Friday, August 29, 2014

Fashion Friday - Maeve

The last week of August is one of the best times of the year - back to school!  I loved school as a kid.  My mother joked that I'd be in school til I was 30 (I was).  I went to public schools but always envied the private school uniforms.  This week, I have a back to school, private school inspired paper doll!

Now I know that shorts are not part of a school uniform.  Too bad!  I loved them so I included them! If you want to add some more school inspired outfits with a similar color scheme, you can download Kate too.  I would love to print and mix & match all of these dolls.  This is doll #84, so that's a lot of mix & match possibilities!  Maybe a dress-up app would be a better way to go....

Anyway, for those of you going back to school, good luck & enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Expirimenting with Fresh Paint

A couple of weeks ago, I finally upgraded my computer!  I've been running a Macbook Pro since I was pregnant with my oldest son - he'll be 5 in December.  Clearly it was time for a new computer...

This time around, I wanted something I could draw directly onto.  I've had a Wacom connected to my Macbook forever and loved it, but I wanted something more direct.  There were a few options.  Some - like the Wacom Cintiq Companion - were a little pricey.  Others weren't quite powerful enough.  I decided to get the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.

And it's exactly what I wanted!  I've been playing around with Fresh Paint.  It's a pre-installed natural media painting program.  I thought it would be a good way to learn how to use the Surface pen.

Here's the first page of a paper doll I painting with Fresh Paint.  I've had these outlines for a while and never quite figured out what to do with them.  The doll started as a scribble in a sketchbook (don't they pretty much ALL start like that?!).  I cleaned it up in Photoshop months ago and then lost my motivation.

The second page.  This doll is sort of a retro-inspired one.  I wanted it to have a '60s/'70s feel to it.  The colors got a little crazy as the pages continued on....

This one is a little '80s in coloring, but more retro in silhouette.  There are a few quirks about Fresh Paint that I'd like to figure out.  First, it took me a while to figure out how to open more than one image in a file.  This is a bare bones program - there were no guides to align each outfit, there isn't a selection or move tool to rearrange parts of the image, and there isn't really a way to import or export colors.  That made keeping a consistent skin tone a bit tough...

Even with its limitations, it's a lot of fun!  I had initially planned on just painting one page.  It was so addictive that I ended up painting 5!

I'm not exactly sure how these will print. If there are ways to customize the size & resolution I haven't found it yet.  Fresh Paint saves as a png file and that's easily imported into Photoshop.  The image default size is slightly less than a standard letter size, with a resolution of 96 dpi. I left it like this for now.

At some point I'd like to do a full tutorial about Fresh Paint.  I'm still trying to learn how to use my entire computer, so that tutorial may take a while!  It's been a big switch going back to a Windows computer - I actually had to go between 2 computers just to upload the PDF!

This was fun - I recommend checking out Fresh Paint if you have access to it!

Download the Fresh Paint experimental paper doll pdf here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Historical Fashion Friday - Polly

If you've seen my Pinterest boards, you'll notice that I've been on a bit of a Victorian kick lately.  I have some ideas in mind for a Victorian paper doll.  Nothing concrete yet, but it's something I've been thinking about.  So why not a Victorian inspired doll for today?!

I named her Polly after Pollyanna, a movie my mother and I both love.  This isn't totally accurate.  I wanted the feel of a Victorian costume more than anything.

I have some fun new stuff for next week...!

Til then, here's the doll!

Monday, August 18, 2014

From Sketch to Vector, Part 3

Big news!  I got a new computer!  I finally went and bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 3.  It's amazing...and I have no idea how to use it.  My history with computers is complex.  My first computer was an entry-level Mac desktop in the mid '90s.  I really just used it to type up papers for school.  Then I got a shiny PC (Windows 98! Woo hoo!) when I went to college.  I was a PC kind of girl til I decided to study graphic design.  Then I got a Mac - more than 5 years ago.  It's ok, but old and the Surface seems like the way to go.  No more Wacom tablet - I can draw directly on the screen! Once I figure out how to use it, I'll turn it into an amazing art-making machine.

