Friday, January 4, 2019

Doodle-a-Day Project Wrap-Up

Happy New Year!! 2018 was a crazy busy year for us... 

For those who don't know, my grandmother moved in with us October 2017.  So I went from stay-at-home mom to caretaker as soon as my youngest started kindergarten.  Over the course of 2018, my grandmother fell 4 times and broke her pelvis after one of those falls.  On top of that, she's nearly blind (macular degeneration) and has lost much of her hearing.  So I shuttle her to doctors appointments and, in general, take care of whatever she needs.  Overall, she's in reasonable health for an 88 year old but some days are busier/harder than others.

We also found out at the end of 2017 that my oldest son has executive functioning issues and anxiety. Executive functions are everyday organization skills, things like remembering to do all the steps required to take a shower or remembering homework everyday.  It's been a relief, honestly, just knowing that there WAS an underlying issue and helping him work through that. It's a process and we're all learning together. We're also trying to help him with his anxiety and that, too, is an ongoing process.

On top of that, I've been volunteering at the school once a week, which I love! AND I've been doing a little freelance graphic design. I only take the projects I really want to do!

And I managed to do three projects for a collector, joined a paper doll group here in Massachusetts, and published my first book with Paper Studio Press. I also completed 12 black and white sheets in the paper doll collaboration project as well as 63 sheets in the Doodle-A-Day paper doll project.

I'm tired just writing all of that down!

So the next few posts are going to be a recap of 2018.  I want to share some of the projects I've worked on as well as the process for creating them.  After that, well, I'm just not sure! I'll think of something....!

In the meantime, let's talk about this HUGE project I just finished.

This is a screen shot of the entire Doodle-A-Day project as I have it laid out on Pinterest.  It's pretty amazing to see the colors transition throughout the year! I definitely became more bold as the year went on.

Each month had a five-color palette along with black and white.  There were four dolls that rotated throughout the year.

That's all four dolls together. One thing I'd like to do is give each of them a more neutral base outfit.  I tried to stay fairly neutral with the shoes but totally did not with the outfits!

Each set started out as a drawing in ArtRage.  I find that to be my go-to drawing program lately.

I drew everything digitally - from the base dolls to each and every outfit.  The image above shows essentially what I did for each set.  There's a base doll, then a sketch layer, and then a line layer. I used the pencil tool and the ink pen tool in ArtRage. At this stage, I exported to a Photoshop file and worked on it in Photoshop.

Next, I added tabs and a white fill on everything.

I created an action to speed things up a bit.  An action in Photoshop is a recording of several steps in a process that can be played over and over as needed.  My action consisted of 1) select outside the lines 2) inverse the selection and 3) contract by one pixel so that all of the color fills land inside the lines with no bleeding outside of the lines.  This saved me a few seconds on every individual item which added up to HOURS over the course of the year.

Once the tabs were placed and everything got a white fill, I added the text. I used one font and one size (in most cases) for the entire project.  I saved the black & white sheet and went on to coloring.

Honestly, coloring should be a post all by itself! I'll show you a bit of the way I do it but I may go back for more in-depth demonstrations.

In this image, I've circled the layers used to color the doll.  That's JUST the doll - not the layers used to create the background, the clothing, none of that....just the doll. 

After creating the doll - which is always the longest step - each drawing and inking session in ArtRage took about 2 hours. Sometimes more but that was the average.  Creating a black and white sheet took another 2 hours or so.  And then a fully colored sheet took anywhere from 4 to 8 hours depending on the complexity.  So each post took from about 8 to 16 hours.  Each post. Conservatively, I have over 500 hours into this project! Or, put another way, I was spending at minimum 10 hours a week on this project.  That's huge!!

The next step is to figure out what to do with this project.  Should I make it a calendar? A massive book? A series of themed prints? I don't know yet. 

This ended up being a huge write-up!! Did you love the project? Did you have a favorite doll or month or themes? I'd love to know!

The next post will be a summary of a really unique project I did for a collector. So look for that soon.


  1. I absolutely loved this project! I'm so impressed with the work that went into it! I can't pick a favorite, I just loved all of them! A calendar sounds interesting, but how would you fit them all in? Or would it be just the first sheet for each month? Anyway, thank you again. These are really beautiful, and I've enjoyed them throughout the whole year!

    1. I'm so glad you loved it! It was a ton of work and I haven't come up with a new project yet.

      I haven't fleshed out what a calendar or a book would even look like. Just some thoughts - I'm sure I'll pack it all up into SOMETHING :)