In this post you will learn how to draw puffy sleeves.

How to draw puffy sleeves

When someone says puffy sleeves, I instantly think of Snow White or Cinderella.

Both of these princesses had puffy sleeves.

But of course, there are a lot of different kinds of puffy sleeves, and I thought, why not dedicate a whole post teaching how to draw them.

Drawing clothes can be a little difficult, but it becomes quite easy once you get the hang of it.

In this post, I’m going to teach you how to draw puffy sleeves in a step-by-step way so that you can draw clothes or people in clothes quite easily.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a child or an adult beginner who’s learning how to draw. The following steps are extremely easy to understand. As long as you follow the tutorial step by step, you should have no difficulty understanding it.

I will be teaching you how to draw all kinds of puffy sleeves.

We will cover how to draw:

  • Short puffy sleeves
  • Sheer puffy sleeves
  • Off-shoulder puffy sleeves or wedding dress puffy sleeves
  • Princess dress puffy sleeves (that combines most of the above)
Types of puffy sleeves we will learn to draw. Puffy sleeves drawing

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Please note that I use an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil to create all my illustrations. But you can use any tool – a pen and paper, markers or Photoshop because the drawing method remains the same.

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Let’s begin.

How to draw puffy sleeves – (Step by Step) An easy guide for beginners

Puffy sleeves are basically ballooned sleeves.

The material is either gathered at the top or at the bottom of the sleeve (or both), and this creates that balloon or puffy sleeve effect because the entire sleeve becomes “poofy.”

So, before we learn how to draw puffy sleeves, let me just draw a character model so we can draw the clothes on her.

We’ll start with the face.

Draw the face first

I won’t go into detail about drawing cartoon heads because this post is about puffy sleeves, but you can check out this book if you’re interested.

Next, we’ll draw the torso of the character.

Draw the torso of the girl

Next, I’ll draw the arms of the character. I have a detailed post here to draw cartoon hands if you need more help.

Draw the arms of the girl

Next, I’ll color the character.

Color the character

Check out my post here on how I color digital art in Procreate. It’s very detailed, and it even includes a video.

I don’t need to color the whole torso because I will be drawing all the tops over her body.

Okay, now that we have the base character, we can begin learning how to draw puffy sleeves.

1. How to draw short puffy sleeves

Short puffy sleeves are very trendy, and most tops these days, along with dresses, have them.

They add a nice flair to a plain colored dress and top.

So, drawing puffy sleeves will really come in handy if you want to draw some fancy clothes on your character.

It’s also the easiest puffy sleeves to draw!

Let’s begin with the mark first.

Draw the marks of the puffy sleeves

I’m teaching you how to draw puffy sleeves in a cartoon style. You can learn how to draw clothes by purchasing this book.

It’s important to angle the sleeves downward to make your puffy sleeves look more organic.

Now, let’s draw the sleeves. Draw 2 bulges above the mark on the arm (the lower bulge will be bigger because of the weight of the material).

Draw the short puffy sleeves on one arm first

Repeat the puffy sleeve on the other arm.

Draw the puffy sleeves on the other arm

Next, draw the bands under both the puffy sleeves. This will make it look like your puffy sleeves look like it’s gathered on the bottom.

draw the bands under the puffy sleeves

Now, it’s time to draw the most important part of the sleeves – the gathers and the folds!

Draw quick strokes at the bottom to make your puffy sleeves look more realistic.

Make sure the vary the length and thickness of the lines to make it look better!

Draw the folds and gathers of the puffy sleeves

These short puffy sleeves also look like Snow White’s puffy sleeves. So, you can use this puffy sleeves drawing reference to draw Snow White’s dress as well.

Now, we will draw the bodice of the top.

I am going to draw a high neck top that is loose-fitting on her body.

Draw the rest of the top

I’m happy with the top – I’ll move on to coloring now. I’ll go for a deep rose pink.

Note: When adding the color to your illustration, remember to add the color underneath the outline of the clothes but above the base character.

Color the whole top and the short puffy sleeves

And we’re done!

We’ve learned how to draw short puffy sleeves.

2. How to draw sheer puffy sleeves

Sheer puffy sleeves mean the puffy sleeves are transparent. Sheer puffy sleeves are usually made of lace.

It’s not that hard to draw.

Many dresses and tops have sheer puffy sleeves and look very graceful and feminine.

Let’s begin!

We’ll first draw the bands on the arms. I’m going to go for thick bands.

Draw the bands on the arms

Now, similar to the short puffy sleeves, we need to draw those big balloon puffed sleeves.

This time I’m going to make the upper part of the puffy sleeves bigger, just for fun.

Draw the puffy sleeves

Now, I’ll draw the bodice of the top (a simple sleeveless top) and then color it dark blue with a greyish tone.

Note: Never use pitch-black while coloring your digital art if you want to indicate black. It looks off. Go for dark tones of blue, black, or purple.

Color the top with a solid color

Now, on a new layer, color the sleeves a lighter gray. I’m using a bluish or purplish gray.

Color the sheer puffy sleeves with a solid color as well

Now, to make the puffy sleeves sheer, just decrease the opacity of the sleeves to about 40%. You’ll get this lovely effect.

Change the opacity to 35%

But we aren’t done yet!

We need to add the gathers and folds – that’s mighty important.

So, on a new layer, I’m going to pick a dark greyish blue and add the gathers.

