This is one of the difficulties I had to overcome when I first started to draw anime. I've noticed that anime clothing folds tend to be quite sharp and 'unnatural'. In this tutorial, you'll be learning how to make folds look somewhat more 'natural'. This tutorial works with almost every type of flowing fabric.
Approx. Time: 10 mins (not very long if you have lots of practice)
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Step 1: Outline
Ok... So, we'll be working with a robe I suppose. You know how robes tend to have HUGE sleeves that make you want to twirl around? We'll be working with those in this tutorial. Yes, it's meant to be an arm. Ignore the fingers cause this tutorial is about the sleeve. Start by drawing a right triangle for his extended arm. This is used to guild you.
Step 2: Top Bumps
As stated before, the anime style tends to have sharp edges rather than smooth flowing ones. Give the sleeve a few bumps like the ones next to the neck and hand. It's kind of like a letter 'L' sideways or upside-down. Note that not all bumps have to go INTO the fabric. For example, look at the bump second from the hand. It kind of just stays above the arm and doesn't dig into the fabric. Of course, in almost every type of clothing, you will see smaller bumps. So go ahead and add in some zig-zag lines.
Tip (Cloth): Take a long piece of cloth or clothing and drape it over your arm. Make sure the cloth is longer than your arm length. Push the end of the fabric up to your wrist. Right now, you should have one end at your shoulder and another at your wrist. Examine the folds. It might help a little.
Step 3: Bottom Folds
Time to add the flowing cloth at the bottom. Look at the arrow pointing to the flowing fabric. If you're new to the concept of flowing fabric, draw some upside down 'C's. Now to give it some 'depth' or layers so that it doesn't look flat. If the curve of your 'C' goes in deep enough, add a line. It probably looks very weird right now but don't worry. Next, choose a point where your cloth is dangling from. Refrain from choosing places at the elbow or forearm. Choose places near the wrist or armpit. I chose a point near the wrist. Add lines connecting the furthest end of the 'C's you just drew. Remember, the point is just a guild. So DO NOT connect every line to it.
Moving on to the next arrow. This is a very simple step. Make a sharp fabric flow that leads upwards. Do not make the fold straight or it will make the clothing seem stiff. Remember the triangle guild we drew in the beginning? Try to somehow follow the shape. Although the folds I've drawn are longer than the guide, there is still a triangular structure to it. End the fabric at the armpit.
Step 4: Smooth Folds
Now to add some smooth folds. Recalling on the second step, there should still be those bumps on top. Find a few bumps you want to work with and stick with them. Let's look at the first bump. It looks quite unnatural to leave it as it is. Since there is gravity applied to the fabric, draw a line to make it look more natural. As for the smooth folds, they're just slightly curved lines connecting the chosen bump to a point near the armpit. Feel free to connect one or two folds together.
Tip (cloth): If you still have that piece of really long cloth pushed up and draped over your arm (highly doubt so), it should look like a shower curtain. Now take the end of that cloth closest to your body and connect it to your armpit. You should start to see some smooth folds.
Step 5: Final Editting
Erase the outlines and give it a little more detail. This tutorial will work with almost any piece of flowing fabric. Feel free to experiment with your clothing. Feel free to share your works too! ^ ^ Hope this tutorial was fun and easy!