Secrets of Fabric with Lauren K Cannon

This article was taken from issue 59 of ImagineFX magazine. Be the first to read ImagineFX articles in print before they're posted online and get your hands on loads of additional DVD content by subscribing. Visit our shop for more options.

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 Lauren K Cannon
 Country: US
 Lauren in a freelance illustrator
 specialising in dark fantasy and
 the surreal.
 See more of the artist's work:
 www.navate.com


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Gets yer clothes on!

Fabric comes in dozens of materials, varying in weight, weave, texture, stiffness and thickness. Each of these variables makes it behave differently. Even though fabric is a solid object, it gains its shape by interacting with other objects. Gravity and wind affect it in very visible ways. All these factors can make it a complicated subject to paint. However, some practical thinking and real-world observation goes a long way in simplifying how fabric behaves and how to paint it convincingly.

Become a hoarder

I would advise people to stockpile samples of different fabric types so that they can pull them out when they’re painting a scene. Seeing the real thing in front of you can make a world of difference. The big picture of fabric painting is that each type of fabric will always follow certain rules of behaviour. If you take the time to analyse those rules then you’ll be able to paint fabric from imagination and stylise it any way you like without sacrificing realism.

Fabric will either have a crucial compositional role in a painting, such as floating across the canvas, or interact with other elements in the image. I find it helpful to establish my composition and all the major forms that the fabric will interact with before I bother figuring out the fabric itself. The rest of the image is what will dictate how the fabric falls and folds, so don’t get ahead of yourself.

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