Monday, August 3, 2015

Making of Akinyi, A Mix and Match Paper Doll

On Friday, I shared a new paper doll.  Akinyi, the first of four (or more!!) mix and match paper dolls.  This doll is a bit different because I colored it on a Surface with Photoshop in stead of creating it point-by-point in Illustrator.

This post is a bit of a walkthrough, not a true tutorial, but I think it might still be useful! Here goes...

This is the initial sketch for the new paper doll set.  It's tiny - maybe 2 inches by 4 inches or so.  I used to keep a really small sketchbook with me before I had kids (about 6 years ago!) and still mine it for inspiration.  The pose here was a little different and has been sitting in the back of my mind for a while.

I scanned my initial sketch and enlarged it until is was about letter sized.  I decided at that point to create several dolls with the same body and different heads.  Like most of my paper dolls, this one spent a lot of time on paper before I worked on it digitally.

Once the sketch was ready, I scanned it at 300dpi.  I could have cleaned it up on paper and just colored it in Photoshop.  I've tried and that just doesn't work for me.  Instead, I take a small, hard round brush and trace the sketch in pure black.  The key for me is to zoom in and trace carefully.  If you look closely at the layers panel in this image, you'll see that I have one layer for the lines, one layer for the face lines, and one layer for the lines of the body.  I drew the face and body separately and then combined them when I was ready. Usually, I make my background layer some ridiculously garish color so that I can see any spots I might miss while coloring.  I removed that for these images.

Once the lines are ready, I color the skin.  Skin tone helps me determine all of the other colors in the doll -- hair, eyes, etc. This doll took 5 layers to achieve a nice, glowing skin tone.  I painted a base color, which was my darkest color.  Next, I painted some highlights and used Gaussian blur in the Filter menu.  I honestly just fiddled with it til I liked it.  For more about this technique, I wrote a little bit more about it here.

Next, I like to color the eyes.  I use a lot of layers and like to group them in folders.  It gets a little out of hand if I don't! To color the eyes, I used a simplified version of this tutorial.  Basically, I painted a base tone, and added two lighter tones, then blended them with the blur tool (which is different than the blur filter).

Once the skin is done, I like to paint the makeup in.  Most of the time, I just use a simple soft or hard brush.  Nothing really fancy.  That's what I did here.  I softly painted in the blush, then painted the lips and added light and dark tones directly on that layer.  For the eyeshadow, I applied a glitter pattern to the layer (as a layer style) to give it a little more shine.

For the hair, I again started with a base color. I'll go over the hair in some depth because I'm really happy with how it came out!

I painted the base colors with a hard brush.  With the hair, I applied a simple gradient (again, as a layer style) to give it some depth.
For Akinyi's hair, I wanted a tight curl and it took me a while to figure out how to do that.  What I settled on was super simple and I wish I could say it was my first attempt!  I took a simple, hard brush and scribbled lines all over, in a darker brown.  Then, I used the filter>blur>gaussian blur option to soften it.  Again, I just fiddled with it til it worked.

And then I added shadows.  Again, using a dark brown, I added in shadows.  If this was *actual* paint, I'd have used a dry brush dabbing technique.  That's pretty much what I did here, just one digital blob at a time.  Photoshop has a number of natural media brushes built-in to its current version and that's what I used here.

Finally, I added highlights using a light brown color and the same dabbing technique I used on the shadows.

And that's pretty much it.  I used the same techniques to color the outfit: paint in a base, add patterns with a layer style, added shadows, and maybe highlights as needed.  I used four brushes to do this: a thin, hard brush for the outlines, a larger hard brush for filling in base colors, then a large, soft brush for blush, shadows,m etc, and one specialty natural brush for the hair.

The technique isn't hard, it's just time consuming.  But worth it!
This is the final image and layer group breakdown.  If you have any questions, please ask.  This was a really quick walkthrough and not a thorough tutorial.  I hope it was helpful!

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