Category Archives: Pt 4/project 1

Part 4, Project 1, Exercise 2: Emphasising form with cloth

Here you’ll sketch a seated figure wearing a plain and pale coloured shawl, baggy jumper or soft dressing gown.  Using very light marks, sketch the overall shape of the seated figure, remembering to fit it interestingly within the borders of the support. Then, disregarding details, concentrate on drawing the body and the fabric as though it were a single form, considering the cloth as much a part of the body as the skin, flesh and bones. Very lightly and simply indicate the general shapes for the head, hands and feet without going into detail. Your emphasis should be on the overall form of the main part of the body.  Observe how the fabric moulds gently around and softens angles, and how marks and lines can create the illusion of three-dimensional form and believable weight.


I struggled to find models for this exercise.  I had the opportunity to draw my tutor in a  seated position, using charcoal and coloured pencils but she was not in a pose I would have chosen to tackle this particular exercise.

I feel that I have not dealt with the essence of this exercise particularly well.  The clothing is quite tight, so it hugs the body and makes the body shape obvious rather than hinting at it.  I did not need to use the fabric to hint at the body beneath as much as I might have had to do were the clothing baggier.  However, there are areas where the clothing (e.g. jeans) mould around the body to soften the angles.  The drawing is not particularly good- I don’t feel I evoked a sense of the fabric of the clothing particularly well, nevertheless there are areas where the fabric has believable for and the body a sense of weight and physical mass (namely, the nearest arm, fabric over the chair and the trouser legs)


These are rough sketches of the model above.  They create an essence of physical form in spite of being fairly sketchy and rough.  The right hand image depicts a sense of the shirt stretching across the model’s back and along her arm, suggesting the shape of the body beneath.


I also attempted sketching from a couple of photos.  These were both from fashion magazines.  The first one in a dressing gown works quite well (although i wish I had created a context by adding background etc).  The folds of the dressing gown suggest the shape and weight of the body beneath.


This sketch used charcoal (black and grey) and depicts a woman in a semi sheer top and long  skirt.  In liked the way the body was hinted at through the fabric of the top.  There is a good sense of movement in the picture- generated by the shape of the fabric folds and dynamic position.  It looks as if she is half twisting/spinning.  However, the proportions are not correct- The body is too long in contrast with the legs!


Part 4, Project 1, Exercise 1, Drawing Fabric using Line and Tone

Throw a piece of clothing or a length of plain fabric (so you don’t get distracted by pattern) across a chair to make folded and soft layers of fabric and then, using an appropriate medium for each, make two 15-minute sketches, one using line only and the other concentrating on tone.


These sketches were completed fairly rapidly and look fairly spontaneous and loose.  The line drawing of the fabric is fairly flat.  The lines depict edges and folds in the fabric and obvious divisions in tone, but the result is pretty unsatisfactory as  picture.

Volume only started to emerge in the fabric when tone was added below:



The drawings concentrating on tone have a greater sense of form, weight and three-dimensionality.  My approach was to observe edges first, depicting them using line (lightly), then to shade in the darkest areas, before adding more subtle shading and mid-tones.

Loosely divide a large sheet of paper into 8–12 cm squares and draw five-minute sketches of different parts of the fabric. Look at the shapes caused by the folds and use lines to follow the curves, rises and falls as though the tip of the pencil is walking along the ‘landscape’ of the cloth. Identify and emphasise the areas of light and shade that define and emphasise form. Use both line and tone, testing different approaches and media as you work. Work on a larger scale on single sheets if you wish.

IMG_1158 IMG_1157

The drawings above were influenced by the beautiful drawings of fabric by Durer.  I love his work.  I used charcoal pencils on kraft paper  and enjoyed trying to emulate his approach;  mimicking the shape and topography of the fabric using lines to chart the directiion and shape of its folds. The first one is the most successful where the folds hang in “drop folds”- from a single point.


I also attempted the same exercise using charcoal, trying to shade in the shapes of the folds and then, below, did the same exercise using a foundation pen with water-soluble ink, that I later wet using a paintbrush.  The picture below is more successful as a photograph than in real life- it benefits from being reduced in size and starts to look more realistic.


This picture from Wikihow 

Top left –diaper folds (from two points). Top right- drop folds (from a single point). Bottom left- spiral folds. Here, the folds alternate from different directions.  Bottom right – inert folds (crumpled cloth.)

drawing fabric