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A fashion storyboard will usually consist of a full colour illustration of a fashion figure/several figures (male or female) wearing the garments that are being showcased. This storyboard tutorial will show you how to correctly format and create a fashion storyboard for assignments or professionally. A clearly labelled, sizable swatch of your chosen fabric/s should also be included on the board. The storyboard should be thought of as a pictorial representation of your proposed clothing design in full colour, along with technical renderings of each garment individually. More details are available on the technical drawings page.


 "A fashion storyboard is a summary of your collection's inspiration and theme. It's a design tool that will help you remain focused and consistent as your line develops. It's also a great communication aid when explaining your vision to others (retailers, media etc.). Magazine tears, fabric swatches, old photos, buttons, ribbons; basically any visual reference you desire are mounted onto a hard board. Be sure to give your story board a title, like a book or film" -


Just the sketches individually can look dull, lifeless and very uninteresting. You need a well-planned layout and a strong theme - your ideas must seem commercially successful. Designers need to learn how to use different presentation techniques in order to enhance their artwork. Storyboard templates are included throughout this storyboard tutorial.


Planning your presentation:


The design brief will dictate the storyboardís objective - trends forecasting, fashion design, a thematic board, and so on. Depending on the target market, the brief and the purpose of the presentation, your storyboard should include the following:

  • A fashion figure, clothed in your designs on a flat working figure
  • Swatches of your fabric (all the fabrics used)
  • Colour palettes (all the colours that are used in your designs)
  • Any trims used
  • Photographs of the garments


Presentation Techniques:


The fashion storyboard must have a strong theme running throughout which captures the mood. Additionally, the presentation must have a title, even if it is a working title at that stage. The theme and title can be determined by the fabrics (Natural Linens), the season (Summer Blues), or the merchandise (Metamorphosis), for example.


Stance: Choose the correct and appropriate pose for your storyboard templates when you start drawing: classic, sophisticated, funky, moody or sporty are all appropriate moods for a board.


Positioning: Donít allow your fashion figure to look like itís floating on the page; use shadowing and shading to create the illusion of structure. If you feel competent enough, draw your character in a scene where the clothes enhance the situation.


Figures: When using more than one fashion figure on the fashion storyboard, you may vary the size of each figure. This creates perspective on the board and looks visually appealing. One large scale figure in the foreground and the rest in the background points out the importance of the clothing as well as giving the viewer a visual treat.


Fabrics: Cutting the fabric with pinking shears (zigzag cut on edges) looks professional and will give the storyboard an interesting feature. Use double sided tape on the edges to keep the fabric from fraying. You can also crumple the fabrics into little rouged balls and stick them down with double sided tape to create a different texture and layering effect for the fashion storyboard. Sometimes the fabric swatches should be able to be felt with the fingers, so try to leave the storyboard open.


Heading: Unless you are competent at numeral or font drawing, use the computer to design the headings wherever possible. It will save you a lot of time and effort. Try to keep the font the same throughout the storyboard, so as to keep within the chosen theme.


Labels: Wherever necessary, print labels for any specific objects that you need to draw attention to (for example: "Extra Wide Jeans" or "Long Coat"). Again, unless you feel competent in drawing font, use a computer to design and print these.


Collages: Anything that you find in magazines, on your computer, in craft stores, fabric shops or your garage is fair game. Use anything that will add to the overall theme of your storyboard, but please remember to not go overboard. Too much additional material on a fashion storyboard can look messy and unprofessional.


Borders: To give your fashion storyboard a sense of finality and perspective, surround your storyboard with a contrasting cardboard frame, using different textures and colours. Cut neatly and use ruled lines, unless you wish to achieve a free-flowing mood. Borders can be hand-drawn, cut from cardboard, a collage or made from different fabrics. Whatever you choose, remember to make it neat.


Backgrounds: If necessary, use plain or mildly textured/printed board as a background; donít allow it to drown the focal point, which is of course YOUR CLOTHING.


Every fashion illustrator has their own style; these storyboard templates are examples from the relevant illustratorís portfolios off the internet. PLEASE do not copy these ideas or try to make templates from their drawings, as you would be infringing copyright law. Try to eventually produce your own fashion templates from scratch.


