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The ability to draw fabric convincingly is a useful skill for any designer or fashion illustrator

The ability to draw fabric convincingly is a useful skill for any designer or fashion illustrator; it is often taught to fashion students as a means of broadening their drawing skills and their knowledge of fabrics. The process is usually referred to as fabric rendering. Of course, there are many different types of fabrics to draw and while some might have surface texture and pattern, others do not.

Evaluate a fabric’s inherent characteristics, properties and its weight in order to establish whether the fabric will drape over the body convincingly or whether it might present itself as more structured and firm to the touch. A designer sketch or linear fashion drawing should communicate a convincing understanding of the chosen fabric or fabrics. For more artistic illustrations the rendering process can be somewhat looser and more interpretative. The best way to start is by copying a real fabric swatch.

Much like drawing from life, this entails keen observation and evaluation of the fabric before starting the drawing process. Selection of appropriate media is critical: prepare a variety of colour media, which can be used in combination. To start with it is best to draw to the same scale as the fabric. The scale will later have to be considered when it is applied to a figurative drawing, but by establishing how to imitate the appearance of the fabric and what media to use in the first instance, the process of rendering the scale of the fabric to a fashion figure won’t seem so daunting.


To simplify things it can help to categorise fabrics into a select number of groups such as woollen and textured fabrics, shiny fabrics, sheer fabrics, knits, patterns and prints. It is worth attempting each group of fabrics, since they are all likely to be drawn at some time

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