The Future… Meet the New Series

In 2009, something horrible and magnificent happened- I crashed my entire blog.

I didn’t have a great backup and I didn’t know that I had a friend (he was just an acquaintance then) who could have probably fixed it.

It was simitaniously horrible and completely liberating. Freed of the constraints of what I had done before, I started fresh with a new format, new layouts, new everything.

Lately, I have felt a great deal of blog ennui. Since I haven’t crashed the entire site (thank goodness), I don’t have any kick in the pants to change things.

A week ago, a dear friend said to me: If you could do anything with the blog, what would you do?

It took only an instant to know the answer: Update daily and only have one paper doll series.

And then I gave all the reasons I couldn’t do that: Marisole Monday is my most popular series. B&B is my only curvy series… I have a million reasons.

But the reason I should do it was also utterly clear- It excited me.

Ever since I made the decision, I have been working with the sort of manic delight that I haven’t felt about creating paper dolls in at least a year or more. Last time I really remember feeling it was when I was researching vikings for my Viking paper doll.

I spent all of Saturday sketching and erasing and scanning and fixing. I called my mom and asked what she thought of various names for the new series.

I lost track of time and stayed up far to late working on shoes and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Hulu.

In short, I felt delight and delight is why I have this hobby to begin with.

Every Thursday until the end of the year, I will share updates about where and how this is going. I will keep you all as much in the loop as I can. Until then, I hope you can share my excitement as I close the door on one period of the blog’s life and open it to another one.

Here’s the two previews to share:

The templates I sketched in my notepad. On the left, many many drafts of the guys. I confess I am still not great at drawing guys. On the right are the ladies.

The base dolls of the new series whose name will probably be Dames and Dandies. The gents on the left and the two lady poses on the right. I will share more next week.

Let me know what you think in a comment.

P.S: I am currently working on updating my theme. Please forgive me while things look a little messy and strange around here. 🙂

And More Work in Progress… Historical Poppets & Hip-Hop

So, I confess that when I started this new schedule I thought it would be easier to keep up with, but these different types of posts have different types of requirements. I suppose, I am slowly learning what I like and don’t like about posting.

This Friday, we have some progress images from some of the paper doll sets I prepped earlier this week. I inked five pages from my sketchbook on Wenesday, added tabs to five, erased all the pencil work and then scanned.

All this and I now have 12 more paper doll sets in progress. Here are three of them:


Back when I was setting up my massive paper doll index, I realized that I really didn’t have any Edwardian era paper dolls (one has one outfit, technically). Strictly, the Edwardian era is the Reign of King Edward the 7th, or 1901-1910. However, it is not at all uncommon to extend the era to 1914 which is the beginning of World War 1, as it was such a major social change, or to back date it to the 1890s when Queen Victoria’s influence on society was on the wane.

Anyway, the point is that, if you measure the era by 1901-1910, I didn’t have a single paper doll which applied. Shocking, but true, so I drew these dresses based on designs from a 1908 Macy’s catalog for the Poppet series. Part of why I don’t like this era is that I am not a huge fan of the pigeon breast look which so central to the period.


In another dabble into historical children’s clothing for the Poppets, here is a set of dressed from the 1860s. These are from the early 1860s and are slightly higher waisted. I’ve also included pantaloons, shoes and hats. The accessories are meant to go with the two dresses.

As you may recall, I have dabbled in the 1869 before, but that era is practically the early 1870s anyway. These are early 1860s dresses before the whole bustle thing.


In a totally different theme, here is my foray into hip-hop fashion. The list of major hip-hop stars with fashion lines is astronomical, so it makes senses to create something in this vein. I confess to not knowing much about hip-hop fashion, but I have been doing my research and I am excited to post this first page of what will be a few pages. I have two more pages to finish.

And that is the little preview of what I’ve been working on all week!

Which sets are you guys looking forward too?

Work in Progress…

Just a quick, Works in Progress post today.

I have a whole list of paper dolls I am trying to get finished. Some are destined for the blog and some I hope to put up for sale eventually, once I get my act together.

First up we have one of the Sprites. She’s a mermaid, but a modern one. I liked the idea of a modern mermaid girl with some contemporary beach clothing along with her tail. Plus any excuse to draw an aqua-blue afro.

My little mermaid paper doll in progress.

