Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - student project


Hi everyone! 

This colour (yes, with a u, I'm from Canada hehe) theory business is a bit of a grey area for me. I feel like when it comes to graphic design I'm for some reason much better at choosing colours, but when it comes to my illustration and fine art work I always kind of stay away from too many colours. I usually stick to black and white + one or 2 accent colours (ex. below: see the image with the girl with the eye-lashes "chains", hot pink and yellow - that one is mine). I recently started painting more and… yeeahhh mixing colours is a tricky business and I have a lot of respect for those artist who really know colour mixing inside-out. I can't promise that I will go colour crazy with this project because that's not my style either. What I'd like to achieve though is to not shy away as much from background colours (when appropriate), as well as pushing myself to choose more refined colours - as opposed to "tube colours."

I am not a digital illustrator by any means, so I will begin my illustrations on paper, scan them in and colour them digitally, probably in Photoshop. 

Also, here's a really cool colour inspiration website which I adore :)

I attached here some images I have collected today. The first is a collection of mostly fashion illustrations, and the second is a smaller one of fashion photography.

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 1 - student project

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 2 - student project

The reason for this is that I have been thinking more and more about fashion illustration lately and kind of miss doing it. But I don't want my images to be just about fashion - I want them to be a blend of surrealism, geometry, and styling - all wrapped up in emotion and colour. I really like those images of outrageous hair styling and I'm playing with the idea of having the hair play a big role in the image - how it interacts with the character and what secrets it holds, helping to convey the emotion.

I also thought about creating an image of a model (probably standing), dived into 4 parts. If you were to stack up the images, you would get the whole picture, and each section/image will represent an emotion through the details of the clothes and symbolic elements around her, but it will be super tricky to find 1 pose that could translate 4 different emotions… :-\

AND speaking of different emotions, here are my top 8 - I will narrow down later on. 

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 3 - student project
Next up is making mind maps and word lists, and look for more images in the books and magazines I have. And sleep on it ;) For me, I need to figgure out the concepts for the illustrations first, and then decide which colours are appropriate. 



I thought more about the division of 1 image into 4 squares and I made the correlation between that and polaroids - which are super popular in the fashion world. So I researched some polaroid collages to see how other people put images like that together and here are some examples:

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 4 - student project

I quite like how some people played with the scale of things and orientations, zooming and cropping. Something to keep in mind. It ads a lot more dimension and makes it more visually interesting than the first (top left) example.

I also started hunting for a good pose. Here are some shots that I think might have potential:

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 5 - student project

I need to keep in mind that the pose has to be not too spread out because I do need to crop it into 4 equal parts. But through the polaroid collage approach I will have some room to play by slighly overlapping the photos. They don't have to go straight down from the top. There are elements I like in each of these shots (in some I like the arms, in some I like the angle, or the shoes, or the emotion). I know I'm not going to find the perfect image. I will probably end up building my own pose with inspiration from these and some mirror work. 



So I picked my final 4 emotions, and here is the word map I created. More words came to mind since then, but to give you an idea, here it is:

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 6 - student project

Based on these, I went and did some image research and put together a small mood board for each emotion I picked. Here they are:


Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 7 - student project

I can already start to see a colour trend here based on these images. I really like the vintage photo feel, with faded colours and no pure blacks and whites.


Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 8 - student project

The colours for this are not as obvious so I'm not sure what to do yet. I think this is the most abstract emotion in terms of visuals. Ambition requires both stability and structure ( like blues) and determination and passion (like reds). TBD!


Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 9 - student project

I think this is the easiest one to tackle because there are a lot of cool symbols and a LOT of fashion choices. Also, black, white and red are obvious trademarks but I do like the pop of colour in that girl's blue hair for example. 


Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 10 - student project

I think in this board too, a common colour paletter is starting to emerge. Bright colours, kaleidoscopes, but also deeper, calming colours. Fun stuff!! :)

Ok, now I'm going to go watch the rest of the videos. For next time, I will start sketching as I feel I have a pretty good base for the illustrations now.



