Friday, September 28, 2012

Fashion Friday - Wedding dress

This Fashion Friday doll is a little different.  I recently joined the Original Paper Doll Artist's Guild (OPDAG).  It's a fantastic group for creating paper dolls, collecting paper dolls, or just browsing for the latest in paper doll art.  My first submission to the magazine is printed on page 35 & I've included it here as a download.  The outfits for this doll will fit previous dolls as well!

Anyway, feel free to download.  And go check out OPDAG and the Paperdoll Reveiw for more dolls.

Wedding Paper DollWedding Paper Doll

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fanart Paper Dolls

My husband & my oldest son love Phineas & Ferb on Disney.  A while back, I made a paper doll based on the show.  I've never really made fanart before -- I have too many ideas of my own to keep up with as it is! But this was just too cute to pass up.  The first doll is Phineas & Ferb's older sister Candace.  I posted it on my deviantART page, where it generated a tiny bit (and I do mean tiny!!) of buzz.  So I made another doll based on the show, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, the show's antagonist.  I decided to post the dolls here as well as deviantART.  These are fanart, so I don't own the copyright to the characters.  They're here for personal use only.

Since this site is about the process of making dolls, here's an outline of how they were created.  I took stills from the show (using Netflix on my computer) as a reference.  I drew the doll and outfits in pencil, inked them with an archival pen, scanned them, and, finally, outlined & colored them in Adobe Illustrator.

Candace, in three pages:

Dr. Doofenshmirtz, in four pages:

There may be more outfits to come for both dolls as the show continues.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Introduction to Digital Media

So today we'll start looking at working digitally.  Like any other medium, there's no right or wrong way to do it.  And there are no right or wrong materials either.  As with traditional media, I suggest you get the best materials you can.  The difference here, though, is the level of quality!  Do you need a high-end Mac running the latest Adobe Creative Suite? No.  There are some digital artists that work with free or inexpensive software on an entry-level computer.  When I started learning, I used Adobe Photoshop Elements on a PC with a mouse.  Today, I use a Macbook Pro with Adobe CS4 and a Wacom tablet.  Both my computer and software are not the newest, but who cares?! It works for me!

In case all of that sounds like gibberish, here's a brief breakdown of some of the programs and accessories that are available to use in digital art.  This is by no means a complete list!

Wacom Tablet

A Wacom tablet is essentially a digital input pad.  There's a pressure-sensitive pen and a mouse, and you use both of these draw on the pad & it shows up on your screen.  There are a variety of programs you can use with a Wacom, including all of the Adobe creative programs.  There is a large range of products available, from the professional-level Cintiq display to entry-level Bamboo or Intuos.  These start at less than $100.  For reference, my Wacom Intuous tablet is five years old and still does everything I need.

Adobe Creative Suite

 I'm using Adobe CS4, mainly Photoshop and Illustrator.  It's a little out of date (they're up to CS6 now), but it's not antique or anything.  Adobe has a variety of packages available, as well as a 30 free trial of any of their programs on their site.  There is also the option of using the Adobe Creative Cloud, which is a cloud version of the Creative Suite, and runs on a subscription (about $50 a month).  There's also Adobe Photoshop Elements.  It's up to version 10.  I have version 5 on my PC.  It's like Photoshop light.  It has the most common parts of the full version of Photoshop for about a fifth of the price.  And there are always older versions available on Amazon, etc.


This is another important part of my digital studio.  Like everything else, my scanner is a little older (like 5+ years) but it works great!  I like to draw by hand and sometimes color digitally.  Or create something start to finish by hand (like watercolors, etc), and then clean it up in Photoshop.  Having a scanner is essential.  You can use a digital camera in a pinch, but there can be a lot of distortion that way.  My scanner really only accommodates a standard sheet of paper so I have to plan accordingly.  Learn your scanner's settings too.  I scan at a high dpi (dots per inch) to ensure that I have the highest resolution image to work with.

I realize that this lesson is basically a wall of text, but it's important to know what we'll be working with.  Next week, we'll go through scanning a doll using my scanner (your scanner may vary), and how to work with it in Photoshop.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Watercolors: Part 2

Here's the continuation of the watercolor lesson.  For reference, I've listed the materials again.

Materials List:

Watercolor Pans (Winsor-Newton)
Watercolor Tubes (Winsor-Newton)
Watercolor Semi-soft pans (Yarka)
Assorted brushes
Doll traced onto Arches paper
Clean water
Paper towel
Watercolor palette

My preferred brush is a Cotman (by Winsor Newton) #4 round.  It's really versatile.  My second favorite brush is also a Cotman.  I believe it's a #1 round but I've had it so long that the markings are gone & the handle is bent!  I like a full synthetic brush -- I think it has the best feel at the best price.  I've had those two brushes for 10 years, easily.  Take care of a good brush & it'll last forever!