One of the requests from my Patrons (Join if you wanna) was to create some more fantasy gowns for the Ms. Mannequin series. So, here are some! I actually drew these back in December, but just now have gotten around to posting any pictures of them. I am still coloring. I haven’t really settled on a color scheme for these, so it’s been a struggle.

Some fantasy gowns for the Ms. Mannequin series.

Third up is another Patron request which was “Woodland”. So, here’s my woodland fairy/fantasy set that I have been working on. I am thinking a green and autummal color scheme with lots of browns, greens, oranges, yellows and rusts.

A woodland paper doll set for one of the Marisole Monday & Friend’s paper dolls.

And that’s what I’ve been working on!

Along with all this, I am also working on a series of videos about drawing paper dolls and am looking for questions about my process so I can answer them. I’ve gotten a great one so far, so anymore would be appreciated. Just leave them in the comments!

(Or anything else you want in the comments. I’m flexible.)

More Work In Progress Images

Last Week, I shared some sketchbook images, but the truth is that getting inked in the sketchbook is actually just “step one” in the paper doll process. Steps two through many more end up happening on my laptop computer.

So, it seemed only fitting to show some screen captures of paper doll sets in different stages of the process.

Um… my fish was supposed to be a halibut, but I just noticed that he’s short an eyeball.

My nautical Poppet set is hopefully going to be done soon. It’s actually really close, though I did just notice a problem with the fish toy, which might slow me down a bit. 🙂

Nearly done with my Knight. Just need to finish up the tabs.

One of the last steps in the process is adding tabs, so I do them on a separate layer and then add them in. This is the B&B Knight set I showed off last week.

So much pattern... so much pattern...
So much pattern… so much pattern…

So, here is the Ms. Mannequin summer set I showed last week. I finished coloring it last night. It’s got a lot of pattern, so coloring it took time, but it was fun!

Curvy and Gothic! Love her eye makeup, which was totally fun.

Lastly, here’s a gothic B&B set that I have been working on forever. I keep swearing I’ll get it done one of these days. It’s totally colored, so I have no excuse as to why I keep putting off adding tabs. I must apply the seat of my pants to the seat of a chair and get it done, as my Father is fond of saying.

So, that’s some of the stuff I’m working on at the moment. Progress, progress, progress. 🙂

And the Sketchbook Appeared with Five Different Designs!

I had all these grand plans for this Wenesday and in the end, I just snapped some photos with my new iphone (a lovely holiday gift from my parents) and just decided to call it a night.

So, here are five paper doll sketchbook pages.

Fantasy gowns for B&B, plus there’s an owl

We are starting with a fantasy set for the Buxom and Bodacious series. After some debate, I settled on drawing a set inspired by this Pixie set. I’ve always wanted to do something else with it.

B&B armor set! And there’s an Axe. (Axes make the best accessories.)

And here is B&B armor! Actually this set was really fast to color and I hope to have it up maybe next week on Friday? I haven’t totally decided yet.

Every paper doll knight needs armor and there’s a variety of it here, plus weapons! (Remember children, paper weapons may cause paper cuts. Practice caution.)

Classic lolita inspired by that little violin purse in the upper left.

So, if I don’t get this Classic Lolita set done, I will literally have nothing to go up on Monday. Epp!

So yeah, that’s gotta happen. She was a request from one of my Patrons and I was happy to oblige. I love the patterns and the parasol and everything.

Summer clothing!

Another Patron request for 2016 was summer clothing. Seasonal clothing isn’t always my forte, because I tend to sorta wear whatever I feel like and ignore seasons, but I wanted to try to draw some “summer” stuff for the Ms. Mannequins, so here is the first set I drew.

I imagine some sort of wealthy woman on vacation at some fine resort wearing these high end fashions.

Playing with pattern with this set, but I kinda hate the purse. Might not survive to be added to the post.

And here are some more Ms. Mannequin summer clothes! These are more boho in my head. Maybe an artist or something sports these choices.

And that wraps the sketchbook for posts for today…

Any thoughts? Which of these should I work on next? (Granting that Lolita and the armor are already in progress.)

Work In Progress

Okay, so I got home from work last night and I was like, “I have no idea what to post on Wednesday…. Darn it!”

So, I decided the solution was screen captures of works in progress.

Because that might be the easiest thing to post EVER, though I don’t always like posting stuff in progress due the large number of things that never get past certain stages and then I feel guilty that I didn’t finish them, or people would get excited for something and then I won’t get it done and I’ll feel guilty.

