En Pointe: A Black and White Ballerina Paper Doll

A black and white printable Asian ballerina paper doll with costumes from the ballets Giselle, Scheherazade, Swan Lake, Romeo & Juliet, and Don Quixote. Today, my Monica paper doll ballerina is being joined by Mia, also getting to be a ballerina. Mia’s costumes are from (left to right) Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, Scheherazade and Romeo and Juliet. I do feel rather that Monica got the better known ballets since most people have heard of Swan Lake and the Nutcracker, but haven’t heard of Scheherazade, despite being an amazing piece of music.

When I was first compiling my list of ballets to draw for these paper doll sets, I wanted to show the range of ballet costumes beyond the tutu. Romeo and Juliet is usually costumed in a renaissance inspired style and Scheherazade is usually done as an orientalist fantasy set in the Middle-East. So, those are my two nods to the “non-tutu” look for these paper dolls. After all, not every dance costume is a tutu.

Mia has practice clothing as well- a simple wrap skirt, leg warmers, a long sleeved leotard, tunic top and flat soled dancing shoes. Of course, she can share her warm up clothes with Monica and between the two of them, I think there is a nice variety of options. I didn’t, to be frank, want to spend a lot of time on practice clothing. It is not nearly as fun to draw as fancy tutus.

A black and white printable Asian ballerina paper doll with costumes from the ballets Gisselle, Scheherazade, Swan Lake, Romeo & Juliet, and Don Quixote.

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There are some mix and match options as well from Monica’s set. Monica’s Copellia tutu, for example, would also work for the first act of Giselle, before Giselle dies. I am particularly pleased with how the transparent overlay on Mia’s Giselle tutu came out, actually.  

I have been spending a lot of time looking at the work of Charles Ventura and Pat Stall, both of whom had a mastery of black and white line-work that I can only dream of one day achieving. I have been collecting their work, along with other black and white paper doll artists, on my black and white paper dolls Pinterest board for a while.

Studying the techniques of artists you admire is a great way to learn how to try new things.

Does anyone know if Charles Ventura or Pat Stall are still alive? I really feel like I should write them and tell them how much I love their paper dolls.

Prima Ballerina: A Ballerina Paper Doll in Color

A black and white printable African-American ballerina paper doll with costumes from the ballets Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Firebird. So, one of my first jobs while working in library school was to assist with the digitization of a massive collection of costume design drawings from a group known as the Motley Group (not to be confused with Motley Crue). This let to me eventually finishing my library degree and going onto a degree in Theater History with an emphasis on the history of technical design work.

All branches of theatrical design are about communicating information to the audience seamlessly. In Romeo and Juliet, for example, it is traditional to costume the warring families in different colors. Romeos family might be all in reds, oranges and yellows while Juliet’s family might be in greens, blues and purples. This is useful, because it communicates with the audience immediately which character is associated with which group- important in a play with about 20 characters. Opera and ballet also have costuming traditions. In a medium where people don’t speak and the plots are often rather odd, identifying characters by their colors and style is even more important.

So, when I was selecting colors and costume designs for my ballerina paper dolls, I was well aware that there were traditions that I needed to take notice of. I did my best to keep these costumes fairly “traditional” with the exception of the Firebird. I didn’t like either tutus or the unitards that seemed to be common, so I went with something a little more contemporary.

A black and white printable african-american ballerina paper doll with costumes from the ballets Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Firebird.
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Working left to right, the first costume was from the ballet Coppélia- usually costumed in a “folk” style which is also often used for the first act of the ballet Gisselle or any ballet where there seems to be milkmaids and/or county fairs. Next is a costume for the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker. This is a costume I entirely invented when I didn’t like any of the versions I was seeing online. For my firebird, I chose to do a more modern costume, rather than a traditional tutu. If I was going to costume something no in a tutu, the firebird seemed like the logical choice. Monica is dancing the part of Odette in Swan Lake- next week’s paper doll, Mia, will have a costume for Odile. It is traditional that the part is danced by the same ballerina, but I wanted to split up the costumes across two sets. For Swan Lake, I settled on a traditional sort of costume with some feather detailing and a headdress. From Sleeping Beauty, Monica is dancing the part of the Lilac Fairy. Obviously, her costume was going to be lilac.