So now that my dolls have all of their color blocked in, and the flesh tones have some shadows, it's time to give everything else some shadows.  I started with the red, then the yellow, then the orange.  Again, I tried not to paint adjacent areas.  Start subtle.  It's easier to add than to take away.
After the initial shadows dry, I go back in with a slightly darker color and beef up the existing shadows.  I also add shadows to the base of the doll and the pants outfit.  To create my shadow colors, I use the initial color and add its complement.  Time to get out your color wheel!

For red, the complimentary color is green.  Green is directly across from red on the color wheel.  Adding green to red will make the red a little darker and a little more dull.  Perfect for shadows!

Now that all of my outfits are colored & shaded, I start on the details.  I want the shoes to be brown, and some of the details to be brown, and I leave that color for last.  Dark colors can be a little trickier, so I leave them till the end.  I don't want the brown to run into the red or yellow, etc.

I add the shadows to the brown at this point.  As you can see, I've been working on the face and hair as well.  I'm going to address those separately.

I want a dark red gemstone in the various pins and buckles on the doll.  This is the time to add that.   You could paint the settings or the gemstones first.  I decided to paint the gemstones.  They are are a bright, rich red.  Make sure to let this color dry before placing any other near it.  It will bleed!
Now that the gemstones are dry, I paint in the gold of the settings.  I start with a light yellow, then a darker yellow, and some brown for shadows.  I'll also add a slight white highlight to the gold and the gemstone.  I rarely use white in watercolors but this instance calls for it.

Outline everything with a thin brush in a darker tone.  Take your time with this!  I find outlines really help clean the image up and really give it a "finalized" look.

This is the final doll.  A word of advice: keep your light source in mind.  I accidentally started shading the wrong side of some of the clothes.  Instead of adjusting the clothes, I adjusted the shading on the doll. 

Now for the hair.  I've broken it into 8 steps.  I also painted the face at this time.  That's pretty straight forward.

1) Lay in a midtown.  This is a blonde so I put in a light yellow.
2) While the yellow is still somewhat wet, I put in the first layer of shadow.
3) Using a damp brush, I pull out a little of the light yellow where the highlight is.
4) A second layer of shadows.  I've also started adding lines to give the hair texture.
5) Once all of this dries, I take the initial yellow & glaze over the whole hair again.
6) Another layer of shadows and lines with a thin brush.
7) More of the same, slightly darker.
8) Outline everything. 

Next time we'll start talking about digital media.  I'll start with a Photoshop introduction.  Hopefully you won't see anymore of my horrible photos -- screenshots from here on out!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Watercolors: Part 1

A note about the photos: They came out a little darker than I would have liked.  I did this in the evening instead of in the afternoon.  I prefer natural light but time has been a bit short lately!

This is the first part of the watercolor lesson.  Watercolors are my preferred medium for coloring paper dolls so I really want to take my time & get it right. 

Materials List:

Watercolor Pans (Winsor-Newton)
Watercolor Tubes (Winsor-Newton)
Watercolor Semi-soft pans (Yarka)
Assorted brushes
Doll traced onto Arches paper
Clean water
Paper towel
Watercolor palette

These are the materials I'll be using: a variety of paints, a large palette, a bunch of brushes, clean water, and a paper towel.  Those last two are more important than they seem.  I frequently dip my brush & wipe off the excess water until it feels right. 

With watercolors, I find it essential to work one color at a time.  Make sure you mix enough of the color you want to use.  Keep in mind the color will look darker on the pallette than it will on paper.  Also, white is the color of the paper.  There is a watercolor white but I rarely use it.  And it make the paint opaque rather than translucent.

This is my flesh tone.  It look fairly dark, but isn't.  I work with thin colors.  It's easier to add paint and make a color darker than to try to take paint away.  Most watercolors dry slightly darker than they look when they first go down on paper.

I like to start with the flesh tone of the doll.  Color any flesh tone in your image.  I only have the flesh tone of the doll in this case.

Here's a close-up of the face.  You can see the texture of the paper and the even tone of the skin color.  I like to color small patches at a time. It's a more even and consistent color.
I take a slightly darker tone and put done subtle shadows.  I like to tweak it as I put it down.  Too dark?  Use a wet brush to lighten it.  Too light?  Add another layer of color after the first dries.  It's always easier to add!!

After the flesh tone & initial shadows, I move on to the next color.  Pick a completely different area to paint.  If you paint an adjacent spot (for example, the hair or the undergarment), the paint may bleed together.  Although that might make some cool effects, I prefer to work in a tightly controlled manner.  Paint all of the second color.

Again, I try to paint somewhere else but at some point, that just doesn't happen.  As the earlier colors dry, it becomes easier to fill in spots.

At this point, all of my main colors are in.  I want to lay down shadows as a glaze instead of wet-in-wet so I let my image dry now.  If you try to lay a color over another that is not dry enough, there's bleeding & blending, etc.

I painted the base and decided to call it a night.  Watercolor takes time.  The balance between wet and dry is crucial to achieving the effect you're looking for.

In the next watercolor lesson, we'll finish the shadows and work on the details.  I like to leave the face til last.