Remember to add the gathers and folds at the top and bottom of the sleeves.

Draw the gathers at the top and bottom of the sleeves

But our sleeves are sheer.

So, we need to make the folds transparent too!

Adjust the opacity of the layer where the folds are drawn to about 50% and you’ll get this effect.

Change the opacity of the sleeves to make them sheer.

And voila!

We’ve learned how to draw sheer puffy sleeves from scratch.

Remember, you can color your top and your sheer puffy sleeves any color. I just used black because it was my choice.

But feel free to color your clothes any color you wish!

3. How to draw off-shoulder puffy sleeves (or a wedding dress with puffy sleeves

Off-shoulder puffy sleeves are usually added to grander dresses like wedding dresses or gowns to make the dress look more beautiful and stunning.

Off-shoulder puffy sleeves on wedding dresses add a lot of flair to the whole outfit.

So, in this example, I’m going to draw a simple wedding dress and then add the off-shoulder puffy sleeves to make the dress stand out!

Let’s begin by drawing a simple bodice for the wedding gown.

Draw the wedding dress around the body first.

Now, it’s time to draw the off-shoulder puffy sleeves. I will make 2 marks on both hands to indicate the sleeves.

Draw a mark on the arms to indicate the off shoulder puffy sleeves

Now, I’ll draw big off-shoulder puffy sleeves.

You can go with any shape but for this wedding dress – the bigger, the better. So, I am going to draw massive sleeves.

Draw the puffy sleeves off the shoulder next to the dress

Think of these sleeves as popcorn or puffy clouds – it follows the same shape.

Now, I’ll draw some simple gathers in the middle and then color the wedding dress and the off-shoulder wedding dress with a cream white color.

Color the wedding dress puffy sleeves with a cream white color

The sleeves are definitely not complete.

The folds are the aspect of the puffy sleeves – remember that.

So, to enunciate the folds, simply draw shadows under the folds and, using the same shadow color, draw more gathers on the top of the puffy sleeves.

This makes it look like the material is very soft and is gathered more around the top.

Draw the folds and gathers on the puffy sleeves

And voila!

You’ve just learned how to draw off-shoulder puffy sleeves to any dress.

4. How to draw a princess dress with puffy sleeves

This is by far the most popular type of puffy sleeves there is.

Most people want to draw puffy sleeves on animated characters because they can really bring life to their fantasy stories.

So, this time, I’m going to combine a few characteristics from all the above puffy sleeves into one – a princess dress with puffy sleeves that are also transparent!

Let’s begin with the marks for the sleeves – I’m going to have long puffy sleeves for this princess dress.

Next mark the princess dress puffy sleeves first

Next, draw the gathers at the bottom of the puffy sleeves.

Draw the gathers at the bottom.

Now, draw the whole sleeve – try to use one long fluid motion to draw the sleeves.

Use an S shape to draw these sleeves to give them a more fairytale look.

Now draw the big puffy sleeves

Now, draw a simple bodice. I’m not doing anything special. I will add the princess dress effects via coloring.

Draw the rest of the puffy sleeves

I’m happy with how it looks; now I’ll start coloring the princess dress.

I’m going to draw the inner bodice first – I’ll use a light bluish-gray tone to do this.

Color the bodice of the princess dress

Now, on a new layer, I will draw the entire outer bodice of the princess dress in a medium blue tone.

Remember to draw the inner and outer bodice on 2 different layers.

Color the whole dress.

Now, decrease the opacity of the layer with the outer bodice – this will give the princess dress a very beautiful effect.

Change the opacity of the top

But we aren’t done yet.

We need to add the gathers and folds to get the whole effect of the princess dress’s puffy sleeves.

So, on a new layer, add the gathers to the sleeves using a medium blue tone.

Add the gathers to the princess dress puffy sleeves

And to get a better effect on the sleeves and decrease the opacity of the folds layer to about 35-40% to get this effect.

Change the opacity of the gathers

I’m really happy with how this looks, but I’m going to add some dots to the inner bodice just to give to add more texture to the princess dress.

Add some special effects to your princess dress.

And we’re done!

We’ve learned how to draw princess dress puffy sleeves!

This is by far the most popular puffy sleeve.

So, have fun with this and experiment with many different dress styles just by changing the type of puffy sleeves – you’ll get a whole new outfit.

Conclusion + Resources

I hope this in-depth tutorial was helpful to you, and you were able to learn how to draw puffy sleeves easily.

The basic concept involves just drawing the poofy sleeve with huge balloon shapes and adding folds and gathers.

Don’t worry if you didn’t get it immediately.

However, the more you practice drawing people, clothes, and hair, the easier it gets!

If you want to see more tutorials on hair and people, just leave a comment down below. You can check out my other Character Tutorials to learn how to draw people and clothes.

I will be adding more clothes drawing tutorials to this blog, so keep a lookout!

If you are looking for books on drawing people and clothes, check this out!

If you’re looking to improve your drawings faster and want to really draw as a hobby or even pick up drawing professionally, I highly recommend picking up this beautiful online course that teaches you how to draw female cartoon characters.

Use code STRAYCURLS-10 to get a 10% discount!

This class will teach you how to draw a female character from scratch!

Draw a female character from scratch.

If you are just getting started with ProCreate, I highly recommend this course: Procreate for Beginners: Digital Illustration 101

It will help you learn Procreate within a day or a week at most. I found it super helpful!

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