Creating Fabric Textures


Creating believable fabric textures can be tricky. Photos of fabric always look like a photograph, and trying to make convincing drapery can be hard. I have come up with a very simple method for making your own tiling fabric that includes both fold shadows and can be easily draped.

If I can get away with it, I like to make as many of my textures as tile-able as possible. For draped fabric I start with a very simple background color with just a little bit of surface texture. This will also work with a patterned background, but for this example I am using a slight cotton canvas texture as my base.


In the first image I just have an off-white background with a burgundy trim which includes a wavy hem detail that will later suggest the fabric is pleated. On a separate Layer I make several bands of reddish brown of color. I then use the Gaussian Blur Filter to blur the bars. Next I change the layer to Hard Light and set the Opacity to 50%. If I want to suggest more light on either side of the shadows I will also put slight Glow on the shadow bars to suggest highlights. Lastly I have added a top shadow using similar steps I to those used creating the shadow bars.

To drape the fabric texture, I apply the material flat, then I make sure I have just enough geometry that I can grab the vertices to pull and pucker the vertical lines. This takes a little playing with but you can create a nice effect with just a bit of time and effort.

This technique works especially well when creating fabric for clothing textures. For this red long coat I have designed in shadows, but rather than bars I have created “spikes” of shading and set them transparent enough to darken the red, and also effect the gold detailing along the bottom edge. For adding a pattern, I applied the design over the top of the red base. This gives me more control of where the highights are and I can fade or erase parts of the pattern if necessary. My best advice is to look at fabric in the real world, then allow yourself a little slack, since as texture artists we are really creating an “impression” of a real material and not forced to recreate it perfectly.

Updated on July 21, 2023

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