Monday, June 25, 2012

Drawing A Doll

Today we begin drawing a doll!

Materials List:
Pencil, light to medium darkness
Eraser, rubber kneaded eraser recommended
Pen, archival art pen recommended
Optional: ruler

The first step in created a paper doll is drawing the doll template.  I prefer to work with paper and pencil to start with, and then decide what method to use for creating the actual doll (tracing or digital, etc).  Gather your materials together and use what you're comfortable with.  I like to work on sketchbook paper with either a mechanical pencil or a lightweight art pencil, such as an HB.  A kneaded eraser is essential, and I like to ink my final drawing with an archival art pen.  If I'm drawing a base on the doll, a ruler comes in handy.

Drawing the doll

Step 1:

Start with a light sketch.  If you're planning on scanning your doll and printing it, or photocopying it, etc, work a little bit larger than your intended finished size.  A larger original makes for a cleaner, easier to edit copy. Use head height to measure out the figure.  The standard for drawing an adult is about 7 heads.  I wanted this doll to be more in the pre-teen range, so I settled on 6 heads.  Ultimately, it's up to each individual's style.

After laying out the height, lightly draw a stick figure to represent the shoulder line, waist line, arms and legs.  Add crossing lines to the head for the center (where the nose will go) and the eyes.
For this doll, I also roughly sketched a doll base, in case I decide to add it later.

Step 2:

At this point, use light lines and basic shapes to define the form.  Long ovals block out the arms, and hands. Rectangles for the torso, legs, and feet.

Step 3:

Start connecting those rough shapes.  Lightly outline the body forms.  Start sketching in the face as well.

Step 4:

Finalize the figure.  Draw in the hair, the rest of the face, and any other details, such as clothing and shoes.

Step 5:

If using a base, add that in at this stage.

Final image:

Outline your image in ink once it's completed.  This will help make it easier to trace or scan, depending on the method used later.

In the next lesson we'll talk about creating clothing templates using two tracing methods, the low-tech lightbox method and the even lower-tech window method.


  1. welcome to the paper doll blogosphere!

    i admire your adherence to proper under-structure in your doll construction. if i wasn't so lazy i'd follow the rules more.

    looking forward to more posts!

    : D

  2. Boots your dolls are beautiful! I would love to know more about your technique.... As for mine, it's art class habits really. And thanks for checking out the blog :)

  3. Interesting. I've never taken any classes, so I use reference photos or look at my own limbs to find out what looks natural. Very cool to see how you create your own artwork.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! My daughter is obsessed with paper dolls and she is thrilled to come across your blog! you have inspired her. We are sitting together and going through all of your posts! Wonderful!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I started making paper dolls when I was a kid & loved it. I try to make as many of these lessons kid-friendly as possible and I hope they've been fun. If there's anything specific she'd like to know about, I'd be happy to write up a lesson. I'd also love to see her dolls!