When Ignoring Constructive Criticism Is Okay

Once I got an email from someone suggesting that “you should consider making [my male paper dolls] look happier.”

Once I had someone describe my work as all looking like aliens and suggesting that “smaller eyes make more realistic faces.”

Once I got an email informing me that if my paper dolls wore more underwear than they would be appropriate for classrooms and that this would “make them much more popular.”

I reply politely to these emails, as the best that I can, and then I ignore them.

When you are learning a new skill, it is common for teachers or classmates to provide constructive criticism. This is a very useful process and I would never suggest otherwise, but when you’re not in a class and someone offers you unsolicited constructive criticism, often in the guise of advice, it is hard not to feel obligated to accept it.

It is okay to ignore constructive criticism that you never asked for and constructive criticism you did ask for.

Ignoring doesn’t mean that the advice isn’t reasonable. It is true that my paper dolls have huge unrealistic eyes. It is true that my male dolls don’t smile (none of my paper dolls really smile, but that’s a whole different issue.) More covering underwear would likely go over better in a lot of school classrooms.

It is also true that if I wanted to draw realistic paper dolls, I would be working a lot harder on taking some figure drawing classes to try to learn to draw  realistically. If I wanted to draw smiling paper dolls, I would. If I wanted to make dolls in more conservative underwear, I would.

It takes a long time to be comfortable enough with your art to say, “You’re right. My paper dolls could smile more, but you know… I don’t like smiling paper dolls.”

I want people to communicate with me. I love hearing from my readers. I get a thrill every time there is a comment and every time I get an email. When I think about abandoning the blog or I really don’t feel like doing it one evening, it is these comments that keep me going, but I do not have to please everyone.

I really only have to please myself.

And I am still, despite emails recommending more happy looking paper dolls, my harshest critic.

But you know, I don’t have to listen to me, either.

It is okay to just let go and say, well… maybe, but I like my skimpy underwear and my frowning males and my huge eyes. This is how I draw. I will always want to get better, but I don’t have to listen to everyone’s advice.

Fantasy and Sci-fi Sets in the Future!

It’s sketchbook preview time!

This is a totally random collection of stuff. Normally, I try to at least nominally theme these posts. There is no theme here except that htese are all sci-fi or fantasy sets.

This first one is going to be for the Ms. Mannequinn series. I’ve been watching a lot of 1980s sci-fi with my boyfreind lately, so I blame him for this set. Truth be told, I do have a place in my heart for cyberpunk, so this should be a lot of fun.

Sketches of Future Paper Doll Sets

One of my contest winners from January, Kitrona, asked for a Fallout inspired post-apocolyptic set with some armors and things. Here she is. I have this set colored and should have it up Monday. I haven’t done layout and I suspect not every piece is going to fit on the page. We’ll see how it goes when I get there I suppose.

Sketches of Future Paper Doll Sets

Last, but not least is this set of two sets of Pixie paper dolls. Both fantasy themed. One is pretty classic fantasy and the other based on Chinese dress of the Han Dynasty. How is that for random?

Sketches of Future Paper Doll Sets

So, here’s a fun little poll for the weekend…

Which of these paper doll sets are you looking forward too?

  • Post-Apocalyptic Marisole Monday & Friends (40%, 17 Votes)
  • Sci-fi Ms. Mannequinn Set (26%, 11 Votes)
  • Fantasy Pixies- Ancient China Inspired (26%, 11 Votes)
  • Fantasy Pixies- Traditional (7%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 42

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Blog Goals 2015

Blog Goals for 2015

I’ve been hesitant to post blog goals this year. I don’t want to be too ambitious, so I am going to keep these fairly simple. Ideally also concrete, so that when I check back on them mid-year, as I usually do, I have some idea how I have done.