Prima Ballerina: A Ballerina Paper Doll

A black and white printable african-american ballerina paper doll with costumes from the ballets Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Firebird. For years I avoided drawing a ballerina paper doll. I was asked a lot, but I always shied away.

Mostly, because the idea of drawing tutus frightened me. I work in ink. Ink is great for a lot of things, but I have always struggled with transparency and tulle (that stuff they make tutus out of) is known for both its transparency and its texture. That alone was enough to scare me.

Then, on a fateful day last year, I had no choice. I had to draw a tutu for a contest winner. I hated the outcome of my first tutu attempt, but I swore I would tackle tutus again.

I learn to draw tutus (and I still am learning), I have had to learn to let go a little of my natural instinct for controlled linework. I’ve had to embrace the risk of messy linework. That’s been a struggle and while my tutus still aren’t perfect, they are getting better.

A black and white printable african-american ballerina paper doll with costumes from the ballets Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Firebird.
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So, for my ballet costumes, I chose to do some classic ballets that I love. The characters are Swanhilda from Coppelia (or Gisselle before she dies, either way), The Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker, Odette from Swan Lake (though if you color it black, it could be Odile), the Firbird from The Firebird, and the Lilac Fairy from Sleeping Beauty. I chose Monica for this set, because I was thinking about Misty Copeland and also that I’ve only seen one African-American ballerina paper doll before. That would be one doll in Dover’s book- Ballet Dancers. So, here is a second African-American ballerina paper doll. She’ll be in color next week.

Enjoy!

Ragamuffin Girl: Steampunk Printable Paper Doll in Color

Ragamuffin Girl- Steampunk paper doll inspired by Newsies in full color You’d think after having done hundreds of paper dolls that I would actually never struggle to come up with color schemes. And yet… I still have trouble.

The problem with steampunk or anything steampunk inspired, is that there’s a lot of brown. (This is actually the same problem I have with gothic things as well- too much black.) So, I selected several diverse shades of brown to use and then set them off with some ochre, orange, olive green, and teal. Pale blue was added so that every shirt wouldn’t be cream. I wanted to avoid red or pink- these are both colors I love and colors I tend to fall back on when I am trying to come up with color schemes and I also thought they were too girly for this menswear inspired set.

The tiny braids in Mia’s braided hair created a new series of challenges. There’s three choices when highlighting a feature like that- go darker than the main hair color or do lighter than the main hair color or go a radically different color than the main hair color. I knew I didn’t want to do option three and I decided the lighter braids looked better than darker braids.

Ragamuffin Girl- Steampunk paper doll inspired by Newsies in full color

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I will confess that this set took forever to color and while I really like how it turned out, doing the layout of all these pieces was a pain as well. I need to remember my “10 to 11 pieces plus 2 pairs of shoes” rule when I’m drawing or else doing the layout takes forever. This set was 13 pieces and 2 pairs of shoes, plus a lot of these pieces are big. Anyway, it might not seem like a big difference, but it does make a difference.

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys Mia in her steampunk get up. Next Monday, there will be ballerinas. Actually, we’ll have a whole month of ballerinas- because I might have gotten a little carried away. :)

Ragamuffin Girl: Steampunk Paper Doll

Ragamuffin Girl. I previewed this paper doll back in April, but even when I previewed it, the paper doll set had been sitting in my sketchbook for a month or more. I was dreading work on it, not because I didn’t like the paper doll, but because the idea of coloring all the detail was terrifying.

So, last week, when I was finally out of everything else I had drawn for Marisole Monday & Friends that I could feed the blog, I found myself finally tackling this paper doll set. Sometimes I have to be forced into these things.

All right, so inspirations for today’s paper doll set include the film Newsies and that’s really about it. Though I confess I do rather see today’s version of Mia hanging out with my airship mechanic Marcus. I mean they both have tools and newsboy caps.

Ragamuffin Girl
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I try to create for all my Marisole Monday & Friend’s paper dolls somewhat evenly. Currently though, this is only Mia’s second set this year. That puts her behind well… everyone else. So, she’ll get some more love soon though since I’ve got a ballerina set in the works for her and Monica. (Yes, I tackled my fear of tutus.)

