Friday, February 28, 2014

Fairy Tale Fashion Friday - Prince Charming

My last fairy tale doll was not a favorite.  I may try to re-do that doll at some point.  Today I decided to post a Prince Charming doll, for two reasons.  First, I like to have some diversity -- why not make a prince to go with those (and forthcoming) princesses? And, secondly, my little prince is having a birthday tomorrow.  My youngest son is turning two, so this fair skinned blond prince is for him.

Download Fairy Tale Friday - Prince Charming pdf here

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Elements of Art: Texture

Today we're going to talk about texture! I realize that this is two days later than usual.  I've had a lot going on recently, but I will not let this blog die because of it :)   Today's post will be relatively short as a result, but I felt the need to get it out there.

So today... texture!  I tend to think of texture in a literal way: how my paper or canvas feels, how my pencil or brush drags across it, how can I add interest to a background.

Texture is so much more than that! It can also pattern and repetition.  It's line and shape and contrast.  I like to create fur trim on some of my vector paper doll clothes.  I do that with a jagged line.  And patterns.  I love patterns! To create jeans, for example, I make blue pants and put a cross-hatch "burlap" texture over them.  Suddenly, plain blue pants look like jeans.  That's the power of texture.

Let's take a look at two examples of texture and paper dolls.  These are both done in Photoshop, but texture is everywhere in both digital and non-digital art.

Dreamerwhit95 on deviantArt:

I love this doll!  The artist states that it was a commission for a family to give their daughter.  It's lovely.  I love that it's three dolls in a unified composition that could also be three individual compositions.  The background textures are great.  They add just enough interest to the background without being invasive.  I'm not sure how well it shows up in this image (go to her gallery for a better view) but the textures on the clothing are amazing! The prom gowns look like satin.  The glitter looks like actual glitter.  This is the only paper doll in her gallery, but all of her art is worth checking out.

Cory Jensen, fan page on Facebook

I've talked about Cory before, but when I saw this doll yesterday I HAD to talk about it! Cory uses pattern and light/dark contrast to make the fabrics in this doll look like metallic fabric.  The leather boots have highlights that make them look like worn leather. I was just astonished by this doll!  And not just the doll.  Cory always makes wonderful use of his backgrounds.

There are so many other dolls and artists I could talk about.  Texture is everywhere and really adds interest to a doll when used well.

I'm going to try to post a doll on Friday.  I've got some freelance work to get done and my youngest son's birthday is Saturday so Friday is a baking/decorating/party prep day.  I can't believe he's 2 already... Anyway, I'm going to do my best to get that up! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fairytale Fashion Friday (Saturday Edition) - Cinderella

I tried to get this up for Friday -- I really did!  I've been doing a bit of graphic design freelancing recently, and the client I'm working with often needs me to drop everything and meet a tight deadline.  Yesterday was that day! (I know... I should have planned ahead and scheduled a post.  I struggle with that....!!)

Today I have another fairy tale doll - Cinderella.  It isn't my favorite, but it's not bad.  I love the little cape.  Cinderella has never been my favorite and maybe that's my problem with this doll!

Anyway, download the doll below and have a wonderful, warm weekend (while it lasts...!)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Elements of Art: Tone

We're going to talk about tone!  I really, really want to talk about color but I think it would make more sense to discuss tone first.  Color might end up broken into several lessons since there's so much to cover....

Anyway, today's it's all about creating "color" with black and white!

Tone (or value) is the degree of blackness or whiteness.  It helps to convey form and where an object is in space (foreground, background, etc).  Often, artists will create a tonal study to help define where colors will go later.  What part of my image is my darkest dark?  My lightest light?  And then fill in between

This is a tonal study by Michelangelo.  There are examples from every era and style of art, so you can take your pick! Here, the direction of the light is obviously from right to left.  There are deep blacks on the left, and the color of the paper represents the lightest tones of the figure.

Tone or value doesn't need to be black and white.  I think it's easiest to see in black and white.

So what about paper dolls?

Well, I have two black and white examples to share.  Again, tone is everywhere, not just in black and white, so look for it everywhere.

Norma Lu Meehan

This is a limited edition set available at Paperdoll Review.  Norma Lu Meehan's paper doll art is everywhere and it's great!  She's an editor for Paper Doll Studio magazine and always contributes something lovely.  She's a former fashion illustrator who specializes in historic costumes, and there's a lot to learn from her work.  The image above shows one of her black and white dolls (if you follow the link, there's a better view of this).  She uses line and tone to illustrate her figures.  The first outfit on the left is particularly striking.  I think it's easy to think of black as a single, dark tone instead of something made up of various shades of black and white.  That dark outfit reads as "black" and that's because of - not in spite of - the variation from super dark to light.

