Tea & Ruching: African-American Princess Paper Doll

A black princess paper doll to print and color with two ball gowns, a hair pick, tea set and other accessories. Today’s princess paper doll has been a long time coming. Back in September, I posted the penciled and inked versions of today’s paper doll set and then I posted a screen capture of the colored version in December and now, in January, you get the final black and white with the final color version going up next week.

Generally, I finish the colored version and the black and white version about the same time, but I space the posts out by a week for my own sanity. Plus the colored version of this particular paper doll set gave me fits. I won’t even get into how many variations I made in color choices, but it was brutal. I’ll save that rant for next week’s post.

Okay, so my initial inspiration was African wax print fabrics which I have always had a deep fondness for. If you look closely at her patterned dress, you’ll find a motif inspired from this design and more on my Pintrest board of African Prints & Fashion. Primarly coming out of West Africa, these prints have a complex history which I confess I am not an expert on. Slate is a nice article on African Wax Prints highlighting some of those complexities.

A black princess paper doll to print and color with two ball gowns, a hair pick, tea set and other accessories. Free to print and color from PaperThinPersonas.com

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Beyond my fascination with African wax print cloth, I wanted to do a rather traditional princess. To me, that means big skirts (blame it on growing up in the late 80s) and things that are a big over the top. Of course, big hoop skirts always remind me of the 19th century, so her stockings and shoes owe something to that era.

I’ve been taking a Creativebug class where you draw something every day for the whole month of January. The January 2nd assignment was tea cups and you can see my version over on my Instagram account. (Yeah, I just joined Instagram. We’ll see if I like it long term.) Her teacup was drawn weeks ago, but I don’t think I’m great a teacups, so practice is important.

My hope is to get into the habit of drawing a little everyday in a way that is NOT directly paper doll related. We’ll see if I succeed, but I think it would really help my art.

Meanwhile, drop me a comment if you’d like to share what you think about the paper doll. 🙂

Rose Princess Ballgowns: Printable Paper Doll in Color

rose-princess-logoI had a lot of different ideas about how to colors last week’s paper doll. I thought about a traditional princess scheme which would, of course, involve a great deal of pink. I also thought about something in pale blues and teals.

In the end though, I wanted to try to color these dresses as more of a “dark princess” look for the printable paper doll. Therefore I went with black and lavender, traditional mourning colors, so she’s a bit gothic. I accented the dresses with a set of white roses and a set of red roses. Most of my color schemes are a bit more diverse in their color selection. For this one, I stuck with a narrow selection of shades intended to keep things fairly simple.

I confess that coloring these gowns was quite fast thanks to the large swatches of one color.

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I gave our princess black finger nails and black toenails to emphasis the slightly “gothic” feel of the princesses gowns. The gothic elements are also apparent in her bleached hair. This is not my typical princess, at least not the typical princess I keep in my head.

Julie, of Paper Doll School, and I are hosting a paper doll round robin with a beautiful base doll Julie created. Read more about it and join us, if you like. The deadline is Saturday the 24th at 12pm EST. 🙂

Hope everyone has a lovely Monday!

Rose Princess Ballgowns: A Princess Paper Doll

rose-princess-logo-bwBack when I first named this paper doll Maeghan. The “real Maeghan” demanded that she have “absurd fantasy dresses.” Well, I don’t know how absurd these are, but I do think they are fairly over the top. Most of my dresses are realistic in so much as they could exist, not in so much as they do or should exist.

I did have fun drawing them. I admit my normal taste is a more towards these sorts of fantasy gowns over the huge skirted things that I drew today. Still it was fun to go wide skirted for once and I might have been influenced by watching Cinderella recently. (Though the Evil Step Mother has far better costumes than anyone else in that film.)

I digress.

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I wanted the full skirts to feel light and almost tulle like. I was thinking about late 1940’s and early 1950s ballgowns like this one and this one as I drew these. Her hair is inspired by the 1940s as well, blame the Evil Step Mother.

I gave her a sword, because I wanted her to be able to defend herself. Plus, she has plenty of room to conceal it among those amazing skirts.

Has anyone else seen the new Cinderella movie? What did you think of the costumes? I really enjoyed them, myself.

Isadora Goes to the Ball: A Fantasy Princess Printable Paper Doll Coloring Page

logo-isadora-ballgownThis is not an Independence Day paper dolls, but I have some links to a few down at the bottom of the post. This is a princess paper doll.

Let’s be honest for a moment: A lot of the appeal of princesses lies in their glorious dresses.

