How To Draw Clothes :: Sketchbook Pro Tutorial

how-to-draw-clothes-different-types-of-fabricWhat’s With All The Spandex?!

It can seem like every character in comics is wearing spandex. …and not just the superheroes.

Because so many artists struggle with how to draw clothes, characters often appear in tight, awkward, generic jeans and t-shirts that fit like Spidey’s tights.  A few small wrinkles around the joints doesn’t help to create a convincing illusion of reality.

In true Paper Wings fashion, Lora demonstrates how to achieve believability.

AND she shares some helpful insights that will improve your drawing skill, create more believable characters and help to make drawing fun again.

Read on to get the video…

To DOWNLOAD the video, Click Here.

The Real Issue Is Texture:

While drawing from observation is the best way to inform your process of drawing clothing, this video will give you fresh perspective and perhaps a new approach.

In this video, Lora demonstrates:

  • Drawing techniques for representing fabric of various age, weight and texture.
  • How to avoid putting in too many folds and when it’s appropriate to add more.
  • How to avoid unintentionally “soupy” or “lumpy” clothes.
  • How to age and distress the clothes your characters wear.
  • How light and shadow varies between different fabric types.
  • How to enhance your character designs by giving your characters a fashion sense all of their own.


What tips do you have for How To Draw Clothes?

Did you learn anything from the video?

Share in the comments below.


This tutorial was made in the amazing Sketchbook Pro.  

BUY Sketchbook Pro here  and support Paper Wings!



  1. says

    Great job Lora! Thanks for doing this. When ever I watch an artist work it makes me want to pick up my pencil and get right after it. Most helpful and comprehensive. And so true! We go to all that hard work and in the end we’ve done good if the viewer never notices and just accepts the Peacoat for what it is.

    • says

      ha ha, so sad but true, Sam! I was just thinking about this in terms of writing too. If you write an awesome script, no one notices HOW MUCH work went into it. Or how many re-writes and edits.

      That’s what it’s all about though: Immersing your reader so completely in your story that they forget it’s a story. “Effortless” drawing and writing is a big part of what takes them there.

      • says

        I couldn’t resist. I dropped another line of questions on the Facebook page regarding the line of time spent verses reader experience. What is the line of over kill? This fascinates me!
        Let’s talk amongst ourselves.

    • says

      Thanks Scott! A lot of people asked specifically about folds but this was the second most asked question, and one I hadn’t seen addressed so I thought I would give it a go. Glad it was helpful!

  2. says

    This video was very helpful. It taught me to be aware of what type of fabric I want to portray and to think about how each one reacts when it wraps around the form. Also that by adding details like zippers, buttons, and seams can speak volumes about your characters personality and style, which will allow them to appear more real. Thanks for the video, overall it has helped me to be more aware.

    Last, I have a question about zippers. What would be the proper way of drawing one so that it looks real and believable?

    Thank you,

    Adrian M.

    • says

      Hey, Adrian!

      In comics especially (but in all types of drawing really), you need to make your level of detail consistent. So you want to avoid having a really detailed item like a zipper if everything else is a lot less descriptive. You see this done poorly in figure drawing all of the time: a student spends an hour on a face and leaves the rest of the body mostly unfinished. Try creating drawings with a consistent amount of detail across the board.

  3. says

    Great tutorial, Lora! Very informative.

    I had an unusual head start in drawing clothes because my wife is a seamstress and fiber artist. That made it easy to collect a wide variety of swatches so I’d have them for reference, especially in terms of texture, reflectivity, thickness, etc.

    I love comics, but most comic book clothing annoys me. So many of the characters have perfectly fitted clothes that are more like body paint than fabric. Even spandex smooths out detail, stretches, wrinkles up at the joints, etc. My realization of this came when Alex Ross showed up on the scene, and his characters (and clothes) looked so darn ‘real.’

    My own personal bugaboo is pants legs, especially below the knee. My own drawings of this tend to look like a battered pipe or a sagging rock formation.

    • says

      Just like anything, the more you study and practice at something, the easier it gets! That’s a wonderful opportunity to have all of that reference around the house. :)

  4. says

    I really liked watching the process while you talked about it. I never thought about the different weights of clothing affecting how they clothing folds. Great tip.

  5. says

    That was really great. Would love to see more stuff like this. You are a wonderful artist, Lora, it was very instructive to get to watch you draw.

    I really dig the ability to rotate the canvas like that in SP. And that ruler tool is amazing.

