Modelling Clothing Details

After posting some work in progress images of a dress for my Grand Space Opera challenge entry at CGTalk, I was asked if I could show how I go about making the folds and wrinkles I did for the dress.

Before we start

My software of choice is Lightwave 3D. If you are using LW8 there are no plugins you'll need to download in order to follow along. If you are running LW 7.5 or earlier you might want to get a hold of DI's Powertools and Edge Tools from Dstorm since they will help speed up the process, otherwise there is a little more manual labor involved, in that case take a look at this other tutorial:

One more thing, I have not tested this technique on animation, so I have no idea how well the cloth will look if Deformers such as Bones, Displacement and Dynamics are applied to this mesh. This is more a technique for still images but by experimenting on your own you might find a use for it in your animation work.

Some of the basic principles of making folds and wrinkles in clothing is to pay attention to the following:
1. Triangle Shapes - Try to shape folds and wrinkles with triangles in mind.
2. Fabric Type - The thinner the fabric the sharper the triangles will be while the thicker the fabric the rounder and smoother the folds will be.
3. FLOW - Pay close attention to the stress points of the cloth, where there is more stress the straighter the folds will be and vice versa, the less stress the more triangles.

The perfect example of this is the elbow (or knee with long pants) when wearing a long sleeve shirt made of a medium weight fabric. When you bend the elbow you will notice straight forming folds to the the back area of the elbow while there are more relaxed triangles on the front area. If you extend the arm you will see straighter folds going across the arm following the two stress points, the beginning and end of the arm.

Once you start thinking about these basic principles you can use whatever modeling technique you feel more comfortable with, Modeler offers plenty of different tools to add detail and geometry to a mesh but the tools I use the most for this are: Extender Plus, Supershift, Cut, Add Edges Edge Bevel and of course Spin Quad to change the flow of polys.

You might want to use your character in a background layer for reference and even use body parts to work from. I'm going to use an upper torso to show some of the different types of folds.

In figure 1 I adjusted the polys to be a bit more straight and made the breast area less defined.

I proceeded to make several horizontal cuts with BandSaw Pro. and moved some points in and out to make some basic small bulges. This approach is good for tight, body-shaping fabrics such as lycra.

In Figure 3, I selected some quads in a row and spinned them once.

After some more Spin quads and more massaging of vertices we are starting to get some nice non-overlaping folds..

To add more folds and wrinkles I like to use CUT with 3 or 4 divisions..

Moving the points around you can make sharper or smoother triangle shapes. CUT will follow the direction of your selection making it possible to quickly change the direction of a new fold..

For overlap and clustering of folds follow the same procedure but try to move small groups of points above each other.I hope this will get you started but remember that this is not set in stone, by all means experiment and see what works best for you. Happy folding!

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