Normally, I have a long list of goals that I know I want to get to this time of the year. Some of them are personal, some are professional, and some are blog related, but I’ve struggled to come up with a strong list this year.
I think I might be a little overwhelmed this year.
Still, I settled down last night and came with a sketchbook and carefully wrote out a list. I spoke with my patrons and seriously thought about what I wanted.
Writing a blog for as long as I have means you are learning constantly. To be honest, I’m a little overwhelmed right now. I somehow didn’t think about the “need” for posts past the end of December and now I am scrambling a bit. I’ll get back into the flow of things soon. Goal #1: Create 10 Male Paper Dolls in 2016
Seriously, I need to do this. I need to draw more men. So, here we go. Ten male paper dolls in 2016. Let’s live the dream. 🙂
Goal #2: Create 10 Historical Paper Dolls in 2016
Yeah, this was a goal last year, but that’s okay. I really want to try this again this year and if it is a goal than I will go for it. My patrons voted for fantasy sets to be the focus, not historical, but last year I did over ten fantasy sets without it being a goal. Fantasy tends to be my fallback, so I suspect I’ll still hit ten even if I don’t make it my “focus.”
Goal #3: Focus on Sprites, Bodacious & Buxom and Ms Mannequin
I polled my patrons and they all voted for these three series to be the focuses of this year. I agree they all need some more love. I was surprised how many people loved Ms Mannequin series, since that’s one of the series that I have mixed feelings about.
Goal #4: Submit something to OPDAG
I am so so embarrassed that I have never sent something to the OPDAG magazine. It’s rather sad, but true. I need to get over my nerves about it and just go for it. It’s not like it’s juried or anything, after all.
Goal #5: Sell Stuff! (Probably paper dolls!)
Actually sell stuff. This might seem like a small goal, but it actually is complex. There’s business paper work and taxes and a whole realm of stuff. I strongly believe it’s important to do that stuff right the first time. It’s all overwhelming! But that’s the goal.
Goal #6: Draw a little, every day, not paper doll related
Okay, so not directly paper doll related- aka- no paper dolls. I mean, I’ll probably practice hands or doddle dresses or experiment with hair styles. I want to loosen up, draw more and learn to be more confident in my art. To start out, I am taking this class on Creativebug and posting my daily drawings on Instagram. (Be nice to me, I’m still learning to use Instagram.)
So, those are my goals. Let’s see how 2016, shapes up.
Wondering how to become a patron? You can do that here. Thoughts on these goals? Drop me a note in the comments.
As a kid, my favorite paper dolls were historical paper dolls. I had everything from paper doll flappers to knights. I still tend towards historical paper dolls in my own collecting, especially those depicting an era that I don’t see very often.
So, for last post of 2015, I thought it would be fun to post a round-up of all the historical paper dolls on Paper Thin Personas from 2010 when I did my first historical paper doll (a teddy bear with regency fashions) until 2015.
As some of you may recall, one of my goals in 2015 was to create at least ten historical paper doll posts in 2015. I surpassed my goal.
Mostly though, I wanted to a chance to dig back into my passion for historical dress research which I had let slip a little as I went through grad school. So, today I am going to share every historical paper doll on the blog organized by era of history.
I was going to save this post for January, but then I realized I have all my posts lined up for the rest of the year and so I figured I could share this a tiny bit early.
My goals for 2015 were many and varied. This isn’t really a post about how I did on those, but rather a chance to talk about where the blog went this year and a few lessons I learned along the way. PTP was born in January of 2009. It died in December of 2009 and came back stronger in 2010. It is six years old.
In the last six years of blogging, I don’t often look at where I am and what I am proud of. Being a librarian, I am constantly reading articles about blogging and social media- trying to learn what I should be doing. While this is often helpful, it sometimes leaves me feeling depressed. There is so much I should be doing. It is hard to remember what I am doing.
So, today, I am going to look at how the blog did in 2015.
