I almost never sit down to a blank piece of paper with no idea what I am going to draw for the paper dolls. If I did, I think I would draw the same thing over and over again. I can always tell when I’m on “auto-pilot” with my work, even if others can’t.
However, I’m a little embarrassed to admit the idea of these paper dolls came from a box of tea. It’s not even a type of tea I regularly drink, but I was in the tea isle picking up usual Lemon Ginger tea (which I often drink in the mornings rather than coffee) when I came across the box and I thought, “I think that would make a neat paper doll.”
I never said my mind was a logical streamlined sort of place.
Speaking of my mind, I’ve been thinking a lot about the new Curves series I’m working on. I’ve decided a few things already, but one thing I haven’t decided is color or black and white or shadowed. So, that’s the poll question. I openly confess I might not do what the poll decides, but I’m curious what people think.
So, the last post about this new paper doll series was about the inspiration. This one is about the template. Every paper doll I draw is traced from a template that I usually draw on lined paper. It’s cheap, has lines for portions and I don’t feel guilty if I go through like seven or twelves sheets of it. I actually ended up with like fifteen versions of this template before I had one I thought was final.
Rather then sharing all fifteen (because the differences become pretty damn minor at some point), I’m only sharing three. I’d say this was because I think these three most well illustrate my process (and they do do a fairly good job of that), but really it’s because the idea of scanning 15 of basically the same thing was enough to strike fear into my heart. Not that I don’t love to share, but there is a limit.
So, on the left is the first doodle with lots of lines and a rough idea of the size and the pose. I knew I wanted to have the legs together, so she could be easily turned into a mermaid if I wanted too. On the right, is the second stage of the process around midway, I’m a little unsure about the feet though… it does make shoes difficult and I love shoes. I always fret a bit about paper doll poses and I have to think about the type of doll and what I plan on drawing. I never know exactly what I plan on drawing for clothing, so that becomes another issue entirely.
Lastly, here’s the final. She’s not perfect yet- there will be a few more changes when I actually trace her onto sketch book paper. I want to give her larger breasts and a slightly fuller hips. I’m also unsure about her left hand placement. More editing is fairly inevitable.
I know I’ll probably put her into some sort of polka-dotted swimsuit and I think she’ll have wigs which means she’ll need a short hairstyle of some sort to start off with. I’ve only ever done one bald paper doll to give wigs and my friend informed me that she looked like a chemotherapy patient. I never did that one again.
Now that I’m getting ready to really start drawing, I need to make decisions about things like- do I want to work in color? Will I have heavy shadows? what size do I want the paper dolls to be? How many dresses per post? Do I make them mix and match or outfit based? Are they going to be a new doll every post or will I have a set of dolls and just draw new outfits? Is there going to be a theme? Will I step out of the vintage feel for costumes?
Ugh… I hate making decisions. Maybe I’ll have a poll.
I gave a preview of these paper doll pieces a few days ago, though I had to stay up fairly late to finish them. Han Chinese clothing was a major influence over this set, particularly the quju. I also wanted to do with some Asian costumes what has, traditionally, been done with European dress in most fantasy. I’ve been sort of on this fantasy costumes inspired by regional dress kick. There’s even this elf inspired by Africa which I just finished, though she’s not ready for posting.
The major delay for me with these was so much pattern and how to make it look good together while still keeping the color schemes interesting. Color used to scare me. Actually, it still does scare me a little, but I think it can smell fear, so I keep up a brave face. Color Scheme Designer is one of the tools I use to help be figure what colors go together. It’s fun, fairly simple, and usually I don’t feel like a complete moron while using it.
Did I mention I think her wigs are nifty? Because I do. That is all.
Writing is hard. Drawing is hard too, but somehow less hard then writing. I think it’s because I draw in stages- pencil and then ink and then shade and then scan and then re-size and then color and then add tabs and then do layout and then re-size again and then post. Sometimes those events occur in a slightly different order, but I always have multiple pieces in multiple stages of work (at least I do when I’m on the ball and things are going well). Yet, writing I find I stare at a white screen and have to think of something to say.
Ideally, something intelligent and nuanced to say… Okay, maybe not nuanced, but at least intelligent. Or coherent. I think I at least get coherent. Most of the time.
All I can really say about this paper doll is that I am pleased with how she came out. I really love the muted color tones- achieved by using a mostly transparent wash of grey over all of the clothing after it was colored. I find getting muted tones is a lot harder then getting obnoxiously bright tones on a paper doll and everything looks different on different screens of course. Her toenails in her sandals are another little favorite of mine-rainbow toes.
I had a request to show some pages from my sketchbook. I openly confess to not being much of a photographer and I have learned a few useful things about photographing sketchbooks after a day of frustration. Mostly, I’ve learned that I’m quite bad at it. Of all the pictures I took, only two really came out decently, both of the same set of paper doll costumes.
