Costume Class Project: No Color Designs

Color is such a useful trick for establishing character and group identity in plays that often designers forget that pattern, texture and especially silhouette can also be more effective design tools. One of the best exercises one can do to force oneself to rely more on these tools, so as not to get rusty, is to design a show periodically that is either monochromatic (uses only one color) or de-saturated (uses only gradients of black and white). It is the latter that you will do here.

To see an example of a show done in this manner see my designs for a low-budget student production of The Seagull done in Russia some years ago.

The Project:

10 characters from a Shakespeare Play that you will render using only black and/or white or gradients of the same. Using silhouette, line, and other means still left to you, delineate the characters and their relationships with one another. You may set the play in any era before 1916, in any culture, or you may costume them totally abstractly, but do not set it any time in the last 100 years of Western civilization’s clothes, or you will get unduly distracted by your modern mental associations with certain garments.

To give you an idea of what might be done in an assignment like this, below are examples of no-color designs for The Taming of the Shrew by UAF student Jolene Howell:



Then label your drawings something like this:

‘If you have difficulty drawing figures,’ you can print out some of the outline sheets below, and do your renderings on these sheets. Printing the sheet onto card stock will allow you to use watercolors without having the paper wrinkle


Another way of Making rendering easier is to make a “Dancing Man”:


Make this out of heavy card stock, connect the pieces with brads as shown in the center, and lay it on your paper to make different poses for your body-outlines.

Step 2:

Scan and post the images you drew to your files section and post a notification on the message board that you have done renderings for this play and would appreciate feedback from the other students.