Dark & Steamy: Gothic Steampunk Printable Paper Doll

Today’s paper doll is a little gothic and a little steampunk. That’s okay right? It’s not like mixing oil and water or something.

Erin, who won my little Trivia contest from last Monday, wrote me the following description of what she wanted for her custom Marisole paper doll.

I know that I want my doll to be very pale with brown hair… As for style of clothes and what not, I know that I love Victorian and Steampunk style. Belts, buckles, zippers, lace, keys, and corsets. That kind of stuff. I have included a few links as inspiration I guess, but feel free to disregard them. I dislike the color yellow, LOVE red, black and purple, but other than that… I’m not overly picky.

I asked for a little clarification on shades of brown (she said red brown) and exactly what sort of colors for metals she liked and then set to work. Like a deadline, it was oddly liberating to be paper dolling based on someone else’s guidelines. I’ve done other steampunk sets, but this one quickly got a gothic steampunk paper doll flare- I think the color scheme is what pushed it into gothic territory for me. I’ll always think of those as a gothic colors. I do hope she’s pale enough, because outside of doing another vampire paper doll, I couldn’t imagine going paler than this color. I think it reads as “pale” rather than reading as “corpus.”

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Since one of my favorite features of Victorian dresses was the fact that women got to wear all sorts of different clothing for different activities, I decided to treat the paper doll as though she was an actual Victorian lady- all be it in an alternative steampunk universe- in need of costumes for the range of standard Victorian lady activities.

Here we go.

The Morning Dress: Morning dresses were always more casual then other costumes. Erin sent me a reference link to this beautiful costume. I loved the colors and the drape. To make it a little more Victorian feeling, I added sleeves. Though technically a morning dress would never be worn outside the house, I added a hat since the reference costume featured one. Also, I like hats.

The Walking Costume: The other set of reference images I got was for a beautiful 1880’s reproduction bustled suit and I confess the early 1880’s when skirts were tight, before the huge bustle emerged is one of my favorite times in Victorian fashion. I made the suit purple (to match the purple/red color scheme), created a totally non-period hat and added some accents in silver and brass.

The Afternoon Dress: Mostly an excuse to draw a wild leather corset (well, I imagine its in leather, I suppose technically it could be any fabric you like), the afternoon dress was inspired by the corsets of 1910. The net/lace overlay was my attempt at lace, though I have mixed feelings about how it turned out. Afternoon dresses were also often visiting costumes, so she had to have a hat.

The Ball Gown: No costume set could be complete with out a ballgown and as I love drawing corsets, no ballgown couldn’t not have a corset top. The far left costume of this fashiion plate inspired the oddly bondage-esque skirt. I got a little carried away with my lock and key motif I think, but I had fun doing it.

As regular readers know, I’m a wee bit obsessed with Victorian inspired costumes. I’ve done two other steampunk/neo-Victorian Marisole paper dolls. There was the slightly candy like one (a lesson in how colors don’t look so bright before I process the images for Web and then seem to get brighter) and a more traditional color scheme.

I will probably do another trivia contest thing next week. So, keep your eyes open for that.

Curves: Gothic Goddess

Hmmm… I just realized I misdated this paper doll… opps. I’ll fix it later. 🙂

I love how the hoop set looks under her skirt, I think they look like bones. Originally I was going to draw the costume on the left for Marisole and I spent a lot of time sketching it and re-sketching it and it never looked right. I’m glad I eventually decided to make it for Curves. I think it looks much better.

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There’s something about the heavily shadowed paper dolls that I draw that seems to lend itself to gothic styling. I think it’s the contrast. I first started drawing paper dolls in this heavy shadowed style because I liked the idea of paper dolls in black and white which didn’t need to be colored. I wanted them to stand alone as graphic works without needing the injection of color. I think sometimes they work well and sometimes they don’t.

Also, if I’d done this set for Marisole, it would have been another mostly black set of clothing for her and sometimes I just get sick of that. So, I’m glad Curves got it in the end for a couple of reasons.

Curves: Flowers & Ruffles

I’ve always been interested in and concerned with proportion of printed fabric. I blame it on years of making real life doll clothing. I always am concerned my prints are too big to fit my paper dolls properly. Of course, the size of the dolls and the thinness of my pens limit how detailed I can really be (thank goodness), so I am always somewhat limited.

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Recently, I was pawing through fashion shows on style.com (a wonderful source for contemporary designer fashion) and thinking about what I wanted to draw when I cam across Christian Dior’s spring 2009 collection. They were designed by John Galliano, with 17th century Dutch painters serving as the major inspiration. Some of his formal dresses were some of my favorites.

I fell in love with the huge prints on the dresses. The distorted proportions were fascinating and while I don’t think I want to wear a dress covered in tulips the size of my head, I loved that one existed. So, I decided to draw some dresses with giant floral patterns for Curves. After all, why should the skinny models on the runways get to have all the fun?

Among the other things I did for this paper doll was redesign her underwear. While Curves has an illustrious history of wearing her strapless bra and panties (selected mostly because they can easily layered over), I do love undergarments of all eras and I wanted to draw something which might look like it really could support this absurdity of these skirts. Enjoy.

