Monday, April 27, 2015

Fantasy Paper Doll: A Work in Progress

Over the last couple of years, my art creation has taken on some seasonal changes.  My "studio" is a basement room and heating it is a challenge, so I don;'t do a lot of painting or traditional media during the cold months.  In the spring and summer, my sons and I spend hours at playgrounds. During these months, I carry a sketchbook and get some drawing done outside.  As a result, I create more digital art in the winter months and more traditional media art during the warmer months.

This project is one of those warm weather projects.

For a while I've been thinking about how to create paper dolls while utilizing a sketchbook.  I recently created some paintings for my niece, where I transferred drawings to canvas using carbon paper.  Carbon paper! Pretty much the perfect transfer method for a sketchbook.  I've also been thinking about creating a fantasy paper doll for a while.  There are tons of amazing fantasy paper dolls at Paper Thin Personas -- and I felt inspired by them. Also, I have a bunch of reference images saved on Pinterest so now seemed like the perfect time to start.

Here's a brief walk through of my method for creating a fantasy paper doll. (The doll can be downloaded at the end of the post.)

My first step was to find an appropriate pose. I follow several artists on Pinterest and DeviantArt who specialize in poses.  This pose came from Kate-Fox and I strongly suggest her dA site as a starting point.  Her poses are imaginative and energetic.  She states very plainly that her poses are not standard anatomy, but more fantasy/comic book.  It helps to have a solid working knowledge of anatomy if you choose to use her poses.

I create most of my paper dolls on a 7 or 8 head scale (see here for more details).  Here's the initial sketch.

The next few images don't require a lot of explanation.  They're just in-process sketches.  In this one,  I started blocking in my pose.

Fleshing out the body and tweaking the pose somewhat.

More of the same.  I've been drawing for most of my life, and I'm just now comfortable with drawing hands.  They aren't perfect, but I don't hate them anymore either.

The large muscle masses have been drawn in at this stage.  The proportions on this figure are a little rounder & fleshier than the pose I used.  The pose sketch was just for reference, not for copying exactly.

I started drawing in the face and other details.  I knew I wanted a dressed doll with shoes.

At this point, I started thinking about clothing and hair.  I agonized over how to dress this paper doll!

I finally settled on a steampunk inspired corset and knee high boots.

One of the nice things about these sketches is how you can see my thought process.  I went back & forth about what to dress her in, how to style her hair, etc.  You can see it in the sketches.

The pencil sketch is just about finished at this point.

And here I started outlining the doll in ink.  I love Micron Pigma pens and highly recommend them.

Everything is inked here but the pencil lines haven't been erased yet.

I wanted to do a hand-drawn paper doll SO much!! This is going to be an on and off project when I have time.

My final image ended up being much smaller than a standard paper size.  I decided to take some inspiration from Paper Thin Personas and add a border/background to the doll.  Both the border and the banner are from  It's a bit of a hit or miss resource, depending on what you're looking for.  And the font is one of the Kingsthings family, available here and other places.

And what fun is a doll without clothing?

Let me know what you think!  I'm excited to do some drawing.  I'm looking to keep these simple & quick, so the drawings may be a little rough.  I'm doing minimal editing in Photoshop.  Maybe at another point I'll polish this up.  Look for more installments sporadically!


  1. She's very pretty and I find her dress very interesting, especially the hood.

    1. Thanks! I'll be honest -- I've been thinking about Star Wars a lot lately and this dress is partially influence by Natalie Portman's costumes in those movies. I'm not sure where this fantasy doll is going, but I do enjoy drawing it!