1. More Historical Paper Dolls. I want to create ten historical paper doll sets in 2015.

Ideally, I want to work in periods that I have done in the past, but also some periods that will requite lots of research. Right now, I am planning on a Tudor set, a Viking set (they won my poll), a 1300s set, and a new 1920s set for Marisole Monday & Friends. I also want to do some historical guys, so I am thinking a Victorian guy and an 18th century guy (probably Marcus, but maybe Puck… Puck needs a redraw.) I’m also planning on some historical children’s clothing for the Poppets, likely from the 1920s to 1930s, as those are one of my favorite periods for children’s clothes.

2. Focus a little more on Poppets, Ms. Mannequinn and Buxom and Bodacious.

These three series are my most neglected. I have a bunch of unfinished Poppet sets and a bunch of unfinished Ms. Mannequin sets. I want to really buckle down and get some of those sets done. So, my goal is to add at least ten sets to each of these series by the end of 2015.

3. Do more Featured Artists.

Okay, this is totally a goal from last year, but I want to keep it up this year. I think that it is really important to see what people say about paper dolls and there aren’t a lot of us around and I want to try to build some community among us.

4. Actually send something into OPDAG Newsletter.

I am SO BAD at this. I always promise myself I will and then I don’t and then I feel guilty. Anyway, this year I am going to buckle down and even if I don’t like the theme, I am going to make something for the newsletter, darn it! I am! The next two themes are Favorite Mysteries and Chanel. I can do something for those. I know I can… I just have to not procrastinate.

5. Have another Mini-Series set.

Last year, I spent ten weeks posting my Her Ladyship paper doll set. It was so much fun to get away from my series for a while and play. She also got a great response, so I want to do another mini-series this year. I have no idea what the theme will be. I have to think about it.

6. Upgrade the images on the blog to larger format images.

Back when the blog started, I used smaller images (350 pixels wide- to be precise) for my post images. One of the things, I want to do is update these to larger images for the blog, since I think the larger images look nicer and since the internet is no longer quite so slow for most of us. This is going to be a very long, rather painful, slow process.

And those are my goals for 2015! Wish me luck!

End of the Year Wrap Up- Plus Contest/Drawing

Back in June, I formally posted my goals for 2014. In hindsight, I think I was overly ambitious. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking when it come to some of them.

Still, I’m not displeased with how 2014 went which is good because it ends tonight at midnight.

I might not have gotten ten male paper dolls done, but I did finish up Marcus 2.0 and there’s two of them up now. (There will be another one of his series posted on Monday… but that’s going to be 2015.)

Meanwhile, I got one tutorial up on cleaning up linework and four featured artists (not six, but I’m at peace with that). The thing I am most proud of is that I have regularly checked out other people’s paper doll sites and regularly commented on them. This was perhaps the most important of my goals for 2015.

So, what blogs do I regularly look at? In no real order… Liana’s Paper Doll Blog, Pabernukublogi, A Paper Closet, Lina’s Historical Paper Dolls, The Paper Doll Bag and Miss Missy Paper Dolls. I read these because they are updated with some regularity.

Did I miss a really good one? Do let me know.

Meanwhile, it’s the year end, so it’s time for my annual contest.

Contest Announcement: Ending January 14 2015

So, it is time to ask what people would like to see on the blog in the coming year. Post a comment with what you’d like to see up here (repeats of other requests are completely acceptable) and you’ll be entered in my drawing to win a custom paper doll.

Usual rules apply:

    1. You can only win one contest a year. (I’m considering this a new year…)
    2. I announce the winner (choosen via random number generator) on the blog on the day after the contest ends. I will also email the winner at their email address attached to the comment. If I do not hear back from the winner within a week, I will use a random number generator to select the next winner.
    3. The winner will receive a one page custom paper doll based on one of my paper doll series within a month of the end of the contest. This one page paper doll can not violate trademarks or copyrights (aka: I can’t draw something under some one else’s trademark or copyright).
    4. If there is a delay for some reason, I will contact with winner and we will make other plans.

So, feel free to enter by posting a comment on this post about what you’d like to see on the blog in the new year. The contest will end on the 14th of January (midnight, Central time). I will announce the winner by drawing on the 15th, likely in the late afternoon since I will have to actually do the random number generator thing… you know the drill by now.

This drawing/contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered. :)

Hey! Why isn’t That Paper Doll Available in Black and White?

