Friday, November 30, 2012

Fashion Doll Friday - Noelle

Today is the last day of November and I'm going to the Methuen Festival of Trees so I'm feeling festive.  This week's doll is the first Fashion Friday holiday doll! Enjoy!

Noelle - Fashion Friday Paper Doll

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Angel Doll

For anyone who has been over to my portfolio site, you've probably seen my angel doll.  I haphazardly post a new page roughly every holiday season.  And now I'm posting it here!  I have the pdf over at the portfolio site.

Since this blog is about technique, I just want to mention that this was done in Illustrator.  I made use of gradients and patterns, and some brushes.  The first two pages are somewhat traditional costumes for an angel.  The last page is influenced by Victorian era clothing.  I've been reading a history of Christmas.  Anyway.... Enjoy the angel doll!

Monday, November 26, 2012

More on Illustrator

Last week we left off in Illustrator.  We'll finish that up, and this will be the last lesson for this year.  I'll post a Fashion Friday doll this week, too, but December is going to be an experiment.  I am going to post a black & white doll on December first and then a new outfit every day for the month!  January will be back to the normal routine.  After today's lesson, I feel like all of the "basics" of how I make a paper doll will have been covered.  I'd like to dig deeper into some techniques, as well as take a look at various products to explore the differences.  If there's a topic someone would like to explore, let me know.  I'm happy to take lesson requests!

So back to the lesson.

Last week we left off with an outlined doll.  I want to create the base for the doll, color the doll, and place the doll in the proper position to print on a standard sheet of paper.  Let's start by creating the base.

Open the shape tool on the menu toolbar and select the ellipse option.  Hold down Shift while drawing an ellipse and you'll end up with a circle.  This works with the rectangle tool as well: you get a square by holding Shift.  If you also hold down Option (or Alt on a PC) while drawing, you'll creating your circle from the center out.  It can be handy.

We've created a circle for the base, but the base needs to be a straight line.  I could delete points and fiddle with the convert anchor tool, but there's a much easier way - the pathfinder tool.  So next we need to draw a rectangle.  It needs to be wider than the circle and at least half the height.  Bigger is better.

Here's how it should look.  Next I want to center it horizontally and vertically and use the pathfinder tool to delete it.  Select the circle and rectangle together.  Hold shift to select multiple objects at the same time.

After you select your two shapes, a new menu pops up on the top toolbar.  The second button aligns the shapes vertically, the fifth button will align the shapes horizontally.  Once you do that, open your pathfinder tool.  It looks like two overlapping boxes, or you can select it from the drop-down menus at the top: Window>Pathfinder.

So select your two shapes and click on the second button in the first row of the pathfinder tool.  If you hover over it, you'll see that it's called Minus Front. And that's exactly what we want! The image above shows the before and after.  Now take that base shape and send it to the back.  We've going to resize and position the doll.  I've unlocked the template layer and moved all the outfit templates off the artboard (that's the white rectangle we've been working on top of).

Click on the Document Setup button at the top of the screen and you get the menu pictured above.  There's an Edit Artboards button.  That's what we want to do.  You can drag and move the artboard to resize it, but I just want to make it 8.5 inches high by 11 inches wide.  Type those numbers into the appropriate slots.

There's an X,Y,W, and H option.  X and Y give you the location of the board on the X and Y axis.  We don't need that.  W and H give you the dimensions of your board.  I want it 11 inches wide, and 8.5 inches tall.  If the measurements are in pixels, points, etc, just type "8.5in" or "11in".

So our artboard is the correct size, all but one of our templates have been moved (remember the template under the doll!), and we're ready to move and resize.  Make sure your template layer has been re-locked.

Using the black arrow, draw a box around the whole doll.  There will then be an invisible rectangle around the doll.  Grab anywhere and drag it to the lower left of the artboard.  With everything still selected, grab the upper right corner of the rectangle, hold shift (to contstrain the proportions), and drag to the size you want.

