Reference 3 – Cloth in the Wind

Cool capes, cloaks, and other bits of cloth blowing about in the wind are a staple of fantasy, comics, and sci-fi art. Every hero or villain looks better with a cape! At first I thought artists made these up out of their head, but over time I’ve found the best way to do a cool cape, is to get reference.

Now there’s a couple of ways to get good cloth reference. The first is to set up a cloth still life add lighting a shoot your photos. Here’s an example from one of my older pieces Skeletal Warrior:


In the reference upper left you can see where I took my drapes and set them up like the skeleton’s cape. You can see some other examples as well. That’s me with a sword and cape, a skull I got back around Halloween time years ago, and some metal objects from my kitchen to see how metal works.

Here’s the final painting:


The static method works fine, but over time I realized that the folds felt a bit stale. In order to breathe some life into my drapery I realized I needed to capture cloth on the move. I got my wife to agree to photograph me running around in our backyard waving cloth about like a madman!


Look at those banners wave about in the wind!

I’ve used this reference in several pieces, but most obviously in the Lion Scout piece I did for L5R:

Seeds of Decay - Ikoma Masumi

It’s pretty easy to get good reference, and as you collect it, your library will grow, so you’ll need to shoot reference less often. The next time you need to paint a flowing cape, go run around with some cloth!

To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project please visit:



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