The most commonly asked question I get on this blog is, “Can you make (insert paper doll title here) in black and white?”

The answer is usually… “Depends.”

Step back in time with me to when the world was young and the blog was fairly new before Disaster struck.

During the first few years of PTP’s existence, the paper dolls were only done in black and white and in the heavily shadowed style of Curves or Shadow and Light.

I drew Marisole in early 2009, long before the site crashed, and used her to teach myself how to color paper dolls in Photoshop. My plan, at the time, had been to add a color paper doll, Marisole, once a week to my black and white site.

But then… in December of 2009… Disaster.

I¬† crashed the blog and my backups didn’t load properly and I didn’t know how to fix it. So, I decided to delete it and start over. You can read the public post about that here.

Even then, I never ever thought I’d publish Marisole in black and white. I never thought I would publish a Pixie in black and white. I never thought about any of this.

The result of my lack of forward thinking is that there are paper dolls on this site for which the original Photoshop files are long gone. I have PDFs and I might have random old scans, but rarely do I have the original Photoshop file. Tracking down the files, extracting the line work (if I can) and processing the new black and white version takes time.

Sometimes, it works well and I get a good black and white copy. Sometimes, it doesn’t and I won’t post sub-par work on my blog.

And that causes me some tension…

Do I work on converting old work to black and white or do I work on new work?

I don’t have limitless time (does anyone?) and so, I prioritize. For me, creating new work is more interesting and more fun than going back, dredging up old files and reformatting them, if I can.

Does this mean you should stop asking for paper dolls in black and white that you want to see?

Absolutely not, sometimes I can do it, but at this point I have done most of the “easy” sets (particularly for Marisole) and the remaining sets are much harder.

So, keep asking, but don’t be surprised if my answer is “Nope.”

Questions? Thoughts? Lemme know in a comment.

Meet Violet, A Paper Doll of my College Years

Last year, I posted two of my childhood drawings. One was of Ellie and the other was of Riven.

Here is another paper doll from years ago. When I was college in Oregon, my parents were having the boat refitted up in Washington. For spring break one year, I went with my best-friend up to visit them. It was a really fun, though at times a little crazy, trip and was the first time I had ever ridden the Greyhound Bus anywhere. While I was traveling, I drew and colored this paper doll using a set of permanent markers in lots of different colors.

Violet a paper doll drawn in college

I don’t remember much about her and her clothing certainly doesn’t resemble what I was wearing in those days. I spent my entire college life in a hooded sweatshirt, jeans and flip-flops, regardless of weather. Still, when I stumbled across her in my files, I thought she would be fun to share.

Also, last note, the drawing ends at midnight central time tonight. Enter if you like. :)

Reviewing the Blog Goals for 2014

Creating Concrete Goals for Paper Thin Personas

Wow… it’s already June. This year has just zipped by. However, since it’s nearly halfway over, I suppose it is time to consider how I am doing on my various blog goals for 2014. When I started this post, I set out to find if I had ever actually posted my goals for 2014 and found, much to my own embarrassment, that I hadn’t. Opps.

However, I do have some goals and they were saved in my Red Binder.

When I looked at the list it was a little upsetting, because I hadn’t succeeded at any of my goals. So, I decided that I would try to make my goals more concrete with specific things I would try to achieve.

The Goals for 2014

Original Goal: More male paper dolls.

I look at Boots wonderful men and I feel such guilt over my lack of male paper dolls. I gotta get better at drawing dudes, so that has been one of my big goals which I have to admit I haven’t succeeded on very well this year. I’ve barely attempted it. You can see my male attempts for the past few years.

The Concrete Goal: In the next six months, I will create at least ten male paper dolls.

Original Goal: Create monthly featured artist pages.

I’ve missed two months. However, I am climbing back on the wagon. I have emailed two paper doll artists to see if they would be willing to be featured on my blog. It’s a slow process, but I am doing my best. :)

The Concrete Goal: I actually think I have a pretty concrete goal here… I’d like to have at least six of these a year, maybe more if I can do it.