We all know intellectually that being a princess would kinda suck. (There’s a great video about this by Amy Schumer.) You’d have to marry someone who you likely didn’t choose. Your value would be entirely defined in your ability to produce an heir. Also, that person you would marry might end up being your cousin.

Never the less, your wardrobe would rock.

So, I’m not sure if Isadora would be a princess, because she doesn’t have a crown. Do princesses need crowns? I suppose they should if they are coronated. But once they get coronated than are they actually queens?

Royal stuff is complicated.
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These three gowns are all ball-gowns in my head, but the glory of paper dolls is that we can choose what they are. Maybe these are what Isadora wears to the grocery store. Actually, if I had these dresses, I might wear them to the grocery store, though I have been told that driving in a hoop-skirt is really difficult.

So, this is the fourth of July or Independence Day in the USA. I did not, however, get a thematic paper doll done. If you wish for one, then I recommend Hazel’s 4th of July set, my Marisole Monday & Friends 18th century 4th of July set or Marisole Monday’s Nautical set which, while not technically 4th of July related, does have a red white and blue color scheme.

Regency Steampunk Fashion: A New Paper Doll

egency Punk: a paper doll inspired by combining steampunk and regency dress elementsThis isn’t my first foray into the whole “regency steampunk” genre, though I don’t know if this genre already exists or not. My first foray was back when I did my Best Friends set and one of their pages was regency steampunk.

This is my second foray into the genre. I think it is largely more successful, mostly because I am a better artist now than I was three years ago. I still struggle with making goggles that really “work”, but I have hopes that eventually I might figure it out.

Steampunk fascinates me just as much as Gothic fashions and Cyberpunk fashions fascinate me. I am always interested in alterative fashion cultures as they reflect some part of our cultural fabric. Despite finding them interesting, I have never had any desire to “dress up” in steampunk. I simply don’t like wearing costumes, a fact which shocks many people when they find out I draw paper dolls.

egency Punk: a paper doll inspired by combining steampunk and regency dress elements {Download a PDF of this paper doll to Color} {View a 150 dpi PNG of this Paper Doll to Color}
So, I’ve spoken before about my pet peeve that fantasy people are always white skinned, as a result I gave my steampunk regency paper doll a soft brown skin-tone. I was going to say “mocha” skintone, but I have been trying to avoid using food words to describe skintones. They just kinda creep me out. Something about my skin being called peach or cream, or calling someone else’s skin chocolate or spice, sorta… I dunno. I’m not sure I want to think of my skin as a food product. It’s a little Hannibal Lector, you know?

Anyway, moving on… The colors are based on actual common early 19th century colors including Turkey Red and Indigo. Both of these colors are produced by dyes from India or Turkey. They are such rich colors that I countered them with cream and black. Personally, I love how real natural indigo fabrics look. It’s an amazing color.

Be sure to cut along the dotted lines so she can wear her clothes and the floating tabs should keep her little top hats on her head.

egency Punk: a paper doll inspired by combining steampunk and regency dress elements. Free to print from paperthinpersonas.com {Download a PDF of this paper doll in Full Color} {View a 150 dpi PNG of this Paper Doll in Full Color} {More Bodacious and Buxom Printable Paper Dolls}
I’ve never seen anyone else combine the early 1800s silhouettes with steampunk, so maybe it has a name already and I don’t know it. Either way, I am trying to decide what to call this new genre of fashion and therefore have a poll. Plus, you know, polls are fun.

What should we call early 19th century dress combined with steampunk?

  • Regencypunk (29%, 12 Votes)
  • Austenpunk (29%, 12 Votes)
  • Empirepunk (22%, 9 Votes)
  • Just Steampunk, it doesn't need another name (17%, 7 Votes)
  • Other... I'll tell you in a comment (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 41

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Frocks and Gowns in Color

logo-frocks-gowns-colorSo, this is going up a little late today. Sorry about that, but life got crazy this weekend. I want to talk a little bit today about coloring last week’s paper doll and a little about diversity in the paper doll world.

So, when I color a paper doll set, I start with a pallette. I knew I was going to be giving Monica a fairly rich brown skin tone, so that opened up and closed down certain color options. For example, I tend to avoid putting brown colored clothing on brown colored paper dolls, unless the tones are really different, since it can blend too easily. Since she was going to have a rich skin-tone, I decided that bright and color dresses made a lot of sense.

The strapless gown with the belt was based on this gown by Andrew GN and since it had a red top and a pink bottom, that informed the blues and the greens as contrasting colors in the other gowns.

