How to texture different clothing materials



Hi everyone, my name is peter, this tutorial will give quick tips on how to render different clothing materials that you might have struggled with when creating your arts. When drawing a character it is unusual to be without clothes (unless you are an NSFW artist :)) this tells how significant clothes texturing is to an artist. Let's save the speech and jump right into it.


There are different processes and workflows when designing clothes also there are different styles, it depends on what you want. This tutorial will give general tips that will be helpful for you irrespective of your art style. I hope you find it helpful.

Plain shirts

We will start with the easiest part. The common mistake made by a lot of beginners is that they often paint plain clothes flats ignoring the lighting and the shadows.
The first process is to fill the canvas with a greyish color to allow better viewing of the color.

Then you can start painting, I used the magic wand tool to prevent painting over the line.
And here is what we've got:

Note: don't paint the base color of a white shirt completely white, it is advisable to use an off-white color.

Once you are done with the base color, you can start adding shadows to the shirt. Select a darker color and use it to shade over some parts of the shirt.

Some shadows could be darker or harder in some parts of the cloth so you can darken some parts of the dress.

You should be able to spot the difference.

Now that we are done with the shadow, we can brighten up some parts of the cloth. Irrespective of the material a dress is made of it will always be reflective, though it varies in materials. Materials like satin and faux leather are very reflective unlike denim.

Create a new layer and clip it to the base color, then select the brighter color of the base color and starts lightening up some parts of the cloth.

Note: to know where to add shadows and highlights, you must pick a light source. This is very important when shading any type of material.

Faux Leather

Faux Leather material is very reflective. This tip is very significant when rendering faux leather's dresses.

The first step is the base color. use an almost black color for the base, not a black color because you will always need a darker color for shading.

Select black color and shade to add shadows to the cloth. It is better to use a relatively hard brush for the shading because faux leather produces hard shadows.

The final and most important step is to add reflected lights to the material. Use a hard brush for this step and then blur its edges until you get satisfied with the result ( use the blur brush ).
Here is the final result:

A quick tip: faux leather reflects what is in its environment, that is the environment of your character determines the color and type of light the material will reflect.

Clothes pattern

You can create your custom pattern on CSP if you don't want to download it from the asset store. Here are some quick tips on how to create yours.

Draw the pattern:
It is very important to use the grid tool to draw your pattern as it will prevent any form of mistakes and also hasten your work. To access the grid tool just go to (view>grids), you can also go to grid setting to set up your grid.
Here I draw a pattern using the above step.

You might need the direct line tool when drawing your pattern, especially if it deals with straight lines, curves, and eclipses.

once you are done with the pattern outline, go to Edit>Register material. Register it as an image and select "repeat" as your tilling function.

For more details on cloth patterns, do well to check out this link.

Applying cloth patterns (creating patterned dresses)

So far you already have a cloth pattern, applying it is very easy.
paint the base color for the shirt.

Drag in your custom or downloaded pattern from the material folder and clip the layer to the base layer, you should also transform it to the appropriate size, you should get something like this;

Even though we've already transformed it into its appropriate size, it still looks off because the pattern didn't follow the flow of the cloth and the body.
To correct this we will need the liquify tool to push the pixels a bit. Use the push tool with the following setting:

When you are done you can see a clear difference.

Now that you are done with the pattern, you can start shading and adding shadows to the cloth.
Use a soft brush for soft shadows and use a hard brush for fold shadows.

Add a little lighting to some parts of the dress, if you find this difficult, pick a light source and shade those parts that you feel are exposed to light.

That's the final result.


Denim is a fabric that is commonly used for creating jeans.
Here is the link for the brushes I use for texturing denim materials ;

Paint the base color with a deep blue color.
Note: denim color varies it is not compulsory to always paint with deep blue color.

Transform the pattern from the assets and clip it to the base layer. The pattern gives the trousers a denim texture even though it might not be visible from afar.

Use the textured brush to shade the trousers

Note: it is advisable not to use a brush without texture for shading denim material. I used the denim textured brush for the whole process and here is the final result.

Using monochromatic patterns for cloth texture

There are some default monochromatic patterns on CSP that can be used to define some clothing materials. I will use cotton for this tutorial.

Using them is the same as any other pattern we have used in this tutorial.
First, as always paint the base color and drag the monochromatic material into the canvas, clip it to the base layer and scale it to the appropriate size.

There might be a subtle difference when looking from afar but when you have a close view, you will see the pattern. You can start shading (adding lighting and shadows) and then you are done.

Creating transparent fishnet-like design

To create a transparent dress, you will have to decrease the opacity of your base color to a suitable amount.

I used this asset to add a net-like texture on it to make it a bit realistic.

And here is the final result;

Synthetic fabric (nylon)

Rendering a very transparent and reflective material like nylon is not as difficult as you might expect.
To render nylon-looking material first paint the base color with an off-white color and decrease the opacity to 25%, it depends on the transparency of the nylon though.

Note: I used an off-white color as the base color because am trying to achieve colorless-looking nylon, but if you are after a colored one simply use the color as your base color and lower its opacity.

create a layer on top of the base layer and start adding some shadows to the fabric.

Though we have added a few shading to the fabric, it still doesn't look like nylon, this is because nylon are very reflective which brings us to the last step.

Create a new layer on top of the base layer, set its blending mode to "add glow" and add highlights and reflected light on the fabric.

Continue editing until you get your best result.

Tips for painting simple folds

Folds are inevitable when drawing clothing material for a character. A fold is formed when the surfaces of a clothing material overlap, therefore the nature of the fold depends on the nature of the material.
There are two areas in a fold; that is the dark and the light area.
The dark area is the area where a part of the material surface casts its shadow while the light area is the exposed area that reflects the surrounding light.
We are going to apply these few principles to draw a simple fold.

Yes, I just started with a painted canvas that looks nothing like a fabric.
Start with the dark area by selecting a darker color and applying it to the area you want to place your folds.

Once you are done, create another layer and add a lighter color on top of the dark area to produce the light area.

Now we can see what it is turning out to be.
Merge all layers and use the blur brush to start optimizing and editing it till you get your best result.

Note: blur and blend brushes are very important tools when rendering folds.

This looks like just a normal cotton fabric. Just like have said in the course of this tutorial "the nature of the material determines the nature of the fold", so we can make this material look like "satin" by increasing the brightness of the light area. Satin is a reflective fabric.
To make the fabric look like satin, create new layer and set the blending mode on add glow then start painting over the light area to make it look reflective.

Satin fabric also produce darker shadow than normal fabric. Select a darker color and shade over the dark area.

Here is the final result;

Final note:

The best way to render clothing material of any kind is to understand how it reacts to the environment, and always refer to the environment when rendering clothing material to make it look realistic.

Thanks for reading my tutorial, and I hope it helps you in your art journey.



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