A screen capture of the work in progress of a princess ball gown, grown, lute and teapot. The dress is colored in an orange, yellow, and blue color scheme.
If case anyone is wondering, this is the fourth color scheme I attempted with this dress and I finally like it. This dress has been giving me fits.

First up, we have set you might recognize from my post about stages of the drawing process. It has tabs added and is now waiting for me to do layout. I hope is to have it posted as the first paper doll set of 2016. Finger’s crossed that I’ll get her done in time. I’m finally pleased with how it has come out.

Her hair is not going to be that color of yellow. That's just left over from the BPelt filter and I haven't gotten it colored yet.
A screen capture of a work in progress of a Mad Max, post-apocalyptic inspired paper doll who is half colored.

Next up we have a Mad Max inspired set that I am ALMOST done coloring. Fascinating fact, I drew this almost a year ago and I still haven’t gotten it wrapped. (See what I mean about something things never getting past certain stages?) Not because I don’t like it, mind you, just because I can’t seem to find the time. It’s so close though… I should just buckle down and do it.

She'll be in better colors. Probably a redhead.
She’ll be in better colors. Probably a redhead.

Yes, she will be different colors when this is all done. I promise.

Chloe asked if my elf warrior example in the Sprites post was just an example or if I was really planning on creating one. Well, here she is. Her name is going to be Willow and she will have red hair. Not just because I adore red hair, but because its an homage to Willow Rosenberg of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I was such a Buffy Fangirl when I was in highschool. I can’t even tell ya. Still love that show.  Anyway, I digress.

If anyone is wondering, “Why are some of these such odd colors?”

Than I suggest reading my post on how I color my paper dolls where I talk about the BPelt filter which is a Photoshop filter I use for flatting the paper doll sets. It’s a great filter.

Thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Oodles of Doodles: Princesses in Progress

I keep a memo book in my purse. I use it for everything from grocery lists to notes about blog posts to doodling paper doll sets. I tend to draw small in my notebook and then pull it out when it comes time to actually transfer my ideas into my sketchbook.

I’ll openly confess that half or more of what I doodle never makes it into paper doll form, but when I am staring at a blank page feeling uninspired, knowing I have my little memo book at hand is awfully useful.

All of these pages are doodles for my plans for my Princess Paper Doll Club which I hope to start next year. I haven’t decided all the details, but I think it will be a six or twelve month subscription where each month the subscribers will be sent a unique Princess paper doll for coloring and in color. Of course, each princess will be able to share each other’s clothing and each princess will have I think about five dresses/outfits.

First up we have the February/Valentine’s Day Princess. I don’t plan on naming the Princesses, but titling each of them something like, “The Princess Who Liked Hearts” or “The Princess Who Loved Gears” or “The Princess who…” You get the idea.

Valentine's Day with birds and hearts. Maybe I should be less typical?
Valentine’s Day with birds and hearts. Maybe I should be less typical?

Next is my sketches for the March Princess. I was thinking both of the famous “ides of March” and of James Madison, whose birthday was in March. This led, obviously, to high waists and Roman style draping. (Hey, I don’t judge where other people get their ideas.)

Daffodils are actually really hard to draw. Who knew?

There’s a little more March at the top of this page before it gets into April doodles. April always makes me think of that old nursery rhyme, “April Showers Bring May Flowers”. So, rainboots and lots of floral patterns, plus gardening accessories. I am thinking of calling her, “The Princess Who Splashes in Mud Puddles.”

Every Princess needs rain boots and a shovel as accessories, don’t you think?

So, here you have it. The thrilling world of my notebooks. I really do recommend thumbnail doodling. I think it really helps to have a chance to draw out what you think you want before you actually draw it for “real”. On rare occasions, I do actually practice sketch full size- often on lined paper- before I transfer the design to my notebook. It’s not very common, but I do it sometimes. Often for hats like fedoras or bonnets, because those flummox me.

What to get a special announcement when the Princess club goes live? Just leave a comment letting me know and I’ll add you to my list. 🙂

Photos from the Sketchbook

So, I finally filled up my sketchbook and then I did photos of the drawings. These are Marisole Monday & Friends designs. I photographed them on a quilt my Mother made me, because she is awesome. Anyway, the first set is a winter coat set. Coats and boots and things.

Coats! It has been a while since I did a set of coats.
Coats! It has been a while since I did a set of coats.

