Design costumes

This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to design costumes for the screen, media and entertainment industries.No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of endorsement.


Costume designers in the screen, media and entertainment industries apply the skills and knowledge described in this unit. Their role is integral to defining the overall 'look' of productions, and their creative work ranges from designing original costumes, to overseeing the purchase and adaptation of ready-made outfits.

Costume designers must carry out research into the costume styles, designs and construction methods that are appropriate for the production's time period, using a number of resources, including libraries, museums and the internet.

They need creative flair, a strong sense of colour and design and the ability to draw. They should be confident in their knowledge of period costume, jewellery, corsetry, hosiery, millinery, footwear, costume accessories, etc. They must be experts on fabric qualities, clothing cuts, fits and techniques, pattern making and sewing. Creatively, they should know how to dress to particular faces or physiques to create characters.

Even though they work with a high degree of autonomy, costume designers are members of a creative production team and work closely with directors and other designers.

Elements and Performance Criteria



Interpret creative briefs

1. Analyse performance outlines/scripts to determine overall production concepts

2. Participate in preliminary concept meetings with relevant personnel to clarify understanding of costume design requirements

3. Identify factors that may have an impact on the design process

4. With reference to production documentation, itemise elements that need to be addressed during the design phase

Conduct research

5. Identify and source references that may inform the design process

6. Critically analyse sources and references in the context of design projects

7. Consider the impact and potential of new and emerging technologies to inform the design process

8. Collect, collate and adapt materials to develop initial design concepts

9. Organise research material for ease of access by relevant personnel during the design development process

Generate and assess ideas

10. Generate a range of costume design ideas that respond sympathetically to the brief and provide creative solutions to design issues

11. Assess ideas and collaborate, as required, with relevant personnel to maximise contribution of ideas to initial concepts

12. Continuously reflect on and appraise ideas for implications on cost, technical feasibility and creative requirements

Develop and document designs

13. Hold ongoing discussions with relevant personnel so that additional requirements and new ideas are considered and incorporated during the development of designs

14. Ensure that agreement is reached with relevant personnel in relation to consistent artistic interpretation

15. Evaluate initial concepts and select the most appropriate approach, giving consideration to budget, research findings and ongoing reflection/discussion

16. Develop costume designs from initial concepts ensuring that all production and design factors are taken into account

17. Organise or undertake testing and experimentation with selected costume designs

18. Develop accurate records of designs, including relevant information

Finalise designs

19. Present draft costume construction plans and specifications to relevant personnel in an appropriate format

20. Participate in initial and ongoing evaluation of presented designs

21. Negotiate and agree to modifications and amend designs as required

22. Produce accurate and comprehensive documentation to support implementation of designs

23. Present final designs, plans and specifications to relevant personnel and confirm that all production requirements have been met

24. Reflect on own role in design process and note areas for future improvement

Required Skills

Required skills

planning and organising skills sufficient to:

meet deadlines

undertake research to inform the design process and systematically organise research materials

problem solving skills in the context of ensuring that all costumes meet performers' requirements and specifications

communication, literacy and teamwork skills sufficient to:

interpret and clarify written proposals and/or creative briefs

work collaboratively in a team environment

present ideas for the design of costumes for discussion and feedback from team members

reach agreement with relevant personnel on final costume designs

consult with production personnel about costume design and construction issues to ensure creative and technical production requirements are met

produce detailed costume design and construction documentation

initiative, enterprise and creativity in the context of:

creating and refining costume design concepts

thinking laterally when developing concepts

undertaking background research to inform the design process

maintaining design integrity

technical skills sufficient to:

use the internet for research

use standard word processing packages

draw/sketch in the context of designing costumes

numeracy skills sufficient to interpret budgets

self-management skills sufficient to:

work under pressure

provide timely advice and documentation

Required knowledge

role of costume design within the overall artistic direction of productions

the production scheduling process and its interrelationship with the design process

role of costume designers and how this may differ depending upon the production, and relationship with other designers and production personnel

relationship between different design elements, e.g. costume, sets, lighting, props, sound

copyright, moral rights and intellectual property legislation in relation to costume design

ethical standards and protocols for designers working in the screen, media and entertainment industries

the formal principles and elements of design and their relevance to costume design

research skills in relation to costume design, including creative interpretation and adaptation

principles and techniques of design and script break-down

sources and availability of materials and equipment used in costume design

costing and budgeting techniques for costume design

current and emerging technologies available to costume designers

construction methods and implementation issues associated with the realisation of costume designs

issues and challenges that arise in the context of designing costumes

typical formats and techniques for documenting costume designs

OHS standards as they relate to the process of designing costumes

Evidence Required

The Evidence Guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit

Evidence of the following is essential:

documented costume designs that demonstrate an ability to:

take production environment and constraints into account

meet creative requirements of productions

undertake research to inform the design process

meet deadlines

effective communication and negotiation skills in the context of finalising costume designs

collaborative approach to work.

Context of and specific resources for assessment

Assessment must ensure:

practical demonstration of skills through a range of costume design assignments for at least two productions

access to productions that require the design of costumes

access to appropriate learning and assessment support when required

use of culturally appropriate processes and techniques appropriate to the language and literacy capacity of learners and the work being performed.

Method of assessment

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge. The following examples are appropriate for this unit:

direct questioning combined with review of portfolios of evidence and third-party workplace reports of on-the-job performance

evaluation of costume design documentation prepared by the candidate to determine whether production requirements have been met

observation of the candidate presenting costume designs to colleagues for discussion to assess candidate's communication and negotiation skills

written or verbal questioning to test knowledge as listed in the required skills and knowledge section of this unit and to evaluate the processes used in developing and realising creative concepts

review of portfolios of evidence and third-party workplace reports of on-the-job performance.

Guidance information for assessment

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended, for example:

BSBDES402A Interpret and respond to a design brief

CUEIND02B Research and evaluate theatrical references to inform industry practice

CUFCOS505A Realise costumes.

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Relevant personnel may include:

costume production staff


director of photography

floor manager

make-up and hair personnel

other specialist staff



production designer

production manager

stage manager

wardrobe department personnel

wardrobe supervisor/manager.

Costumes may include:


basic styles, e.g.:





contemporary wear


costume jewellery

dance wear

female, male, child and animal costumes



pre-production toiles

tailored costumes


Factors may include:

availability of personnel

availability of resources

available budget

effective use of resources

expectations of producers and/or directors

needs of other production areas

production schedule

production values

research findings

role of designer in the costume construction phase

space/venue specifications or restrictions

style/period/nature of production


Documentation may include:

call sheets

computer generated

costume break-down lists

costume patterns

costume plots

descriptive costume checklists

manually written

manufacture schedules

manufacturer specifications/instructions

measurement charts

memos of instruction

operational/project plan

production schedules

running sheets


References may include:


digital images

film, video



musical scores

paintings and illustrations


reference books/journals/texts



technical production drawings

writings of the period.

Records may include:


plans, computer or manually generated




Unit sector

Competency Field

Visual communication - Costume

Employability Skills

This unit contains employability skills.

Licensing Information

Not applicable.