Paper Doll Sets Posted on Paper Thin Personas in 2015
For those keeping track, that’s a total of 76 printable paper doll sets (not counting each black and white page of the same designs as separate sets).
Now, I haven’t gone back and done a date by date analysis of when each paper doll posted. However, since Marisole Monday & Friends Sets post over a two week period there would have to be 26 sets in a year to be a full year’s worth. The other paper doll sets there needs to be 52- one for each week. At 76 sets, I am just two sets short of the 78 I would need to have done two a week for an entire year- nothing shabby about that.
I am a tiny bit shamed by the 1 Flock paper doll set, especially since I actually have sets for that series that have been sitting in my Working Folder for months and month. Oh well… There’s always next year.
Types of Paper Doll Sets Posted on Paper Thin Personas in 2015
I thought it would be kinda fun to look at a few of my tags (which I use as metadata for each post) rather than the major paper doll series. Some of you may remember my goal for 2015 was ten historical paper doll sets and there will be 20. Yes, there is one historical set to be posted before 2016.
Oh, the anticipation.
I only got up three male sets. That’s a little troubling… though there were only 25 Marisole Monday & Friends sets in total, so that’s not quite as bad as it might seem. Still, not great though.
So, much for staying positive…
Contemporary sets are generally contemporary fashion. I don’t include specialized sets like the ballerinas in that group.
When calculating fantasy sets, I included sci-fi, steampunk and fantasy all into one category. I just think they all belong together, since the differences are kinda semantic. One has rayguns. One has gears. One has swords.
Moving away from paper doll sets for a moment, I averaged 37,335 page views per month which is a rather useless stat. I mean, it just means the number of times a page on the blog was loaded on someone’s computer.
However, sessions and users are more interesting. Each time a unique person (as far as Google Analytics can tell) visits the blog than it is logged as a user. Sessions are the number of times a user loads the site. Multiple page views might be included in the same session. For example, if you visit the site and load five pages, than it is one session and five page views.
Clear as mud, I hope.
So, that’s it. A summary of where PTP is in the end of 2015. I hope to do one of these every year from now on as a way of tracking where I am.
Well, not a rule, but a guideline. I don’t start a new series unless I have at least six paper dolls ready to post for that series.
Six paper doll sets is a good minimum for two reasons.
Reason 1: Can I stand this style enough to draw six printable paper dolls?
Reason 2: Even if I decide I hate it, at least there are six and six isn’t a number to be ashamed of.
The Sprite paper doll series is going to replace the Pixies & Punks paper doll series in 2016 and I’ve been working on it quietly for quite a few months. It is basically the same two poses redrawn- something I have wanted to do for ages.
The series will feature both male paper dolls and female paper dolls. The plan is to go one for one- so for every female paper doll there will be a male paper doll in the same theme. For example, if there is a male elven warrior than there will be a female elven warrior for the next post. If there is a female mermaid than there is a male mermaid for the next post.
The first paper doll to go up will be Zachary. There are two different version of Zachary at the moment. One is a cyberpunk version and the other is a more normal casual version.
The second paper doll will be Yukimo who also has a casual version and a cyber version.
I plan to name the paper dolls in reverse alphabetical order.
Right now, I have drawn Zachary, Yumiko, Xavier and Willow.
I can’t speak for others, but for me Dover paper dolls were the best of the best when I was a kid. Sure, Golden Book made some nice paper dolls, but Dover books were what I would order from the local bookstore by bringing in the hand copied ISBN numbers from the back of the books. This was before the internet, so I had to just ask the bookstore in town to custom order them for me, often sight unseen. I still remember my joy at getting a copy of the Victorian Cat Family special order. I was 14, far to old for paper dolls, I thought. So, I carried it home in its bag and didn’t open it until I was safely in my room where no one would see me pouring over the book in delight.
A few weeks ago, I contacted Dover to see if anyone there would be willing to answer some questions about paper doll publishing. Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting a response, so imagine my surprise and excitment when Jason Schneider contacted me back. Jason was Dover’s Children’s Publishing Manager.
