When I started the Ms Mannequin paper doll series, my goal was to draw primary contemporary clothing. I had high plans of doing stylish designers and other things. Maybe dabbling a little into vintage Dior, but mostly being contemporary. The dolls were designed to be models, not curvy at all, so they could wear the contemporary styles.
However, it wasn’t long before I was sketching and suddenly pirates reared their heads and demanded to be drawn. I ignored them for a while, but soon they were saying, “DRAW US.”
And I said, “Okay. No need to shout.”
And so this pirate set was born.
What can I say? I like pirates. I feel like there’s nothing “new” about this pirate set though, so I’m not sure it’s my best set. Still… sometimes you just have to draw pirates.
By the way, I’m doing site clean up, sometime I do every Jan/Feb to tidy up categories, fix things that seem broken and a little spring cleaning is done. So, things might be morphing and changing around here in subtle ways. Nothing to worry about, just me tidying up my files. 🙂
Today, we have some sporting outfits for our steampunk paper doll bride. Since the fun of Victorian trousseaux (or should it be neo-victorian trousseaux?) are their costumes for every occasion, I had a lot of fun thinking up outfits for Greta to wear while she did a few different sports. Being a highly talented paper doll, I’m sure no sport is beyond her skill (and I have a few more sporting outfits planned- though perhaps not for a while).
Greta has a steampunk/neo-victorian inspired riding habit, a hunting costume, a skating toilette and a fencing toilette. What else could a steampunk paper doll bride want? (Okay, more outfits, but I am working on that. 🙂 )
Wealthy women have actually been involved in sporting activities for longer than most people think. Archery teams in the Regency were regularly co-ed. I’ve been 18th century illustrations of women doing archery, but I’m not sure women actually did it that often, sepcially since a lot of those illustrations are intended to be erotic- oh, the scandal. Women had been riding horses forever and in the South, prior to the Civil War, hunting or shooting was a common activity for women of wealth. By the 1900s, women could choose between tennis, golf, bicycling, skating, croquet and a variety of other sporting events.
My favorite is the fencing toilette. Someone asked for a fencing outfit (a long time ago) and I don’t know much (anything) about fencing, but I had a lot of fun drawing it. I suspect having open laces on the sides of your leggings is not… you know… very practical, but what’s the fun of drawing steampunk fashions if they have to be practical?
So… again with the channeling Kate Greenaway thing, also a little bit of Peakswoods (a Korean ball jointed doll company), their fairies of fairytales were one of the inspirations for the Poppets series in general. I have noticed a tendency for ball jointed dolls to be dressed in totally over the top ruffled outfits (like this Little Red Ridinghood ensemble), so there’s a little of that here as well. I have a few dresses in process for the Poppets that take that concept on in a more fluffy way.
This set was drawn to go along with my second poppet paper doll Primrose. The dress, cape and hat, are all in the same color scheme and therefore can be mixed and matched. I am particularly fond of her little button up boots with spats on them.
I realize now that I’ve mentioned Kate Greenaway twice and I probably should pause to say who she was. Greenaway was an artist whose work was published mostly between the 1870s and the 1890s. She drew idealic angelic looking children in pseudo-regency costumes. You can see scans of her work at the Digital Library of illuminated books.
I was asked by a reader to do my Nammu pirate paper doll in black and white. She was posted in full color back in November. So, it only took… um…. six months for me to get my act together. Seriously, it might have taken longer, but I was feeling guilty.
Normally, I save the paper dolls in a file with all the layers broken up. The color is on one layer and the line work is on another layer and than the heavy black borders, which I add last, are on a third layer. This time, I saved the file with those layers merged, so I didn’t have a separate line-work layer to work with. Since I didn’t want to redo a lot of work, I tried using Photoshop to remove the color from the paper doll set. I can sat with utter confidence that this worked better than expected, but not as well as I would have liked.
I will spare everyone a list of the things that I think didn’t turn out quite right, but the quality of the line work is not what I hoped it would be. Never the less, a black and white Nammu is better than no black and white Nammu, so hope whoever asked for it (and I honestly can’t remember who that was) is pleased with the outcome. And besides, once you color her, I don’t think my insecurities about the line work will be obvious.
Some people have expressed fear that the Mini-Maidens will replace Pixie and Puck in my heart and I hope that this Pixie paper doll reassures people that I still love the Pixie and Puck paper dolls.
So, as usual the back and white version of this printable paper doll happened last week and this week we have the full color version. Somehow, in color, the paper doll looks less angry to me. Interesting how that works, isn’t it?
On a totally unrelated note, a reader posted some images of Little Pixie colored in a garden on a French forum. I think she did a fantastic job and she has a blog, so check that out. Sometimes when I see my paper dolls colored by someone else, I sort of forget that they are my work.
I am thinking of putting up a page to show off some of the work other artists have done based on my work, like Toria’s Showcase. Are there people out there with photos or scans who would be willing to contribute?
It is rare that I have the plan for a color scheme in mind before I start drawing, but I knew I wanted this set of paper dolls to be done in a red white and blue color scheme with a nautical twist.