Original Goal: Create a paper doll tutorial.

Wow, this has been hard. I’ve got the first part written, but I need to illustrate it. I thought this would be easy and I was SO WRONG.

The Concrete Goal: Have the first part of the tutorial finished by the end of July.

Original Goal: Encourage more paper doll artists online.

So, one of the things I have been trying to be better about is going to other people’s paper doll blogs and posting comments on them. When I started PTP, before the big crash of 2009, I went nearly a year without any comments. I still remember my first comment and it was from Liana and I was proud that Liana (whose blog had inspired mine) had seen my work and she had said something nice about it. It made my day. I remember that feeling and I want to support other paper doll artists who are beginning their blogging journey.

The Concrete Goal: Visit other blogs weekly and, if there is new content, comment on it.

Original Goal: Provide more “behind the scenes” looks at my process and work.

I am so not doing well at this one either. I am trying and I like writing those posts, but they always seem to take more time than they should.

The Concrete Goal: Post one “behind the scenes” blog a month.

Original Goal: Create more historical paper dolls from periods prior to 1700.

Okay, so it took Gwendolyn’s 10th century anglo-saxon paper doll to kick me in the butt, but I loved working on that paper doll. I learned so much about the period and I had so much fun doing it. I want to do more of historical dolls. Right now, I am researching the 1300s and German costumes from the 1500s. I really want to do something Tudor, but the complexity of the fabric patterns make me whimper in fear.

The Concrete Goal: Create three paper dolls from before 1700 this year.

Original Goal: Build stronger ties to others in the paper doll community.

Honestly, I wrote this down, but I’ll be darned if I know how to do it. I have to think about this and I did and so I came up with some specific things.

The Concrete Goals: 1. Do some more collaborative paper dolls with other artists. 2. Send some art into the OPDAG magazine. 3. Contact someone to be a featured artist whose work I admire, but who I can’t imagine would say yes to being on my tiny little blog.

So, these are my goals. Now, that I have them written down publicly, I guess I better actually achieve them.

Confessions of a Paper Doll Blogger

One of the things I have been collecting lately on Pinterest has been blogging prompts and ideas. It was from this list from The SITS Girls that I discovered April 30th is National Honesty Day. I missed National Honesty Day, but I thought it would be interesting to post a few things on this blog that I wouldn’t normally post or share.

My Confessions…

— I’ve gotten two emails from readers who thought I was African-American due to the large ethnic diversity of my paper dolls. Figuring out how to politely dissuade them of that notion makes me feel really awkward.

— I live in terror that I will someday draw something and someone will email me telling me that my depiction of their race or culture is wrong and/or racist. This is why I do not draw traditional clothing of other cultures. (Actually, there are about a dozen reasons I don’t draw traditional clothing of other cultures, so maybe I should do a whole post on that…)

— Sometimes I get really strange thank you emails. One came from a bible camp leader who was planning to use my Knight paper doll to teach girls about the “armor of abstinence” and I politely asked them to not do so. Nothing against abstinence or armor, but somehow the idea of sex ed and my paper dolls being in the same room sorta freaked me out.

— Technically, I still owe my best friend a paper doll inspired by the Vorkosigan Saga series by Louise Bujold. It’s very shameful. Someday, I will get it done… (Of course, if she’s reading this she is rolling her eyes at me.)

— Every once in a while someone makes a request, usually a perfectly reasonable kind request and I think to myself, “Isn’t it enough what I do? How dare you ask me to do more? You entitled twit.” Then I drink a glass of tea, calm down and remind myself that I am TOTALLY over reacting. Please don’t stop making requests. I really don’t mind getting them, except sometimes… late at night… after a bad day at work… when I’m in a grumpy mood.

— I was once told my Cybergoth paper doll was inappropriate for children. I suggested that the offended individual avoid giving it to children. See… Problem solved.

— I draw very cartoony paper dolls, because I really don’t know how to draw hyper-realistic ones. Usually this doesn’t bother me, but sometimes I feel like a fraud, especially when people ask me for drawing advice.

