drapery

Tarquin the Elder Consulting Attius Navius
Sebastiano Ricci (Italian; 1659–1734)
ca. 1690
Oil on canvas
J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, California

Tarquin was also making preparations for surrounding the City with a stone wall when his designs were interrupted by a war with the Sabines. So sudden was the outbreak that the enemy were crossing the Anio before a Roman army could meet and stop them. There was great alarm in Rome. The first battle was indecisive, and there was great slaughter on both sides. The enemies’ return to their camp allowed time for the Romans to make preparations for a fresh campaign. Tarquin thought his army was weakest in cavalry and decided to double the centuries, which Romulus had formed, of the Ramnes, Titienses, and Luceres, and to distinguish them by his own name. Now as Romulus had acted under the sanction of the auspices, Attus Navius, a celebrated augur at that time, insisted that no change could be made, nothing new introduced, unless the birds gave a favourable omen. The king’s anger was roused, and in mockery of the augur’s skill he is reported to have said, “Come, you diviner, find out by your augury whether what I am now contemplating can be done.” Attus, after consulting the omens, declared that it could. “Well,” the king replied, “I had it in my mind that you should cut a whetstone with a razor. Take these, and perform the feat which your birds portend can be done.” It is said that without the slightest hesitation he cut it through.

(Livy, History of Rome, Book 1, Chapter 36. Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts. New York, 1912)

Per request by auroralei, a quick “tutorial” on clothing folds! I put “tutorial” in quotes because this won’t be a full tutorial on how to draw clothing folds (because I don’t fully understand them myself) but I’ll post some tips and processes I use to draw clothing. :)

For the first picture, I drew a ruffled skirt. In step 1, I drew the boundaries: where on the body does the skirt lie, how much will it flare out, and how long will it be? In step 2, I drew the bottom of the skirt as a wiggly line. 

In step 3, I drew the fold lines radiating upwards from the folds of the skirt. The fold lines should usually connect with the sharpest curves of the bottom wiggly line. And in step 4, I added more fold lines and shaded the skirt in. The shaded in areas are the areas that lie underneath other folds, where the unshaded lighter areas pop out. 

Notice the curvy U-shapes I included between some of the larger folds - this helps give softness and depth to what would otherwise be flat pieces.

You can extend this process to draw a variety of cute ruffles and pleats. I started here with a shape that was much more irregular and wiggly, meaning the end result will be more ruffled and have more folds. 

I followed the same process of adding fold lines and curves. Notice again, that the fold lines point towards the parts of the bottom line that have the sharpest points, or the places where the line changes from horizontal to vertical. These are the edges of the ruffle, so this is where the folds will be most pronounced. 

Also, don’t forget to erase any parts of the bottom wiggly line that get overlapped by the fold lines. Since I drew the entire bottom ruffle in the first step, it’s inevitable that some parts of the ruffle were going to be covered by others. Note the few places I erased between the second and third step.

Finally, I added a different kind of ruffle, and an important case to keep in mind. The skirt in the first picture and the ruffle drawn above are both drawn with the idea that the fabric flares outward - that is, it’s wider at the bottom than it is at the top. And with that, I have drawn the fold lines radiating from the bottom of the fabric. However, If the fabric is NOT wider at the bottom, but simply pulled in or cinched at the top, the fold lines are going to radiate from the cinched part of the fabric! Notice in the last sketch how all the fold lines are originating from what looks like an elastic band underneath the fabric.

Here’s an example of what close-fitting clothes might look like on the body. The amount of fold lines you use will vary based on how form-fitting or loose the clothing is, so this is somewhere in the middle. Notice how the majority of the fold lines originate from points where the shape underneath “changes direction”. Flatter areas like the chest and stationary areas like the upper arm and leg aren’t drawn with fold lines because the fabric is relatively undisturbed in those areas. However, the elbow, shoulder, and knee joints have plenty of folds, as well as the waist and breast areas, where the fabric abruptly changes direction.

I circled the shoulder and elbow area because it’s important to note that the fabric folds are originating from the armpit and inside of the elbow. There are the areas where the fabric is scrunched.

I circled the groin because when drawing jeans, there are usually a few fold lines originating from the center and radiating out like a star. however, in this pose, the hips are tilted and the model is not facing directly forward. Therefore, I drew these lines to be a bit asymmetric to help show the tilt of the hips and the direction of the legs. 

I also circled the knees because the fabric folds at the knees are slightly different. One leg is straightened, so the fabric bunches somewhat evenly at both sides. The other leg is bent, so the fabric folds originate from the point where the fabric is scrunched, and there are no fabric lines on the outside of the knee. 

On the right side of the figure, I drew and shaded some closeup examples of how bunched fabric may look. This is really hard to explain, and it’s something that I really just got the feel for through practice, but I’ll try. Remember the curvy U-shapes I mentioned earlier? (Well, I guess they’re V-shaped in places too.) I use these shapes extensively in bunched fabric to make the cloth look softer and more natural. 

The top example is a single fold, where the lighter areas pop out and the darker areas are the bunched up fabric between the fold. Below that is a layered pile of folds - it is the same shape but repeated. You might use this for a pushed-up sleeve or something. The bottom example shows the profile view of the fabric as it drapes around a curve - notice how I drew the little bumps and indents on the profile view. 

Well, that’s about all I’ve got to say right now (it’s been a really long day). If this helps anyone or peaks any interest, I’m happy to draw more examples and ideas! Feel free to message me if you have any questions or want to see anything drawn.

Study of a Seated Man
John Singer Sargent (American; 1856–1925)
1895
Transfer lithograph on laid paper
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Printed by Frederick Goulding (British; 1842–1909).