As a comic book fan I see a lot of fan redesigns of superhero costumes which is cool. A lot of them are about dealing with the nature of female costumes, and its interesting to see what people do. Some are good, some are bland, some are just bad. I sort of came up with a list I think represents how I view the proper way to redesign. Simple rules to keep in mind. Ones also for actually pro artists because lets be honest, some of them need to stop.
1. Iconography/Identifiers-This should be the easiest to know. Most costumed heroes have identifiers. Some its easy, the chest symbol and color scheme. Others it is a bit harder. The trick is to determine which aspects of a heroes look people associate and then use as many of them as possible. This of course includes any aspect of their appearance from hair to eyes to body type. The above is not fan art but several proposed Supergirl redesigns by Mahmud Asrar who drew Supergirl for the nu52.
2. Simple Fixes-The above by Joel Carroll and is a basic quick fix to her costumes. Personally I’m fine with PeeGees boob window, its an identifier but this costume is pretty much spot on in that it does not try to reinvent the wheel. The work was pretty much done and Carroll just added some more cloth. Simple and easy.
3. Practicality for Powers or Abilities-Practicality goes beyond just looks, it has to also deal with being fitted tot he characters tools. The above Black Canary pic, by Michael Lee and I have a couple issues with (none of which involve how I like Black Canary in fishnets). The main issues are the clothes are a bit baggy and that’s an issue when facing off against someone whose a skilled fighter. For example in this outfit I think Dinah would have trouble in hand to hand combat by Judomaster because Judo teaches many techniques in which gripping clothes are an essential part. She’d probably have to ditch the jacket. Also the parkour stylings of vigilantes would make it annoying to have pants like that. getting caught in fences and wires. Clothes more form fitting would be best.
This one seems to not consider that Vampirella has wings that pop out. Depending on whose writing/drawing they either come out the back or their more batlike with the arms and sides-which I prefer. Vampi’s powers would tear up this outfit.
4. Personality-Going back to Vampi, is she a character who may like or feel comfortable wearing less? Vampirella is one of those who seems fine by it just as Emma Frost might like showing off skin. I’m not saying they don’t need a change of clothes or attire but maybe they don’t need to be conservatively dressed. This of course depends on the characters personality.
5. Superhero Fans Want Superhero Costumes-I posted this piece by Meredith McClaren on Comic Book Women a while back and asked my followers who they thought this was. The responses I received stuck her firmly in the X-Franchise which did not surprise me because I actually thought she looked a little like Jubilee myself. Now, that’s Phantom Lady-a character who has had costumes troubles for a while but this-along with other designs-don’t actually really speak of superhero comics. This might work for casual street clothes but most fans want superhero outfits. Taking them out of costume takes away part of the fun. Also if you have a lesser known character rocking the casual look it makes it even harder for fans to identify. I’m familiar on some level with Phantom lady and I was thrown off.
That is my opinion on the subject. Keep symbols/identifiers. If the costume mostly works, quick fixes are the best answer. Know the characters abilities and powers and apply that to the world. Keep their personality in mind. Also-superhero costumes are awesome.