Mar 31, 2022     GKFTII


For a fashion designer or art students, it’s very important to know how to draw fabric with pencil in a realistic and convincing way.

A design needs to be drawn quickly and efficiently before it skips from our mind. So it is better to create a convincing yet loose and quick representation of the fabric desired without wasting too much time on details. Then illustrations serve the purpose of representing the designer’s idea in order to bring the garment to life. In general, we need to consider factors like the texture of the fabric and its weight. The weight of the fabric is very important and will determine how it would drape over the body. Is it soft and light like chiffon? Or, is it firm and structured like tweed?

Some of practical tools to render fabric are watercolors, markers and colored pencils.
When sketching a design idea, the illustration we are creating is based solely on the image in our minds.


There is a wide variety of graphite pencils out there. So first thing we’ll choose right pencil.

You could easily draw fabric with just one graphite pencil. If you choose to go this route, I recommend using a 2B. This type of pencil is perfect for anything from sketching to rendering shadows, and can be used to draw any subject.You can draw it all with the same type of pencil by applying slightly more pressure in the darkest areas.

You canuse four different types of pencils for the same drawing because they provide a wider range of dark values and give drawings more depth.

  • 2B for all the initial sketching and for shading intermediate values
  • 4B pencil for darker areas
  • 2H pencil for the lightest shadows

Yes, shading is a defining element when trying to draw fabric in a realistic way. However, don’t start adding shadows before you have blocked out the right shapes and folds of the fabric in your initial sketch.


Consider this sketch as the foundation for your drawing. Take your time with it and make sure you get accurate placement on all the major components of your subject before you focus on the smaller details. Going about it this way will also save you a lot of time erasing darker pencil strokes later on.

Begin by focusing on things like proportions, shapes and the way in which the fabric drapes. Pay attention to the direction of the folds and think about how the fabric is draped over the shape that lies underneath.


Once you are happy with your line drawing, you can start shading shadows. Doing so will begin to give your drawing dimension and the appearance of volume. You might be tempted to reach for that dark 4B pencil and start drawing the darkest areas, but it is better to block




Fabrics come in a variety of textures. Think of fabrics like satin, silk or cotton. They all have their own distinctive look and feel because of their texture. This is an important element to focus on when drawing.

The best way to render textures in a realistic way is through observation. Look at the way that the light hits the fabric. Does it shine like satin? Is there a strong contrast between lights and shadows? Or does it look flat like tweed? Ask yourself questions to decide what shade of pencil to use, where to draw shadows and what to leave blank.

With fabrics having a matte surface with little to no shine means that there are no white areas to leave unshaded in the drawing.

So if we say cotton fabric rendering that doesn’t mean only one type of fabric, just see the texture and feel which cotton type are you going to render. For example –

1) Cotton - Cotton can be knitted or woven into cloth. The two most common weaves for cotton are the plain and twill weave. Cotton fabric drapes well on your body. However, cotton fabric is relatively prone to wrinkling.

2) Silk - This silk fabric has an even, most basic, plain weave of very fine silk threads, it has some sheen, is very lightweight, not sheer but thin, soft, shimmering and smooth, looks the same on both sides. Silk is a very flowing fabric and in the same time has a slightly crisp feel.

3) Satin - Satin refers to the weave, not the textile, and most fabric characterized as satin has a soft, shiny finish that can be seen anywhere from evening bags to upholstery.Satin fabric is characterized by a soft, lustrous surface on one side, with a duller surface on the other side and elastic with a beautiful drape.

Silk is the name of the fiber, and satin is the name of the textile weave. Therefore silk fibers can be used to form satin, but silk fibers can also be woven in other patterns, which would not be considered satin. Satin, on the other hand, can be made from any long filament fibers, not just silk. 

Students of GKFTII - (School of fashion and design) have done the fabric rendering and shading in their own unique style.

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