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For her costume design project, Concept Artist Lucía Chuang approached her Mongolian Princess from every perspective. She considered not only historical accuracy, but stylization, personality, function, and even modernization. Don’t miss out on this breakdown, which includes:

  1. Finding a Character
  2. References
  3. Rough Line Drawing
  4. Character Expressions
  5. Poses
  6. Color Palette, Texture, and Materials
  7. Final Project

Hi, my name is Lucía Chuang and I’m from Barcelona, Spain. I’ve always loved drawing and comic art. After studying digital design at ESDI University of Ramon Llull, I landed a job at Escletxa studio as a concept artist and motion graphics designer. After a while, I switched to the catering industry, where I worked for more than 10 years. It’s only recently that I decided to pursue art again. I wanted to expand my knowledge and improve my painting skills, so I signed up for several 2D illustration courses at CGMA.

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1. Finding a Character

My character is a young Mongolian Princess inspired by Merida from Disney’s movie Brave. She is a free-spirited and talented archer that loves riding her horse through the wide Mongolian steppes alongside the eagle, her loyal friend. She’s agile and adventurous, with a kind and compassionate heart, and loves animals and nature.

Enroll in CGMA’s Costume Concept Design taught by Costume Concept Artist Phil Boutte.

2. References

In the course’s first weeks we focused on details for the character we wanted to design. I was inspired by the colorful clothes of the Mongolian culture, so I searched and gathered many references of their traditional clothing, creating several moodboards.

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Mongolia is a rural country of vast plains characterized by cold weather. The Mongols were nomads and hunters, and their traditional dresses were geared toward that lifestyle. Their traditional dress is called Deel, and it’s distinguished by its bright colors, embellished with semi-precious stones, paired with fur and leather boots and hats.

3. Rough Line Drawing

To start designing my character, I made a wide exploration of the shapes and silhouettes of her clothes. I made several sketches of different designs of clothing inspired by Mongolian culture, taking into consideration the fact that it allows her to ride her horse comfortably while keeping her warm enough to cope with the cold temperatures of Mongolia. I also made some traditional Mongolian princess’ clothing designs.

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Then I sketched 3 poses that enhanced the personality of my character while showcasing her clothes. I narrowed down my selection based on her main traits: she had to be a brave and adventurous young archer, thus choosing certain poses with movement that I imagined her while in action.

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Read “8 Steps to Create a Modern Adventurer’s Costume: Uncharted” for another incredible costume project.

4. Character Expressions

Next, we worked on exploring the character’s face. Since my character is a teen and based on Merida, I wanted similar features to the Disney princess: large eyes, soft facial features, and lush and curly red hair. I opted to keep the same style as Disney’s.

At this point, I realized that in my previous designs, my character looked too young to be a teenager, so I decided to change the proportions of my character to make her look more grown-up.

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I added a gradient from reddish to blonde to make her hair more interesting. I’ve also tried a few hairstyles and different types of Mongolian hats. The face and pose heavily influence my costume design, they give the viewer a lot of background information about my character.

5. Poses

To achieve my final design, I made a more detailed mood board, separating the references by type and by color: Mongolian clothes, jewelry, gloves, hats, ornaments, shoes, princess dresses, fashion dresses, etc. That helped a lot to enrich the final design.

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I chose two poses, the bow pose, and the eagle pose. The garments are a mixture of tribal Mongolian clothing and current fashion trends. I’ve emphasized some typical Mongolian clothing accents, such as the oriental prints on her dresses, ornaments on the belt, fur caps, and pointed-toe leather boots.

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I also added a modern touch to her fashion with the shapes of her coats. For example, in the archer, her coat opens in 4 sections, to make it more comfortable when moving and riding her horse. And in the pose with the eagle, her coat is asymmetrical and sleeveless on the arm where she wears the glove that comfortably rests her eagle.

Read “8 Steps to Create a 3D Stylized Viking Warrior” to see another strong female character can come alive.

6. Color Palette, Texture, and Materials

In the last few weeks, we did several tests to choose the color palette. In my character, I knew clearly that it should be a bright and cheerful color palette like traditional Mongolian clothing.

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For textures and materials, we looked up photos of prints and textures and applied them to the character’s clothes.

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In my case, I used typical Mongolian textures: oriental prints, silver jewelry, gemstones, fur, and leather textures.

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7. Final Project

Finally, after having chosen the textures and colors for my final character, we had to place it in context and integrate it with a background. This last section was difficult, but very interesting since we learned different techniques to integrate them effectively.  The most challenging part of this last week for me was setting the light on my character to merge her with the background, but finally, I am quite happy with the result.

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Final Thoughts

  • Last term, when I took Character Design for Film and Games course, the instructor recommended this course to us. I decided to do it as it seemed like a good complement to my characters’ designs.
  • I loved this course and I highly recommend it! I’ve learned so much. I can now apply costume design to strengthen my character’s personality. Plus, I picked up many interesting techniques that helped me simplify the character creation process while getting very efficient results.
  • I want to thank Phil Boutte for his fantastic course and CGMA for offering such high-level courses with amazing professionals.

LEARN MORE

CGMA provides comprehensive instruction for Art, Games, and VFX industries in a variety of courses for a range of students, from 2D and 3D artists looking to supplement their college studies to industry professionals looking to stay up to date on emerging trends and techniques in the field.

RELATED LINKS

Check out Lucía’s ArtStation and Instagram to see more of her concept art!

Enroll in CGMA’s Costume Concept Design taught by Costume Concept Artist Phil Boutte.

Read “8 Steps to Create a 3D Stylized Viking Warrior” to see another strong female character can come alive.

Explore CGMA’s Character Design for Film and Games course.