1st Edition

Character Sketch
A Drawing Course for Costume Designers

ISBN 9781138891951
Published March 5, 2018 by Routledge
202 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

Character Sketch outlines a theory of costume rendering that explores how a designer conceptualizes and creates a character on the page. Beginning with how to develop a sense of character through active, gestural poses, this book explores and explains the process of drawing and painting from rough sketch to finished rendering.

Helen Q. Huang 黄其智, an award-winning costume designer for more than 25 years, breaks down her process, from understanding body proportions and active poses to applying research and color concepts to renderings. Her step-by-step watercolor painting techniques cover mixing skin tones, blending colors, and applying paint in different methods for a variety of fabric textures and patterns.

Showcasing how to capture a character on the page, Character Sketch is a must-read for any costume designer looking to communicate their artistic vision.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents 


Introduction:  The act of drawing is the act of design 



Part 1: Creating the Sketch 


Proportion of the figure  


Gesture Sketches 


Core Masses of the Figure 

The Head and Face  

Arms and legs  

Hand and foot 

Feet and shoes  


The Costume Sketch: Step-by-Step 


Finding the Pose for the character  


The Expression of Pencil Strokes 


Part 2: Watercolor Techniques 

Tools: Paint 




Painting Skin 

Flat Wash 


Dry Brush 

Painting Wool 

Painting Black Costumes 

Painting White Costumes 

Painting Patterns 

Watercolor Techniques in Practice 


Part 3: Putting Skills into Practice


Gestural Poses


Incorporating Research

Color Concepts

Part 4: Costume Sketch Gallery

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Helen Q. Huang 黄其智has designed costumes for theaters throughout the United States and abroad. The recipient of both the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Costume Design and the Ivey Awards, she is also a professor of the MFA Costume Design Program in the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Helen’s design work has been exhibited as part of “Costume at the Turn of the Century” at the A.A. Bakhrushin Museum in Moscow; in the exhibition “Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance” at the New York Public Library and Lincoln Center; and the Prague Quadrennial. She has designed internationally for the China National Opera House, and China Central Television. Nationally she has designed for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Guthrie Theater, George Street Playhouse, The Classic Stage Company New York, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, The Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, Syracuse Stage, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival, The Wilma Theater, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Playmakers Repertory Theatre, The Arden Theatre, Disney Creative Entertainment, and Boston Lyric Opera. Her designs in the Washington, D.C. region have included work for The Washington Ballet, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, Folger Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Round House Theatre, Signature Theatre, Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Olney Theatre.