Chapter Eight: Fabric, Prints, and Texture – Advanced Fashion Drawing, Lifestyle Illustration

Chapter Eight

Fabric, Prints, and Texture

Patterns and prints are present everywhere and are intrinsic to lifestyle and fashion illustration. Patterns can be used graphically as a background or simply as a print on clothing. How and where you use them can have a wonderful visual effect and enhance an illustration, as we have seen in Chapter 4 (see pp. 104–105), Chapter 5 (see p. 127), and Chapter 7 (see pp. 156–157).

Prints and patterns are unique. Each one is different. The mixed, flecked colors of a tweed created from a knit fiber, for example, are vastly different from a woven version in wool and different again from a pattern printed on satin or on a sheer material such as chiffon or georgette.

In the same way that there are endless variations of pattern and texture, there are endless solutions to illustrating patterns and textiles. How and what to use to convey a particular material or texture should be up to the individual artist. Experimentation and exploration with media (see Chapter 6) is the best method of discovering which technique resonates with your vision or your style. The one constant to translating a print or pattern is simple—observation.

In this chapter, we will work with organic and flowing prints and patterns and then with structured patterns, identifying the similarities and differences between the two, and looking at how to place each within an illustration. Finally, we will look at working with sheers.

8.1 Organic and Flowing Prints and Patterns

8.1 Exercise 1: A Simple Colored Pattern

Organic and flowing prints and patterns have a natural rhythm. This rhythm is a result of the repetition of the design elements of the print, which is called a repeat. This repeat creates a seamless balance that allows the eye to move throughout the print. Using a rhythmic flow to position the print into the illustration gives a sense of movement to the illustration, too (see p. 127).

Step One

Start by making a linear drawing of the figure and mapping the print onto the visual. Observe and analyze the pattern of the print—the rhythm, scale, and placement of the various elements within the print in terms of contour and shape. This will allow you to dissect the print and place those shapes into your illustration (see Figure 1).

Step Two

Always begin at the top of the figure. Using your map of the print as a guide, lightly trace the pattern onto your illustration. Follow the natural curves and diagonals of the figure as you place the colors of the print. Decide which area will be the area of movement; in this case the diagonal of the torso was selected to play off of the diagonal of the scarf and arm. Layer in a large or main area with one color. Make allowances for the form of the figure and leave space for additional areas of the print (see Figure 2).

Step Three

Once a movement begins to surface, add in an additional color within the same area. I prefer to erase the pencil line in those areas completed to avoid distraction from the faint pencil lines of the guide (see Figure 3).

Step Four

When the print begins to fill in the major area, start to extend the print out to other areas. It is important to keep some areas open to incorporate spontaneity into the illustration (see Figure 4).

Step Five

Once the major area of movement in the print is painted, start to add pattern into the scarf with confidence and using your knowledge of the rhythm and essence of the print (see Figure 5).

Note:

Always start at the top of the figure and work your way down.

Note:

Remember to give some room to play; leave some areas open on the large area until you have a better sense of how the print is working in the smaller areas.

8.1 Exercise 2: A Detailed Floral Print

Step One

Follow the same directions as above, using the map (see Figure 1) as a guide to place the floral print. Place the larger design elements of the print first followed by the smaller leaves and flowers. Observe the figure and visualize how the print would move across and around the anatomy of the figure to give movement so that the print does not appear flat. Here, the arm in the foreground and curve of the back were selected as areas of movement (see Figure 2).

Step Two

Observe the pattern of color and layer in the lightest color of the floral. It is always easier to go from light to dark and make corrections than from dark to light (see Figure 3).

Step Three

Using the direction of the form, begin to add a second color onto the pale layer. Add some of the additional elements to begin to build the print (see Figure 4).

Step Four

Continue adding in deeper values as you progress through the figure. The highest saturation of color should be limited to the area of movement; areas extending outside of the main area—such as the arm here in the background and the outside line of the back—should not be as prominent (see Figure 5).

Step Five

Continue to add color to complete the illustration. In Figure 6, in order to accentuate the curve of the arm in the foreground area and the curve of the back, that area was defined and saturated with color in contrast to the background arm and the outside line of the back.

Note:

Work from top to bottom each time you add a layer of color or print. This will guarantee a uniform look to the color and balance.

Note:

It is easier to build onto a lighter color than lighten a darker one.

Note:

The highest saturation of color should be reserved for the area of movement in the illustration. Also, use the premise from line quality: what is closer will be deeper and what is farther from the eye will fade.

8.1 Exercise 3: An Organic Print

Step One

Organic prints seem to evolve as they move through the figure. In order to retain a sense of spontaneity through the figure, no pencil guide was created for this exercise. Pencil was drawn directly into the illustration following the curve and line of the figure, with a nod to the movement of the skirt and vertical of the bodice (see Figure 1).

Step Two

Use areas of movement to add a ground color. Here the movement of the print and skirt was used to guide the placement of a ground color around the outline of the biomorphic shapes. This color was kept close to the figure and does not extend to the hemline or outside of the main area of interest (see Figure 2).

Step Three

Unlike the previous exercises, here a darker value was placed within the biomorphic shapes. Once the dark value defined the figure, additional ground color was extended outside of the main area of interest (see Figure 3).

Step Four

Finally, add in your medium and lighter values. Here they are blended into the dark area of the print and then float out from the main area of movement (see Figure 4).

