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.

10th Century Anglo-Saxon Women’s Dress

The internet can be pretty messy when it comes to historical costume and fashion research. When I started working on my 10th century Anglo-Saxon paper doll for one of my drawing winners, Gwendolyn, I found myself flummoxed. Additional AS 49598 depicting 960-970The 10th century is a transitional period in Anglo-Saxon dress and not one extensively covered in most sources. I hope to have my Anglo-Saxon paper doll up tomorrow.

A full bibliography is at the bottom of the post, each plate is credited underneath it. Since I can’t seem to get my footnotes plugin to work, I’m going to use inline citations (which I hate, by the way, but what can you do?). There is only one book I was able to find that covers the 10th century with the sort of detail I wanted and that was Owen-Crocker’s Dress in Anglo-Saxon England. You’re going to see me mostly citing her. (Funny story, I found another book which covered the period briefly and the person they cited was… drum roll please… Owen-Crocker.)

So… Let’s do this thing! More Below!

Six Paper Doll Drawing Tools I Can’t Live Without

Let us, for a moment, talk about supplies. One of the thing that keeps me drawing paper dolls is that I don’t need a lot of gear. I can get by on a pretty small set of art supplies.

Here’s what I use:

1. A sketchbook.

I keep trying out new sketchbooks. I’ll go to the store and I’ll stand looking at the sketchbooks and I’ll think… this time I’ll try this kind and then I try it and I don’t like it and I go back to my Carson Universal sketchbook. Seriously, I seem to always go back to this sketchbook. It takes both ink and pencil well. It’s a nice size. Also, it’s not too expensive.

By the way, I don’t date the pages of my sketchbook, but I do date the cover. That way I know when I drew the stuff inside.

2. Mechanical Pencils

I like cheap mechanical pencils with lead size .07. I buy them in bulk. I lose them all the time, but they’re cheap, so I don’t mind. I like Bic brand, because they have decent erasers. I tend to use the pencil eraser when I’m not thinking and if it’s a bad eraser than it ruins what I’m working on and I get mad.

3. uni-ball Vision Micro Point Rollerball Pens

These .5 mm black ball point pens are what I use for all my inking needs. I adore them. They are cheap, fairly smear proof (not entirely smear proof) and can make smooth lines. They work well on my sketchpads and they are much cheaper than actual art pens. Make sure you ge the .5mm size though, the larger sizes don’t work so well for delicate line-work.

4. Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser

Buy a few different erasers and decide what you like the best. I love these erasers, because they are soft enough not to damage my paper and I do a lot of erasing.

5. Brush for Eraser crumbles

I bought this brush on a whim. I am totally addicted to it now and sometimes take it with me when I travel. Seriously, I am not kidding. It sweeps up all those little annoying left over eraser bits and brushes off you image. How is this not the best thing EVER?

6. Drafting Templates

I use these to draw circles (because seriously, who can draw a decent circle? Not me) and other geometric shapes. I like that they are small and thin. I have one for squares too.

So, that’s it. That’s my gear. What do you use to do your art?

Where do Ideas Come From? Finding Inspiration for Paper Dolling

Remember yesterday when I posted those sporting costumes? Well, today I want to talk about sources of inspiration.

Sometimes, everything I see seems paper doll related. Ideas flow from carpets or co-workers hair styles into paper doll form, almost like magic. Other times, it feels like the wheel is spinning, but the gerbil is dead. Nothing looks good. Ideas don’t exist. I hate everything I draw and nothing looks good. I know what I want to make, but I can’t seem to make it happen.

I went through one of these slumps lately. I knew I needed to do sports costumes for Greta’s Trousseau, but I hated everything. The fencing costume was the worse. I kept looking at fencing gear and feeling uninspired…

So, I finally did what I usually do when I can’t come up with ideas. I started collecting source images. Somewhere, I thought, there must be cute fencing gear and… what do you know? There was.

Sources for Greta's Fencing Costume

Sources:

    1. Fencing Jacket from 1902

    This was the first women’s historical fencing jacket I found and I thought it was beautiful. Plus, I was struck at how stylishly it was constructed. I mean, check out those sleeves. I knew I’d want to change the collar and the placement of the buttons, but I thought it was a viable option for a top.

    2. Edwardian women’s fencing attire

    Thanks to Costume and Construction on Tumblr, I found this picture of this very bad ass looking women holding a sword with a Gibson girl bun. Seriously, she looks amazing, also I think she could totally hurt anyone who insulted her bun. Originally I conceived of the fencing outfit has having a skirt, but after I drew it I felt odd that her skating costume and riding habit didn’t have skirts, but her fencing outfit did. The skirt got nixed in favor of leggings.

    3. Two women fencing 1885

    The idea of women fencing in bustles amuses me. (Not that these chicks are wearing bustles, but still… it is 1885.) The masks in this set were what I based her mask on. I liked that they didn’t cover down over the neck like some fencing masks do (though neck coverage is probably safer).

    4. 1920’s Fencing Outfit

    Another Met piece, because the V&A totally let me down on my fencing search. I love the bleeding heart on the top and the flirty style. I would totally learn to fence if I got to wear this. The bleeding heart motif I thought would be really cool on a fencing jacket and added something a little dark and almost flirty to the otherwise rather plain outfit.

This is how I get out of slumps. I collect and then I draw. I often use my Pinterest board to collect my source images. Mostly I use them as electronic bulletin boards. What inspires your art? How do you find what makes you want to draw?

Ellie, a Childhood Paper Doll

Okay, so after I posted Riven, a few people asked to see more of my childhood work. Today, therefore, I offer Ellie.

When I look at Ellie, I see a lot of how far I’ve come and also how far I still need to go. I still don’t feel like I know how to draw very well, but I like drawing and, as I always say, gusto makes up for a lack of skill sometimes. Anyway… here’s Ellie, a paper doll of my childhood (and also of the midriff bearing days of the 90s).

Childhood  Paper Doll Drawing

Childhood  Paper Doll Drawing

I drew Ellie 15 years ago. I was in middle school and I remember being quite proud of her. I distinctly recall carefully drawing her clothing. Clearly, it was the 90s and I was clearly used to working in Crayon. I worked in crayon for a lot of my childhood drawings. I was convinced it was better than colored pencils. In hindsight, I wish I’d learned to use colored pencils or markers earlier on, because those skills would be useful now that I’m older. Never the less… this is Ellie… She’s still pretty cute.

By the way, I just realized we’re mid-Kwanzaa here in the United States (I don’t know if it’s celebrated outside the US…), so I’d like to wish a Happy Kwanzaa to anyone who is celebrating.

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