Monday, July 9, 2012

Outfits, Tabs, and Themes

Today we'll go over outfit design, tabs, and themes.  Our "lesson" doll is going to be a generic fashion doll, so that's our theme. 

Material list:
Outfit templates
Paper, pencil, eraser
Pen, archival pen preferred

To begin with, have your outfit templates ready to go.  I have 2 pages of full-body templates, 1 page of just tops and 2 pages of just bottoms.  I'll have 4 full-body outfits & 6 mix-and-match outfits when we're done.  To make the top & bottom templates, I trace out the appropriate area on the doll and that's it.  No need to include more really.

Sometimes I'm feeling super inspired and the costumes just come out easily.  Sometimes I need a little inspiration.  I have a fashion book that I frequently reference for inspiration: 9Heads: A Guide to Drawing Fashion.  It's a pricey book but full of helpful illustrations and tips for modern fashion drawing.  I also like to look at books about the history of costume.  These are easier to find and most libraries have a couple of books that would qualify.

After you draw your outfits, add tabs to secure your outfits to your doll.  I typically place tabs at the shoulders and waist so that the outfit stays in place, and then I add tabs to any other places that might need extra securing.  I usually just use a rectangular tab but there are two other methods I use: something I call a tuck tab & a hat cut-out.

A tuck tab (outlined in red) is a tab that I outline in a dashed line to indicate that it is placed behind the doll NOT folded over the doll.  In this case, I felt the collar needed extra securing that a regular tab couldn't really manage.  When I color the tuck tab, I'll make it the same color as the neck.  That will help it blend in with the doll.
To make a hat (or sometimes a wig), I use a dashed line to indicate that the hat has an opening cut into it.  I also added a tab to this hat to help secure it to the doll's head.  When adding a cut line for the opening, make sure the line doesn't completely cut the hat in half.  The cut needs to be long enough for the head to fit through, but shouldn't extend all the way to the edges.  Double check this when you get to the coloring stage.

I try to have a plan for each of my dolls.  Sometimes the plan is as simple as creating a "fashion doll", like the doll we're working on.  Sometimes it's a bit more elaborate.  For instance, I wanted to create a doll about careers, so I made the Grow-Up Paper Doll.
I needed to decide how many pages I wanted, which careers, and how to best represent them.  I settled on 3 sheets of watercolor paper (which could be further broken up with one outfit per page later on in an editing program) and then I selected the careers I wanted to represent.

One very simple theme I tried out was a one-page angel doll.  I've since added a new page to this doll around the holidays every year.
And an elaborate doll I created was a Goddess paper doll.  This doll took me several years to complete but once it was, I loved it so much that I self-published it (more on publishing to come in a later lesson).  The key to publishing this was meeting a minimum page limit and I had to plan around that.
Goddess Paper Doll available on

Before we move on to different coloring methods for paper dolls, we're going to backtrack just a bit and talk about alternate transfer methods.  We'll cover photocopying, carbon paper, and charcoal transfer.

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