Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



Committee Member

Victor Zordan

Committee Member

David Donar

Committee Member

Eric Patterson


In animated film, costumes are an important part of visual storytelling. Costumes can communicate the details of a story's setting and reveal key aspects of a character's personality to the audience. Furthermore, directors and costume designers use clothing to accentuate cinematic performance and artistic direction. However, it is challenging to produce digital costumes that not only maintain the motion and detail of real garments, but also embody the visual style of an animated film. This thesis suggests the use of digital costumes to tell the biographical story of Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962). In the 1940s, Lee used her skills in the traditionally feminine art of miniature-making to revolutionize the field of homicide investigation with The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, a series of meticulously detailed and visually enchanting miniature crime scenes used to train police to observe evidence thoroughly and without bias. Along with her contributions to forensic science, Lee's narrative highlights the shifting cultural backdrop of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the United States. In homage to her legacy, this thesis presents CG animated costumes for a hypothetical film about Lee's life and work. Demonstrated is an approach using stylized costume design, pattern-based garment construction techniques, and industry-standard cloth simulation practices to create production-quality costumes which delicately balance physicality and artistic direction.



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