Okay... I slept on this and I just felt like something was off. I was thinking of a sort of progression between the emotions I chose and how they relate to eachother and nostalgia didn't make much sense. I chose nostalgia because I really love it, and I love all things related to that both visually (the mood board) and emotionally - on a personal level. However, I learned from my previous class that you should never fall in love with an idea. You have to always stay objective and if something doesn't work for the purpose of the project, and it's just something you "feel" like doing, as opposed to it serving a bigger purpose, learn to axe it. So that's what I'm going to do. I decided to swap nostalgia with insecurity. I think insecurity plays a huge role in the fashion world, and not only. Everyone deals with insecurity in so many ways. 

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 11 - student project

Now I think this progression makes more sense: insecure --> ambitious --> rebellious --> euphoric. So I took this in photoshop to quickly do a little stack of the polaroids just to begin visualizing it. This is very, very rough outline - obviously each shot will have its own colour palette and they will overlap much nicer (not in a perfectly continuous image like here). Also, this is not the final pose I am choosing, just used it as an example. Initially I wanted to write the emotions just for you guys, but now I'm kinda thinking to incorporate them into the final too. Could be a nice extra step and opportunity to explore typography. 

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 12 - student project


I finally got around to do some sketching for this :) and decided on this pose:

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 13 - student project

I spent a lot of time with the mirror (lol) thinking about the details of the pose and what I need to convey in each panel by using the different parts of the body.

For the insecurity panel:

I wanted one foot to be hiding behind the other. I want to explore using the measuring tape and cracking floor as symbols. 

For the ambition panel:

I am using a pulling upward motion with a strong arm and exploring using ladders, arrows and targets as symbols. 

For the rebellion panel:

I decided to be a little bold and have her give the finger while pulling her jacket to the side. I don't want this to be too in your face but I think it works. Also, obviously lots of punk kinda accessories - studs, spikes, chains, ripped fishnets

For the euphoria panel:

Head tiled back, closed eyes, big smile - not in the sketch yet because drawing the head from that angle and with that expression will require me to look at some references. Exploring the collar turning into some organic shapes around the head, I want a confetti kinda feel in there too. 

Next step will be to refine the drawing, scan it in, live trace it and then start to play with colours and, if suitable, maybe play with some textures too. One step at a time ;) 


So I finalized my drawing, scanned it in and live traced it in Illustrator. It's looking pretty good, but for sure it needs some tweaking to make some of the curves more smooth and even, the eye lashes nice and pointy, etc, etc. Before I get to that level of detail, I wanted to play with some colour options and so far I'm leaning towards this combination:
Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 14 - student project
I'm still going to play around with other options thought and see what happens. I want to try out those colour palette options Illustrator has to offer and see what kind of ideas that gives me too. I also don't want to leave the outlines all black, I want to vary its colour aswell.


I spent lots of time in Illustrator playing with tons of different colour combinations for this. It's been a bit of a challenge because these images had to look good together and have a nice flow between them, not just look good independently. I pretty much used this baby A LOT:
Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 15 - student project
Once I was happy with the colours for the top pannel (euphoria), I just worked my way down trying to use this tool to derive colours from the previous pannel. Here's an image of the progress:
Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 16 - student project
The one on the right is the final version I chose to take into Photoshop and continue working on. Next I began of course to consider the backgrounds of each image - how can I use colour there to emphasize the emotion further? Once I was happy with that, I started to adjust the colours of the linework in some places and ad some cool textures and details. Here are the individual pannels and their respective colour palettes:

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 17 - student project
Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 18 - student project

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 19 - student projectFashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 20 - student project

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 21 - student project

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 22 - student project

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 23 - student project

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 24 - student project

For the final collage, I decided to just keep it simple and create the polaroids in Photoshop as well, and I just photographed the texture of one of my sweaters for the background - I wanted to keep it soft, and not take away from the images. This is how it looks:

Fashion+Surreal+Colour= - image 25 - student project

I'm pretty happy with the final result. This project was quite time consuming and it was for sure a challenge but I learned quite a bit along the way :) This was my first comprehensive digital illustration. Thanks everyone for your comments along the way, and thank you Dominic for all the video lessons - I definitely learned a few very usefull things! 

Lavinia Maria
Artist/Graphic Designer