1930’s: Historical Printable Paper Doll

Curves: 1930s

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I sort of collect historical costume and vintage fashion resources around the web. One of my favorites is The Vintage Patterns Wiki full of pattern covers from the 20th century. From there, I found the wonderful blog What I Found where the author had posted a Simplicity Simplicity Fashion Forecast – 1937 advertising book. It’s wonderful. Curve’s paper doll costumes both come from this lookbook from the era- one smart suit and one summery casual frock. Her shoes are based on illustrations in John Peacock’s book Fashion Accessories.

I’ve been drawing a lot, but not posting a lot which is rare for me. Usually, I’m struggling to keep up with the blog and come up with ideas. Lately, all I’ve been wanting to do is draw and when it comes time to scan or color, I just sort of go, “Meh”. I think it’s because I find drawing relaxing and posting is more like work. Anyway, today’s Curves is going up and on Friday there will be a Florence (one of the last Florence’s I suspect) and starting in November there will be a new Fashion Doll Friday paper doll, of style I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll put it too a vote.

Spring: A Fashion Paper Doll

I drew this paper doll three years ago. I was living with two wonderful roommates in college. It was a wonderful year. It brings back fond memories of my senior year of college. Also, of trying to teach my friend how to cook… or trying. I don’t know how successful I was. I’ve lived by myself for two years now and I find I miss the company.

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Whenever I draw a paper doll that I know is only going to be one page, I find I think carefully about what sorts of clothing she would need. I imagine Spring is a model or at least well enough off to afford beautiful clothing. She has her casual carpi pants, her afternoon dress for lunches or other more formal events and then her long evening gown for when she needs to go to some sort of paper doll black tie event. I like drawing evening gowns, so my paper dolls go to a lot of black tie evening events. My favorite is her evening gown, but what do the rest of you think?

Fashion Doll Friday: Florence’s Walking Costume & Hats

I have realized that most of the “walking” costumes I have drawn for the paper doll up to this point are more of promenade costumes and less walking costumes- like the spring walking costume or the winter walking costume.Florence's 1870's walking suit. Florence is a Victorian paper doll with a large trousseau.

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The difference seems somewhat minor, but a matter of formality. Promenade costumes were to see and be seen in, walking costumes were for walking. I imagine the paper doll wearing this costume to go to do her shopping and today she has gone to the milliner to get her new hats.

Hats aren’t worn much anymore, unless you’re the Queen of England (whose hats I totally adore) or going to the races, hats mostly function as useful things for keeping heads warm and not much else. I’m not necessarily advocating the return to hats, but hats were crucial for any well dressed lady in the 1870’s. Fashion magazines, along with dresses, offered detailed advice on fashionable hats and hat styles- colors, feathers, ribbons and flowers to be worn by ladies of all ranks and ages. Hair styles and hats are tightly connected and often changed together.

Here is Florence, just in case you missed the first post in this series and need a doll to go with these paper clothes.

Marisole Monday: Empire Elegance

I love regency costume, though not as much as my Mother loves it. I find it simple and elegant and a little romantic, but it can get boring to draw after a while. I try to learn new things about the era each time I draw it- like I learned elastic actually existed (who knew?) and was being used for garters.

Never would have thought of that.

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Days seem slip away quicker than I can blink and suddenly I am realizing time has passed. I suppose that’s the danger of having many commitments on my time- I’m always stretched thinner then I thought I would be. Working while going to school is incredibly forefilling and incredibly challenging. I love my program. I love my job, but my time is a premium. Fortunately, I paper doll to relax, so as long as I know what I am going to do, I can sit down on my couch with my clip board in my lap and draw away when I get home from work. Sure my dishes get neglected, but who needs dishes?

I’m still playing around with skin tones for Marisole, eventually I’ll get a set of them that I like on multiple computers.

Jessica: City Girl The Sequel

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As sometimes happens, I can’t think of anything to really say about this paper doll. It’s the second page of the Jessica set and there will be one more. I’m fond of the teal dress, because I still like the bodice. Many of the pieces came directly from fashion magazines- the blue dress is one case- but some don’t and I think over all that weakens the paper doll. I wish I’d done either everything high fashion or kept it all more casual.

Ball-Jointed Doll

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{Download a PDF of this Three Page Paper Doll Set}

I don’t think I’m very good at cute (though I am getting better), but I do think this is a pretty cute set. The clothing was inspired by the beautiful garments made by Boneka Company. I drew this paper doll while visiting my grandmother who doesn’t have Internet. So, I always get a lot of paper dolling, card playing and reading done when I go and see her. Also, I get my butt kicked at cribbage. Still, all fun and games with the family.

Snow Day: Printable Paper Doll

So, sometimes I don’t know what to draw. On these occasions, I usually poll friends looking for ideas. In one night, I might get suggests ranging from “ballerina” to “mad scientist” or “snow day”. Obviously, I decided to go with the “snow day” suggestion and I was told that I “had” to add a snowball and a snowman, so Marisole gets her snowman and her snowball.

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When I was a child, my favorite paper dolls had accessories. I don’t think I’m that good at drawing things other then people to do a lot of accessories, but even I can draw a snowball. I’d like to someday draw other accessories for Marisole. I think she needs a pet, but I can’t decide what kinda pet and drawing animals isn’t my gift. We’ll see.

Edit 1/6/2014: Get a colorable version of this paper doll to print here.