Brenda Sneathen Mattox,

Brenda is another heavy hitter in the world of paper dolls.  She's another trained fashion illustrator.  Her website is full of incredible dolls, both in black & white and color.  It can be a bit tricky to navigate, but well worth digging through.

The image above is taken from a doll set featuring the classic little black dress.  Again, she makes wonderful use of black and white.  There's a fullness in the dress on the far right that's achieved through a subtle shift from black to white and back again.

I don't work in black and white nearly enough.  I think there's a lot to learn from tonal studies, whether it's a charcoal still-life or a pencil figure drawing.  Try to push the tones and values in your work, and I know I'll look a little harder at mine!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fashion Doll Friday - Scarlett

I've got a set of fancy dresses for Valentine's Day!  My husband and I tend to stay in on V-day, especially now that we have kids. Having said that, our first Valentine's together was great & I'll always remember how much fun we had.  I trudged through the snow in heels and a skirt to a French restaurant in the town we lived in.  And I know we'll get back there soon enough!

So here's Scarlett and some fun dresses for your Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Elements of Art: Form

I'm back with any overview of form today!  I could have discussed form with shape, but to me, they are two distinct elements of art and design.

As an overview, we've talked about line and shape, both of which are pretty well known to anyone who has ever drawn, well, anything!  My oldest son (he's 4) is currently learning about line & shape and it's a joy to watch!

Anyway, form is a little different.  Form is frequently discussed in terms of shape.  Shape is a two-dimensional representation (square, rectangle, circle, etc) and form is a three-dimensional representation.  Some common forms include: sphere (3D circle), pyramid (3D triangle), and the one I use the most - cylinder.

Here's a wonderful illustration of shape and form on Sandy Scott's art blog.

So how do you make a flat image look like it has depth?  There are lots of ways.  Typically, shading of some sort is used.  It can be done using line to create hatching & cross-hatching.  It can be done by blending different colors -- adding shades for shadow and tints for highlights.

And what does this have to do with paper dolls?   Well, a lot of artists focus on creating a sense of realism in their art, and depicting form is one way to do it.  Today I have two sample artists (and you're probably familiar with both of them!)

Liana Kerr, Liana's Paper Dolls

Liana has been creating paper dolls for about a decade, on and off, and her work is amazing.  She used to work in colored pencil and recently made the jump to digital coloring.  Although her colored pencil work is amazing, I absolutely love the new style! I can't even imagine how many hours go into these dolls!  Liana has a strong yet subtle sense of form.  She makes wonderful use of lights and darks to really make the folds of her dresses pop.  And the shading on the face is terrific! She just started this set of dolls, so there aren't a lot of examples of her digital coloring.  Nonetheless, go check out her site.

Tom Tierney

Its' almost impossible to talk about paper dolls without talking about Tom Tierney.  He is the current master of the art, really.  I could use examples of his work every week, but today I thought his use of form would be particularly useful.  His shading is very delicate: there's a shadow here & there, but it isn't everywhere.  And yet it's incredibly effective.  There are thousands of images we could look at, but today I chose an Indian bride.  If you look at the doll, there's no doubt that one leg is in front of the other, and yet there's barely a shadow there to indicate it.  His work is always a beautiful blend of line, shape, and form.

So that's an overview of form.  It's something I know I need to work on a bit, and I hope this helps others, too.

And now -- shameless plug time!

I put together a new paper doll, "When I Grow Up...".  It's a career themed paper doll with one doll and 13 outfits.  I've been working on this doll on and off for years.  I'm finally happy with the way it came out!  This will be my last self-published book for a little while.  I have some bigger projects in the works that I need to focus on.  Anyway, if you want a copy for yourself, it's currently available on  I'm hoping to get all of my dolls on to Amazon in the near future and I'll update when that happens.

Anyway, come back Friday for another new doll!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fashion Doll Friday - Steve

Let me just say that "fashion" might be a bit of a stretch for this doll! If you've ever lived anywhere in the US that is cold and/or has hunting, you've seen this outfit.  As everyone knows by now, I live in New England and my family has been here for like a million generations or something.  For much of that time, we've lived in Vermont.  It's where I got my start.  Anyway, there is an institution in Vermont called the Johnson Woolen Mills and since the 1840s, they have been producing this hunting jacket.  Every man (and some of the women) in my family has at least one of these jackets!  One year, my father got a new one for Christmas or his birthday (I forget which now...) and it was  a bit snug.  So I inherited it! And I've been wearing it ever since.  When the storm hit this week, my husband was at work. He ended up working a 16 hour day and I had to shovel.  A task made much easier by my hearty Johnson Woolen jacket.

So thanks, Dad, for the warm coat and a family tradition.  Now we need to take my boys up to Vermont and get THEIR jackets!