Friday, February 11, 2022

Valentine's Round-Up

 I rarely create round-up posts but I was inspired by Rachel's delightful round-ups so here we are. (She has a LOVELY book out - grab it here. I have a copy and it's so pretty!!) 

Unlike Rachel, I have not created oodles and oodles of lovely dolls for all occasions. But here's what I've got, in no particular order. With all of the following images, click on the image, then right-click to download and print.


Kawaii Kids - Birds and Hearts

Starting in 2013, I made a bunch of Kawaii Kids paper dolls. It started as a December Daily Doll and spiraled from there. I'm not actually sure how many there are total.... This one isn't specifically Valentine's themed, but it has some cute hearts to color.

Also from roughly a million years ago, a Valentine's set from my short-lived Paper Jane sets. This one never fully clicked for me. Her arms are too long and her hands are too book, but it still has a bit of charm to it. 

From my toddler series, here's Charity dressed for Valentine's! The toddlers were an extension of my Fashion Friday paper dolls. I've since compiled a bunch of toddlers into a book that's available here. If you search the blog for Valentine, there are a few other sets in the various Fashion Friday posts.

And finally, a sort of new paper doll. In 2018, I undertook a very ambitious project where I followed a doodle-a-day prompt. It was tough! I finished it, and it's one of my favorite series. I'd like to go back through and fix some things (HELLO TINY TABS!!) and print them up. The two "Sweetheart" pages are a compilation of the February 2018 series.

That's it for now. Happy paperdolling :)

Friday, February 4, 2022

Special Effects in Sketchbook

I hope everyone had a better January than we did! We all got sick with something but we're all 110% now. Between a never-ending cough and a blizzard, it was a challenging month! 

I'm feeling much more positive and motivated now. Days are getting a tiny bit longer and less cold. The kids, too, and getting past the blahs of January! 

Last year, I was lucky enough to work on another project with David Wolfe. He came up with a wonderful Motown inspired paper doll book and I added a bit of digital sparkle. Today I want to share some of the techniques I used in that book. (You can grab a copy from Paperdoll Review)

I've been experimenting with different digital art apps & programs. Photoshop has been just dreadful for coloring! It's terrific for a lot of things - coloring isn't it. I find I really love Sketchbook. The interface is easy to understand, the tools are fantastic, and it doesn't crash repeatedly. The only downside is color management.  Sketchbook became its own company separate from Autodesk. As a result, the Copic color swatches are no longer available, a feature I really loved. And the color wheel/color swatch menu is not great. As a work around, I add a layer as a color chart and just grab from there as needed.

Ok, enough about that. Time to give your project some sparkle & shine! 

The pictures below are a little small, but if you click on them, you can see them in all of their full sized glory!!

Here's my desktop. I'm using a legacy version of Sketchbook, but the version available now is very, very similar. I grabbed it from the Windows store & I can go over the differences at some point. Anyway, I have a layer with my color chart, the color wheel, and some of the brushes I use. 

First up, let's look at how to make square sequins. 

I start with a flat color. I tend to use the Paint Tapered brush to lay in flat colors. The default brushes in Sketchbook at great, but if you feel like you need ALL the brushes, there's a huge list of free brushes here. Although Sketchbook is available for pretty much any device, not every device has every feature. These ONLY work in the desktop versions, either Windows or Mac.

Once the flat color is down, I use the same color as the base and select the Pixels brush. You can make your sequins any shape you like, of course, but this works for me. In the Brush Properties menu (it's the little slider at the top of the brush palette on the left), set the Type to Glow. Then draw over your color swatch. Glow is my absolute favorite thing about Sketchbook! In the third swatch, I built op a couple of passes with the Glow Pixel brush and then added a couple of sparkles. You can experiment with colors, gradients, etc. 

Next up, let's look at some shiny beads!
Again, I start with a flat color. In both cases, I start with my darkest color. It's the anchor for all the shiny bits on top. For the beads, I use the Dotted brush. Sometimes, I use the Advanced tab on the Brush Properties to adjust the distance between the beads, the size, and the taper of the brush. That tapering is pressure sensitive so the lighter I press on my stylus, the narrower the bead string becomes. The first swatch has the next lightest color. In the second swatch, I kept the color the same and changed the Type to Screen. That makes it a bit lighter and a bit transparent so I can start building up layers of beads.  In the third swatch, I kept the color and switched the type to Glow, and then added a couple of sparkles. 

Finally, let's look at a bit of fur. 

Yet again, I start with a flat color of my darkest tone. There are a bunch of fur brushes available in the Brush Library - that's the line with three squares in the top of the brush palette. I'm using the Short Fur brush here. On the first swatch, I set my color Screen and color over the flat color. The second and third swatches are the same color, same brush, but I build up tones & variations by switching between Screen and Multiply in the brush type. 