Obviously, this is the penciled set. The costumes were an attempt to do with traditional Asian costumes what fantasy normally does with Western European costume- make them identifiable, but obviously not really period. I usually think of this stage as “detailed pencil” which is the stage right before I ink. There’s lighter penciled outline stage before this, but I’ve never been able to get a decent photograph or scan of it. I draw really really light.
The same set of paper doll costumes inked. Slightly abnormally for me, I pretty much followed my pencil lines exactly on this set which isn’t usually how I draw. The background is a crocheted blanket my good friend made for me which was sitting on my couch and made a more attractive thing to photograph then my plastic topped table or the couch itself- a unattractive relic in burnt orange and khaki plaid.
Anyway, assuming I get them finished (and they are nearly done) these costumes should be viewable in full color on Monday as a Marisole post, along with another dress which belongs to this set that I completely forgot to photograph. Opps.
I posted these largely because I had access to a digital camera and a specific request for them. I’m not sure I’ll do another post like this… while this one has had a fairly fast turn around (I took the pictures on Thursday, got them posted today and have already begun to color the paper dolls), sometimes there are weeks (or even months) between a drawing, inking and scanning before I get around to posting things. I even have some scans from last year that I doubt will ever see the light of day. I hate to post images of something in progress and then not post the finished piece until months later (or never), so I don’t know what to do about that possibility.
For even more black and white paper dolls, I would recommend a new (well, old blog, but new to me) blog I found. Mostly Paper Dolls is a blog devoted to, in fact, mostly paper dolls (and some coloring pages and other things thrown in for good measure). Some of them are beautifully colored by hand, but most are black and white images from old newspaper microfilm. I really like this set from 1922, particularly the girl paper doll with the very period dresses. Perhaps I will color it myself someday… Anyway, if you have a few minutes and you feel like pouring through many pages of black and white paper dolls, I recommend Mostly Paper Dolls highly. The image quality suffers (mircofilm reproduction is usually shoddy, I’m afraid), but the quantity and wonderful variety more then makes up for it.
I’m having fun pouring through her archives, and I suspect others will too.
Sometimes, paper dolls don’t come out like you wanted.
I had planned to do some Sweet or Gothic Lolita style dresses, maybe with striped stockings and some neat hats. I really think the heavy shadowed style lends itself well to all things gothic and that was what I wanted to tap into that. Sort of a dark Alice in Wonderland vibe.
I like the doll- I love her hair and I think her face is quite pretty. Both dresses failed to be what I had hoped they would be. I should have redrawn them, but I didn’t want too. I suppose this is part of the reason I am working on a series to replace this one when I stop caring enough to really edit my work it tends to be a bad sign.
I’ve been thinking a bit about the request to show more work in progress. It is something I have been wanting to do for a while, I just have trouble scanning pencil and I’m not sure I like how it comes out… I need to give it more thought. I haven’t given up on the idea yet, I’m just not sure how to make it work.
I had realized I hadn’t done a blond Marisole paper doll in a while, so I thought I would do so. I’ve also been working on a Marisole side project which made me realize how few pairs of pants I had ever drawn for the paper doll. To solve both these problems, I offer up and pants wearing blond paper doll. I never said my justifications were entirely logical, I just said they existed.
Maybe it’s because I am in library school, or perhaps simply because I tend to be analytical by nature, but I think a lot about what I could do to improve PTP. So, I made a list and my goal is to try to do these things over the next few weeks months.
1. Post more regularly. (I do think I am improving on this one.)
2. More process content. (Things like the post about inspiration for Curves that I did.)
3. Links to museums and libraries in an organized fashion or maybe posts about historical costume. Is that something people would enjoy? I’m not sure…
4. Tutorials (?) I don’t know what I would do tutorials about, which is part of the problem.
5. Additional access points to the site. I’d like to do some sort of theme and subject based indexing, but I’m not yet quite sure how. Thoughts are ongoing.
That’s my list of things I think the site could use. What would other people ask for if they could?
Update 8/11/2014: This paper doll is now available in black and white for coloring. You can find her here.
I sort of think of Thorne (named after a friend from high school who looked nothing like this, but that is not here nor there) as perhaps the boyfriend of Jay or at least that they come from the same world. It’s the same world I tend to assume my Cyborg and Vera come from. Perhaps a futuristic place with lots of neon and flying cars.
Sort of Fifth Element meets Mad Max. Of the two, I’d take the visual style of the Fifth Element over Mad Max pretty much any day.
There is a myth that women gave up corsets in the early 1800’s and that’s just not true. A corset, or stays if you prefer, provides a fair bit of support for women, just like a modern bra. They did, however, alter the look of their undergarments. The long corset on the left is from about 1810, though I have seen similar things cited with later dates. I’m afraid I don’t know enough about women’s underwear in the early 1800’s to be sure.
Flora’s other dress is a basic house dress- something worn for work as much as anything else. I based it off of this dress though I simplified the skirt. I’d like to draw a few shawls, since they were such a standard garment of the day, but I haven’t decided how to do them yet.