I’ve spent a lot of time recently dressing female models. It’s not quite the thrilling task you might have thought. In fact, it has driven me to distraction.

To keep my mind ticking over during the Covid-19 crisis, I’ve been trying to learn Blender 3D software. It’s not easy, but you learn so much, not least, all about women’s bodies. I created a number of male manikins. Their bodies are more or less logical, and putting clothes on them is straightforward. The practice I’ve had over the last 70 (rather) odd years has helped. But since starting on women (I was tempted to use womankins, but I guessed that would have been sexist. I’ll use the gender-neutral models from now on), I’ve got all confused.

I’ve experienced a lot of problems putting frocks, tops and trousers on them. They have any number of different lumps and bumps. They must view them the same way as they do shoes. They have many more of both than any reasonable woman could possibly need. Why do they want so many? Ignore a bit just because you have no idea what its function is, and the models end up looking all wrong, although it’s difficult to work out why. It’s bewildering. What does a particular bit do is not a question that answered satisfactorily on Wikipedia.

Carol got me some dress patterns that I followed, and they helped, but were far from perfect. You would not believe the different criteria you need to take into account. Just waist and inside leg for jeans is not in the same area of complexity. Then there’s frills, cuffs, shoulders, taper for blouses.

I’ve been looking at women in more or less the way I used to do when I was a lot younger, but sort of grew out of it when I was 65. Now I do it for other reasons (although it gets my memory working, so is good for the brain). Like most kids of a somewhat more youthful age, I undress them, except I do it to see how the clothes fit. It’s because I study the clothes, and as that’d hit their self-image, I don’t do it for real.

I’ve always been thoughtful.

When I helped my dad strip motorcycle and car engines, I could point to a part and ask, ‘What’s that for?’ and could depend on a short, accurate answer. The only time I asked him about women, particularly the differences between them and us, he said that women danced backwards. That’s not a lot of help when trying to create a dress to fit a model.

One word of warning to anyone struggling with the same problem; take great care when searching for women’s clothing on Google. Adverts that are, frankly, embarrassing pop up for weeks later, and explaining that you searched for 3D software doesn’t seem to have much mileage.

I have an asset library for clothes in my Blender file. The one for males takes up a few MB. For the females, it’s over a GB. Take shoes. For men there are boots, with two heights. One with laces, one without. Then a leather pair of shoes, a smart casual pair, trainers, a pair of which is nondescript, and flip-flops. With that basic range, I can make anything that men put on their feet.

For women, there is a set of heel heights (4) and thicknesses (4) which means 16 different factors before I’ve even started on the uppers. I forgot wedges and flats. There’s ballet (and ballerina – there’s a difference) shoes, court shoes, mules, loafers, gladiators, sandals, slip-flops, most with the option of laces, bows, buckles/straps and sprinkles and more. That’s not even mentioning boots; there’s more of them than there are signs of aging.

One positive side is that I will never become impatient waiting for my wife to get ready again (if we are ever allowed to go somewhere). It’s a wonder women make it on the right day.

I struggle with faces. So, it seems, looking at some of the creations of others, do many people. No problem, though, as I can download heads to use either as a help in making my own or to use without embarrassment. Most conform to women in general and come with body attached but they are almost always disproportionate.

The first image shows a well-created face. There’s excellent detailing with everything in its place. The eyes are particularly impressive. The hair just, literally, tops everything off. But once you get down to the body, it all gets rather less praiseworthy. I’m all for positive body images to encourage those who want to be fitter and healthier, but this one misses the point I think. 

The second image is mine. I’ll accept the head suffers a bit (maybe more) in comparison, but I prefer the body shape. My assumption was that the first image was created by some young lad, in his bedroom, who has sourced most of his images of women on rather strange websites, at least when his mum wasn’t looking. Boy, I thought, is he going to be shocked, and somewhat confused, when he eventually staggers out into the light and actually approaches a woman. 

Mind you, it’ll be a rather pleasant surprise.

Despite being pleased with the detailing and accuracy of the head and hair, when reviewing the model, I asked whether the modeller had considered a C-cup, or even a B-cup. I received a pleasant reply, and was surprised to find it was a woman. I was promised some basic clothes to fit the model.

If you look through the 3D magazines, you’ll be impressed by the skill and artistry of many of those who submit images. Odd, to me at least, was that a significant number of female models who are a bit on the big side are created by females. There’s nothing like research to challenge prejudice.

They say before criticising anyone, spend time in their shoes. I’m not going to dress in a, well, dress, so I can’t criticise women for being so confusing. But still, I mean.

Here’s my dancer. The shoes show heel 3, thickness 2, no embellishments. The dress is actually in two parts, skirt and top. The skirt is length A 3, A being on or above the knee, the number denoting height. A much simpler method than used by the fashion industry. The sleeveless top has a V-neck and high back. All variables.

In the top image, the bloke has a T-shirt, jacket leather zip, and jeans.

Problems dressing female models

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