Til then, I'll be working on both my Mac and Surface.  It takes time to learn new tech!

Today we'll continue making the toddler paper doll.  You can see part 1 here and part 2 here.  This is the lesson where the doll starts to get pretty!

I want this toddler doll to "fit" with the fashion dolls.  It needs to have 1) similar skin tones 2) an appropriate size and 3) have similar line widths, base, and tabs.  None of those are necessary - this could easily be a stand-alone doll - but these are the parameters I set for this project.

To continue this doll, I'll open a fashion doll.  Doesn't really matter which one.  I kind of have an idea of making these toddler dolls into matching kids for all of the fashion dolls, beginning with the very first one.  I like the idea of big sister-little sister or mother-daughter sets (maybe even brothers or father-son later on....) and that's just one idea I'm kicking around.

Here is the toddler with the fashion doll.  Right off I can see that I need to change the toddler's proportions to match the fashion doll.  There's a handy chart here that shows a progression of human proportions.  The chart shows a 3 year old with a height just under the waist level of an adult.  I also know from my own experience that my not-quite 3 year old comes up to around my waist.  So I'll adjust this doll accordingly.

Using the select tool (black arrow), draw a box around the entire doll.  You can either drag the box and change the proportions or use the scale option (Object > Transform > Scale).  I like to drag mine. Hold Shift while dragging to keep your scaling proportional.

This feels about right.  Now I need to create a base and stand that suit the toddler doll.  I like having slits next to the feet for shoes.  It adds more variety to outfits & increases playability.  Play is so important to me - these should be fun (and functional) toys

Now that I have the proportions adjusted, I take the toddler doll back into my working file.  I also brought a copy of the Bridget doll so that I can use the base & stand to craft a new one for the toddler doll.  I like to have a "working" file where I store all of my ideas & drafts for a project.

I'm going to use elements and colors that I already have, but if you want, you can make all of these elements from scratch.  My base is just a shape that I made & adjusted.

Here's the base.  I took the fashion doll base and squished it!  I want the shoes to be a single piece with two tabs and created slits to accommodate that.  It looks ok.  I think the arms and waist/legs have enough room for tabs and the base should be relatively stable.

Next up, a basic color scheme.  Remember, this is still my working copy.  I'm ironing out any problems with this draft.  I want to add color and shadows in such a way that they can be easily manipulated to create several different iterations.  Since these toddler dolls are going to match the fashion dolls, coloring them is as easy as using the eyedropper tool.  I select the part of the toddler I want to color, press I on my keyboard to select the eyedropper tool (or select it from your toolbar), and click on the section of the fashion doll that I want to replicate.

And the colors are magically added!  The nice thing about the eyedropper tool is that it replicates both the color and the appearance.  My toddler now has the same colors and line widths as the fashion doll. 

I made a couple of minor changes at this stage.  First, I added tabs to the diaper so that it looks like a cloth diaper. I chose a cloth diaper simply for its versatility - this way, I can have an endless variety of patterns & colors instead of a basic, white diaper.  It's just more fun this way!  Secondly, I didn't want the strong, dark black eyes that the fashion doll has.  Right now, the toddler has a dark brown eye.  I may change that to a dark grey or something else as I progress.

The last step for today are the shadows.  Like everything else, there are several ways to do it.  I like using the eraser tool and subtracting unnecessary points from my final shape.

First, select and copy your shape.  With your shape still selected, go and choose the eraser tool from the toolbar.  It's important to keep the shape selected - if it isn't, then the eraser will erase anything it comes it touch with.  When the shape is selected, it confines the eraser to just the selection.  Use the [ and ] keys to adjust the size of the eraser and just erase!

The new shadow shape.  Obviously this works best with a stylus & tablet, but it can be done with a mouse, too.  Change the shadow to an appropriate color and that's it!

There are the shadows.  My toddler looks a little pudgy and adorable! I like to keep the shadows subtle and organic.  The eraser tool really helps with that.

