Drawing Delicate Details: Ruffles, Frills and Flounces Made Easy

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Frills, ruffles, flounces... Doesn't just saying those words make you feel like swirling around? And what can be prettier than a gentle flounce of fabric added to a collar, pillowcase or even a skirt? Somehow, drawing the delicate detail just lifts your spirits.

Learning how to draw these soft embellishments is as easy as pie, and I will show you how in this simple tutorial.

Just for curiosity's sake, I looked up the origins of ruffles on garments and came upon this little piece of fashion history:

Around the 1500s, it became stylish to allow a little bit of undercloth (an undergarment to line, add warmth or even protect the skin from scratchy fabrics) show a little at the neckline or sleeve edges. Eventually, the exposed underclothes would crease, fold or ruffle, which in time became all the fashion rage for men and women alike.

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How to draw a simple flounce

Using a simple collar like in the graphic (below) as our practice form, we'll practice drawing flounces on clothes .

Step 1:

Draw an oblong collar opening.

Step 2:

Around the collar opening, draw a very curvy oblong shape.

Step 3:

Draw a few lines beneath concave curves to detail the exposed underside of the fabric.

Step 4:

Shade the little "hills and valleys" created by the flounce.

For a wind-blown flounce:

Step 1:

Draw an oblong collar opening.

Step 2:

On the outside of the collar opening, draw another very curvy, semi-oblong shape, extending the swept-up side less.

Step 3:

Draw a fold line where the arrow points. Add a few fold and crease lines to the rest of the collar and finish with a little shading to bring out the details.

Fun with frills

Frills are simply flounces — just more frilly. When I think of frills, I think of crinkly  fabric that has more body to make a garment or hold it's shape better. And the first thing my mind goes to visually is a tutu.

Let's use a tutu for frill-drawing practice

Step 1:

Draw a small oval shape. Now draw another oval around (but off-center) the first. The second oval should be very light and easily erasable.

Step 2:

Using the outer oval lines as your guide, draw a soft zig-zag all the way around.

Step 3:

Draw another soft zig-zag just under the front of the tutu, but not all the way around.

Step 4:

Draw some lines to show the ruffle creases on the stop side of the tutu.

Step 5:

You can add a some decorative enhancements, such as flowers or tiny, uneven circles that will look like sparkles on the tutu.

For a pleated variation of the tutu...

Step 1:

Draw the small waist opening circle. Then draw a sharp zig-zagged circle around the first circle.

Step 2:

Follow Steps 4 and 5 above. Note the pleat detail (#3) in the pleated variation image below to help guide you with pleats.

How to draw ruffles

Ruffles are not exactly lace, though it is easy to think of the two as the same thing. Lace can be ruffled, but ruffles can be created out of almost anything that is pliable.

Ruffles are simply a length of material pulled and compressed into a shorter length, thus creating the ruffle effect. Here is how to draw it on paper:

Step 1:

Draw a line a couple of inches long, as in Figure 1 below. This is a practice edge that we will be "attaching" a ruffle to.

Step 2:

Draw a loopy edged line about a half inch or so below the first line, as shown in Figure 2. How loopy you make it determines how tightly packed your ruffle will be.

Step 3:

Draw vertical lines to detail the creases, folds and exposed underside of the ruffle, as shown in Figure 3. Add shading where necessary.

Now you have been primed in how to draw anything ruffled!

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Drawing Delicate Details: Ruffles, Frills and Flounces Made Easy