    • says

      I like to call Sketchbook Pro the poor man’s Cintiq, lol. Their canvas rotate, zoom, and brush resizing interface are so intuitive, it’s like drawing on real paper. I hate how canvas rotate in Photoshop is it’s own tool. Even with the “R” hot key, you still then have to switch back to your brush. In SP, it’s very intuitive, fast, and seamless.

      And don’t get me started on the ruler/elipse tools. They are incredible.

      I wouldn’t have been to make the switch to all digital final line art without that program! It has saved me SO much time since I started using it.

      • says

        Yeah, one thing I definitely enjoyed watching most was just how seamless the capabilities of SP appear! From just the pencilwork in general to the ruler tools and rotating the canvas, it looks fantastic. I’m definitely interested in maybe someday buying my own copy now. :D

        • says

          Download the free trial! You can use it for 15 non-consecutive days, which is fantastic!

          I think by day 7 or 8 I knew I had to buy it. It’s cheaper now then it was back then. I think it’s only $59.

  6. says

    That was super great! I love hearing about your thought process when you design and draw clothing. I’ve got some good things to keep in mind when designing outfits in my future books.

    This is what makes creative communities like PaperWings so great, we get the chance to share our process, methods, ideas, feedback, and bring it all together to become better artists.

    Thanks, Lora!

  7. says

    Outstanding. I’m at work and couldn’t listen to the audio (which I’ll do when I get home) but that was really great. Plus, it makes me want to more digital art. Those tools are superb and your lines are always so much fun.

  8. says

    Holy Shnikies Lora!!! This is awesome! I never realized just what i waznt getting right! As a penciller, i work so often with a super fine tipped tool that i forget a very impotant lesson illustrated all over your video; varied line weights! That and the angles and other items you show make so much of a difference. This is one reason i think my ball-point pen sketches (linked example below) turn out so well, i can work a variety of lines with one tool. man, Sketchbook Pro ROCKS! thank you for sharing and putting the video together team!

    Much love to tha Paper Wings!!!

      • says

        I second it! That would be a great topic! Line & inking itself from Bernie Wrightson to Charles Scultz :o) Oh… that might take up a four volume set… :o)

      • says

        This would truly be awesome. For me, this is where is starts. So much of what I do is wrapped around line work and am just recently getting involved with adding color so lines are where I have been comfortable for a long time. Too comfortable with probably not going as far as I can so learning more would be great.

        I will be doing my own research on this too so I will pass on what I find!

      • says

        I would also love a tutorial on inking, especially in Sketchbook Pro. You’ve already blown my mind with the rotate canvas and variations on line weight within the ellipse tool.

        • says

          I think this is a great idea! I just taught a workshop on comic book art at a local high school’s “Arts Mania” day a few weeks back. What to think about while you’re inking was a big part of it, so I have some material pulled together on that topic already.

    • says

      I had about seven images open on the right side of my screen for reference. Always use reference when you have it, I agree!

  9. says

    Loved it! I think what helped me most here was seeing the effects you use to ‘stress’ the fabric. That’s something it takes a long time for me to do, either because I completely overdo it or I just don’t stress in the right spot. Watching someone else go about it was definitely educational – all those little marks really do make a difference.


  10. says

    Thank you so much! I found this really helpful. I’m constantly struggling with clothing ( and various figure drawing). It always seems to make sense when watching someone else work things.

    Also, the straight lines on man-made things. Brilliant! I never would have put two and two together on that.

    I can’t wait to get home tonight and practice.

  11. says

    Love this video!! Your linework is incredible, Lora! I didn’t even know Sketchbook Pro had a ruler and ellipse tool. Nor that you could rotate the canvas! Dur! Thanks for the tips :)

    • says

      The thing I love about canvas rotate in SP is that you don’t have to switch over to it– it’s part of spacebar functionality (along with zoom and move) and so you never have to “put your brush down. In Photoshop, you have to hit “R” to get the rotate, then “B” again to get your brush back. Sounds like a small thing but it really adds up. SP I can do all of my zooming, moving, rotating with my brush “in my hand” so to speak. It saves me a lot of time, and feels like just turning a page the way I would at my drawing desk.

      And I do not have words for how much I love the ruler and ellipse tools. I do all of my perspective drawing with them.

  12. says

    Really great tutorial, Lora. Adding the little spots and distressed marks on the clothing makes such a big difference and instantly makes it feel more detailed. Lots of fantastic information here!

