Five top cloth references


Painting cloth on miniature figures can be a pain – but real world examples can help, so we’ve put together five top references to help you out.

1. Cammoflage

Image from Feltons of Preston

Image from Feltons of Preston

Love it or loathe it, one day you know you’ll find yourself painting some cammo – but with all the different types out there, which one should you chose?

If you’re painting historical models it’s vital you get the right pattern for the right country, and period. is here to help. The site may look a little awkward – but click on the righthand menu – Thumbnail search and then pick a continent. From here you will see thumbnails of all kinds of cammo – more variety and colours than you ever thought possible. Click on one of these to find out lots of useful information and see a large view of the pattern and an example of it being worn. Great stuff.

2. White cloth

Blouse from a Czech folk dance costume

Blouse from a Czech folk dance costume

One of the hardest things to paint – and yet so many models feature it. From the white tabard of a space marine, to the toga of an ancient greek (ok I know they weren’t always white), to the pristine robes of a knight who avoids muddy battlefields.

Anyway, with white being so difficult it’s useful to look at some real life white folded cloth to see the differences in the shaded and highlight areas.

Zen Texures has some quality photo textures and a quick search of the fabric category brings up this lovely image which even has a subtle texture to the fabric.

3. Silk

Photo by Ksionic on Flickr

Photo by Ksionic on Flickr

Following straight on from the difficulties of white cloth comes silk – in all it’s various shades. The key thing with silk is the way it reflects light – so getting the right contrast is vital.

Bridal couture website Orchid Jones has some handy mini swatches showing examples of different coloured silks with strong highlights and shadow – perfect! Click on the swatches to see them larger. You can alway right-click to view the Background Image if you don’t like seeing the swatches in the lightbox view.

Oh and it doesn’t look like a bridal site – so don’t worry about anyone catching you viewing it – although you may want to delete your browsing history.

4. Leather

Green Leather texture by MsDotty

Green Leather texture by MsDotty

Ok, so it’s not strictly speaking a ‘cloth’, but as a fabric that you have to paint on a regular basis – definately high on the list. And it comes in so many varieties and colours, worn and new. It can be a tricky one sometimes, especially when you don’t want to paint the shoes the same as the belt.

Stock.xchng is your friend here, and a quick search for ‘leather texture’ brings up some beauties. A quick note – make sure you don’t click on the premium textures, unless you are prepared to pay for them. There are loads of free ones though (just check the license for each), but as photo references you can’t really go wrong.

With everything from book covers, to furntiure and clothing references – you should be able to find the leather reference you need.

5. Cloaks and robes

Cloak from Twin Roses Designs

Cloak from Twin Roses Designs

And wrinkled fabrics in general. The key here – getting the contrast right to make the wrinkles look right. has a folder full of perfect images ready to go. Select Wrinkles > Hanging from the list on the left and have a good look at the red examples for starters. The rest of the wrinkles section is equally useful. Obviously you don’t have to paint in red – and if it helps change the HUE in your photo editing software to see different colour versions.

Hopefully this will help build up an arsenel of photo references so next time you need to paint some cloth if might not be so painful.

Are there any references you would like to see here?


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2 Responses to “Five top cloth references”

  1. Vern Says:

    Like the cloth resource – for period costume, you could also check out

    Also, Brassey’s Book of Camouflage by Tim Newark (ISBN 9781857531640) is really good for, erm, camouflage designs

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