Today’s paper doll set will, of course, be up in color next week and then… I have no idea what’s next, actually. Probably ballerinas.

Prince and Gentleman: A Prince Paper Doll in Greens

A printable prince paper doll inspired by the 18th century in shades of green. At the moment, I am trying to get inspired to give the male paper dolls some love. I am trying to convince myself that male clothing is as interesting as female clothing. I am trying to develop the same interest drawing for guys as I do for girls.

It is not easy.

I realize that a lot of it is in my head. I don’t think I’m good at drawing males and my insecurity makes it hard to want to try. Usually, I think of drawing male paper dolls as something I do “for my readers” and not something I do for myself.

This is a line of reasoning that I am trying to stop using. Drawing things for other people is, for me, a fast road to burn out. No one keeps up a blog like this for as long as I have by doing it “for other people”. Trust me. You have to do it for yourself.

But I also want to challenge myself. I also want to try things that I have never tried. I want to create things that I have never created. I want to stretch and do things that scare me a little. So, male paper dolls it is.

A printable coloring page of a prince paper doll inspired by the 18th century
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I usually steer clear of monochromatic color schemes. Nothing against them, I just think that they can be boring. Still, green is a nice color and when I asked a friend of mine what color I should go with for male clothing, he said, “Green.”

So, green it is.

One of the nice things about green is that I don’t find any of the shades really horrid. I mean, there are shades of yellow I think are awful and shades of orange that I don’t like either, but green and blue are pretty much all okay with me. So, a green prince to match, I suppose, my yellow and my pink princesses.

Prince and Gentleman: A Prince Paper Doll

A printable coloring page of a prince paper doll inspired by the 18th century. Well, all I have to say about today’s paper doll set is this- Thank goodness for random old files that are discovered, half-finished, while confirming everything transferred properly after serious hard drive problems.

Seriously, there wouldn’t be a post today if I hadn’t found this Marcus 2.0 paper doll, mostly done, on Friday evening. So, I finished him up and here he is prepared to be gentleman or prince, depending on the need. He does not have a crown, but I’m sure you can draw your own.

I am working on both a dancer and a Space Princess! (yes, the exclamation point is required) for another time, but until then- here is Marcus 2.0 with fancy suits to wear while accompanying one of the many fantasy ladies of the Marisole Monday & Friend’s crew.

A printable coloring page of a prince paper doll inspired by the 18th century
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This fantasy prince set is the fourth Marcus 2.0 paper doll on the blog. While I don’t have big plans in the future for Marcus 2.0, I expect he’ll be getting a male friend fairly soon. What will come after that, I can’t say. I do want to do some more contemporary sets for him and I haven’t completely given up hope of dong a historical set, but I’m still undecided on what era. Most of my reference books focus on female fashions.

To be entirely honest, I have no recollection of drawing this set, though clearly I did, nor could I tell you what I was thinking when I drew it. Since I forgot about it for so long, I really feel rather at a loss. Never the less, I hope everyone enjoys this foray into fantasy clothes for Marcus 2.0.

Jazz Age Baby: A Color Paper Doll with 1920s Fashions

A printable coloring page of a black paper doll with historical 1920's wardrobe. Back when I started this blog, it was the dead of winter and I was going stir crazy in a one bedroom apartment surrounded by snow. Today, the sun in shining and the weather is lovely and I am still at this nearly six years later.

Time does fly.

Okay, so way back in 2011, I did this paper doll called Art Deco Goddess. I was full of ennui when I wrote that post. It is both mellow-dramatic and whiny. Not to suggest that I’m not capable of being both melodramatic and whiny at my age today, but try to at least steer clear of being too melodramatic and whiny.

Anyway, I just thought of it, because Art Deco Goddess like Jazz Age Baby are both paper dolls with 1920s wardrobes.

Jazz Age Baby, however, owes a fair bit to the hair of Josephine Baker and a bit to the fun wardrobes of ladies of the decade.

