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The Costume Designer's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Designers [Paperback]

Arvin Brown , Rosemary Ingham , Elizabeth Covey
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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The Costume Designer's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Designers + Model Making for the Stage: A Practical Guide + Stage Design: A Practical Guide
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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwood Press; 2Rev Ed edition (2 Nov 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0435086073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0435086077
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 17.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 434,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This guide provides advice on: how to read and analyze a play; plans for establishing a costume plot; insights into working with directors and other designers; resources for doing historical research; a discussion of the properties of colour; and sketching, drawing and drafting techniques.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Plays are crafted. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars constuctive, with excellent advice for costume 13 Dec 2000
By A Customer
If you plan to study costume them thihs book is a must. With diagrams on construction tips and things you need to know it's a must have. Another of her books the costume technicians handbook to acomany this one is another if you plan to work in this area or just have an intrest. I have so far found it one of the most useful in my collection and cheapest from Amazon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Completely U.S. based Information 9 Sep 2011
By Camilla
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Though I did find the book to give very good advice on how to go about planning costume design- the section on actual making of costumes i.e. drawing is fairly small. It is a good book but the main problem with it is that in the back all of the lovely information on where to go, places to buy things- theatres to consider for employment- structures of how different sectors of the industry employ people- i.e. sewers unions etc- is all based in the United States. There is some info for those in Canada but there is absolutely nothing on the UK at all. This is why I sold the book used after having it for only a few weeks. It is the contacts that are really helpful in any industry and unless you can work in the U.S. or spend some time there- it is not very helpful.
P.S. I have no problem with the U.S.- I am not English and would love to move there myself so my opinion is purely based on objective facts.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Too basic and generic 14 Sep 2012
By Molly
I was really disappointed by this book. I learned my trade in costume by working alongside professionals not through education so I bought this book hoping it would concisely put years of of knowledge together in one read, highlight things I have missed and enable me to teach others. The contents barely scratch the surface of costume design and I learned nothing new from it.

The first third of the book is a tour on theatre departments and jobs and how to read a script. It is so generic that my colleague, who teaches lighting design, borrowed it to read to her students! The rest of it skims through elements of costume design with no real detail and that's what I was expecting from the "complete guide". There was little to none discussion on topics such as analysis of character, setting, time of day, season etc, natural vs abstract colour or shape, technical drawing, making a costume bible, effect of LX on colour and texture (the Rosco site is more informative), designing for quick changes, creating and working to budgets, difference in styles for specific types of productions (e.g. opera, ballet) ... The writing is dull and uninspiring, it reads like a GCSE textbook.

I would not recommend this a professional designer, I might suggest it to an inexperienced amateur company who might find the generic design elements useful, but it's not going to educate in costume design nor is it going to inspire or give a designer a "lighbulb moment". I was put off buying further "costume design handbooks" by this one but I can recommend Character Costume Figure Drawing: Step-by-Step Drawing Methods for Theatre Costume Designers which teaches how to draw proportional figures and colour them with different media using the author's own work and photographs. Through osmosis you start to get a feel for her design process, thinking and methods, far more interesting and inspiring.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! 27 Aug 2010
By Laura Darkly - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is amazing that someone could leave a negative review of a book because it was "not what [they] were looking for", when the description of the book states exactly what it's about. It is not a pattern book. It is not a book full of historical costume pictures. It is a book for theatrical costume designers, going over the process of theatrical costume design from start to finish, and it is very good & thorough. Extremely helpful, especially if you're just starting out in costuming for productions of any size!
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't know where to start until someone lent me this book 5 Jan 2004
By A Customer - Published on
I'd been assisting designers for quite some time, even designed some of my own shows, without an education in costume design. I have lots of great experience but I'm sure nothing can compete with a costume design education (mine is in fashion design), which I'd like to pursue when I have the time. I'm so glad I found out about this book! Every aspect of the process you need to know about is in here. It is essential! I can't believe I survived as long as I did without it.
22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of process 1 Jun 1999
By Bridgette Dyer-Leighton - Published on
This is a great resource for the design process. I especially use these guidelines for analysis of a play and characters whenever I design a show. A must have for anyone interested in designing shows!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for Costume Designers 23 April 2014
By M. Bast - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had to buy this book for my Intro to Costume Design and I am so glad I did. It goes over EVERYTHING that you need to do when designing. It is a step by step with instructions. It has a lot of information on how to research a play. What to look for. And then goes into how to create/design for a character. Lastly it shows you how to develop a costume parade.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but centered on management. 20 Jun 2009
By D. Garcia Gil - Published on
This is a great book, it helps you to create a workflow and teaches how to handle directors, actors and costumers, it is not what I was looking for but, has a lot of handy hints and things you should know, so it's a must have.

Anyone looking for help and directions on pure design should look another book, in this one, is not a big chapter.

It is also focused on theater as many reviews had said.
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