How to draw silk and satin

In fashion design sketches the skill to draw silk and satin fabrics is very important since these are among the most preferred textiles for evening dresses. In this step by step tutorial, you will learn how to draw silk and satin in a realistic and convincing way so that nothing is on your way to creating breathtaking gowns for your collection. Have fun!

Time, Tools and Difficulty:

Time to complete the tutorial: 5min
Tools you’ll need: drawing paper, a pencil, an eraser, markers, soft pastels
Difficulty level: 7/10

How to draw silk and satin in 9 steps:

Step 1: How to draw the folds

Different fabrics behave in different ways and the first step when drawing silk or satin is to make sure the folds are looking correct. Very specific for these textiles is that they form big folds that fall heavily, but also they create a lot of small creases in the pressure points. When drawing silk and satin make sure you include all these types of folds:

1.The “returning” type (collars, around crotch areas);
2.Many, small and angular folds (usually around the waistline)
3.Big, heavy folds (usually in the lower part of the dress).

The tutorial in the “how to draw clothes” series will help you find the right place for them.

Step 2: Paint the base color

For the base color pick something that is slightly darker than the final result you are looking for. Use markers, tempera of watercolors to make the base as flat and even as you can. Do NOT use color pencils for this step.

Step 3: Finding shapes

Even if you are not familiar with lightning and shadows you will be able to set the lighter parts of the design using the technique from “How to draw gold” tutorial. Here is how it works: Imagine that you are building your design out of clay as if it was a sculpture. The light goes to the parts where you are moving your hands towards yourself- the most bulged ones. Use a soft pastel and mark these areas gently. Be careful not to overwork it though – you want to keep about half of the original base color untouched.

The highlight color needs to be to be a lot brighter and more saturated than the base. Avoid using pure white and go for bright yellow (green, orange, brown fabrics) bright pink ( red, purple, magenta fabrics) and sky blue for navy fabrics like in the example above.

Step 4: Blending

Blending is an essential step when drawing silk and satin fabrics. Use your fingers or preferably a q-tip to blend the pastel. Try not to exceed the original proportion and size you have set in step 3. Erase if you notice that more than ½ of the design is in this soft, blended shade.

Step 5: Add some magic!

Now is where the real fun begins. Use the same bright soft pastel and draw another layer of highlight. Make sure you stay in the borders of the blended tone from Step 3. Don’t forget to mark all the folds too– vertical and horizontal.

Satin and silk tend to form angular looking folds and creases. Avoid making them look too soft and flowing while coloring. Keep that edge!

Step 6: More blending

Gently blend what you have from the previous step and make sure the second layer of light is clearly visible everywhere on the dress. Look at the chest area and each and every fold you have. Again – you don’t want to cover more than ½ of the dress with light.

Step 7: Shadows

Satin and silk are fabrics of huge contrast. They have soft, blended highlight areas and solid, strong dark areas. Use a black soft pastel to mark the darkness in your sketch. Fill close to the outlines, close to each and every fold and wherever your artist’s sense tells you to. Get creative, have some fun!

Step 8: Real shadows

Blend gently the black soft pastel from the previous step. Make sure the shadows don’t occupy the whole base color that you had left. Less is more in this case.
After blending use a black color pencil and emphasize the areas that feel the deepest and dark to you. Use the imaginary clay sculpture technique if you hesitate where these places are. The more you “dig” in the sculpture the darker the shadow gets.
Add a third layer of light. Smaller and brighter than the last ones, right in their center.

Step 9: Finishing touches

By now you should have a pretty realistic looking drawing of silk/ satin fabric. It is time to make some extra blending and it’s ready to go. Continue building up highlights until they look soft, blended and brighter in the middle. Don’t lose the edges of the folds while coloring. Blend until it’s perfect and then clean up your sketch if it looks messy outside of the design outlines.

Play with the colors

The center of the satin highlights is a much brighter and more saturated color compared to the base. Here is a color chart that should help you with your colors choice:

Hopefully, this How to draw silk and satin tutorials was helpful to you and have inspired you to draw new fashion sketches, to create more innovative designs!

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