A printable coloring page of a black paper doll with a 16 piece contemporary boho wardrobe.
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Now technically, Monica should be wearing stockings and a garter belt and slip and all sorts of 1920’s underwear, but I thought another paper doll might want to borrow her shoes or she might want to get to be fairy or in jeans and so I did not give her period underwear. I’m pretty much okay with this choice. I rarely give my historical paper dolls period undies.

Hope everyone has a lovely Monday!

Jazz Age Baby: A Paper Doll with 1920s Fashions

A printable coloring page of a black paper doll with a 16 piece contemporary boho wardrobe. People who have been reading this blog for a while already know this, but I love 1920s fashions. I love the hats. I love the shoes. I love the stylized art deco drawings of the hats and the shoes. Seriously, this era is among my favorites.

Nevermind the fact that as a woman with serious hips, I would look awful in these styles. I don’t want to wear 1920s dresses, I just think they are beautiful on other people. (Mostly people made of paper who wear whatever I want them too, because I am their creator.)

One of the lovely things about paper dolls is that I can enjoy clothing that I would never want to wear myself.

I think part of what appeals to me about the 1920s is that people had outfits. It was not an era of mix and match clothing like we have today. People had outfits where hats matched their dresses and gloves and bags. I love the idea of matching outfits, as I have mentioned before. My obsession with trousseaux of clothing is well documented throughout this blog.

A printable coloring page of a black paper doll with a 16 piece contemporary boho wardrobe.
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So, let’s talk about sources… One of the interesting things about 1920s fashion is that, in the United States, 1923 is the date before which things are out of copyright. That means that things after 1923 begin to fall under various copyright extensions and other rules. Libraries often steer clear of digitizing works that are post 1923, because of concerns about copyright violation. So, I tend to rely on books more than digitized documents for my post-1923 fashion history needs.

To be honest, I don’t recall exactly what I used for this paper doll set, but I know I at least looked at these, as they are part of my history book collection. I know a few of her dresses come specifically from Classic French Fashions of the Twenties.

Sources:

Atelier Bachwitz. Classic French Fashions of the Twenties. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2012.
B. Altman & Co. 1920s Fashions from B. Altman & Company. 4th ed. New York: Dover, 1998. Print.
Blum, Stella. Everyday Fashions of the Twenties as Pictured in Sears and Other Catalogs. New York: Dover Publications, 1981.
Lussier, Suzanne. Art Deco Fashion. Boston: Bulfinch, 2003.

For those who have missed my other forays into 1920s fashion, you can find them all under the 1920s tag.

Beautiful Boho: A Black Paper Doll in Color

A printable black paper doll with a nineteen piece contemporary wardrobe with accessories in color. Summer in Alabama is probably my least favorite season. First of all, it is very hot and humid. Secondly, there are cockroaches. Thirdly, it rains in the afternoons, but the rain doesn’t actually cool anything down.

We are having a freakishly hot June. It’s been in the high 90s for the last week and it is not looking to cool down at all next week. I am miserable in this heat, but I suppose it could be worse.

Someone who is not miserable in the heat (or at least isn’t showing it) is Marisole in today’s colored version of Beautiful Boho. A big part of color selection for me is finding colors I wouldn’t normally think to combine. Part of this is instinct, but I borrow most of my color schemes from various sources around the internet and then alter them as needed. Design Seeds more muted palettes were what I used on this paper doll set. I wanted to use colors that felt like they were modern and came from nature.

A printable black paper doll with a nineteen piece contemporary wardrobe with accessories in color.
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I went back and forth about what to do about Marisole’s glasses in this set. Originally, I had them plain silver, but it just seemed so… well, plain. So, after some debate, I decided to make them a soft grey-teal color. It’s a color that shows up a lot in the paper doll set, but it is also fairly neutral. I also had a lot of fun painting her toe nails with her different sandals.

I don’t think I mentioned this last time, but the paper doll’s hair is based in part on the last hairstyle in this fantastic video of 100 years of black hairstyles 1910 to 2010. My only complaint about the video is that it ignores wigs which were commonly worn by black women, particularly 1940s through the 1960s. Never the less, it is a fascinating time-lapse piece.

Later this week there will be the first Flock post of 2015 (embarrassing but true).

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