Spring Cleaning in the Studio
Art, Escapism, and Despair
Folds and Fabric in Art
A Gift from the Netherworld
News for February!
Folds and Fabric in ArtBehind the Art
by Annie Rodrigue
I have always loved drawing all kind of costumes. Since I mostly do fantasy art, knowing a little bit of the history of clothing is always useful, but I also needed to learn about drawing fabric. Probably the hardest parts for me to learn were folds and textures in fabric. (I must admit, I still have a hard time with it, too.) I will try to cover most of the elements I have learned about fabric over the last years. Hopefully, this will also help some of you in your future art endeavours!
What Makes a Cloth Fold or Wrinkle?
Indeed again, I will state some of the obvious, but analyzing what you are about to draw is essential to get it right.
Folds and wrinkles in cloth are the result of certain actions. The most obvious is certainly the example I have just provided. A fold will always be determined by a point of pressure. All the folds on your fabric will start from that particular point, too. So if you are able to identify where those pressure points are, for example, on a character, you will easily be able to draw convincing folds on clothes.
A few things to keep an eye for: knees, shoulders, elbows, waist, and breasts are the most common pressure points on clothing when you are drawing a character. Other elements in the clothing design might also create folds or wrinkles, like a belt, maybe a heavy jewelry, or just very tight clothes (note that when you clothes are tight, the pressure point often becomes the stitching of the clothing).
Some folds are much more obvious as we do not need to analyze what it going on to understand how we are going to draw it. Curtains come into mind, and might be a good thing to start with when we want to understand how folds in fabric work. What is wonderful with curtains is that the pressure points are usually the hooks that will hold them together. So you might have hooks on the side or small hooks on the rail over the window. If we were to draw those curtains with many hooks one next to the other, like in our example, we would not only have folds that would go from the hooks heading down (because of gravity) , but we would also have "U" shaped folds that would go from one hook to the other. Notice though how the fold lines do not cross. The shape must remain in a "U" shape to be believable.
Fabric can also create folds when a third party comes into play, like another character pulling the fabric. (The hand of this character would become the new pressure point) But sometimes, elements of natural causes, like wind or water will also come into play. A lady wearing a skirt and walking on a windy day will most likely have some folds on her clothing. When this happens, the whole body becomes the pressure point, and both the fabric and the folds will go from the pressure point to the direction the wind is pushing this fabric. You will have to create your folds according to the intensity you want the wind to blow.
Water, on the other hand, is a little trickier. A damp fabric will become heavy, so the sucked water in the fabric will pull that fabric to another direction. The heaviest part of the fabric can also become a second pressure point, thus creating some kind of double "U" shape: one "U" around the waist and one "U" on the second pressure point. Both seem to be reaching for each other, creating the feeling of heaviness in the fabric.
A last note, different fabrics like also create different kinds of folds. Unfortunately, the only way to know how to draw them right, is to actually have the fabric with you and do a little observation. If you have a fabric store near you, go visit and take notes! It will only cost a few minutes of your time. (And might give your some inspiration for textures to use in your work, or even nice color schemes you could use in your work!)
Look at yourself in the mirror! Study how folds are created on your own clothes! Study people around you and take notes. Do you have a sketchpad handy with you? Do quick study sketches. You don't have to spend time on these; they don't even have to be pretty. This is just like a note book but with images. I also suggest looking for a book on the history of clothing and costumes. Not only is it good general knowledge, but older clothing was often made of a lot more fabric than our everyday clothes, thus they often have lots and lots of folds!
Textured Fabrics and Folds
Working nice textures to recreate fabric isn't too difficult in itself, since with a lot of observation and a lot of patience too, someone can paint it fairly accurately. If you are not sure how to do it yourself, get some of your clothes or other interesting pieces of fabric and try to observe the patterns and to copy them into your own work.
When textures or patterns onto folded fabrics come into play, I like to create myself a light lined pattern to understand the movement this texture will have before drawing it. It is a simple but efficient guideline.
Folds and wrinkles in fabric aren't too difficult after all, once we know what to look for! Make sure you know where your pressure points are on your fabric and be extra careful (and patient!) when it comes to adding some extra textures to your folds and everything should be fine! Good luck!
I have thought of something that I hope will interest some of you! Next month, we will see how to build our own watercolor palette. Which color should be actually chosen in the art store? Should we place these colors in a certain order onto our palette? Even though I will use the example of my watercolor palette, the information will also be applicable for oil or acrylic palettes, so stay tuned!
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