This is now your final doll and all clothes must fit this doll.  Delete the doll template.  What I do from here is trace the doll outfit templates somewhere outside the artboard using the same techniques we used to trace the doll.  Then I select the outfit the way I selected the whole doll, and place it over the doll and fiddle around with the fit.  I would recommend doing this on a new layer!

Here I've created one quick little outfit on a new layer.  Make sure your outside lines are the same thickness as the doll.  You can do this by changing the stroke.

To color your doll, click on each shape and select a color.  You can change the foreground and stroke colors, you can make the fill a gradient, you can add patterns, etc.  In this case, I just want to make the doll flat colors.  Click on the part you want to color and select a swatch from your swatches panel.

And here's a flat color on the doll and clothes.  Next year, we'll dig deeper into some of these programs and techniques.  For now, play around with Illustrator and see what you can come up with.  And think about what lessons might be fun to try for next year!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fashion Friday - Tess

Here's the Fashion Friday doll - Tess.  I wanted to do something black (for Black Friday) but not ALL black.  So here's a black & red doll.  Enjoy!

Tess - Fashion Friday Paper Doll

Download the Fashion Friday - Tess pdf here

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tracing a Doll in Illustrator

Today we're going to continue with Illustrator.  It's a complex program that takes time to master, and every time I use it I learn something new.  What we'll be doing today is tracing out the doll.  I may get to tracing the outfits too, but that might wait til next week.  And remember, starting December 1st I'm going to try something a little different for the month: a daily doll post.  More on that to come.

One more note, most of this lesson would work with any vector program.  I use Adobe Illustrator CS4.

Open Illustrator.  Open File>Place and choose the image you want to trace.  I have the doll and clothes all in one file.  The clothing is not to scale and doesn't fit the doll yet.

This is my setup.  I have a the doll and all the clothing laid out randomly.  The image sizes and art board size are irrelevant.  Make sure any and all of these template images are on the same layer.  I named my layer "templates" and I'm going to lock that layer and make a new one.

In Illustrator, every shape or object is its own sub-layer.  This can be a bit confusing and we'll look at some examples of this.  To start, get the pen tool and start tracing the doll.  I create a rough outline using a stroke with no fill and straight lines.  Start with large areas first.

The lines in red are my rough trace.  I chose red so it would show up against the black lines of the template.  I placed a point at natural intersections: elbow, neck, waist, etc.  This is a 1pt line thickness with mitered joins.  What that means is that the places where points turn (like the fingertips here), the line forms a sharp angle.  I'm not a fan of that, so I typically change my strokes to a rounded cap/rounded join combination.  I also prefer a thinner line while tracing.  In the stroke panel (the bottom panel in this image), change the stroke thickness and select the two center selections for the type of stroke: rounded cap and rounded join.  Make sure your art is selected when you do this.

Next up, grab the convert anchor tool from the pen menu.  We're going to start changing those points and straight lines into curves.

Here are two close-ups showing the line.  I clicked on a point with the convert anchor tool (looks like an open arrow) and dragged my mouse to pull the point out.  There are handles and grabbing those handles will continue to change the look of the curve.  That's what is happening in the bottom image.  Do this all around the rough outline.

This is my outline.  I like to draw the body and head individually.  In this case, I've outlined the body.  I need to outline the background fingers and head next.

 Here is the outline when filled with white.  I also drew the fingers here.  As I mentioned before, each shape is a sub-layer and that becomes obvious here.

Each shape is drawn on top of the previous shape.  These fingers need to be repositioned under the hand.  This can be done using the Object>Arrange>Send Backward menu, or you can use the shortcut (Command or Control - Bracket.  It's the left bracket for bring forward and right bracket for send backward), or you can rearrange the sub-layers in the layers menu.

This final picture shows the outlined doll.  In the next lesson, we'll color the doll and add the base.  I need to add some details to the hair and outfit as well.

Hopefully next time we'll have a chance to go over some of the other tools in Illustrator, such as brushes, patterns, gradients, etc.  Next week will be the last lesson until January.  I want to dig deeper into some topics.  I'd also love suggestions, but we'll talk more about that next time.  Til then, practice with Illustrator.  Have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fashion Friday - Ava

It's fancy dress Friday!  I thought it'd be fun to post some sparkly clothes.  Enjoy the doll & have a great Thanksgiving!