I was playing around with my Photoshop settings on this one and I am not totally pleased with how the line-work came out on the color version. I shall have to look into what I did and think about it a bit more. I didn’t notice it as much on my smaller laptop screen, but working on it on a larger screen it has become very obvious.
Gillian asked: when did you start drawing paper dolls? and how did you learn to draw?
Well…. I started drawing paper dolls… I don’t even remember when I started drawing paper dolls. My mother used to draw dolls for me and my sister when we were kids. She’d draw the doll as a bribe to get us to clean our rooms or do the dishes and then we would have to draw the clothing. So, that’s when the paper doll thing got started.
I learned to draw mostly by doing a lot of it. I took art classes in high school and middle school, but mostly I am self taught. I’d love to have some time in the future to take some figure drawing classes. I don’t think I do a very good job on my figures. I nearly always draw from a reference image. I don’t really have the ability to draw well without one.
I hope that answers your question Gillian.
By the way, I was trying to do a darker, maybe Latino skin tone here, but I think she came out looking sickly. Too much yellow in the skin, perhaps.
So, I know I said these would be up last week (or maybe the week before that), but some things came up and I didn’t get around to it. The irony is that I drew this set last year and it’s been sitting on my desktop waiting to be finished for a while.
I tried to make sure each page of this set was a consistent color scheme, so that each page can be printed and played with alone, along with combining with the other pieces in the set. I walso wanted to play a little with the options of a magnetic set of paper dolls which are different than the options for a non-magnetic set of paper doll. I think magnetic paper dolls have interesting options, but are not the same as paper paper dolls for various reasons.
Somehow, this Marisole paper doll reminded me of trips to the seashore. When I was a child, I remember my family went to Atlantic city for a few weeks one summer. My father’s family is from the East Coast, so the whole group met there. While I remember only vague things from the trip, I recall distinctly walking down the boardwalk with my father and eating black cherry frozen custard which my father would buy for me from a stand on the boardwalk. I still remember how the purple custard was rolled in rainbow sprinkles until they covered it completely.
Every time I eat frozen custard, I think of my father.
Ana asked “how many drafts of any one finished doll do you go through?”
The short answer is that it depends the doll. Dolls are drawn off templates which have seven to twelve drafts. Clothing is lightly penciled and than inked. I don’t usually draft the clothing full-size unless I am having trouble with something and then I do.
There’s also a more detailed long answer. If you want to read it, continue below.
Okay, so here is the detailed version:
I draw paper dolls in stages. The first stage is a doll template. Doll templates evolve over many drafts. Those drafts begin as very very rough and eventually become fairly smooth and detailed. When I was working on the Dictionary Girls, I posted a post where I showed bad scans of the stages of there development.
So, once I have a template, I trace the template and lightly draw it. Than I do a detailed pencil version over than a light penciled version and than I ink that. I took some photos of this a while ago with a set of dresses and you can see them here.
If I screw up a doll, and I often do, it’s in the inking stage usually. So I am always careful not to draw any clothing or anything else until I’ve inked the doll. I draw from templates, so that if I end up hating the doll, I can draw her over again without needed to redraw the body which is the hardest part for me. Plus I can fix things through the power of Photoshop.
The thing I like about the Dictionary Girls is that they have very few outfits per post. And I enjoy getting to color retro inspired clothing, though I have plans to expand into some other styles in the future for them. Tie neck blouses are a fashion stable, even I own a few.
The truth is that I “rediscovered” this set of paper doll clothes under another pile of papers on my desk.
I am not a terribly organized person. I try to be. I’m a librarian, so people always assume I’m organized, but the truth is that I live in a pretty much constant state of chaos. I love watching home decorating shows, because I admire people who are organized. The truth is that I am surrounded by piles of papers most of the time. I live, at the moment, in a tiny graduate student apartment and the result is that my desk (and often my couch) is covered in piles. I try to at least clean up the piles once in a while, sort of through them and look at what is stacked up.
On any given day, I might have old drafts of school work, half finished letters to family (which I write and then forget to send.. a bad habit) and then, of course, paper doll things. I collect around me things for ideas. I’m always low on them, so I need to have inspiration at hand. I buy fashion magazines and also those hair style magazines. I usually have a few rough drafts of doll poses and xeroxes of dolls in need of clothing. My world is full of fragments of this obsessive hobby of mine.
I’m moving soon, so I guess they’ll be the time to organize my paper doll supplies, other art supplies and school things. So much to do…
So… this is practically late. I mean… it’s like 11:50 here in Illinois, but I really really wanted to get a Shadow and Light doll up since it’s been a while since I did one and I have been feeling bad about that.
Back in the 1980’s I was pretty young, but I remember wearing overall shorts, which were the latest thing, and having a weird affection for when I was old, because I was going to wear thigh high boots. I don’t know why I was so into the idea, but I remember drawing lots of paper dolls sporting thigh high boots and miniskirts in elementary school. Perhaps I saw Pretty Woman at too young of an age…. Oddly, my mother was never concerned as far as I could tell with my thigh high boot obsession.
As an adult, I have never worn thigh high boots… a pity perhaps.
Needless to say, my love of shoes was founded young and even now I love shoes (which I think comes through on my paper dolls.)
And, as you might notice, our pirate is sporting some pretty darn sexy boots.