Monday, June 18, 2012


Here's the first of what I'm hoping will be many, many posts.  I'm planning this as a tutorial site for creating paper dolls using the various methods I've tried out over the years.  It's also going to be a showcase for paper dolls I've made and am currently working on.  So let's jump into the lessons!

I've decided to use one doll for all of the lessons.  We'll use the doll above to walk through the process of drawing the doll, outfits, and coloring the doll in traditional media and digital media.  I'll use others for illustrating different points or ideas, but there's just one doll for all the lessons.

Lesson One: Definitions

Body Type

There a two very broad categories that I use to describe my dolls: open body type and closed body type.  An open body doll has limbs that are spread out from the body, allowing for more flexibility in adding tabs.  A closed body doll has limbs that are closer to the body and create a white space, such as a bent arm.


The base of a doll is the bottom portion, often used to attach a stand.  Sometimes I use one and sometimes I don't.  It makes for a consistent, usually geometric area to add tabs on the doll's clothing, and can help with alignment when creating outfits for the doll.  The one rule I use is that the bottom of the base must be a straight line, especially if used to attach a stand. The doll above has a base and a rectangular strip to add to the base & use as a stand.


Take a look at the doll above again.  The outfits all have tabs in order to attach the outfits to the doll.  It's important that the tabs follow the lines of the body underneath the outfit.  We'll get into that more in the lessons about drawing outfits.

That's it for now.  Next lesson will be all about drawing a doll.


  1. I discovered your site through Rachel's Paper Thin Personas ( Your links seem to be off, but I'll find any PD site I can. :) Anyway, getting to my point now. I posted links to you site in a paper doll group I'm a member of, where you already have fans who are excited for your Goddess book. I can't wait to see what's next!

  2. I'm very flattered - thank you! I honestly didn't know the Goddess dolls had been noticed at all :) I'll be posted a preview of the next paper doll soon.

  3. Just so you know, you have been integral in my paper doll design discovery. I'm a graphic designer but not much of a pen-and-paper illustrator, so these tutorials help. If it weren't for you and Adobe, I'd be lost.

    I was going back and rereading these and I just wanted to thank you.

    1. Thanks so much for that :)

      My mother started me on my paper doll journey. As a kid I had Princess Di dolls and pretty much any doll we could get our hands on. I vividly remember having chicken pox and my mom got my Heart Family paper dolls to get through it! I'm probably showing my age a bit :) I also got this amazing Crayola fashion plate set for my 10th birthday. That was the first time I MADE my own doll and it was addictive!

      As a teen, I would take my babysitting money and buy Tom Tierney's books. I still have drawings I made by copying his books. I really should post some of my childhood dolls!

      I moved away from paper dolls (and art altogether) for a while in my twenties. This blog really started as a way to fill my down time as a stay-at-home mom and it's really blossomed from there. My goal was to keep myself working. If I had a regular project (ie: a new technique to talk about every week), then I'd be a better person, better artist, and better mom.

      Without readers like you, it wouldn't be worth it. If you enjoy the blog and learn something, that means the world to me.

      And draw! There are a lot of artists/designers that I follow. I'll put together a list soon. One you should check out is Von Glitschka at He's a hard-core Illustrator user and strongly advocates drawing. Check out his stuff.

      Thanks again for the lovely comment :) It keeps me coming back and creating more!