Project – The clothed figure

Exercise – Fabric with line and form

Drawings of overalls thrown over a chair:


Using an 8B pencil for a 15 minute sketch in line only


Using soft and hard charcoal pencils for a 15 minute sketch. I added lines to show the tone this time which worked better. It was very hard to get the proportions correct though as there were so many folds of fabric, so the proportions of both sketches are not fantastic.


Small sketches of sections of the fabric, the ones which have worked best here are the ones where I started out shading in the mid tone and removed/added onto that.

Exercise – Form and movement in a clothed ­figure

I drew my wife wearing a dressing gown and sitting on the sofa with her feet up watching TV (avoids the movement which comes from page turning if reading a book!).

Clothed figure

I started concentrating on depicting the fabric before getting all the proportions of the figure correct and as a result her body isn’t wide enough (by about 50% I think), and her legs should be thinner. The fabric shadows and folds work best around her right arm where there are a lot of folds and where I have put in some of the background. They don’t work quite so well on the legs where there are less shadows and it looks a bit flatter. The cat distracted me a bit in this area also, but his presence wasn’t optional!

Check and log

Did you find it easy to approach the figure as a whole or were you distracted by details of the sitter’s dress?

  • I was distracted into trying to capture this before getting the overall shape correct to start with. I got my wife to wear a plain white dressing gown though, so there wasn’t distraction from colour or pattern though.

How did you create volume in the folds of fabric?

  • The shading creates the volume in the folds and I am starting (slowly!) to get better at using more dense pencil marks to increase the tonal range which helps define them further.

Does the finished drawing give a sense of the figure beneath the fabric?

  • I think so. It does seem a bit flat in the body which could be because I haven’t captured the background very well or added any to the right hand side.

How would you tackle a drawing like this again?

  • Probably in much the same way, although I would ensure the body outline shape was all correct before adding detail and I would put in a background around the whole figure.
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