    And now I might need to go get Sketchbook Pro. I love the line and oval tools you were using as a guide. That would come in handy so often!

    • says

      Those are phenomenal. I do all of my backgrounds/ perspective in SP with the ruler tool. But that’s another tutorial for another day!

  13. says

    This may be a boringly technical question, but what size and resolution are you working at in Sketchbook Pro? Also, do you have a specific brush size that you like to work in or do you alternate between a few?


    • says

      I have my documents set up for comic standard print size: 3154 pixels x 4787 pixels.

      Check out my response to Chad above about brush size. I use the pencil tool as small as it goes and as large as it goes. (It only goes up to 14.)

  14. says

    This was fantastic, Lora! Thanks so much!

    I really enjoyed how you build some of your lines by sort of ‘carving’ them out with the eraser tool. It kind of reminds me of woodcarving.

    I started giving SBP a try after that, and I while I haven’t quite found a brush setting I like, it was really pleasant working with it. I always feel like I’m really cranking on my Intuos to do line variation – although maybe I’m just being too delicate and *think* I’m using it too hard…

    • says

      Chad, I use the pencil tool and make sure my color is black.

      I’m not sure if it showed up on the video very well, but I change the size of my brush all the time. Constantly!! SP makes that phenomenally easy by a magnifying glass dropper that sits on your document. You can put it wherever you want so it is easily accessible.

      I think it was cropped out of a lot of these shots in the tutorial video, but I always have it on hand, and go anywhere from a less than 1 pt. brush up to a 14 pt. brush all in the same panel.

      • says

        Heh, that’s exactly what I was trying to work out. Thanks for the tip – I’ll give the pencil another shot! I’m looking to get a ‘vector’ look – basically so that only attribute that changes based on my tablet’s input is the line weight, so I was messing around with various pens and markers, assuming that they would be black. This could be my designer bias, or the way I’m using the tools, but the ‘wetness’ and ‘jitter’ stuff just ends up looking like awkward aliasing for me.

        • says

          I hear Manga studio is good for vector art if that’s what you want. I won a copy once but haven’t really experimented with it much.

        • says

          Thank, Lora. I was just looking at it last night. I have a copy that I got for super cheap when it was on sale a long time ago. There are…a lot of buttons, heh. — I just haven’t done a real comprehensive dive into the interface yet. From what I saw poking around with it, it might be super helpful for the actual layout/paneling of a comic – there were a lot of tools and UI specifically *for* the comic-making aspects, which is really cool. I haven’t tried drawing with it yet, though.

          That said, as I alluded to on Twitter, I pretty much nailed down the look I want by experimenting in SBP. Once you kind of ‘get’ the UI, I absolutely love how fluid it is in integrating with the drawing process. I will certainly use it for drawing/inking over Photoshop, and Manga Studio’s drawing UI will have to put on quite the performance to top it. To be quite honest, though I need to work with Manga Studio a bit more to see if it works well for me, I could easily envision a workflow that incorporates all 3 pieces of software (Photoshop being the 3rd – for color).

  15. says

    Thank you so much! The tutorial is really helpful, plus getting to see SBP in action was very interesting. I have a copy and I’ve toyed with it a bit. Need to play with it a lot more. The video has inspired me to do just that for my next project.

  16. says

    What a fabulous video! I loved how you compared and contrasted the different textures, line work, and technique of varying fabrics/clothes. It also made me realize how much shading can be implied with inking alone. . .I think I lean too much on color to convey the shading, but how you did the leather gloves has opened my eyes :)

  17. says

    This video was fabulous! I especially liked how you compared the different fabric textures when it came to line weight, folds, and shading. It also made me realize how much shading can be conveyed through the ink work alone. I think I rely too much on the color phase or shading but the way you inked the leather gloves opened my eyes!

  18. says

    Absolutely wonderful video, Lora! I learned a ton of things to think about for inking and linework in general. Not to mention renewing my affection for Sketchbook pro! (Been learning Manga Studio as a one-stop comic experience, but coloring is somewhat lacking.)

    I love the PaperWings Podcast! :)

  19. Sharon Hoosein says

    Passed this around the office. All of us found it really useful. Thanks a lot for this.

  20. says

    Aah, this is a straightforward video. I struggle with clothes all the time. It’s so nice to watch a video that explains everything so straightforward, and open up your own perspective on something that really is quite simple! Thank you :)

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