<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1040481056002080&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Tips and tricks on how to shade clothing

By Chameleon Art Products
  • Share

It looks so simple, but shading clothing is often where most of us go wrong. It can be the difference between a masterpiece and something you never want anybody else to see. Let's try and stop that second scenario from happening because we're here with some valuable tips and tricks on how to shade clothing.

It doesn't matter if it's a bright skirt, your dad's bootcut jeans or 1980s wrestling trunks, following these tips and tricks below will set you well on your way to shading clothing easily. And with the right tools, you won't be sitting through 20 YouTube videos to get the answer. Let's get started:


Before you start...

If you ever need to layer colors when you're shading, know that alcohol markers can bleed. Combat this by using artist-quality paper rather than basic copy paper. Thicker stock is better at preventing ink from bleeding. Now that you know this, let's get into how to shade clothing.


Never forget your light source

light source to help with fabric folds

We can't emphasize how valuable this tip is. If you desperately want your shaded clothing to look more realistic than anything else, then it's crucial that you take your light source into account.

Put it this way: if there's no light source then you may as well just color your clothes in one solid, block color. It's the light which brings out all of the subtle folds, shades and shadows.

So when you have decided on your light source, you'll be able to figure out the areas where you'll shade the darkest colors and where you'll shade the lightest colors. A simple tip, yet forgotten by so many.


Mark the darkest areas first

Darkest colors on fabric folds

When you're observing the clothing you want to shade, consider marking the darkest areas first. This is just a technique to make blending much easier for you because when you've marked the darkest areas first, you'll know exactly which areas need to the darkest, most saturated ink and which don't. This will help when it comes time to blending and creating folds, wrinkles and shades.

Look at what artist Kristy Dalman has done above. She's clearly marked the darkest areas meaning nothing else on the clothing will be darker than what she's already marked. Be more like Kristy and don't dive in and make it more difficult for yourself.

This acts as a visual reference as you set yourself goals of working towards blending the lightest color to the fully-saturated color.

A good indicator to look out for - and another cool little trick - is to look where the clothing dips. Wherever it dips, that's where you want the more shadowy areas.


Fuse & build the gradient

Fusing nib with toner chamber

This tip revolves around the marker you're using. Ideally, you want an alcohol-based marker. A Chameleon Pen will be particularly useful because you can fuse the nib in the revolutionary Mixing Chamber and dilute the color, creating multiple tones and seamless blending. This is all with one pen too.

Always remember to build the gradient when shading clothes. This is what helps it look a lot more realistic. No gradient means no realism.

It also depends on how large the area of clothing that you're shading is. In Kristy's example, it's quite a small area so you'll want to fuse the nib in the Mixing Chamber for around five seconds, so don't rush because you're excited.

By mixing the ink color with the toning medium, you're diluting the color at the source which means you're getting multiple tones with one marker to get the color you want. This is helpful because you won't need multiple variations of the same color, yet still experience the lighter colors you'll need to blend on the clothing.


Experiment with different blending techniques

Using blending techniques in two directions

Another useful tip to take on board is that you need to experiment with different blending techniques when you're shading clothing. That's because one technique might make look a jersey look realistic, but a different technique might work much better on shorts. Don't just use one technique all the time for different pieces of clothing.

So, try creating longer blends and smoother transitions by coloring side to side. Another useful technique to consider when shading is to work in a circular motion once you've fused your nib in the Mixing Chamber.  

In the example above, Kristy has blended in opposite directions, not just one. This has helped the piece of clothing look more professional with this realistic effect as the gradient and blending technique she's used is giving it the illusion of dimension.

That's why two-way blending can help make your shaded clothing look three-dimensional.


Repeat for the rest of the clothing

finished wrinkles and folds in fabric

Finally, you need to go back and repeat the process for the rest of the sections. This ensures that your artwork looks as realistic and professional as possible. 


A final round up

When you're shading clothing, follow these steps:

  • Remember the light source
  • Mark the darkest areas first
  • Remember to fuse and build the gradient
  • Consider different blending techniques


By following these tips, you're going to achieve results like what Kristy has managed to accomplish above. If you're achieving something similar to her, then you're on the right track.

But if you're having trouble visualizing the tips above, check out the video below.

To see more of Kristy's work, go ahead and visit her official Instagram account.


There are so many different ways you can get creative with Chameleon Pens...

Shading clothing isn't the only thing you can do with Chameleon Pens. Find out how to draw realistic looking hair, skin tones, fur and more by downloading our guide to artistic techniques using Chameleon Pens. We've almost finished perfecting that guide for you so why not sign up to our mailing list and ensure you're the first to know when it's ready?


Tags: shading, Fashion, Textures

Pick up your Chameleon products from our website here!


What have you been working on recently? It would be awesome to see what inspires all of you so, send us your creations. If you do then, keep your eyes peeled on our social media – we love to feature our community’s’ work on our pages.

social-grey-instagram social-grey-twitter social-grey-facebook social-grey-pinterest social-grey-youtube

Like what you’ve seen here and want to stay up to date with all our latest content, news, offers, and events? Then you’re going to love our Chameleon Creative Community Newsletter.

Sign up here!