Learning to draw is a process of acquiring many techniques. With practice and education, anyone can accomplish becoming an artist. If you are interested in drawing portraits and figures, you should pay attention to the fabric of their clothing. To learn to draw fabric can give any figure or portrait drawing you do realism and depth.
When you draw a human figure, you begin by considering the underlying structure that gives that figure definition and shape. What gives fabric shape is the folds and wrinkles characteristic to the particular material. The drape of a fabric can be drawn by looking carefully at the way it folds in a particular item of clothing.
Folds were categorized by George Bridgeman, a drawing teacher with the Art Students League. Pipe, Zigzag, Spiral, Half-lock and Drop folds as well as the Diaper pattern and Inert folds are so named for the basic shapes they form. As a challenge, spend an afternoon observing the clothing around you. Try to identify as many of these folds as you can. And, if you pick up on something new, think about what you’d call it. What forms in nature, architecture or basic shapes does it resemble?
Beginning to draw from forms you’re familiar with is a good way to start. I suggest starting with a pipe fold. It has fewer shadows and interior drape but will help you learn the feel of drawing the curves folds make. You’ll see it in skirts and looser clothing. If you have a friend willing to model for you, suggest that he or she don a full skirt. A full skirt will give you relaxed pipe folds. These cylindrical shapes are found in many man-made structures. Compare them in your mind to pipes you’ve seen in constructions or as facets of sculptures. This will give you a point of reference. From there, it’s just a matter of starting to draw.
A zigzag fold is present primarily in tube forms. Sleeves and pants legs display these, often at the joints where they bend, forming diamonds that fold toward each other. Before attempting to draw the fabric featuring them, just practice diamonds. Draw them close to, touching, and overlapping each other.
If you’ve ever bunched up the sleeves of your sweater, you’ve created spiral folds. Can you picture that scrunched up fabric? If so, you’ve got an idea of the texture you’ll be creating in drawing this type of fold. You’ll also see this in upholstery or curtain fabric. The nice thing about attempting to draw this is that you won’t need a model, just your own window hangings to draw from.
Whether you start with the few types of folds I have listed here or decide to challenge yourself with a different one from the list, you’ll find examples of them every day. Remember that an artist is an observer first. Pay attention to the world around you and you’ll find all the material you need. Add education, through choosing a drawing course, such as the 3 DVD course offered by learn to draw
and you will be well on your way.