Learning how to draw fabric folds and drapery is somewhat like the ultimate discipline in shading objects. It is no coincidence that there are numerous sketches by old masters of the Renaissance and subsequent art movements who have extensively practiced the shading of fabric. If you can draw a flawless fall of the folds, you can shade basically any motif.
It requires an understanding of light and shadow and the skill to put the shading techniques on paper. Let’s take a look at how you can approach the shading of fabric.
- HB Pencil
- 2B Pencil
- Kneaded eraser (or eraser pencil)
- Drawing paper
- Reference picture
How to draw fabric folds – The tutorial
Step 1: The preliminary drawing
The light in this drawing will hit the fabric from the right side of the drawing. First of all we draw the rough outline of the folds. In this drawing, the fabric should fall as if it is hanging over two hooks.
Step 2: Start hatching the folds
Start the shading with strokes that follow the flow of the individual fabric sections. You can condense this gradient a bit by placing a crosshatch over the first strokes.
Of course you can repeat this process and apply the hatching in several layers at different angles to make the strokes less visible.
Step 3: Blend the lines
You can also blend the lines manually by using a blending tool like cotton swab or a brush.
Step 4: Intensify the shadows
Always be aware of where the cast shadow and reflections are located.
In general, the bigger the folds are, the bigger the shadow they cast. More pronounced wrinkles cast larger and harder shadows, while smaller wrinkles cast softer, lighter shadows.
Reflections will mainly occur on the curved sides of the drapery facing the light source.
Use your 2B pencil to intensify the shading and thus increase the contrast.
And this is what the fabric looks like after you increase the contrast with the slightly darker pencil.
Step 5: Bring out the reflections
After you have adjusted the dark areas, you can increase the contrast even more by working out the light areas. Use your kneaded eraser or a eraser pencil to expose specific areas that you want to be particularly bright.
Especially those areas that are directly illuminated by light reflect the light and need to be highlighted.
Repeat this process of increasing contrasts until you are satisfied with the result.