Ava - Fashion Friday Paper Doll

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Plenty to be Thankful For

I was reading another paper doll artist's Facebook feed last night and I was really struck by his fan base.  I don't want to specify who, but needless to say, he creates beautiful work and has quite a following.  Anyway, a woman commented on his site to thank him.  I'm not quoting directly or anything, but she wanted to express how grateful she was that he had so many free dolls to download.  Her family is on a tight budget and his dolls allow her to indulge her two little girls with a new toy that they might not otherwise have.  Not only did it bring a tear to my eye, but it makes me happy & grateful to do what I do.

Sure, I'm trying to launch a paper doll business, but I'm also part of a community of awesome artists and fantastic collectors, and, ultimately, that's what matters.  Do what you love & try to make a living from it, but remember who got you there.  I've been writing this blog for a little less than 6 months and the amount of people reading it has skyrocketed beyond my expectations.  I will ALWAYS have free downloads, as well as dolls to purchase.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving this month (in the US at least), I want to say thank you to those who read the blog, visit my deviantArt page, look at my portfolio, as well as those who download and/or buy my dolls.  It means a lot to me.

AND... here's a Thanksgiving doll.  It's one of the PaperJanes.  If you want the complete set (can be customized!), visit the Etsy store. Edit November 2015:  The Etsy project didn't work out. I may try again at some point....! Enjoy the doll anyway :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Introduction to Illustrator

I know it's been a little chaotic over here lately!  Finally, back to normal with a lesson.  I'll do two more lessons this year.  The month of December is very hectic for me, so I have a low-maintenance, super fun idea for the whole month.  Look for it December 1st.

So today's lesson is an introduction to Adobe Illustrator.  I use Illustrator CS4 but most of what I go over should work with most or all versions.  I know that there are several other vector programs available that are similar to Illustrator.  Maybe next year I'll venture into product trials & reviews, but at this point, I'm all in with Illustrator.

Briefly, Illustrator is a vector based program.  So instead of having images made up of billions of little square pixels, the image is produced by a series of complex mathematical calculations.  Lucky for us, that has no impact on creating in Illustrator!  What does matter, however, is that vector images are infinitely scalable.  When you have an image in Photoshop (a jpg, gif, png, etc...) these have a set resolution (300dpi, 600dpi, etc) and really should only be scaled down, not up.  A vector can go any which way.  The Fashion Friday dolls, for instance, were originally created for a 5 x 7in booklet.  After printing a sample, I realized they were too detailed for that size.  So I scaled everything up to 8.5 by 11 with no problems.

This is the way I have my work area setup.  I believe it's more or less the default setting, so when you open Illustrator it will look something like this.  Every version of Illustrator is slightly different, so remember this is CS4.  On the left, the toolbar.  It can be set up as a single column (shown here) or as a double column (next image).  On the right, the default swatches panel and the layers panel.  All the way to the right there is a second toolbar with more advanced tools, such as the gradient palette and appearance panel.  We won't go over all of these tools today.  I've been working with Illustrator for about 4 years and I learn something new with every project.

These are the tools I mentioned above.  We will use the selection tool (black arrow), direct select tool (white arrow), the pen tool (looks like a pen nib), the shapes tool (shows up as a rectangle here), and the color swatches at the bottom.  They look similar to the swatches in Photoshop, but here they show the fill and stroke color.  Some of these tools have hidden options indicated by a small black triangle in the lower right corner.  You can also pull some of these tools out completely from the toolbar (next image).

Here, I've pulled out the direct select arrow and the pen tool.  These are the tools I use the most.  The pen tool is my weapon of choice for creating in Illustrator. The pen tool has four states total: the pen tool itself, the add point, remove point, and convert anchor. We'll actually trace a doll out in Illustrator in the next lesson.  Today I just want to show you how the various tools work.  In the image above, I've drawn a line with three points using the pen tool.

