Designing a Dress with Asian-Inspired Elements in Marvelous Designer

Designing a Dress with Asian-Inspired Elements in Marvelous Designer

Learn how Lorenzo Bove, a student of Skyup Academy, designed a simple yet elegant Asian-inspired dress in Marvelous Designer.

Recent Skyup Academy graduate and aspiring Texture Artist, Lorenzo Bove, is expanding his knowledge in GCI with his latest project, in which he showcases the use of Marvelous Designer to fashion a dress with Asian-Inspired Elements.

Software Used

Research and References

My journey began with an in-depth exploration of references. I carefully examined various Asian inspired dress designs, meticulously searching for patterns and templates that closely aligned with the vision I had for this project.

Dress references


Once I had compiled a collection of references, I embarked on the modeling phase. This marked my first experience with Marvelous Designer, and I was pleasantly surprised by how user-friendly it proved to be. It required a shift in my modeling mindset, where I began to view it as a process akin to crafting a garment through UVs. Essentially, it involves creating a 2D pattern first, then sewing and simulating it directly onto a mannequin. This unique approach allowed me to think in terms of fashion design, bringing an entirely new dimension to my modeling workflow.

I particularly appreciated the features that Marvelous Designer offered. The "Strain Map" feature, in particular, proved invaluable in helping me understand where to add or remove fabric, much like a skilled tailor would. It provided critical feedback on fabric tension and stress, aiding me in achieving realistic results. I experimented with various stitching methods, such as the Segment and Free options, adapting them to suit the specific needs of my project.

Additionally, Marvelous Designer's simulation capabilities for various materials were a significant asset. I had to play around with different settings to find the one that best reflected the vision I had for my project.

In my experience, while Marvelous Designer does have a steep learning curve, it allows for rapid progress. With dedication and practice, I found that I could tackle substantial projects in a relatively short amount of time.

After creating the dress, I imported the female character's mesh into Mixamo, rigged it, and selected a pose that harmonised with the elegance of the attire. Given the dress's sophistication, I aimed for a pose that complemented its design.
Subsequently, I imported the animation to simulate the dress on this specific pose.

Marvelous Designer viewport

This transition to Marvelous Designer not only broadened my toolset but also enriched my understanding of the intricacies of fashion design and fabric simulation, a valuable asset in my journey within the 3D world.


With the posed model ready, it was time to start the texturing. I scoured references to understand the fabric type I aimed to replicate and gathered a variety of patterns to use as a foundation for embroideries.

Material references

Once satisfied with my references and material understanding, I brought everything into Substance 3D Painter. Here, I worked on my textures in multiple steps. Starting with the Bordeaux section, I began with base colours, followed by roughness and normal maps to achieve the desired texture effect.

Bordeaux textures

Moving on to the green floral embroideries, I combined various patterns with different masks, following the same process as with the Bordeaux section.

Green pattern textures

Combining all these elements and fine-tuning, I achieved the desired result.

Final textures

Shading and Lighting

Within Maya, I first created the belt with embedded stones. I then set up the lighting using a basic "lambert" material to better understand light dynamics. My initial step was to introduce a Dome with an HDR image to add realism.

Next, I aimed for a "Teal and Orange" lighting scheme by placing an Orange Key light and two Teal Fill lights (the second one highlighting the lower part of the dress). Finally, I added a Rim light to accentuate the dress's shape.

Lighting Mix

With lighting completed, I turned my attention to crafting a shader that would maximise the impact of the textures created in Substance 3D Painter. I incorporated Subsurface Scattering (SSS) to replicate the fabric's properties and a subtle sheen to enhance realism.

Shader in V-ray

To add an extra layer of authenticity, I introduced Fur to recreate the fabric's fine "hair" details, creating a mask map for density in Substance 3D Painter.

vRay Fur in Maya


During the rendering phase, I fine-tuned various parameters to realise my envisioned dress. I played with the settings to achieve a delicate balance, creating a "see but not see" effect, thanks to SSS and Rim lighting.

First attempt to SSS and Rim

Subsequently, I dedicated myself to producing both full-body and macro renders to showcase the exceptional level of detail achieved in the project.

This extensive project pushed me out of my comfort zone and proved instrumental in my pursuit of the "new." It allowed me to acquire a comprehensive understanding of every aspect within the fascinating world of 3D design. I am immensely grateful to The Rookies for this incredible opportunity, and I look forward to continuing my journey of growth and innovation in this dynamic field.

Reach out to Lorenzo and see more of his work on his Rookies profile.