Going from 2D to 3D sketching helps  make what’s in a designer’s head come true faster. And in this process, faster can also mean better.

Like many children, I started drawing at around age 3,  way before writing. I never really stopped since that time. It was long and also exciting to learn how to draw. For some years now, as a fashion illustrator and as a fashion designer, drawing has become a priceless means of expression in my eyes. Drawings and paintings can often convey emotions better than words (at least in my case). In order to achieve my goals as a professional fashion designer, I also produce several sketches every day. These drawings are in fact means of communications with my team, with the seamstresses, but also with the director or producer of a future runway show, with a supplier of fabric, with an embroiderer, etc…. Whether they are more technical or artistically crafted, these sketches convey precise ideas and have to translate into a shape what has come to my mind at a precise moment in time.

In the creative process of designing clothes, our daily tasks constantly start from a « flat » drawing done on paper. We then traditionally transform this 2D image of a virtual garment into a 3D reality, that is done most times, with a « dummy » clothing piece molded on a mannequin with « fake » fabric. This is the time when we finalize the volumes of a particular design, when we cut, drape, inlay, adjust, interpreting the 2D sketch to make it into a piece of clothing, checking on the way that the proportions we had in mind originally do work out from every angle. In this process, designer and head seamstress often work together closely to check on the garment’s wearability (like for instance: is it possible to raise your arms with such sleeves and shoulders), on top of checking the general aspect of the piece, from an aesthetic point of view. Then, the various pieces composing the garment are disassembled and, following the exact shape of every « flat »  « fake » fabric piece, we cut the real fabric we intended the garment to be made in, and assemble them the same way as they were assembled on the « dummy », to create a first prototype. This prototype and the dummy will then both be used again to create the pattern from which each piece will be reproduced.

What can be hard in the 2D drawing process, particularly when you are not familiar with this entire routine, is to  translate the 3D piece you have in your mind on a mere piece of paper using a pencil. Even with a good sketch, many things need to be explained before your team can start to make your sketch become 3D on the mannequin. I am lucky enough to « think in 3D ». I know when I cut a round train for instance that the semi-circle will be perfect on both sides even if I cut it without checking or without putting one half on the other one to create the same round shape on each side of it.

Trying to sketch in 3D for the first time, when we started to develop these FashionLab tools was merely fantastic! My « 3D ideas » were coming to life faster than I could have thought, taking shape in 3D volumes. I could make the drawing turn around and literally mould it into a sculpture before my eyes, using a digital pen and tablet. I could not believe it: not only could I create a silhouette, but also, check from every angle how it could look around the body. Of course, it took me time to get used to the new tools, and if you are a bad sketcher, 3D drawing will not solve your creative problem. However, if you have talent and experience in the art of drawing, the 3D digital tool I am proud of having contributed to create, will empower your possibilities and help you think in 3D.

For some time now, I have realized that the experience of drawing can be felt at best in one gesture by a calligrapher. In Japan, for instance, you can sense in one sole gesture, that a precise calligrapher expresses an experience rich with thirty years of training. This is also the reason why I believe that speed, in this very specific meaning, is also precious in the creative process we use in fashion design. Ideas that can transform into a textile shape often benefit from mastering simple movements. 3D digital drawing can help us all to create in a better, faster and more precise way. It will certainly improve the way we work in a team, making all our designs more « talkative » as each and every participant in the design studio and atelier will look at it from their own point of view. Bringing together technology and imagination is our goal at Dassault Systèmes’ FashionLab. Software engineers continuously require my feedback when they create new tools to be used by fashion designers. And I always try to keep the designing process jubilant. On this way, sharing your design with others as fast as you can, is of the utmost importance. A 3D sketch can help keep fresh what’s fresh on a designer’s mind…. After you will have learnt its specific tools and tried these virtual tools yourself, I would not be surprised if you would think that they are just as irreplaceable as your drawing technique combined with your pencil and paper.


Julien Fournié


Copyright Photos : Gaspard Bergeret for Dassault Systèmes and Yannis Vlamos for Julien Fournié SAS

This post is also available in: French

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