Born in 1975 in Valley Stream, NY, Jason attended Hofstra University (1993-1997). A life-long book lover, Jason decided to leverage this interest in publishing. He was the acquisitions manager for Barnes & Noble’s Children’s Publishing line for several years. Beginning in 2007, he joined Dover and has worked on a rich variety of content, brought interesting licenses to the company’s program and directed the hardcover Calla line of books. He also worked on the paper doll collections published by Dover and he was kind enough to answer some questions.
In the time since I wrote Jason and this post getting published, Jason has joined Skyhorse Publishing as Editorial Director of the new Racehorse Publishing and Clydesdale Books imprints. I wish him the best at his new position.
Big thank you to Jason for his time.
A Q&A with Jason Schneider of Dover Publishing
So, I have to ask, did you play with paper dolls as a kid? And what were your favorites if you did?
No, I don’t recall having many paper doll books as a child, outside of a Sesame Street Seasons Paper Dolls book which I wound up republishing with Dover a few years ago.
And, of course, how did you get into children’s publishing?
I majored in English Literature and Publishing Studies in college. The process of book creation always interested me and getting into publishing was my goal. Children’s Publishing was where I wanted find myself, but my first jobs in the business were as far away from that as possible. I started with educational reference and Math and Science publishers because I needed experience. I would up at Barnes & Noble Publishing in 2000 as an Assistant Editor for their Children’s Program and things developed from there.
When did Dover start publishing paper dolls?
Dover’s publishing of paper dolls certainly predates my tenure here. I believe that the decision to publish them grew from the company’s continuing interest to preserve and feature content that has since went out of print. The first titles were compilations of Antique Paper Dolls and were published in 1975. Both titles (Antique Paper Dolls 1915-1920 edited by Arnold Arnold and Antique Paper Dolls: The Edwardian Era) have recently gone out of print after 40 years. However, it wasn’t until Tom Tierney’s Glamorous Movie Stars of the Thirties was published in 1977 that Dover started to view it as a category.
Roughly, how many paper doll titles are published in a year?
There are a lot of variables. The market has changed considerably since we started publishing paper dolls, so there has to be the right niche for a new book. Whether it is a fashion trend or other growing area of interest, something has to strike a chord.
How do you select which paper doll titles to publish? Has the internet changed any of this selection process?
Most of the paper doll books that we publish are generated from in-house ideas that we bring to a talent pool of artists that we use. While we have published some submissions that have been artist generated in the past, the practice is far less common now. For instance, we had the idea to work with Bunny Meyer who has a substantial YouTube following under the pseudonym of Grav3yard Girl and produce a paper doll of her. We worked with Bunny and brought the concept to artist Ted Menten who brought it to life. Eileen Rudisill Miller, Bruce Jones, Tim Foley, Charlotte Whatley and Ted Menten are just a few of the contributing artists that Dover works with.
There are very few paper doll publishers left in the United States, how do you see paper doll publishing shifting in the future?
There’s us and Paper Studio Press. I don’t think anyone else views it as line. Any other publisher will publish one-offs here and there.
I think the shift has already happened. Dover doesn’t publish quite as many titles as we once did, since there is unfortunately a lack of market demand for the type of depth we once would produce. While we are still active in the area, we definitely try to link new product closely with timely events such as Pope Francis Paper Dolls, or the brand new Scream Queens Paper Dolls that links up with the show. We’re also producing paper dolls for a younger age group and while we’ve done Mermaids, Pretty Ponies, and Ballet, we’ve also produced books recently with licensed properties such as Olivia, Grumpy Cat and Betty Boop.
Dover divides their paper dolls into two categories. Those for children and those for collectors. Can you talk a little about how those audiences differ?
I think that the books are more of a keepsake for the adult market and a consumable for children. This isn’t to say that there isn’t crossover in interest for some of our books, but we usually have the dolls punch out for the more juvenile titles for ease of use. I don’t think kids are going to be as precious with the books. After attending a few paper doll conventions and asking the attendees how they use their books, some have told me they’ll buy two copies – one to keep and one to cut.
