From Animation to Live-Action: Behind The Costumes of The Mandalorian

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+, © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. &TM. All Rights Reserved.

Going into this new year, many things seem uncertain. However, one thing I think we can all agree on is that The Mandalorian is one of the greatest shows out there. Lightsaber fights, stormtroopers, explosions, exciting worlds, new and returning characters, Baby Yoda… wait I mean, Grogu. The second season of The Mandalorian, a Disney + original, took audiences to exciting new heights. One of the more thrilling features of the second season was the introduction of characters that many Star Wars fans have come to know and love, Bo-Katan Kryze and Ahsoka Tano, two characters originating from the animated Star Wars shows, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.

I spoke with season 2 costume designer, Shawna Trpcic, about this exciting project and the incredible task of bringing these two animated fan favorites into the live-action, Emmy Award-Winning world of The Mandalorian.


Spencer Williams: Hi Shawna! Thank you so much for talking with me and congratulations on an incredible season of The Mandalorian! I had so much fun watching each week and I miss it dearly! What was your experience like designing costumes for The Mandalorian, and now being a part of the Star Wars universe? 

Shawna Trpcic: Hi Spencer! The experience was like no other – Jon has brought together a band of incredible artists and technicians, but most importantly a group of Star Wars fans through and through. The show is fast-paced and a huge undertaking and we all want to give our all for every moment and every look – it’s the most glorious and rewarding challenge – I often squeal with childlike excitement when a costume is finished and on the actor.

Spencer: I can only imagine! So I have really been looking forward to talking to you about this. For years, some of our favorite characters have only been seen in animated television shows such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars or Star Wars: Rebels. As a costume designer, you played a big role in bringing to life some serious fan-favorites, Bo-Katan Kryze (played by Katee Sackhoff) and Ahsoka Tano (played by Rosario Dawson). What was your reaction when you realized the weight of this exciting task?

(L-R): Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Francois Duhamel

Shawna: I have been going to Comic-Con in San Diego for years and years, and have great respect and understanding for the legacy of these iconic characters – by staying loyal to Dave Filoni’s vision created in the animation but applying my knowledge of how a costume must work for live-action and movement – I knew we’d created something magical. When I asked Jose Fernandez at Ironhead Studios to build the armor for the two ladies I was very clear that maintaining the strong feminine shape Dave had in the animation was very important to me. 

Spencer: Can you take us through your process of adapting these two characters from animation into a live-action world? How did you decide on what elements to carry over from prior incarnations of the character’s costumes? 

Shawna: Dave guided me very carefully through the helmets – the angle of the cheekbones, the slant of the eyes, the flare at the bottom. The helmet is the first thing you see and it communicates so much – getting that right and the slight differences in the colors were imperative

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Francois Duhamel

Spencer: What sort of challenges did you face in designing these costumes? Both characters see a lot of action scenes such as gun-fights and lightsaber duels. All of this keeping in mind that there are also some intricate headpieces and armor involved.

Shawna: We did tear out a few seams in the action – also after a week of intense fighting Katee was losing weight and gaining more muscle. The uniform was shifting and frequent alterations were needed to keep the shape we intended. We did add stretch panels throughout to ease the strain on the seams

Spencer: When we first meet Ahsoka in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka is a young padawan. Now, Ahsoka is a wise, experienced figure. I believe you can track her journey and overall character development through her costumes over the years. What was the thought process behind her style evolution seen in The Mandalorian?

Shawna: I relied heavily on Dave’s direction for her – he gave me his research that influenced his decisions and I worked off of them to create the live-action version – even going so far as to have fabric made to give her the journey worn cloak – and we made many attempts at the Jedi hood before we got it right as well.

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and the Magistrate (Diana Lee Inosanto) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Spencer: Is there an element to either of these two costumes that just really brought the character to life that excited you? I noticed Ahsoka had a braid tied around her belt that looked similar to her Padawan braid made of “Silka Beads”. Hmmm?  

Shawna: *laughs* It may or may not be the braid – some influences are like art – up to the interpretation of the viewer. Every detail of her costume means something and comes from her character’s evolution – but it’s important to me to let the viewer participate in the storytelling. 

Spencer: I love that, so very much! Thank you again Shawna for speaking with me! This was a lot of fun. I look forward to catching up with you again in the future.

Shawna: Thank you, Spencer!

The Child and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two. ©2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Photo by Justin Lubin

Watch the Second season of The Mandalorian, now streaming on Disney +

For another Behind The Scenes look at The Mandalorian costumes, watch Disney Gallery / Star Wars: The Mandalorian, featuring commentary by Shawna Trpcic – streaming on Disney +

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After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising with a degree in Fashion Design, Spencer realized that his love for fashion was not entirely found on a runway, but seen on screen through film and television. As a Los Angeles event planner, Spencer began to organize panels of costume designers benefiting students who were fascinated by costume design. As Spencer’s connections within the costume design field began to grow, so did his love for the craft. Then in 2019, Spencer decided it was time to share his love for costume design on an international level and launched The Art of Costume.

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