— I am grateful everyday for the wonderful readers and fellow paper doll bloggers on the internet who remind me that I am not alone, that my hobby isn’t too strange and that my love of these fragile ephemeral paper toys is something worth sharing.

So, these are my confessions. What are yours? Are there times when you feel like I do about your readers? Or about your art? What’s the strangest email you’ve ever gotten? What’s the one thing about your art you’ve never admitted bothers you? Anyone willing to share your thoughts?

Feeding the Blog Monster

Sometimes, I think of my blog as a monster. I call it “DaBlog Monster.”

And it is my job to feed the monster paper dolls (other blogs may hunger for other things) lest it devour the world and/or the souls of children.

Feeding the blog is not always easy and can be stressful. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to keep me sane while I do it and I thought I’d share those today.

So, this is how I feel DaBlog Monster….

I work in several things at once.

I get bored easily. Having four or five different paper dolls in different stages of development means I can hop around and do what I feel like. If I want to ink, I can ink. If I want to sketch, I can sketch. If I want to color, I can color. If I want to mess with layouts, I can mess with layouts. (I never WANT to mess with layouts, but… it has to be done.)

The thing about paper dolls is they should be fun. Once drawing them stops being fun, I think you need to find something else to do. Not to suggest that slumps don’t happen (they to do everyone), but pleasure should out weigh pain.

I work in spurts.

Let me describe what last week looked like… On Saturday, I scanned a bunch of things including a Marisole Monday set, two poppets sets and some new pieces for Greta’s trousseau. On Sunday, I finished up the next Marisole Monday post. On Monday, I worked on my Grandmother’s 90th birthday present, did a little inking and cleaned my bathrooms. On Tuesday, I went grocery shopping, did laundry and spent the evening reading about World War One propaganda for a conference presentation I am working on. On Wednesday, I ran a few errands, worked more on my Grandma’s birthday gift and cleaned my apartment. On Thursday, I cooked for a dinner party I was hosting Friday and did more cleaning. On Friday, I had friends over, served them enchiladas and had a lovely time.

The moral of this story: I didn’t spent and I don’t spend every waking moment thinking about or working on paper dolls. I do work intensely and then I stop.

I space out my posts.

WordPress has a scheduling feature (as do most other blog platforms). Know it. Love it. Use it.

So, imagine you’d just finished two paper dolls and that’s wonderful. Now… when do you post them?

Think about schedules. Is next week insane like my last week was insane? Are there a dozen things you have to do in the coming month? Should you post one now and save the other for when you’re in a pinch? What’s the best option?

Just because something is done, doesn’t mean it has to go up. Save things for times when you’re crunched.

Plan ahead.

Okay, this one I’m not so good at, but I try to think about what holidays are upcoming. Do I want to do a Passover paper doll? This coming up fast. How about something for May day? Or the summer solstice? When is the summer solstice? (I have no idea without looking it up.)

I know it takes a long time for me to go from idea, to sketch, to final sketch, to inking, to coloring, and then to posting. I don’t like to rush it. I can if I have too, but I’d rather not have too.

So, these are the ways I feed my blog monster. How do you feed yours?

Melinda’s Leprechaun

I do have a plan for a St. Patrick’s Day paper doll, but it’s not a leprechaun. As many of you know, it can take me a long time to go from paper doll idea to actual paper doll (sometimes as long as a year), so I usually try to plan holiday paper dolls several months in advance.

However, I had some requests for a Margot leprechaun and one of my readers, named Melinda, decided to take things into her own hands and create one.

Stylish Lady Leprechaunby Melinda

I’d like everyone to meet the leprechaun by Melinda. Melinda is a sophmore at Seattle University and she decided we needed a leprechaun paper doll, so she took outfits from several different sets and created one of her own. I’ve added the leprechaun, along with another paper doll set colored by Melinda to the Showcase.

How cool is that?

So, I have a challenge for everyone else. Can anyone name all the sets these pieces come from? I’m embarrassed to admit that I got a few of them right off and then I had to search for one of them to make sure I was right.

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