From the Depths of the Sketchbook

As I sit here prepping this post, I have giving out candy to small children. Is there anything cuter on this planet then children dressed up for Halloween? I don’t think there is.

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Shadow and Light clothing for the paper dolls. Some pirates and some fantasy Gothic attire. As always, I draw heads separately and attach them to the doll as needed. With Shadow & Light, I also tend to draw the heads a little bigger then needed and re-size them- it helps me get in more detail then I usually can.

I’ve been working on some child paper dolls. This is some clothing I have drawn for one. I’m not totally pleased with the doll, but then I’m never totally pleased with anything. All of these dresses are based the clothing of Lenci dolls from the 1920s and 1930s.

Sketchbook, Again…

So, some of you might be wondering what I was drawing while I was not updating and here’s a little look at some of the things that are sitting in my sketchbooks. Normally, I try not to post things that won’t someday become part of this site, but here I’m making no promises.


Most of my paper dolls begin as one doll body with multiple heads, so they look like this in my sketchbook. I have been told by friends that they are, and I quote, “kinda creepy looking”.


Hair is drawn separately, usually, then attached to the paper doll with the power of Photoshop. Sometimes I draw heads with hair, but in this case I didn’t. If I am going to give the paper doll “wigs” I usually draw a short hair style and then create the other styles to go over it.

Lastly, I’ve been working on Dictionary Girls outfits. I’ve been enjoying drawing things inspired by the fifties and early sixties. This is a set focused on bows which I think is kinda obvious. I quite pleased with both the dresses and slightly frustrated by the shoes. I really love drawing shoes, but I really hate drawing feet which always seem to end up at odd angles. And don’t even get me started on hands…

Seven Blogs about Historical Fashion

Here are seven blogs about historical and vintage fashion that I read regularly. Why seven? Well… it’s a cultural number and a prime and basically because that’s how many I have bookmarked. There are two kinds of research I do. I do focused research and I do wandering, I feel like pawing around the internet kinda wasting time research. Historical fashion blogs are usually more the latter type of research then other former, but these are the blogs I read when I’m looking for historical fashion information and inspiration or just trying to waste use wisely some time.

1. Historical Fancy Dress
Fancy dress costume descriptions and information regarding historical masquerade balls, primarily of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Text and illustrations directly from period sources. Seriously, what could be better then reading about the wacky things Victorians got up too while dressing for costume parties? It will shock and amaze. I just wish there were more pictures (a fault of the topic and the time and not all all of the blogger).

2. Fashion Historia
Exactly what it claims to be, Fashion Historia is the history of fashion, mostly- an eclectic mix of topics. I don’t always read the articles all the way through, but I enjoy browsing it and check back every few days.

3. The Way We Wore
The blog of a wonderful vintage clothing shop (which sells beautiful things you should go look at), The Way We Wore covers contemporary and vintage costume. I don’t go here when I need to find out something specific, but I do love checking up on the posts.

4. Worn Through: Apparel from an Academic Perspective
Don’t let the word “academic” in the title scare you. Worn Through is a wonderful blog about all things apparel related. Its especially nice for its well written book reviews and its great exhibit announcements.

5. Demode
Full of historical costume, as well as projects and a great resouce list, I can’t say enough good things about this beautifully designed blog. Her article on hair styles from the bustle period is among my favorites.

6. Circa 1850
Wonderful blog about making costumes, researching costumes and other historical fashion things and it’s not just about the 1850’s, I promise.

7. Historical Personality Disorder
If you don’t read it for the interesting costume information, read it for the writing. Seriously, one of the most amusing blogs I have read in a long time and I wish I could write like that. Plus its full of information on Elizabethan costume (mostly) and what could be bad about that?

Did I miss a historical fashion blog that you read and you recommend? Tell me about it. 🙂 I’m always looking for more time wasting research.

And More Sketchbook…

I confess, I am not the worlds best photographer. I think I need to get better at sharpening images in photoshop… Anyway, here is more from my sketchbook.

I might have rented Xena: Warrior Princess from the library before drawing these.

I noticed recently, I hadn’t done much casual simple clothing for Marisole recently, so I did these up. I think of them has hiking clothes and I’m thinking of giving her a backpack as an accessory.

These sorts of things are what I draw when I don’t know what to draw.

Sketchbook Rides Again

I finally finished inking my latest sketchbook. I have started scanning the images from it. I hope to have the first set up Sunday since I don’t have anything ready yet for Sunday… Leaving things to the last minute is a bad habit of mine, I confess.

I nearly always draw Pixie paper dolls in half page groups. That’s about how many items of clothing I can fit on a single set. The lower set of clothing is for a Harry Potter paper doll I’ve been planning for a while (though I haven’t seen the last film yet). I realized after I drew her that I needed another sweater for the fourth house, so I’ll have to do that. The upper set is just some normal clothing. I decided I needed more casual normal things for Pixie.

Future Marisole post, I think. I can fit three long dresses easily on one Marisole post. Each Marisole post takes up a page and a bit in a sketch book. Oh, and I’m kinda on a “crown” kick, though I don’t really like either of those.