Recently, two books of Paper Action Figures, which were essentially paper dolls for boys, were published. Can you tell me more about what prompted these books? Are more Paper Action Figures planned?
It was an attempt to do something different within the medium. I wanted to update the concept, and not necessarily make paper dolls for boys but simply try a modern approach which was less gender-specific. We did Glow-in-the-Dark Ghouls and Robot Battle. The Glow-in-the-Dark element we used is really cool, but we do not have any plans to do more at this time.
What do you believe makes for a successful paper doll book? How is a traditional paper doll different from, for example, a sticker paper doll?
Victorian Vixen Paper Dolls by Ted Menten I feel a sticker paper doll is more of a sticker activity product. It’s going to be played with several times until the stickers lose their adhesiveness. I think a paper doll has more of a novelty and collectible aspect. You get more costumes, more dolls. It’s just a grander presentation.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that sales makes for a successful paper doll book. A beautiful book is great, but if no one is buying it, then it isn’t a success. Beyond that, with a classic paper doll it has to have great illustration with the dolls’ figures rendered meticulously. If it is based on a person, the likeness has to be impeccable. The costumes have to be interesting, which was something Tom Tierney always excelled at and Tim Foley is currently doing a great job with. Personally, I like when we add something novel and interesting to the format, such as with additional elements and backgrounds that Ted Menten provided the Victorian Vixens Paper Dolls with or Rudy Miller’s Dream Weddings. It just makes the book feel more complete and adds more to the overall experience, especially for collectors.
Will mainstream publishers be producing paper dolls in 25 years?
It’s hard to say what publishers will be producing in 25 years, if they are still producing books as we know them now. No one would have predicted the quick influx of ebook technology which changed the industry and there is always a new advancement which is a step away from revamping our perspective on the way things are done. I don’t know when it will happen or how it will alter the business. In the end, if there’s an audience that is interested, and mainstream publishers see potential to make money then paper dolls will still be published.
Jason mentioned Paper Doll Studio Press and I am pleased to report that I’ll have a Q&A with them in a few weeks. So, that should be fun too. Oh, and if you haven’t picked up Robot Battle or Glow in the Dark Ghouls for your collections, then I recommend them. I just got my copies and the glow in the dark feature is really cool. 🙂
I just wish there was a child in my life who needed robot paper dolls.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow. Friday there will be another paper doll set. 🙂
Today, I am pleased to announce that my Patreon support page is live. So, if you’d like to donate to support Paper Thin Personas, this is one way you can do so. Feel free to support at any level you’d like, because all is appreciated. However, for those of you who support at 5 dollars a month, you get to join the Vivian Project.
What, you might ask, is the Vivian project? Well… let me explain.
I moved recently and part of the moving process was going through my massive collection of every single paper doll I ever drew as a child. Some I kept. Some I tossed and then, at the bottom of a box, I found Vivian.
Viviean lives in a cookie tin and she was a huge part of my youth and now I am going to re-draw her. Viviean began in June of 1998, but I have no idea when I stopped drawing clothing for her. I think sometime around freshmen year of high-school, maybe a little longer.
Viviean was traced from an advertisement (I think in Seventeen or something) for a prom dress designing contest. I did not enter the contest, but I used their little fashion figure to create a paper doll for whom I drew over 200 outfits.
How do I know that? Because I literally indexed her whole collection on pieces of paper. Each outfit is numbered on the back and there is a corresponding description of the outfit on one of the pages of clothing index. Each set of outfits, usually five, were placed in a small envelope and sub-labeled such as “Futuristic Fashions” or “History Lesson 1910-1940”. Seriously, I should have known I was destined to be a librarian once I started indexing my own paper dolls.