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I’m a big believer in paper doll diversity. I think it is really important to have a variety of concepts and skin-tones and, ideally, a variety of concepts in a variety of skin-tones. Truthfully, I tend not to think of my paper dolls in terms of ethnicity, but in terms of color. It it less about, “this paper doll is African-American” and more about “this paper doll is a dark brown with red undertones.”

I used to think I was the only one who thought this way about paper doll skin-tones until I read this post from Julie over at Paper Doll School. I was comforted to find out that we both tend to think in terms of “color” not in terms of ethnicity.

The result of coloring things, perhaps?

What I do know is that no matter how I think about skin-tone, it is crucial to me that I offer readers of all backgrounds and colors paper dolls that reflect them. People should be able to see themselves in the toys they play with.

Yes, I know a lot of my readers are adults, but adults play with toys, too. At least, they should. 🙂 I do.

One More House Dress and A Ballgown for Her Ladyship

ladyship-wig-9Wigs are certainly a theme of today’s page for my Her Ladyship printable paper doll set. Also- paper doll ballgowns and house dresses.

One more page after this set and then I’ll post the whole 10 page PDF of the paper doll for anyone to print who might want it. I have had a lot of fun sharing this set over the last few months.

So, last week I talked a bit about coherent sets and how to develop a consistent look for a paper doll set. Today, I wanted to take a moment and talk about the world I imagine Her Ladyship lives in.

First of all, Her Ladyship has money. Likely, serious money. She’d got ballgowns, after all. That means a decent amount of cash. I imagine her world is Renaissance (her clothing was highly influenced by Italian Renaissance fashion) or higher technology. Why you ask?

Because she has casual gowns that are patterned. Patterned textiles require skilled workforce and a considerable investment in equipment and raw materials- silks and wools have to be imported or homegrown (but generally were imported) from England to Italy. So, without a fair bit of weaving technology, that would be out of the question. So, I’m thinking a 15th century to 17th century level of technology. Clothing can tell you a lot about a time and place.

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{Click Here for a PDF to Print} {Click Here for a PNG to Print} {Click Here for More Gowns}{Click Here for Base Doll}
So, what do I know about this paper dolls world? She’s a wealthy woman living in a time and place when mechanized weaving existed, at least in part. She’s got “house dresses” but they’re far to nice to actually be worn for anything involving mud or dirt.

Sometimes, I stumble across something and feel rather foolish for not having found it earlier. Paper Doll A Day is a blog that seems to be no longer updating. Never the less, I encourage you to go check out the archives. There are some beautiful outfits (I really like this paper doll dress) and some wonderful different paper dolls, including men. Joleene Naylor has been around the internets for a while sharing her paper dolls and I couldn’t be happier to have found her latest website, though I do wish I had found it when it was still updating.

Any other great paper doll sites I’ve been missing? Or thoughts on the world of Her Ladyship?

Victorian Ballerina Printable Paper Doll from the 1880s

logo-margot-victorian-1880Oh man, what to say about the last few days…

Well, I have been working on backend server CPU issues with my shared hosting service. Nothing really serious, but stuff that has to be dealt with for the blog hosting to continue to be cheap enough for me to justify continuing to keeping it online and free.

Still, I owed a paper doll to my last drawing winner, Lina of Lina’s Historical Paper Dolls, and I was not about to put off finishing that for another week, because I would keep feeling guilty about it.

Lina requested an 1880s period Marisole Monday & Freinds paper doll with a ballet outfit and several other dresses. I had some trouble getting all the pieces to fit on a single page, so I omitted some shoes from the image.

Should you want proper shoes to go with this set, then I recommend checking out On the Board Walk in color or black and white or Mia Goes to the Bathing Place in color or black and white. Both of those sets both have button up style boots which, while not period, are close enough to not look totally awkward.


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Lina was kind enough to send me reference photos and specific colors for the hair, skin and eyes of the paper doll, but left the color scheme mostly up to me. I wanted to use some rich colors, because by the 1880s chemical dyes were common and rich colors were very much instyle. There is a habit to think of the 19th century as sepia colored, because of sepia photos, but it was actually a rather garish era.

At least post, chemical dyes being invented.


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So, Lina also asked for a tutu based on this painting by Degas. The painting dates from 1871, a little earlier than the other costumes in the set. I omitted the sash, since I based the dress on the center figure. I don’t think the layers of the skirts really look like tulle, which bothers me. Liana has some great tulle on her blog.

