How to Draw Clothing

Learn how to draw clothes for realistic or cartoon style art.  This page walks you through the process and notes how different fabrics/seams effect drawing.
Learning how to draw clothes is a difficult, but necessary step of learning how to draw.  Clothes are something that everyone, world wide, wears (obviously), though the style and colors can vary greatly.  There is one major consistency in clothing, no matter what style of clothing you are learning how to draw: wrinkles.

How to draw wrinkles

Look anywhere the body bends

  • At ankles
  • At the neck
  • At the waist
  • Below the butt
  • At the bend of the back
  • At the elbow
  • At the knees

Look anywhere bulges are found

  • Beneath the breasts
  • At the groin (for guys particularly, but wrinkles here on girls as well)
  • Where a shirt tucks in
  • Where sleeves are folded back

When learning how to draw clothes, it is recommended that you draw the figure first.  Draw the basic outline of the figures body in the correct body position.  Then draw the clothes on top of the initial sketch.  This will allow you judge the length of the limbs and thickness of limbs and body (something that is easily misjudged when starting with the clothes).

Depending on the position of the body, you may need to include other wrinkles than the standard ones.

  • When the weight is on one leg
    • Wrinkles appear on opposite hip
  • If the arms are above the head
    • Wrinkles appear upward across stomach

Inconsistencies:

Inconsistancy 1:

When first learning how to draw clothes, you may want to experiment with different fabrics.  Every fabric forms wrinkles slightly differently.  Silks and satins tend to wrinkle more.  Cotton (which is used most often) wrinkles, but not to a large extent.  Leather does not form a vast number of wrinkles, but they are more pronounced than seen in silks or cottons. 

Inconsistency 2:

Another inconsistency is the location of seams.  Many female shirts contain seams under the breasts or across the belly.  These seams lesson the number and size of wrinkles, but there are small wrinkles shooting outward from the seams.

Inconsistency 3:

The last inconsistency with how clothes wrinkle (at least the last major one) is the size of the clothes the figure is wearing.  Are they loose or tight?  Loose clothes contain more wrinkles than tight ones because they drape across the body.  A good way to practice drawing the draping effect is with curtains or blankets hung on a line. 

Inconsistency the Final (common sense, so doesn’t count):

Obviously, gender differences affect how to draw wrinkles in clothes as well, but that should go without saying.

Also, never forget that gravity and wind are both major impacts on the overall appearance.  As stated, great practice techniques include sketching curtains, blankets, table clothes, etc.  Practice makes perfect when learning how to draw clothes!

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