In this image, I used the convert anchor tool (looks like an upside down V) to create a curve.  Select the covert anchor tool, click on a point, and pull.  You get a neat little curve.  The blue lines sticking out are what you use to adjust the curve.  Click and drag with the direct select tool and the whole curve changes.  Click and drag on the end of the blue line with the convert anchor tool and you affect just that arm.

On the top, a line that was altered slightly with the direct select tool.  On the bottom, I clicked and dragged one of the blue lines with the convert anchor tool.  I know this all sounds a lot more complex than it really is.  It'll make a lot more sense next time.  To close a shape, click on the first point again.  An O shape will show up next to the pen to indicate that the shape is closed.

This is an image of another doll I'm working on.  On the left is what the doll looks like, on the right is an image with all the lines visible.  Most of that was done with the pen tool.  Some of it, like the earring and the iris/pupil on the eyes was done using the shape tool.  That one is pretty self-explanatory so I'm not going to get into it.

I think this is a good place to stop. Play around with the pen tool.  When I was learning, my teacher suggested that we trace a coloring book page with the pen tool.  It was a really great way to get a sense of how to use it.  There are numerous sites online that have Illustrator tutorials available (and do a much better job than I do of explaining things!) This one, for instance, is a nice overview.  Do a search for illustrator pen tutorials and you'll get lots.  And if you aren't familiar with it, deviantArt is a wonderful resource too.   Practice with the pen tool & we'll start using it next week!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fashion Friday - Paige

Back to normal... I think!!

The PaperJanes project is off the ground.  I feel like I've been working on it forever and it's really only been about a month.  I'm hoping to add to it today (maybe this weekend..).

Today's doll is fall inspired.  I feel like fall (autumn...whatever) is too short.  Summer lasts almost til Halloween and Christmas starts October 30th.  Winter is crazy for me -- we have two birthday, Christmas, and a whole lot of family to try to see in a very short block of time.  I always look forward to January!

Anyway, enjoy the doll.  Monday's lesson is going to be an intro to Adobe Illustrator, so get that mouse & scanner ready.

Paige - Fashion Friday Paper Doll

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shameless Self Promotion Monday

Update, November 2015:

I stopped working on this project a while ago.  There was very little interest and I've set it aside.  I've thought about re-opening an Etsy shop but haven't completed anything yet.


I realized yesterday that I missed the Fashion Friday upload.  I blame it on the storm :) Hopefully today's post will make up for it.

Why is it Shameless Self Promotion Monday?  Well, because I just opened an Etsy shop.  I have a new line of dolls called PaperJanes.  They can be customized and personalized.  At the moment, they are available in 3 skin tones, 4 hair colors, and 4 eye colors.  More will be available soon.

So here's what happens: you go to the Etsy shop, select the wardrobe you want, choose the hair & eye colors you want.  Then, you purchase the doll & start a conversation with me by clicking on the Contact the Shop Owner link.  In the conversation, you tell me what skin tone you want and what name you'd like on your doll.  I then send you a pdf to download and play with.  You can print this file over & over again (for personal use, of course).  And the best part is that all dolls and outfits are interchangeable!

I'm hoping to have lots of themes available.  The next set will be a winter wardrobe and a holiday wardrobe, and then princesses, historical costumes, etc.  I'm really hoping to make this a massive, on-going project.

As a preview, I have three sample dolls available for download (for free of course) here. I have one of each skin tone, and these all coordinate with the rest of the PaperJanes line as well.

Each wardrobe will also be available in a black & white coloring set as well.  Each doll includes outfits to color on the Instructions page.

I'm thrilled with the way this turned out.  Since this blog is about technique, let me tell you that this doll was made in Adobe Illustrator.  Which dovetails nicely into the next lesson.

I know I've been a little haphazard about lessons & fashion doll downloads.  My intention is to get back on track for next week.  We'll have an intro to Illustrator on Monday.

Til then, enjoy these downloads.  And tell everyone you know about PaperJanes!