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How to Draw Fabric: Silk and Wool

This post is part of a series called How to Draw Textures.
How to Draw Fur
How to Draw Stone and Rock Textures
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Fabrics are tricky to draw because of all the folds and complicated shading. In this tutorial I will show you how to go about drawing two different types of fabric: smooth and flowing, like silk, and rough and thick, like wool. You can follow me step by step to achieve the same results, or use the techniques I present in your own projects.

What You Will Need

  • Some sheets of paper
  • HB pencil
  • 2B pencil
  • 4B pencil
  • 6B pencil
  • Blending stump/tortillon/cotton swab
  • Eraser
  • Pencil sharpener
drawing tools

1. How to Draw Silk Fabric

Step 1

Start with an oval—this will be the top of the cylinder the fabric is laid upon. Use the HB pencil for this.

start a drawing

Step 2

Draw another, bigger oval below. This will create a smooth edge of fabric dragged down by gravity, but not stuck to the edge of the cylinder.

edge of a cylinder

Step 3

Draw the direction of the fabric going down the cylinder. The stiffer the fabric, the wider the angle.

fabric pulled down by gravity

Step 4

Draw the edge of the fabric and plan its folds. You can be creative here—just don't cross the line.

folds of fabric

Step 5

Draw the edges of the fabric as suggested by the fold line. The more acute the angle of the fold, the clearer the line.

detailed fabric folds

Step 6

Add more guide lines near the top to finish defining the flow of the fabric.

how to sketch fabric folds

Step 7

Take the eraser and clean up the unwanted lines.

clean up fabric drawing

Step 8

Tilt your pencil and subtly shade the top. We're going to leave some shine near the edge.

shading the top of the fabric

Step 9

Use the blending stump (or other blending tool) to soften the shading.

how to blend pencils

Step 10

Shade the edge subtly.

shade the edge of cylinder

Step 11

Take the 2B pencil and accentuate the shading. Silk is all about contrast!

shade silk top

Step 12

Take the eraser and give shine to a part of the edge.

shiny edge of cylinder

Step 13

Go back to the HB pencil, tilt it, and shade the surface of the fabric. Be careful not to remove the lines in the process—you can press harder in the shadows to keep the folds visible.

shading fabric

Step 14

Use the blending stump to soften the shading.

blending shading

Step 15

Take the 2B pencil and shade the folds one by one. No matter if the fold is convex or concave, always leave a stripe of shine in the middle—this is characteristic for silk. Use the blending stump when finished.

shading shiny fabric

Leave the directly illuminated part with less contrast. Also, notice how the shiny stripes connect in arcs near the top, where there are no folds.

shading silk

Step 16

Take the 4B pencil and increase the contrast even more. Don't forget about blending!

how to draw silk with pencils
pencil silk drawing

Step 17

Finish the drawing by dragging your eraser along the shiny stripes to make them stand out even more. Feel free to use the 6B pencil in the darkest crevices, but use it sparingly. If your fabric is supposed to be darkly colored, darken the whole picture, keeping only the highlights white.

how to draw realistic silk fabric

2. How to Draw a Woollen Sleeve

Step 1

Start with something to put in the woollen cloth. This can be a simple elbow. Use the HB pencil for this phase.

sleeve dummy

Step 2

Envelop the arm in curvy lines. The more there are, the looser the cloth will seem. Keep them tight where the material bends.

how to plan fabric folds

Step 3

Use the curves as a suggestion for the flow of the material. First draw one side...

how to draw folds on the side

... then the other...

how to draw folds outline

... then fill the middle.

how to draw folds in the middle

This technique helps you see the folds as what they really are—the bending of a single piece of material, not something separate stuck to the material.

folding drawing

Step 4

Work out the folds the guide lines are suggesting. Draw their edges, just like with the silk.

how to draw woolen folds

Step 5

Darken the shaded part with a side of the HB pencil. Don't blend it!

how to shade folds on a sleeve

Step 6

Include the folds in the shading.

how to draw sleeve

Step 7

Take the 2B pencil and create more detailed shading.

how to draw sweater

Step 8

Take the HB pencil again and draw the rows of the thread. You can make them narrower if you want a softer look.

how to draw woolen texture

Step 9

Add the details to every row. Simple 'V's all along the row are all you need.

how to draw detailed woolen texture

Step 10

Take the 6B pencil to accentuate the darkest part of the picture. This will be a point of reference for contrast.

how to shade wool

Step 11

Take the 4B pencil and darken the shaded part some more, including the rows in the border between light and shadow. This will make the texture more 3D.

how to shade woolen sleeve
how to draw realistic wool

Step 12

Finally, take the 6B pencil and subtly add detail to the shaded parts. Simple dark dots along the rows will give them depth and a detailed look. Don't leave any wide bright surfaces—"break" them with some irregular shadow.

how to draw wool sweater sleeve with pencils

Good Job!

Now you know how to draw fabrics, no matter what their physical properties are. If you want to keep learning about drawing various textures, check out my other tutorials from this series:

  • How to Draw Fur

  • How to Draw Glass

  • How to Draw Wood

how to draw fabric texture with pencils
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