Fashion storyboards are most often coupled with a mood board an inspiration board containing a collection of pictures or colours, card and fabric that evoke an emotional response. Designers can use mood boards to decide on the right colours that evoke these feelings, as the mood board enables you to see a theme that runs throughout your selection. You can make use of various media to create interest on the mood board: buttons, ribbon, wool, sand, corrugated board etc.


Be as creative as possible when developing your storyboard template, use your imagination to its full potential However please bear in mind the following:


         Always position your figure as the main focus: (Reference Andrea Allen)

         Don't allow your board to become messy and unstructured in your endeavour to be creative Ė keep it simple and focused on the theme and figure: (Reference Cindy Chu)

         Use the correct fashion template for your theme. For example, if the theme is classic Victorian don't use an outlandish figure template. If your theme is contemporary, use the appropriate poses: (Reference Louisa Olivencia)

         Remember to illustrate accessories, bags and jewellery along with your clothing as this creates a polished finish: (Reference Angelo Russica)

         Figures should be presented symmetrically wherever possible as it keeps the eye focused (See the fashion storyboard below). Using a larger figure amongst two smaller ones on the left and right can also look good. It will seem like the two smaller figures are in the background. Sometimes it's effective to use the same figure for all the different outfits, creating a repetitive tiled effect: (Reference Diptri Irla)

         Always remember to have a main heading such as "Trends for winter" or "Black and White". However, if you date your board, it will make it short lived as trends change quickly: (Reference Justin Gloston)

         Using swatches that are neatly cut out but irregular in shape will create a professional look to your storyboard. Using sticky tape on the back of the fabric prevents fraying and gives a good end result. You can also use pinking shears to create a zigzag edge: (Reference Theresia Fanda)

         Don't use too many unrelated colour varieties on one board, such as pastels with bright colours as well as neutrals; dirty and clean shades should be grouped together. There has to be a theme or collection of complementing colours. This is the general rule, unless you are specifically going for a multicoloured design: (Reference Annie Kim)

         Buy paint sample swatches from the paint store, use those as a colour pallet, but donít have too many things hanging off your board; this seems untidy.

         Use as much detail as possible, draw in the texture, beading, trims, fabric print, and weave in your design. Use as much visual ornamentation as you can. Use shading and highlights for the skin and hair to give a more realistic touch to your designs: (Reference Sarah Louise Petty)

         Your technical drawings can be pasted on the rear of the board, or neatly pasted on the front, although this can sometimes look cluttered.

         You may use computer printed headings and labels, but don't forget to colour code these headings with your theme. Don't just print out a black & white heading if it will clash with your board. Print the heading as large as possible without interfering with the overall look; a small floaty heading which is difficult to read will look unprofessional and possibly be overlooked. The paper should be as high quality as possible if you are printing your design onto this medium.

         Why not use foam with double sided mounting tape to stick your figures down? It creates a raised look for your figure. It looks very professional and gives your board a three dimensional look: (Reference Christine Dauguet)

         Find bits of material Ė feathers, edging, embellishment or beads to stick on the board Ė that go with your theme. Keep this addition tidy and within the borders of your storyboard. Material that flaps or hangs over the border looks messy, unprofessional, and gives the impression that you donít care about your project.

         ALWAYS stick to the requirements of your brief: the due date, amount of outfits required, theme etc. Use the correct board size that is stipulated and try to buy rigid board which will not bend under the weight of your additions. 1200 micron is commonly used, but you can use slightly thinner. The rule should be that you can rest it up against a stand without it folding and warping Ė this is not impressive during presentations!

         Have all the information regarding your board to hand, or have it memorised. You might be asked about fabrication, target market segment (sportswear, evening wear, ready to wear, couture etc) and you should know all of this off hand. Fabrics are the most important aspects to remember, don't just say "cotton" if its viscose cotton, Lycra cotton or stretch cotton - be specific.


Bear in mind that everything you do from now on has to be showcased in your portfolio. Look after the fashion storyboards that you create Ė covering them in plastic wrap is usually the easiest and cheapest way to go about this.

Next: Children's Fashion


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