The ballgown was based on this fashion plate. The gown was red, but I made it peacock blue based on a description in English Women’s Clothing in the 19th Century by Wilett-Cunnington that mentioned peacock blue ballgowns. I hate drawing lace, but it came out all right, I suppose.

The last two outfits are a swimming costume and a house dress. Old swimming costumes were extremely complicated and not very easy to swim in. Generally, I think of them as wadding costumes. Lina sent me this picture and I based it off that.

The house dress is classic 1880s style with bustle, drawn up skirt and long pleats. It’s a pretty typical gown for its period. Lina sent me this photo and I based the dress off of it. I omitted the pattern on the dress, because I knew it would reproduce poorly in the small scale of the paper doll set.

And that, as they say, is that.

If you haven’t ever checked out Lina’s blog, Lina’s Historical Paper Dolls than I recommend taking the time to do so. She makes wonderfully interesting historical paper dolls.

Garden Ballgowns: A Paper Doll and Her Dresses to Print

garden-ballgowns-color-logoAs I explained with the black and white version of today’s paper doll set, both of these paper doll dresses are based on Wa lolita and Qi lolita fashions. I really find fusions of different cultures fashions fascinating, plus sometimes drawing absurd dresses make me happy and Mia doesn’t get as much love as I think she should.

When I draw in black and white, I sometimes dread coloring, especially when the coloring means hyper detailed patterns like those in today’s paper doll dresses. I’ve been doing more playing with color and pattern lately. I like patterns, but they are a lot of work. Even though I usually just draw one motif and use Photoshop to manipulate it on each dress. The size of these pattern motifs made their placement on the dresses important. Though I wanted it to feel organic, I also wanted the detail of the complex patterns to shine through.

No point in drawing complex things if no one can appreciate them, after all. In my mind, that’s like sewing a fantastic wardrobe for an ugly doll… why bother?

An Asian paper doll and her two fantasy ball gowns, three wigs and two pairs of shoes. Inspired by Wa Lolita and Qi Lolita fashions.

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I based the color scheme on this kimono which I found online. Every time I reference kimono, I am reminded of the fantastic posts on Liana’s Paper Doll Blog about Japanese dress. She’s far more an expert of this topic than I.

Personally, I thought it was very a beautiful kimono and I really liked the color combination. What looks black isn’t actually black, it is a very dark purple-red color. I used the same color for her hair. I like doing that, because I think a color scheme should be about making a harmonious set.

Every set should be a complete work, rather than just a collection of clothing pieces and should be able to stand alone, even if it is part of a larger collection of paper dolls. That’s part of my paper doll philosophy. Is it okay to have one of those? Because I totally do.

Garden Ballgowns: A Paper Doll With Wa and Qi Lolita Inspired Dresses

garden-ballgown-logoToday, we have a pair of paper doll ballgowns which were heavily influenced by wa lolita and qi lolita dresses. I showed off the rough sketches last Monday. Wa lolita and qi Lolita are substyles of the Japanese street style Lolita. F Yeah Lolita (a blog I have come to rather enjoy reading) discusses lolita in detail, but I actually think the wikipedia article is nice for people who know nothing about it.

Anyway, both Wa Lolita (influenced by Japanese traditional dress) and Qi Lolita (influenced by Chinese traditional dress) are styles I think are fascinating, because cultural fusion always interests me. However, I try to be careful about how I borrow from cultures which are not my own, because I am very aware of the problematic and complicated issues of cultural appropriation which underlie children’s toys and visual representations of culture. I could ramble on about that topic until… well, for a every long time… but I figure most people are really here for the printable paper dolls, so I’ll restrain myself.

A paper doll coloring page and her two fantasy ballgowns, three wigs and two pairs of shoes. Inspired by Wa and Qi Lolita dresses.

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A few of my ideas came from this dress by FanplusFreind and this dress, also by FanplusFriend. I first discovered qi lolita through this dress which is actually a doll’s dress. The shoes are just sort of random inventions, though the ones on the right with the stockings were influenced by rocking horse shoes which are pretty cool (though maybe hard to walk in… I don’t know, I’ve never worn them.)

I can’t wait to share these in color next week, though I openly confess the pattern on the left dress is giving me fits. Every-time I do a complicated pattern, I swear I will never do it again and then… well… I do it again. Isn’t insanity doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?

Oh, and before I forget, the fast of Ramadan officially ends this evening I think, so Happy Eid al-Fitr to any of my readers who are Muslim. I don’t know much about Ramadan, but the mosque by my apartment has been busier than usual this month.