So that's it for today!  This doll still needs some hair and clothing.

As for the blog changes I mentioned last week, I'm thinking about a couple of things.  My first option is to drop the Kawaii Kids and just have lessons & dolls on Fridays.  The second option I'm toying with is rotating lessons & Kawaii dolls.  One Monday would be a lesson, the following Monday a doll, etc.  The tutorials take a lot of work but are so fun to write that I hesitate to drop those completely.  And the Kawaii dolls are popular, so I'm not sure if I want to let those go completely either....  Thoughts are always welcome!



Friday, August 15, 2014

Fairy Tale Friday - Goldilocks

I don't know if Goldilocks is really a fairy tale of not.  And I don't really care because she's SO adorable!! This may be my favorite fairy tale doll so far.  Her hair is just about the cutest thing I've ever done.

There are a few things I want to mention.  First, I'm working on a new baby/toddler doll.  That should be old news since I'm currently posting tutorials about it (here and here).  It's going to be adorable and I'll start posting those dolls on Fridays in January.  I have enough fashion dolls to take me to the end of the year.  It's time for something fresh.  Secondly, as everyone knows, paper dolls do not pay the bills.  I wish that were the case, but it isn't.  Yes, I sell paper dolls, etc, and I am thrilled every time someone buys & loves a paper doll.  Ultimately, I think of this as a self-funding hobby with potential.  I would love for it to be more, but that's the reality at the moment.  I do, however, take freelance gigs and I'm working on one now.  I also have two sons.  One is starting kindergarten in a year, and I need to spend the next year getting him prepped for that.

What I'm trying to say is that there will be a reduced schedule for the blog starting in September.  I'm still going to post lessons and dolls.  I love doing this, after all! I think this blog will grow and shrink accordingly as life continues its forward momentum.  That's just the way of things.  My new plan isn't set in stone yet, but I'll let everyone know when it happens.

And now, the most amazing Goldilocks paper doll ever! Well, at least the most amazing one I've ever made!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kawaii Wednesday - Fairies

Again this week, I turned to my request list for a Kawaii Kids theme.  Fairies sounded like a nice one, so that's what we've got.  I wanted a woodland sort of fairy.  The boy has an acorn hat and the girl has a leafy "crown".  I love her dress!

I love getting requests and if anyone has any suggestions, I'm always happy to here them (in the comments or email or whatever - there are a bunch of ways to contact me).  I haven't made the jump to a Facebook fan page yet.  I'm not sure if I can manage another thing!

Anyway, enjoy the last few weeks of summer.  As you can see with these woodland fairies, I'm already thinking about fall!

Monday, August 11, 2014

From Sketch to Vector, Part 2

For the last week, I've been doing the 21 Day Drawing Challenge.  It's been difficult and fun and eye-opening.  I don't draw nearly enough anymore and really need to work on that.  Anyway, the reason I'm doing it is because I have a great deal of admiration for the artist teaching the course - Von Glitshcka.  I'm mentioning this because his approach to creating digital art (specifically, vector art in Illustrator) is one that I try to emulate: draw, draw, draw some more, and then digitize it in the most efficient way possible.  If you're looking for inspiration or education about Adobe Illustrator, he's a fantastic resource.

And now, to continue my vector art journey....

Today I'm continuing on the toddler/baby vector doll that I started last week.  I've been looking at it for the last few days and something about the mouth just did not look right.  I played around with it some and finally settled on something I think I like! And we'll add the body today, too.  I tend to tweak things as I work, so it'll be a while before we get to the final form.

Here's the updated face and my sketch.  I left the head on one layer and I'll add the body on another layer.  Once everything is finalized, I'll move it all together.

Like we did before, get out your pen tool and start creating shapes for the body.  Color is irrelevant at this stage.  I like to use high-contrast, easy to see colors.

I've roughed in the shape of the arm.  I like to created a whole shape then adjust the points & curves afterwards.  I place points wherever I expect there to be a curve and I can add or subtract points as needed to smooth out the shape.

