How to Draw Draping Fabric

Written by deborah walden
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How to Draw Draping Fabric
Draping fabric creates dramatic shadows. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Drawings of draping fabric accent studies of interior spaces and clothing. The patterns created through rich folds give visual texture and dimension to your art. Subjects for draping fabric abound, and the fabric type, weight and size affect the final version of your drawing. Other aspects, such as lighting, colour and time of day make each draping fabric subject unique. When executing your drawing, pay careful attention to the particular qualities of the subject that you wish to capture.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Charcoal pencil
  • Blending stick

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  1. 1

    Examine the draping fabric that you wish to draw. Note the weave of the fabric and the size of any folds or gatherings of fabric. Observe the light source and any highlights or shadows.

  2. 2

    Lightly draw the outline of the fabric on your paper in charcoal. Do not make hard lines.

  3. 3

    Draw the outlines of shadows and highlights inside of the draping fabric. Make these outlines soft, using light, broken lines. Many times draping fabric falls into large folds because of the weight of the material. These folds usually have dark shadows on each side and a light highlight down the centre. Keep the shape of the folds rounded and soft by using rounded, arching lines.

  4. 4

    Begin by focusing on one fold of fabric. Shade inside of the darkest areas on each side of the fold. Shade the area fully and make the shadows dark by applying pressure to your pencil.

  5. 5

    Use the blending stick to extend the area of shadow beyond the original darker portion. This will begin to define the fold of fabric. Drag the blending stick back and forth over the dark region to pick up the charcoal pigment, thus darkening the side of the fold. Continue to spread the shadow to create a medium value area of shadow that blends fluidly beside the dark area. Do this on each side of the fold.

  6. 6

    Use the charcoal pencil that remains on the blending stick to define the lightest area of shadow on the fold. Continue to create this region of light shadow on each side of the fold. Leave the centre of the fold blank to make a highlight.

  7. 7

    Continue this process on each fold of the fabric.

  8. 8

    Use your charcoal pencil to darken any areas of shadow that became lighter after blending.

Tips and warnings

  • The folds of some draping fabrics create arching horizontal folds, while others form soft vertical folds. In either case, use the same process of darkening shadows on each side of the fold and blending the dark charcoal to form the draping fabric.

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