Viviean is has an outfit for just about every occasion a person might ever find themselves in. (And a few, I doubt anyone would likely find themselves in.) For formal occasions, she might slip on Outfit #2: “Long dark blue ball dress with whiet (white) gloves”. I tried to get the gloves to stay on, but they didn’t fit very well.
Or if she feels like rocking out, she has Outfit #144, part of the Rock Star Clothing set, including “a very short leather jacket, yellow dress and black boots.” I didn’t see a short leather jacket in the envelope though, so perhaps it has gone missing? Or maybe it got misfiled?
After being a rock star, Vivian might need to relax by slipping into into Outfit #174, “a yellow-green terri (terry) cloth bath rope (bathrobe).” I clearly struggled with spelling at that age. Actually, I still can’t spell worth a darn, but that’s why there is spellcheck.
And if after relaxing, she wants to fight bandits, than Outfit #156 “Xena- brown leather top with gold decoration” is available. I love the tiny chakra.
The process of re-drawing Viviean into the new Vivian has been fun. She has the same hair, a very similar pose and the same bright pink and lime green swimsuit of her former-self. She’s different as well, because I’ve changed as an artist a lot since Viviean was created. Vivian isn’t a copy, exactly. I think of her more as an “ode” to who I was when I drew her all those years ago.
So, why do all this? Well, because I have wanted too for a long time, but also because I was looking for a project that I could do with my Patreon subscribers. So, if you would like to get involved, you can.
If you choose to join the Vivian Project than every month you’ll receive a redrawn outfit (or two) from the original Vivean clothing collection and, of course, a Vivian doll of your very own.
One month you might receive Outfit #6, a fuchsia above the knee length dress, and then next month you might get Outfit #164, a dress meant to represent the fall with leaves on top, a wreath and cloak, colored orange/red. Patrons will get to vote on the dresses that will be included sometimes and sometimes I’ll just pick something I think is fun to work on. Either way, there will be two versions of each outfit. One is a redraw of the original and other my sense of how I would draw the same concept today.
For twenty-five dollars a month, you’ll get to customize a “Friend of Vivian” paper doll by picking out her face, hair style, skin tone, hair color, and eye color. So, if you want a freckled blue haired paper doll, than this is your chance. There are over a hundred options for that customized paper doll.
There’s other support levels too from one dollar up and beyond. No pressure, of course, as I’ve said before. If you have to choose between something like rent or paper dolls- choose rent! The blog isn’t going anywhere.
This is a LONG post. Just as a warning, you know, before you get started. 🙂
So, a few weeks ago I did a survey of my readers. I asked a bunch of questions and I got some great feedback. Today I am going to show some of the data that I am comfortable sharing that came out from my survey results.
I’ll be honest- I’ve never tried to write up something like this. I want to be transparent as I go out into this world, but there are also things I’ve not yet fully processed and things that I feel like aren’t really anyone’s business but mine. Despite running a blog for the last five years, I am actually rather private by nature.
So, I’ve done by best to summarize some stuff and write about it. It’s long and has graphs and there are no paper dolls, so proceed knowing all that.
I am super excited to be making this announcement. Julie, of Paper Doll School, and I are hosting a paper doll round robin. We have our model drawn thanks to Julie, but she desperately needs gowns to wear to the Halloween Masquerade Ball!
Step 2: Print the file at Full Size or Open the file with your favorite graphics editor.
Step 3: Draw a fantastic masquerade gown. It can be in color or black and white. No judgement here. Just create something that inspires you.
Step 4. Save or scan your gown at 300 dpi as a JPG or PNG. (This part is important to I can make sure all the gowns are high quality for the finished set.)
Step 4: Email your gown to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Julie at email@example.com before Midnight (Eastern Time) on the 24th of October. Be sure to include how you’d like to be credited and if you want to say something about your design, than tell us that too!
Step 5: Wait until the 31st of October when Julie and I will post the finished gowns and the doll, all ready to attend the Masquerade Ball!
See? That isn’t so hard.