Using the anchor point tool (it's the one that looks like an open triangle in the pen menu), I started creating curves.  This is a young child.  Kids are round and soft and squishy.  There are going to be a lot of curve and few corners or straight lines.  I'll need to keep this in mind as I create the shapes.

The vector and the sketch.  To adjust the curves of the vector arm, I turned off the sketch layer.  That may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but I find it helps me build a better vector shape.  Looking at the sketch can be both a help and a hindrance.  Use the direct select (white arrow) and anchor point tool to adjust shapes as needed.

I want this image to be almost symmetrical, much like the male & female fashion dolls.  They are essentially symmetrical, but not perfectly so.  I didn't want a mannequin.  I wanted an image that had some life to it!  With this new doll, I'll do the same thing.  Which comes in handy, because all I need to do now is replicate & reflect the arm I just created!

My vector lines.  There are some things to adjust and I need to add clothing.  Looking at it, it just doesn't seem quite right.  Something is off...

...So I found some reference material.  I discovered that a toddler should be about 4 heads tall.  I can easily copy & stack my head to see how close I come to that proportion.  My reference image from is below.

(Total tangent: if you ever get a chance to take a drawing class from a sculptor, DO IT!  Best thing I ever did, artistically.  There was a sculptor at UNH who taught some of the early level drawing classes.  I had been drawing for years and still learned an immense amount.)

My proportions aren't too bad.  My doll is slightly more than 4 heads tall.  It's always better to discover something like this early! And, with Illustrator, it's an easy fix.  I made each section its own shape or group.  I do this for two reasons: first, it's easier to manipulate in the early stages of creation (like here), and, secondly, I can copy & paste these and manipulate them into outfits fairly easily.

And the adjusted doll.  I used the select tool (the black arrow) to manipulate the shapes individually.  I also moved the arms around a little bit.  The pose is a little awkward partly because I wanted an open body shape.  I find having the arms separated from the body allows more space for tabs and more mix & match outfit possibilities.  I try to think about playability.

So that's the doll.  Next week we'll look at colors and shadows, as well as adjusting the doll to fit the proportions of the fashion dolls.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fairy Tale Friday- The Frog Prince

My nieces came to play with my sons this week and we all had a blast!  They love seeing what my newest projects are.  They got to see this doll in process & found that fascinating!

I thought is was time for another prince.  I didn't want a Disney-specific prince.  I try to avoid making direct fan art with these fairy tale dolls (though it does sometimes happen...) so I didn't want one of the Disney prince names.  Instead I have the Frog Prince.  I found some super cute frog clip art and incorporated that into a couple of patterns.  I also wanted a prince who was a little less blond & pale!  I'll be working on a non-white princess at some point, too.

So here's the Frog Prince.  I have another step in the vector paper doll process to post on Monday.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Kawaii Wednesdays - Puppies

I'm still working through the list of costume requests I received earlier this year, and this is one of those.  Dogs aren't my favorite animal or pet or anything, but puppies ARE kind of cute and I know lots of kiddos like puppies.  Today's paper doll is a puppy themed one.  Have fun coloring it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

From Sketch to Vector, Part 1

It's time for a new paper doll base!  I want to retire my Friday dolls - at least for a little while - and start posting a new doll on Fridays starting in January or when I hit 100 fashion paper dolls, whichever comes first.  I posted some sketches last week & I'll be working with those today.

I decided to work on the baby sketch.  It's all round & cute and I've got some experience with babies.  I'm using Adobe Illustrator CC but my method should work for just about any version of AI (or most vector programs for that matter...).  This tutorial will assume you have some knowledge of Illustrator, but if there are questions, just let me know.

Open your sketch in Illustrator.  Place the sketch on one layer, lock it, and create a new layer to work on above it.

I'm going to use shapes and the pen tool to create the vector image.  Once that's done, I'll open one of the fashion paper dolls and adjust the scale & coloring.  I like to start with the head and work from there.