The last page here is two more Pixie post things. The top is bell dancer inspired clothing- has about as sketch-1cmuch in common with actual Middle Eastern dress as the Marisole fantasy dresses have in common with Western historical costume, which is to say very little. The bottom are some in-accurate but pretty 18th century inspired dresses.

Out of the Sketchbook

I’ve nearly filled up my sketchbook. So, I’m working on inking which is the last thing and then once I’ve inked a bunch I can buy a new one. I can’t buy a new one until the old one is full.

marisole-sketchbook-1 marisole-sketchbook-3

Ever since I did this fourth of July post, I’ve been thinking a lot about Marisole and historical costumes. These are sketches of costumes from 1910. It was a strange era for women’s costume. I tend to like the costumes, but I love the hats.


This is part of a new series of serial paper dolls which will debut Friday to replace Flora. I need to scan it, but for the time being its still in my sketch book. I love these costumes and am quite proud of them. I think I’ll probably split them up into two posts for the blog.

Curves 2.0 Template Sketches Or What Happens When I Try to Scan Pencil


template1So, the last post about this new paper doll series was about the inspiration. This one is about the template. Every paper doll I draw is traced from a template that I usually draw on lined paper. It’s cheap, has lines for portions and I don’t feel guilty if I go through like seven or twelves sheets of it. I actually ended up with like fifteen versions of this template before I had one I thought was final.

Rather then sharing all fifteen (because the differences become pretty damn minor at some point), I’m only sharing three. I’d say this was because I think these three most well illustrate my process (and they do do a fairly good job of that), but really it’s because the idea of scanning 15 of basically the same thing was enough to strike fear into my heart. Not that I don’t love to share, but there is a limit.


So, on the left is the first doodle with lots of lines and a rough idea of the size and the pose. I knew I wanted to have the legs together, so she could be easily turned into a mermaid if I wanted too. On the right, is the second stage of the process around midway, I’m a little unsure about the feet though… it does make shoes difficult and I love shoes. I always fret a bit about paper doll poses and I have to think about the type of doll and what I plan on drawing. I never know exactly what I plan on drawing for clothing, so that becomes another issue entirely.


Lastly, here’s the final. She’s not perfect yet- there will be a few more changes when I actually trace her onto sketch book paper. I want to give her larger breasts and a slightly fuller hips. I’m also unsure about her left hand placement. More editing is fairly inevitable.

I know I’ll probably put her into some sort of polka-dotted swimsuit and I think she’ll have wigs which means she’ll need a short hairstyle of some sort to start off with. I’ve only ever done one bald paper doll to give wigs and my friend informed me that she looked like a chemotherapy patient. I never did that one again.

Now that I’m getting ready to really start drawing, I need to make decisions about things like- do I want to work in color? Will I have heavy shadows? what size do I want the paper dolls to be? How many dresses per post? Do I make them mix and match or outfit based? Are they going to be a new doll every post or will I have a set of dolls and just draw new outfits? Is there going to be a theme? Will I step out of the vintage feel for costumes?

Ugh… I hate making decisions. Maybe I’ll have a poll.

From my Sketchbook…

I had a request to show some pages from my sketchbook. I openly confess to not being much of a photographer and I have learned a few useful things about photographing sketchbooks after a day of frustration. Mostly, I’ve learned that I’m quite bad at it. Of all the pictures I took, only two really came out decently, both of the same set of paper doll costumes.


Obviously, this is the penciled set. The costumes were an attempt to do with traditional Asian costumes what fantasy normally does with Western European costume- make them identifiable, but obviously not really period. I usually think of this stage as “detailed pencil” which is the stage right before I ink. There’s lighter penciled outline stage before this, but I’ve never been able to get a decent photograph or scan of it. I draw really really light.


The same set of paper doll costumes inked. Slightly abnormally for me, I pretty much followed my pencil lines exactly on this set which isn’t usually how I draw. The background is a crocheted blanket my good friend made for me which was sitting on my couch and made a more attractive thing to photograph then my plastic topped table or the couch itself- a unattractive relic in burnt orange and khaki plaid.

Anyway, assuming I get them finished (and they are nearly done) these costumes should be viewable in full color on Monday as a Marisole post, along with another dress which belongs to this set that I completely forgot to photograph. Opps.

I posted these largely because I had access to a digital camera and a specific request for them. I’m not sure I’ll do another post like this… while this one has had a fairly fast turn around (I took the pictures on Thursday, got them posted today and have already begun to color the paper dolls), sometimes there are weeks (or even months) between a drawing, inking and scanning before I get around to posting things. I even have some scans from last year that I doubt will ever see the light of day. I hate to post images of something in progress and then not post the finished piece until months later (or never), so I don’t know what to do about that possibility.

Inspiration for Curves 2.0

I’m working on a new series of Curves paper dolls. There’s a lot think about. I’m currently calling it Curves 2.0 in my head. Every paper doll starts with an idea. And then I go looking for inspiration. I’ve been wanting to do a pin up inspired paper doll for a while, so I knew that was going to be something I would explore with Curves 2.0.

If you’re interested, check out the rest of this post full of some of the images I’m drawing inspiration from. Otherwise, there will be a normal paper doll post up tomorrow evening.

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