fashion illustration of claire on outlander

claire from outlander illustration

Much of Outlander’s attention right now is because of its super hot sex scenes with the main couple, Claire and Jamie. But there is just as much to talk about when the characters have their clothes on.

Terry Dresbach, the shows costume designer, talks here about eight of her favorite looks on the show. Not surprisingly, Claire is on that list four times. I drew her in one of my favorite looks of hers, a gorgeous deep teal bodice and plaid skirt.

Claire has so many different looks on the show, but they are only made up of a few different items mixed and matched. The idea is that Claire has limited clothing given to her, and she wears those items over and over in different combinations.

I could learn a lesson or two from Claire on how to mix it up with a smaller wardrobe, and on how to wear a bodice like a boss.

Here’s a video on some of my coloring process.

vin from mistborn, in her mistborn cloak

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Vin from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy is a great leading lady to start off my year of leading ladies (one of my New Year’s resolutions was to read more books by and starring women).

Sanderson uses clothing to distinguish his characters and their emotional states–which is pretty much how clothing works in real life, too. I’ve drawn Vin before, when she was at a ball, but this Vin is in her Mistborn cloak and in her element.

Vin has used disguises her whole life to disappear into something less threatening so that people will overlook her. But her Mistborn cloak lets everyone know that she is special–and dangerous. She isn’t hiding her power anymore, she is embracing the part of herself. In her cloak, Vin is the Heir of the Survivor, possibly the Hero of Ages, and the Savior of Luthadel.

But, of course, that isn’t all she is. She also loves wearing dresses, and she is in love with Elend, and she cares for her friends. She is many things, and embracing one side of her doesn’t erase the rest of herself.

My drawing is ink and watercolor, and here’s a (very short!) slideshow of it coming to life.

My other posts on Mistborn are:

sketching 2015: january

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This year I have resolved to do more sketching, so once a month I’ll share some of my sketches to keep me honest. It also will be cool to see a bigger picture of my style and skill evolving–if it evolves! that’s the hope–and to show some of my not-quite-finished or not-quite-there yet sketches. My sketches everyday (or hopefully everyday) are sometimes quick and sometimes to try new things, and none of them are perfectly done exactly the way I’d like them to be. But that’s what sketchbooks are for: practicing and experimenting. There’s no rhyme or reason to these, I just picked a few straight out of my sketchbook and posted these pictures straight from my phone. You can always follow me on instagram at raenudson and look at more of my sketches under #raesdrawings. Continue reading

the quiet power of sazed, from mistborn

sazed from mistborn

The Lord Ruler in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series ruled with a literal cloud of depression over his subjects. He tempered emotion through allomancy, a type of magic, and he hunted anything that would disrupt the status quo. In his eyes, all ska were the same, all noblemen served one purpose, and all rebellions were nothing but minor annoyances.

Vin and her crew tried to fight the Final Empire with armies and espionage. But a more subtle, and possibly more important, way of fighting the Lord Ruler was to celebrate uniqueness. To stand out, to aggressively be yourself in a place that hampered joy and hope, was a victory all its own.

Sazed, one of my favorites in Vin’s crew, contributed to the crew’s plan the best way he could–as a servant. Sazed is a Terrisman, the most valued servants in the Final Empire. He is calm and patient. He is smart and kind. And he knew himself well enough to know that when he wanted to fight the Lord Ruler, he could best contribute by using his unique strengths.

Crew leader Kelsier wanted to be the Hero with a capital H–the one in the forefront of the action, a visible leader. But Sazed was just as much a hero by being himself in a place that tried to squash his heritage, joy, and individuality. Kelsier fought the Lord Ruler in front of everyone in a town square; Sazed fought him by translating the text of something the Lord Ruler tried to keep hidden. Without Sazed’s quiet thoughtfulness, the crew would fail wether they had a great leader or not.

Sazed honored his people, and all people, by remembering for them, as a Keeper. The Keepers searched for memories of other cultures, languages, religions, and any knowledge they could find, and kept the memories stored away until the Final Empire fell and people would need them once again. Sazed was always willing to teach and share his knowledge, and he often tried to match religions to the people he knew, to find a religion that fit their personality.

Sazed knew the truth–he knew many truths. He knew that one religion does not fit all, and that by fighting for individuality, he was toppling the Final Empire one unique memory at a time.