I like to work with a stroke and no fill at this stage.  I want to create outlines that I can fill later.  First, use an oval to rough in the head shape.  We'll use the direct select (white arrow) and pen tool to adjust the shape.  Use a stroke color you can see well - I'm using red.

The yellow shape is the overall head shape.  This will become the hair background.  It doesn't need to be a perfect circle or oval.  I adjusted the points to get this rough shape.  I also wanted a chubby little baby-ish face.  I'm thinking that this doll is a toddler - maybe 2 or so.  The white section will become the face.  It's just an oval that I tweaked.  To add the chin, I placed two points (one on each side) next to the center point of the oval and adjusted them.

Here's the ear.  I used the pen tool to rough in a shape.  There are only four points used to make up this shape.  The fewer points used, the smoother the overall shape.  I'll take this ear and duplicate it (go to Object > Transform > Reflect and select Copy).  That's one of the things I love about Illustrator - draw something once and use it as much as needed.  When I draw something by hand, I spend so much time fussing over things that should be symmetrical or similar or whatever.  Not in Illustrator!

The ears are in place.  Adjust them as needed to get the perfect shape.  Shape arrangement is really important in Illustrator.  Each shape or line or whatever is its own sub-layer within the layer.  It takes some time to really "get" the way Illustrator works.  In this image, the yellow section is the layer farthest in the back.  Then, the two ears, then the face shape.  I'll create the face features and place those on top of the face section.

Next, I'm going to make the features for the face.  There are two ways to make the features and I'll demonstrate both.  Decide for yourself which you prefer.

One feature in AI CC that I've been using is stroke profiles.  In the stroke menu there's a drop-down menu with various profiles that you can add to a stroke.  In AI CS4, I would have made a special brush to apply to a stroke.  I want the eye to have a curved shape with eyelashes like the fashion dolls.  I  could just re-use that element here, but I want to show the process  in its entirety!

And here's the beginning of the eye shape.  I selected a profile - it happens to be the first one - and fiddled with the stroke width til I found one I liked.  One that's established, I'll expand the stroke.  Make the eyelashes the same way, expand those, and use the pathfinder tool to combine them all into one shape.

OR make the eyes with the pen tool.  Take the pen tool and draw a line.  I like to go left to right.  Then, draw a line in the opposite direction and connect with your first point.  This makes a 2-point, enclosed shape.  I use the anchor point tool in the pen menu to tweak the points.

Here's a comparison of the two methods.  On the left is the stroke profile method with the stroke expanded.  There are a million points and it's a little clunky.  On the right, the pen method.  There are two points and the shape is smoother and easier to manipulate.  I prefer simpler shapes so I'll use the pen method.

To create the nose and mouth, I used the same method as the head shape.  I drew two ovals and played around with the points until I got a shape I liked.  That's it!

This is a pretty good stopping point.  I'm not totally certain I like the face at this stage but that's ok.  Once I complete the body and complete the final colors, I can tweak the face as needed.

Next week I'll work on creating the body!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

21 Day Drawing Challenge on

Starting on Monday, is hosting a 21 day drawing challenge taught by Von Glitschka.  The idea is to draw everyday and that pencil & paper drawing is important, even (or especially) in digital art.  It also looks like this challenge is free if you like on Facebook. I'll be checking it out and I'll let you all know how it goes!

Check out the details here:

Update: June 2015

I  don't know why I never got around to posting images here.  I posted them on my personal Facebook and never thought about them again.  Here's an image containing most of the scribbles I made for the 21 Day Drawing Challenge.  I honestly don't remember what the themes were at this point....

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fairy Tale Fashions to Color

Today I've got another installment of black & white paper dolls to color.  It seemed like a good time to post my fairy tale dolls in a color-able form.  It won't be long before everyone goes back to school and those long, lazy summer days spent playing will be over.  Take some time and color these in before that inevitable day comes!

I've posted the images individually and as a pdf at the end.  Have fun coloring!