I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but I have an interest in historical fashion – which I would define as any article of clothing that is not worn today except in theatre/reenactments/people appreciating the era at some sort of event. I have a particular weakness for 18th century and 19th century fashion (especially the 1770s and the Bustle eras of the late 19th century). After browsing probably several hundred pieces of historical clothing at this point, I decided that I wanted to be able to draw some of these outfits (and make some of them too, but that’s not the point of this post).
I knew if I wanted to draw some of these outfits, I would drastically need to improve how I draw folds.
I don’t really draw folds too often. I do draw them, but they’re not as detailed as they could be. I never really took the time to properly study how folds work either, primarily because I didn’t have an initiative to do so. Simply wanting to improve my artwork wasn’t enough (in that case, anatomy was more of target). However, with all these gorgeous articles of clothing I want to draw, I actually need to really try and learn them.
The above is my first set of doodles. There’s a set of folds on there that’s actually from a Bustle Era dress, but most of them are robe à la polonaise (or Polish Dresses) with these really seemingly complicated (but pretty) folds. According to what I’ve read, the style was inspired by female workers who would tuck their long skirts into their pockets to make it easier to move around in. Forgive me if I’m wrong about that.
You can actually see one of the reference images I was copying for practice sake underneath my paper. I’m sure you can tell which doodle is suppose to be that back…right? I mean, it’s no where near perfect, but that’s okay…for now.
Then we have the backside of the paper I was doodling on. The largest drawing on the page is me trying to draw something from a book (you can totally tell I haven’t developed the ability to look at an image and copy it exactly). Everything else on the page was just something I doodled without referencing anything, though they were certainly inspired by some details I’ve seen before!
I am choosing to stay optimistic and believing that one day, I will master these folds.
And that one day, I’ll be able to do realism pretty well.