I’m interested in Minimalist fashions. I’ve done a set before. This one is going to be more complex than my last set and probably not in shades of white, grey and black like my last set.

Minimalism, anyone?
Minimalism, anyone?

Continuing my big fantasy gowns trend, here’s another one! I really liked the hat and I wanted to create a full skirt and I wanted to do a draped overskirt. I chose short curly hair for the doll as a change of pace. Most of my fantasy dolls have long hair or elaborate updos.

Princess dress with a draped overskirt.
Princess dress with a draped overskirt.

So, those are the latest designs from the sketchbook. I’m in that awkward part of the year where I have the rest of the year pretty well mapped out and I just need to get through it, but I am struggling to remind myself that January is coming and I need content for that.

It’s hard to keep focused sometimes when I have a decent backlog. Once and a while, being down to the wire actually makes me more productive.

Which of these sets are you looking forward to seeing?

Want to help make these sets come into reality & see more stuff from behind the scenes? Consider supporting me through Patreon.

Paper Doll Preview: Nordic Fantasy and Princesses in my Sketchbook

A few weeks ago, I showed the three stages of the paper doll drawing process in this post. Here are two more pages in their “detailed pencil” period and their final inking stage. As I mentioned before, the process of inking is actually one of my favorite stages in the paper doll creation process.

The paper doll outfits in these two pages are actually split between two different sets. One set is a nordic/Viking inspired fantasy set and the other is a princess set. I am a little compulsive about not wasting paper, so I usually draw Marisole Monday & Friend’s sets in pairs. Each set usually takes up a page and a bit.

My Nordic/Viking fantasy set came from all my Viking research. The Viking elements in these garments are the oval brooches holding up the dresses and the style of the knife. I wanted to do patterns that would seem woven into the gowns and fur trimming.

When I inked these sets I did the outlines first and then added the details. I always worry about smearing my ink and, of course, I did. That’s why I use Photoshop. It lets me clean up mistakes like that.

Messed up some of the inking, but I can live with that.
Messed up some of the inking, but I can live with that.

So, as I mentioned. My paper doll sets need to share pages, because I absolutely hate wasting paper. So, my Nordic sets are sharing some of their space with a princess ballgown which is actually part of a totally different set. Sharing is caring, as they say, so I don’t think any of my paper doll sets mind.

I sorta feel like her hair isn't that interesting.... Oh well...
I sorta feel like her hair isn’t that interesting…. Oh well…

My least favorite thing in the world to ink is ruching. I never know until I am done how it is going to turn out. It is less about following my pencil lines and more about “instinct” and that always makes me nervous. Still, I think this set of ruching came out okay. I suppose I won’t really know until I finish erasing all the pencil lines. So much erasing…

And here is the page above inked!
And here is the page above inked!

Erasing is actually the stage I dread the most, but I do realize that it is important. I tend to put it off as long as possible. Also I like the ink to get a chance to dry a little before I start running over it with an eraser. I recently switched my sketchbook style after five years of using Carson Univerisal Sketchbook to my new Canson Drawing pad. It’s got 70 lb paper which I love.

Three Stages of Paper Doll Drawing: A Look at My Process

I get a fair number of questions about how I draw paper dolls. I have tried to answer these over the years through a variety of posts that range from showing the templates which I build to draw a base doll through the doodles I draw when planning dresses.

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.

At this stage, when nothing is really finalized, I always feel excitement and dread. More than one paper doll set has never gotten past the rough pencil stage.
At this stage, when nothing is really finalized, I always feel excitement and dread. More than one paper doll set has never gotten past the rough pencil stage.

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.

I changed the design of the tiara, because I wanted it to match the motifs I had designed for the pattern that will eventually go on the skirt. That meant altering the tiara accordingly. I really like the new design.
I changed the design of the tiara, because I wanted it to match the motifs I had designed for the pattern that will eventually go on the skirt. That meant altering the tiara accordingly. I really like the new design.

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.

Opps... I just noticed I forgot to ink the folds in the ruffle at the top of the bodice. My bad. I'll do that after I erase all the pencil lines.
Opps… I just noticed I forgot to ink the folds in the ruffle at the top of the bodice. My bad. I’ll do that after I erase all the pencil lines.

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.

Begin the Survey Here!

And, of course, a huge thank you to everyone who has already done it. I have the best readers ever. Seriously, you guys rock!

Any questions about my process? The survey or anything else? Ask me in a comment.

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