Sometimes, after I use these basic techniques, I might go back with a different color for shadows and highlights. In digital or traditional media, I always start with three basic tones: light, medium, and dark. In watercolors, I build up the same color in layers. Same thing here it's just that my medium or dark tone is my base color, lights are created using Screen and any additional dark tones are Multiply. And Glow is my secret to extra shine!! 

Sketchbook is a really great, easy to use drawing program. It's about $20 USD in the Windows store (I bought it myself - no one paid me to say it's awesome!) It has its flaws, of course, but it's really wonderful to work with and I would recommend it to digital artists of any level.

Friday, January 28, 2022

January Blues - A Whole Mood & A New Doll

I don't know about anyone else, but January has been tough! I had plans to go to Peabody Essex Museum and had to reschedule it twice. I'll get there in the next week or two & it'll be the first time I've gone to a museum since the pandemic started! We've also had a cold (covid??) going around the house. Both kids tested negative for covid, so I'm going with a cold. But it's been brutal. Sick kiddos and a sick mom make for an unhappy house! January is blah and grey and miserable enough without a horrendous cough, too. 

So I'm using our general malaise as inspiration! I've been scribbling at a new doll and not really getting anywhere. It hit me that a one page "January Blues" might be a fun way to put that scribble to use. It might even become a whole year's project!

The color version is way at the bottom, after a bit of chatter about coloring it....

Here's where I landed with the doll. I elongated the legs and slimmed her down a tad. I wanted a model or vintage paper doll kind of look. I could fuss with this forever and never like it!! 

Next up, I sketched a little mix and match wardrobe. I drew this in Photoshop, which I don't typically do. My favorite drawing program (app? I dunno, I'm old!!) is Sketchbook. It used to be free but now it's like $20 USD for the desktop version. Anyway, great program but I wanted to experiment with Photoshop. I grabbed a huge set of brushes and I wanted to test them out. (I'm not selling these or getting paid for these or anything - I bought them myself, just to tinker with.) I used the pencil set, specifically the HB pencil. That's what I use on paper so it seemed like a good place to start!

Once everything was sketched out, I drew lines. I try to have closed shapes when I line my images. After creating lines on the layer above the sketch, I select outside the lines with the magic wand, inverse my selection, and create a white fill under the lines. At this point, I also like to add my tabs so that I can make any fit adjustments before coloring.  

And then I color.


For each doll and outfit, I draw all black lines on one layer. Then I color in layers underneath the lines. I like to set the blend more of the line layer to Soft Light. It gives me subtly colored lines. It takes a while but it's what works best for me. If the lips are on one layer, for example, I can edit the shape or color or whatever as needed without altering anything else.

It's a process coloring these! I did all of the coloring in Photoshop and it was loooonnnnnggggg. Photoshop crashed at least a dozen times and lagged out more than that. It would be faster in Sketchbook. Anyway, I have it in black & white and color, so feel free to download and print! 

To download and print, CLICK on the image and then save. If you just save the image, it's low resolution, but clicking on it gives you the full, printable image

Friday, January 21, 2022

Random Sketching

I haven't got a real plan yet for the ol' blog. I have some previous projects & some future projects that I'd like to share. Other than that, I'm winging it at the moment. I'd like to get back to to sharing my process, too, and that's what I'm going to do here today.

Inspiration has been hard to come by. I decided to just randomly scribble and see what happens.

I've been interested in sewing pattern illustrations and this pose was inspired by one from the seventies that I found on Pinterest.


 Because I knew from the beginning that I'd work on this digitally, I snapped a quick picture with my phone instead of scanning it. And really, depending on the setup, a phone can work just as well as a scanner. I opened it in Photoshop for editing. It's possible to edit this in other programs - I've been tinkering with Affinity - but Photoshop is my go-to. Most of what I do would work in most photo editing software.


 The head was a little big so I reduced that. The torso felt a little long so I used the Warp tool (Edit>Transform>Warp) to shorten it. The sketch on the left is edited and the one on the right is the original. It's better but it still isn't quite what I want...


... So I tried a different head! That's what I love about digital art - the flexibility to experiment with different things all a the same time. I don't have to redraw the body or head or trace it etc. I just pop it into the computer and try something new.  I like the new head but the shoulder on the right side of the drawing feels like it's dropped too far.


 It's a subtle difference. The left is unedited and the right is edited. At this point, I'll work out a few more issues with the sketch and draw the line art.

 Staying in Photoshop, I reduced the opacity of my sketch and drew lines on the layer above. I used a brush meant to simulate  a 4H pencil. Typically, I like to draw in Sketchbook but since I was already using Photoshop, I just stuck with that. 


And here's what I came up with. On the left, the lines from the initial sketch. Then, I tweaked the torso a bit. In the third pose, I turned the torso to be more forward facing. Finally, on the right, I pulled the legs in together more, just to see what would happen. 

I'm not sure which I like the best yet. I'm not even sure what I'll do with it! But it was good to put pencil to paper.