figure drawing manchester

Drapery Technique in Life Drawing

We are always looking at how we can present new challenges for the artists that attend our Life Drawing workshops in Manchester, and it was with this in mind that we used draping on our model Andy. If you have never drawn the nude figure while partially covered with drapery, then I would highly recommend giving it a try, this is because it provides opportunities for studying aspects of volume. For anyone unsure, when we talk about volume we are referring to the surface area within a space; the exhibition of height, width and depth, resulting in an implied three-dimensional shape.

Drapery adds so much to life drawing, as it is an ideal tool for accentuating the shape of the human figure. If we look to the sculptures of ancient Greece and Rome, in a paradoxical way it actually enhances the nudity of the model by minimising some areas and accentuating others. And it is in this way draping can also be used as a compositional tool; helping the artist when arranging the placement of the visual elements that make up the pose. When there is draping on the model the artist will consider the following: the direction of the folds and the shadows they produce; how the body underneath supports part of the fabric; how the fabric may billow out or adapt to the figure; and the way gravity influences how the fabric falls towards the ground.


When arranging the study of the draped figure, we considered how the fabric weight, and density determines the quality and direction of the folds, while also allowing us to ‘see’ the anatomical figure underneath. It is for this reason we choose a light flowing fabric, allowing the forms of the nude body to ‘show through’ to an a extent. We also considered the placement of the fabric, placing it so it only partially covered the body, enabling the anatomical regions to be easily recognised by the artists.

We hold weekly life drawing sessions at Bar21 in Manchester. Check our our upcoming dates or contact us to reserve your seat.