. What's next? It's time to get feedback.

  1. Embrace Constructive Criticism: Don't shy away from feedback. Instead, see it as an opportunity to grow. Constructive criticism can help you spot weaknesses in your designs that you might have overlooked.
  2. Ask Specific Questions: When asking for feedback, be specific. Instead of simply asking if someone likes your design, ask them about the proportions, colors, or how well they think the design fits the character's personality. This not only helps you get more useful feedback but also shows you're serious about improving your work.
  3. Join a Community: Joining a local or online fashion design community can be a great way to receive regular feedback. It also provides a platform to exchange ideas and learn from others who are also figuring out how to improve character design in fashion.

Remember, no one gets it perfect the first time. So, don't be discouraged if you receive criticism. Instead, use it as fuel to continue refining your designs and enhancing your skills. After all, every step you take gets you one step closer to becoming the fashion designer you aspire to be.

If you enjoyed our blog on "Top Tips for Enhancing Character Design in Fashion" and want to further develop your character design skills, we highly recommend the workshop 'Creating Characters: The Design Process' by Kit Buss. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to create unique and engaging characters in fashion design. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from an expert in the field!