In Costume

Costumes will keep changing, but, the human figure remains the same. You must know the form beneath the folds of the clothing. You must familiarize yourself with the methods of cutting flat material and fitting it over the rounded figure. The drape of the material is caused by the manner in which it is cut and joined. Material cut on the bias drapes differently from that cut on the weave. Try to understand what makes the material do what it does in the ruffle, the pleat, the flounce, and in gathering; what is the purpose of a dart; and why the seams and joinings cause the flat material to shape itself. You do not have to know how to sew, but you must look for the construction of the clothing, just as you look for the structure of the figure under it. It takes only a few extra minutes to find out which folds are due to the construction of the garment and which are caused by the underlying form. Find the "intention" of the drape. Discover what the designer has worked for— slimness or fullness. If a seam is smooth, it was intended to lie flat. If there is a shirring or gathering at some point, take note that it was not intended to lie flat. You must not slavishly copy each tiny fold, but neither must you disregard folds entirely. Indicate the shirring at that point.

Learn how the female figure affects the folds: the fabric falls away from the most prominent forms underneath shoulders, breasts, hips, but tocks, and knees. When material is loosely draped over these, the folds start with them and radiate to the next high point. When the material is fitted, if there are any folds at all, the folds will run around the prominent forms, pulling at the seams. The male form molds the clothes in a like manner. In a man's suit, for example, the material over the shoulders, over the chest, and over the top of the back is cut to fit. The only folds you find then come from the pull at the seams. The bottom of the coat and the trousers arc draped loosely. The trouser folds radiate from the buttocks to the knee in sitting poses and from the knee to the calf and the back of the ankle.

An overmodclcd garment is just as bad as an overmodeled figure. Watch to see that your light and dark values stay within the color value of the material itself and that its unity is not broken by lights and shadows that are more strongly stated than necessary.

Do not draw every seam, every fold, and every button, but try to understand constructive principles and interpret them correctly in what you do put down, instead of being careless in these matters or remaining totally ignorant of them.

No matter what you draw—figure, costume, furniture—learn its construction, so that you can draw it.

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