We hope lots of people will come play with us and join in the fun, so please consider creating a gown for our Lady of the ball. 🙂
If you have any questions, please just ask in a comment. This is going to be so much fun.
I have been horrible about updating it and when I went through my email to clean it up a few months ago, I found dozens of things that people had sent me and I had done nothing with. I felt rather guilty and then decdeed it was time for the Showcase to go.
There is now a Pinterest board called “PTP Paper Doll Sightings.” I’ve seen a few pattern designers use this method for showing off the work of people who had made their patterns and I thought it was a great idea.
It is so much easier for me to just download the image from my email and post it up onto Pinterest. No fuss, no muss and I get to share things that people don’t send me, but I find around the internet where my art has been featured in various ways. Plus I can link to others sites very easily which lets them get some credit too. So, go check it out and let me know if there is anything I should add to it.
I will probably still do posts of readers creations once in a while on the blog, but I’ll update the Pinterest board much more regularly. I have been testing it for the last few weeks and it has performed admirably. So, feel free to go follow it and see how people have colored and used my art. 🙂
I’m usually not organized enough to get successive photos of the same page of the same sketchbook, but I planned carefully and am pleased to show off today the three major stages of paper doll gown creation.
Stage 1: The Light Pencil Sketch
The first step is to lightly sketch out the major lines of the paper doll gown, shoes and hair. This is one of two dresses that I have planned for a princess set. At this stage of the process the only two things I had decided were that I wanted a full-skirted silhouette, the paper doll was for Marisole Monday & Friends, her shoes were going to have stockings, and that I was going to make her black with an afro-puff styled hair. I hadn’t really thought much about other details yet.
Stage 2: The Detailed Pencil Sketch
The next step in the process is doing what I call “detailed” linework. This stage can take several revisions- that’s why I draw fairly lightly. I cleaned up some of the silhouette, added lines to indicate folds and then started thinking about pattern.
Lately, I have been really into traditional African fabrics dyed with a wax process. So, I decided to create several pattern elements inspired by those textiles that I could use to construct a pattern on the wide expanse of the skirt. I chose a lattice pattern for the jacket and then created four other motifs. I might not use all of them, but I like to have options. You can see my growing collection of African print fabrics on my African Prints & Fashion Pinterest board.
Additionally, I settled on adding garters to the tops of the stockings and decided on a psuedo-Victorian look for the shoes. Try as a might, I can’t help but associate these full skirts with the gowns of the 1860s. This is also the stage of the process when I add accessories like the hair pick and tea set. Everything on this page will be inked when I start inking.
Stage 3: Inking
After I have settled on a detailed pencil sketch, I begin inking. I always start with the major outlines and then work my way in. The last things to get inked are the fold lines on the skirts or ruffles and stitching on boots. Because ink can smear, I always take pauses while inking to let things dry a little before continuing my work. There are inevitably mistakes or I suddenly decide I want to add something I hadn’t planned, but mostly it is a slow and steady process. Inking is very meditative for me- I really enjoy settling down on my couch and getting to ink for an hour or so in the evening while watching television.
Certain elements- like the strings on the instrument remain uninked, because I will add them with Photoshop. I am not very good at drawing perfectly straight lines.
Before I scan this drawing, I will erase all the pencil lines and check for and make any minor corrections I need to make. I’ve already noticed a mistake.
While putting all these together in a post only took about thirty minutes, the truth is that each of these photo represents weeks between stages. It takes a long time to get from Stage 1 to Stage 3 and there are still steps to go before the paper doll goes live.
So, two other little things. One, there is currently a poll on what to name my “bearded friend of Marcus” paper doll, go vote if you haven’t. Maxwell is currently in the lead. Secondly, I am currently doing a survey of my readers on Product Development for Paper Thin Personas. Sounds thrilling, I know… But it has been already very enlightening. So, if you should have about fifteen minutes and you haven’t done it already, I would urge you to please fill it out and, as a reward, you will get sent a Thank You paper doll, if you give me your email address.