I drew Sazed in his formal robes, which he would wear accompanying Vin to a ball. All Terrismen wear similar robes to indicate their status, and their colorful embroidery sounds like a delight amid the gray depression of the mist. My drawing is ink and watercolor in my sketchbook. I might go back in and add more color to it later, but I sort of like the idea of keeping it colorless except for his colorful Terrismen robes.

illustration of vin from mistborn, at a ball

vin from Mistborn

Vin is a survivor. She is resourceful and smart, overcoming beatings on the street to become a valued member of a thieving crew. Vin is a fighter, no matter if she’s stealing from the rich or dancing among them.

There were a lot of things I love, love, loved about Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire, the first in the Mistborn trilogy, besides the main character, Vin. The storytelling is complex and layered, the world is detailed and interesting, and the characters are human and tragic.

Within the great story and characters, Sanderson used clothing to help build his world. A uniform helped unite an army, a cloak for the magical Mistborn helped them hide in plain sight, and a dress helped Vin spy on the nobility.

She didn’t need shadows or corners–she just needed a mask of sapphires, makeup, and blue fabric. — Mistborn: The Final Empire

With make up on her face instead of ash, and a shawl on her shoulders instead of her Mistborn cloak, Vin infiltrated the nobility by attending ball after ball. And instead of seeing a streetwise thief, the nobility was blinded by her dress and saw instead a nobleman’s daughter.

Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life – Bill Cunningham

In our world, clothing and fashion works much the same way. I don’t usually need to spy on nobility at fancy balls, but I do need to convince people I’m a professional at work. So like Vin, I dress the part and it helps fortify me for the role I need to play.

The more Vin acts like Valette, her noble persona, the more she realizes that this confident noblewoman is just another side of her. But becoming more comfortable among the people she means to eventually fight–and actually seeing them as human–causes trouble for Vin and her crew as they plan a heist bigger than any they’ve tried before.

I drew Vin going to her first ball, when she realized that the dress and makeup were just another disguise she could hide beneath. The drawing is pen and marker. I would have liked to make her dress a lighter, dreamier blue, but I wanted to work with the markers I already own. I can’t wait to take a look at some of the other uniforms and clothing in Mistborn, and delve into some of the great parts of this complex story.

ralph lauren fashion illustration

ralph lauren fashion illustration

I love fashion week, even from afar. (It’s not like I went to shows when I was in New York anyway, so the separation’s pretty easy.) Looking at pretty things for inspiration and for fun will never get old for me.

This fashion week coincided with roughly the same time I got sick of everything in my closet. My new style inspiration Keri Russell has inspired me to pare things down to simple, cool basics. (I mean, she looks good, right?)

While runways tend to be known for going over the top, there’s still great inspiration to pull from if you keep your eyes open.

This look from Ralph Lauren is a wonderful example of simple and cool. A ribbed sweater and pants in the same color family are perfectly coordinated basics, and the bright yellow trench is a fun and surprising update to a classic wardrobe staple.

So this is what I’m aiming for these days: classy, simple, cool.

My illustration is pen and marker. I tried something a little different this time and used a sepia pen since my colors were light and bright. I like it! My video slideshow shows some of the coloring process.

I’m liking these videos, but practice will make perfect I suspect. What do you guys think?

illustration of melody from without a summer

illustration of melody from without a summer by mary robinette kowal

I am working my way backwards through Mary Robinette Kowal’s glamourist histories about one of my favorite literary couples, Jane and Vincent. (I started with the latest book in the series by happenstance, and I’m just going with it.) In Without a Summer (Kindle here), Jane and Vincent travel with Jane’s younger sister Melody to London to work (Jane and Vincent) and to find eligible bachelors (Melody). It is full of smart relationship drama that is true to the flawed but honest characters, which I totally love.

By honest, I don’t necessarily mean truth-telling. I mean that these characters are fully formed, believable, and make decisions that makes sense for who they are. This, in turn, makes every plot twist believable and the drama earned. (And for those averse to romance, there’s political and courtroom theatrics, along with a revolt brewing in the streets that was just as interesting and fun.)

It was a pleasure for me to spend more time with Melody in this book–her charm and beauty worked just as much on me as any man she met in London. It was also a pleasure to learn more about manners and clothes in the Recency Era, which Jane and Melody needed to use to their advantage if they were ever going to find Melody a good match.

In one particular outing, Melody was an icy blond vision in blue as she went ice skating at a party of the Prince Regent himself. Melody often donned a blue pelisse (sort of a coat for your dress) that set off her eyes, and with her hat and muff to guard against the cold, she was a vision.

My illustration is pen and markers, and my video slideshow shows a bit of my coloring process.

I can’t wait to keep reading about this family! Other posts on this series:

(I choose to write about this book on my own, though the links are affiliate.)