Fabric Rendering And Pattern Reproduction

Becoming a Professional Fashion Designer

Become a Professional Fashion Designer

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Depicting the qualities of fabric accurately brings authenticity to a fashion illustration. To achieve a professional standard of fabric representation, develop an understanding of different fabrics and observe the way in which they drape and fall on the body. The best way to gain this knowledge is to sketch clothed figures. Notice the shapes the fabric makes around the body, rarely lying flat but moulding itself around the contours of the figure. Observe the way that looser garments hang while tighter fabrics stretch on the body, and practise drawing the effects. It would be useful to collect a range of fabric samples and practise drawing them, observing the way they fold and fall. It is also worthwhile visiting a museum or gallery and sketching from figurative sculptures to discover how fine fabrics are cleverly rendered in heavy stone. Visit the old-master paintings, too, to observe how these artists skilfully represented fabric.

The oil paintings above show two very different, chiffon dresses that each artist has portrayed in a contrasting style. In Andri's Girl in a Red Dress the transparency of the chiffon is rendered by allowing the sheer sleeves and neckline to reveal the flesh beneath the fabric with such realism that it is almost like looking at a photograph. The area where the undergarment is apparent is a denser, darker shade of red, and this contrast itself serves to emphasize the sheer quality of the sleeves. Every fold and crease in this dress has been observed and accurately rendered, and even the girl's silk stockings shine with reflected light. In Klimt's Portrait ofSonja

Kriips, the pink dress is made from ruched, pleated chiffon, the many layers of the dress evident in the opaque paintwork. The delicate, sheer quality of the fabric is revealed on the shoulders, cuffs and at the hem of the dress.

Always keep in mind that, although your fashion illustrations may be highly creative and individual, the intention of the artwork is to convey a garment or outfit. The representation of the fabric from which the clothing is constructed must play a significant role in your artwork.

Stripes and checks

When drawing stripes, keep in mind that they move with the body. Stripes run across, down or around the body, regardless of their width or the direction of the print, A common mistake in fashion illustration is to render stripes using straight, parallel lines. If you look at a horizontal-striped jumper off the body, then the lines of the stripes are indeed straight. However, imagine a person wearing that jumper, i he stripes will wrap around the torso and arms so must be drawn with curved lines.

The correct way to draw stripes is to begin at the centre of a garment, then follow the lines of the stripes over the curves of the body, up to the shoulder and down over the hips to the hem. It is a mistake to start from the top or bottom, as the direction of the stripes will become confused with the shift in hip and shoulder positions of the figure. When you plot your stripes from the centre of the garment, ensure they are of equal proportion if that is true of the fabric. Some striped fabrics have uneven stripes that are not symmetrical. Stripes may run in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal direction.

Checks, or plaids, are stripes running in two directions. Like stripes they can he drawn straight or on the bias (diagonally) to form either repeated"+" or "x" shapes. Again, checks are made up of straight lines that will curve with the body. These lines usually run down the centre front of a garment and are equidistant from each other.

Plan your drawings with faint pencil lines before you begin to render si riped and checked fabrics. Accuracy at this stage is vital if the finished artwork is lo look professional.


Woollen fabrics are generally woven in a variety of weights, and include flannel, gabardine, fleece and mohair. They can also be patterned—for example, tweeds, pinstripes and herringbone. Wools are best rendered in a soft medium that will produce one base colour and a darker shadow because, unless it is textured, a drawn woollen surface often appears flat. Markers are excellent for drawing flat fabrics, and you can soften the edges with a non-permanent finelincr, sweeping a wet brush over the outline. Other art materials that work well for rendering wool are pencils, inks, watercolour and gouache. Try applying the base colours with paint and the highlights or shadows in pencil.

Textures and weaves can be rendered with a dry-brush technique, in which a fairly limited amount of almost-dry paint is applied, leaving part of the page white. You could also try scratching directional lines into the surface of wet paint. TWeeds and herringbones can be represented with inks and markers, which convey the fluidity of the pattern. To create the intricacies of the weave, Crosshatch with two or more colours.

Fabric Fashion Illustrations
Striped and checked fabrics
Woollen fabrics

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