4. Character Specific Design


Students will demonstrate an understanding of character-specific costumes and the duties of a costume designer by designing the look of a character in a show.


Materials Needed

Guest costume designer, job responsibilities, sample costume chart, renderings and costume calendar, colored pencils, magazines, fabric scraps, patterns (if available), costume design sheet


Lesson Directions


Anticipatory Set/Hook

Students will break into two groups. Each group will be given three rolls of toilet paper and with that they must make an outfit for one of their team members. They will have ten minutes to do this. When they are done they must present the costumes and tell why they designed it the way they did. Tell them it is a competition.



Transition: Now that they are almost experts in designing they are going to get to hear from a professional designer from a local theatre.


Discussion: Bring in a costume designer from a local theatre to talk to the students about his/her duties as a resident designer. Have them go through the process and ask them to bring examples of renderings they have done as well.


Modeling: Pass out examples of a costume chart, renderings and a costume calendar. If the designer doesn’t cover it, be sure to talk to the students about color and fabric texture.


Discussion: Color can show the personality of the character. If they are a bold and bright person then a bright color would be appropriate. Color can also show character evolution as the character might change throughout the show. Historical research is important in choosing color and fabric as it is the base of the design, but make sure that what you select fits with the production concept. It will be important to work with each designer in the production so that you know what needs to be in the costumes. In terms of fabric different textures could be useful in making clear to the audience the time of year or the socioeconomic status of the character. For example a poor beggar might wear a thick burlap fabric and a wealthy queen might wear lace and silk.


Transition: Now it is their turn to be a designer.


Instruction: Pass out the costume design sheets. With these each student must design the costume for a character of their choice from the era they are researching. They may make up the character completely or if they have a character from an established play in mind they can use that. They must fill out the character analysis side of the page and then sketch in a costume they might wear. Something on the head must also be designed whether it is a hairstyle or a hat they might wear (Pass out hat and hair examples). It is alright if they are not great at drawing as long as they base the costume design on where the character is, where they have just come from, styles of the time, and personality characteristics. They can even write in explanations of what they have drawn if they would like. They must also find magazine cutouts of colors or styles that they like. They also need to have at least two fabric swatches as examples. This will be presented to the class along with their history research project.



now give the students time to work on their character analysis. Remind them that this will be due in the next class period. Provide them with magazines, color pencils, fabric scraps and patterns if you have them.



Costume Design Requirement Breakdown:

1. Choose or create a character from the era they are researching
2. Complete character analysis
3. Create a rendering of one of the characters costumes which includes something on their head.
4. Attach magazine samples and fabric samples
5. Lay this out in a way it can be presented, whether in a portfolio or on a poster board