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.

And Today in my Sketchbook…

So, one of the perks of where I work is that I can borrow an SLR camera sometimes. Not that I have any idea how to use an SLR camera, but I am trying to experiment with decent blog photos, so I borrowed one last weekend and decided to photograph my sketchbook.

All things considered, I think the photos came out fairly well. So, here’s a little peek at what is currently in the sketchbook. I would say these were “coming up soon”, but let us all be realistic. I take forever to get things from “idea” to actually paper doll. It is probably best that I promise nothing.


The Poppets are getting some historical outfits here with a dress and coat from the 1940s and a swimming outfit and sailor suit from the 1890s. I really like historical children’s clothing.

sketchbook-aug-2So, this started as a faun set and then I was like… I need more then just faun legs, so I added some mermaid tails, because that made sense. Okay, maybe not, but I am excited at the outcome. Of course, who knows when this one will be ready either.

sketchbook-aug-3Marcus as a knight has been at the top of my “To Do” list for a while. I also feel like Marcus maybe needs some male friends to hang out with, so I am thinking about that too lately.

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

  • Mermaids and Fauns (63%, 48 Votes)
  • Marcus as a Knight (24%, 18 Votes)
  • 1940s Poppets (11%, 8 Votes)
  • 1890s Poppets (3%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 76

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Future Marisole Monday & Friend’s Paper Doll Sets: One Contemporary & Two Fantasy

Another sketchbook photo set this week. I feel a litle guilty posting these sometimes, because they are almost filler in nature, but maybe people like them? I really don’t know. They are easy for me and that makes them always a good option.

SO, I have become kinda obsessed with that store called- Free People. Most of the clothing is too revealing or too young for me, but I love the boho vibe. I decided, therefore, to do a boho paper doll set with a jumpsuit (because I hate jumpsuits, but I am trying to get over it).

I’ve seen the movie Newsies, but I don’t get it. I have friends who LOVE it with the sort of passion that I simply can’t understand. I feel similar about my boyfriend and his obcession with football, but I love him enough to try to at least sort of get the football thing. I watched 2.5 games last year which is a 250% increase over the year before. Anyway, I don’t get Newsies, but I was inspired by 19th century young men’s clothing to draw this steampunk paper doll set for Mia. It’s a long way out, I think, since I have recently set up a huge backlog of Marisole Monday and Friends sets and need to focus on other series.

Another Mia set, because she hadn’t gotten any love this year and I was feeling guilty. This one is inspired by ancient Chinese dress (Tang Dynasty- not unlike Jia- I drew this shortly after) and then a lot of just random stuff that I liked. I wanted to do pattern and lots of color. It’s a very bright set, now that it is done. The doll for it is going to be an elf with an over the top pile of braids. I’m actually really pleased with how it is coming together in Photoshop.

And those are all the previews for today! Enjoy.

Meanwhile, I am going to go do laundry! (Laundry is more fun if you put an exclamation point after it.)

Marisole Monday & Friend’s Paper Doll Sets: Two Historical & One Fantasy

I draw a lot of paper dolls. Is that a shock to anyone? It really shouldn’t be.

Anyway, I inked a huge number of Marisole Monday & Friend’s sets a few weeks ago. They’ll start to go live starting next week, I think. Anyway, I wanted to share what I’ve been working on with people as a sneak peek at the future.

The first set here is Tudor era, specifically the mid-1500s in England. There’s two dresses, one set of underwear and two pairs of shoes, but I have the sinking feeling one of those pairs of shoes isn’t going to fit on the set when I do the layout. On the upside, I’ve gotten to practice drawing complicated patterns and I really love how the gowns both turned out. I think this is going to a dfun set, even though French hoods are hard to draw.

I did a 1920’s set years ago, but I love that era- also I own like five books about it in my own costume book collection and that means I don’t have to interlibrary loan reference books. Periods of fashion that don’t require extra work are my favorite periods of fashion. This clothes set is for Monica. It’s being colored as we speak.

Lastly, here’s a contemporary set borrowed from March’s deluge of fashion magazines. Color blocking seems to be the in thing. I really love the dress, but there are some inking errors that I’ll have to clean up with Photoshop later. I’ll be coloring this set based on Pantone’s color reports.

So, those are the future paper doll sets. I’ll show off some more next week. 🙂

Mini-Maiden Sketches of Future Paper Doll Sets

I’ve been working on developing a backlog of paper doll sets. Lately, I’ve been drawing a lot of Mini-Maiden sets. You can expect to see more of them popping up around here soon.

So, the first set here is part of a series of contemporary fashion paper doll wardrobes I decided to draw. One of reach of the Mini-Maiden base paper dolls. This is Hazel’s “girly” set. Her ladylike style is going to include floral shorts and polkadots. I am very excited about the short choppy hair style.

Next, we have a set for Greta. Inspired by my Weekend Denim paper doll set. While I was working on that paper doll, I was struck by how I tend to lean more towards high fashion. I’m out of the age range where I really follow teen trends, but I’ve been seeing a lot of over sized sweaters and skinny jeans around campus. There are no skirts in this paper doll wardrobe, just like Weekend Denim

Last, but not least, here’s a preview of a paper doll warrior clothes set that I drew. I’ve not yet decided who gets this set. Probably not Faye, since she got to have Runic Adventures last year. I think this might be another Greta paper doll set. Secretly, Greta is my favorite of the Mini-Maidens, but don’t tell the others. They might get jealous.

Aren’t they fun? I am excited about all of them.

I also just finished penciling a set of tudor-era gowns for Marisole Monday & Friends. I’ll share those just as soon as they are inked. I am so excited by them, but I have to confess… 15th century clothing is hard to draw.

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.

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.

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?

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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