Note:

Add some spontaneity to the print; use the map as a guide and allow poetic license and intuition to guide your hand.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

8.2 Plaids, Hounstooth, and Structured Patterns

Prints and patterns can also be more structured in nature. Houndstooth, plaids, and checks, for example, are composed in a methodical grid design that is easily applied to your artwork.

These structured prints, as noted in Chapter 5 (see p. 127), can also be used as a graphic component to enhance the illustration.

Aside from careful observation, there is another essential quality an illustrator must have when incorporating prints into an artwork—patience. Knowing when to stop applying the print is just as necessary as following a graphic movement. Structured prints can create a fantastic effect, but can be laborious to apply and tire the eye and hand. Patience in the layering in of the print will affect the outcome of the illustration. To avoid rushing the process, take a break or begin filling in another area of the illustration. Patience has its rewards, and investing time and effort to exact the structured print will create a more dynamic and intriguing illustration.

In this exercise we will use the grid from different kinds of structured prints, including houndstooth and a plaid, to place a structured pattern into a figure and a background environment.

Step One

Because of the intricate and repetitious nature of houndstooth, start with a pencil drawing of the pattern mapped onto tracing paper as a guide. This can then be transferred to the line drawing of the actual illustration. Here allowances were made for the dimensional structure of the chair and the way in which the pattern would fill in the different areas. One place to start filling in your pattern could be an area bookending a shape. Here the area framing the figure was chosen and the houndstooth was filled in until the figure was silhouetted by the print (see Figures 1–3).

Step Two

Analyze a plaid into a grid of vertical and horizontal lines. Beginning with the top of the figure, draw in pencil the vertical lines of the plaid, as they would move over the contours of the figure and clothing. Add in the horizontal lines (see Figure 3).

Step Three

Within the grid of pencil lines and, again working from the top of the figure, layer in the blocks of one color of the plaid. Try starting with the lightest in color or value—in this case, the gray areas of the plaid were filled in first (see Figure 4).

Step Four

Layer in the darker area where the vertical and horizontal rows of the plaid meet. This will usually create a deeper value or color as they overlap in this area of the grid. Begin to add some of the smaller rows of the vertical and horizontal plaid (see Figures 5–6).

Step Five

Once the plaid seems complete, begin adding additional design elements. Here elements of the room were added to frame the figure. The carpet anchors the figure, while the pattern of the lamp frames the right side of the figure (see Figure 7). The wall painting is added to complete the composition (see Figure 8).

Step Six

Finally, clean up areas and add in the small details to complete the illustration (see Figure 9).

Note:

Some prints can create an optical illusion and it is easy to lose your way in the process of filling them in. If a print becomes too confusing, with similar positive and negative areas, lightly mark the positive area with a pencil as you draw the print as a guide to which areas will be filled in with color.

Note:

If using a wet medium, such as gouache sor inks, have enough color of the print mixed to prevent color changes.

8.3 Translucent Sheers

The illusion of sheer fabric in an illustration can be charming and elegant and can convey a sense of depth, light, and movement. Whether it is a wind-blown scarf or curtain, at some point you will be asked to impart the feeling of a translucent material such as chiffon or georgette. To achieve this, aside from observation and patience, you will need to add another term to the mix—saturation.

In the previous exercises, the saturation of color was centered in the area of interest of the figure. In this section, we will observe how varying the saturation of color can elicit the illusion of translucency.

Materials such as chiffon, georgette, or tulle have a translucent nature and, when layered over other areas of color or print, will act as a filter, allowing those colors and prints to be visible.

In an illustration, what is visible through the translucent material can be defined by the amount of color saturation (the brightness or dullness of a color), in which the color is either heightened or dulled by the hue of the translucent area. If you were to view a bowl of lemons and limes through the filter of a pair of rose-colored glasses, for example, the green of the limes would appear dull while the yellow of the lemons would intensify in saturation and appear orange. The color of the filter affects the color of the object seen through the filter.

Directions

Follow the same principle of observation as in the above exercises; your focus should be on the shape or area of the material that is translucent. Once the lines of the sheer are defined, lightly pencil in the print or pattern. The line describing the sheer should also be thin and translucent; a hard line would be incongruous given the nature of a sheer material.

Step One

Begin to fill in the sheer material that is not overlapping another color or tone. The translucent area will always be lighter in value than any opaque areas. It is best to work from light to dark in most instances, as it is easier to correct or amend (see Figures 1–3).

Step Two

Add some additional fluid lines to give some spontaneity to the movement of the sheer material (see Figure 4).

Step Three

Begin to fill in other areas of the illustration. This time begin to paint in the darker areas, saving the lighter tone for those areas that are overlapped by the sheer. Keep in mind that the translucent material will act as a filter and, therefore, change the color or saturation of the material seen through the filter (see Figure 5).

Step Four

Once the main areas are complete, begin to add in the small details. To further accentuate the illusion of translucency, exaggerate some of the darker tone that is closer to the lighter tone of the sheer and, if necessary, lighten some of the sheer areas (see Figure 6).

Note:

Use the color of the print to draw in the shape of the print.

Evening Catwalk, made with cut paper and pastel on Canson paper in 1986, is evidence of when I first began to see a sensibility emerge within my work. My interest in graphics, fashion, shape, and movement began to form a cohesive body of work that visually narrated my voice.