Friday, May 30, 2014

Fairy Tale Fashion Friday - Red Riding Hood

I've been on a fairy tale kick lately and today is no different!  There seems to be a lot of fairy tale stuff going on: several tv series, movies, kids' toys and cartoons, etc.  When there's a lot of the same thing going on, I'm reminded of something one of my art professors talked about - zeitgeist.  It's a German word that translates to "the spirit of the time".  The way my professor described it was sort of a moment in the cultural consciousness where everyone was interested in the same concepts at the same time.  And right now (in my opinion), there is a fairy tale zeitgeist!

I'm not complaining.  I love fairy tales!

There a line differentiating fairy and folk tales, but I choose to lump them all together.  Fairy tales are sometimes considered a subgenre of folk tales, so I feel ok lumping them together! Today's paper doll is generally considered a folk tale, and a very old one at that.  I've recently become very interested in Red Riding Hood so that's the doll of the day.

I almost have enough fairy tale dolls done to put together a book -- more details on that when it happens.

Have fun with the doll!

Download Fairy Tale Fashion Friday - Red Riding Hood pdf here

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kawaii Wednesdays - Pirates

I don't know about anyone else, but I totally lose track of what day of the week it is after a long weekend!  As a result, I forgot to post today's doll.  My mind thinks it's Tuesday, even though it's really Wednesday!

The mermaids last week were adorable (if I say so myself!) and I thought I'd keep with the beach theme and make pirates!

Have fun coloring!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Wicked Women Paper Doll: Painting the Doll

Before I start the watercolor walk-through for today, I need to share a picture of my studio buddy!

My oldest son has been working on his writing on his whiteboard while I paint.  We're usually in the studio during nap time, so I don't often get a picture of my younger son.  I'll have to make more of an effort!

This is the first day of painting! You can tell it's the first day because everything is tidy and organized.  That only lasts a few minutes, trust me.  In this picture you can see my palette, water container with holes for standing up my brushes, Koi watercolor pans, Winsor & Newton watercolor pans, and a stack of drawings ready to paint.  Someday I'll share a studio tour.  I'm planning a studio make-over this summer, so it'll wait til then!

I find watercolors to be a temperamental medium.  I have a love-hate thing for them.  In this case, I used a very smooth paper and the paint went on in a way I wasn't accustomed to.  It didn't absorb into the paper well and sort of sat on top of it in an ink-like film.  For some of the images, this was awesome and for some... well, we'll go over my frustrations in another post.

At this stage, I've traced all of my template images onto my final paper.  I used a light pencil so the outlines are faint in this image. I took this pictures with my phone, so some pictures are better than others!   I like to keep my lines faint.  I discovered on this project that an Art Gum eraser will remove lines even after I painted over them, courtesy of my youngest son who grabbed a pencil and scribbled on my painting.

I like to paint in a specific order.  It seems to work for me!  With watercolors, sometimes the paint doesn't dry as quickly as I work.  I like to have multiple pages started so that I can go from one to another while paint dries.  I start by mixing up a large batch of the skin tone color and I paint the skin on all of the dolls at the same time.

I try to avoid painting areas that are right next to each other until they dry.  Sometimes colors will bleed into each other in ways that are beautiful and sometimes they bleed into each other and completely ruin a painting.  In this image, I painted the base of the doll.  The paint is sort of streaky and this is because of the slick smoothness of the paper.  I kind of like it and decided to embrace it!

While drawing the initial sketches, I knew I wanted the bodysuit and boots to be black.  Black is a tough color in any medium, but I find it particularly frustrating in watercolor.  Straight black from the tube or pan can be very flat.  I try to mix my own, but sometimes I cheat and add color to black.  That's what I did here and it doesn't show up as well as I would like.

I used to be a real purist about mixing paint colors.  I used a very limited palette for a long time, but then an art professor of mine taught us a whole class just about selecting colors for a palette and it totally changed my thinking.

Also, it's important to paint from lightest to darkest in watercolors.  Ideally, the paper is your white.  I'll come back to that point later...

After painting in the skin tones, blacks, and base, I went on to the hair.  This is another thing that I like to paint all at once, if all of the outfit pages have the same hair color as the doll base.  In this case, that's what I wanted.  Mix up a nice, large batch of color!  I can't stress that enough.  Always mix more than you think you'll use because mixing a perfect match is nearly impossible.

Next up is some shading.  I have this little trick I like to use: first, I use a thin color for the base color, then I let the paint dry up some so that the color is more concentrated, and then I take this concentrated (and, subsequently, darker) paint and paint in the shadows.  It's not a foolproof method, but it's pretty handy.

More shading.  In this image, I tried to darken the black and add some shadows.  Black is super frustrating!!

The three images above show the progression of the hair and face.  It took more than three steps, of course, but in order to photograph it, I need to stop painting and sometimes I forget!

The hair is painted in three tones, from lightest to darkest.  I find using three colors (light, medium, dark) is really all I need to shade and define form. I used a tiny brush to get all of the strands in.  Brushstroke is important.  I tried to follow the contours of my initial outlines.

The make-up was tricky.  I wanted heavy make-up to convey a sense of villainy and red lips with black eyeliner seemed key.  I also thought green eyes were more devilish too! (No offense to any green eyed folks out there - I love green eyes!)

After black, red is my least favorite color to work with and I have a whole rant about red coming up soon.

Here's the sort-of final doll.  I outlined the base, the hair, the boots, and the bodysuit.  I did not add the skin tone outlines.  I leave that until the very last for two reasons.  First, I want the color to be consistent so I outline all of the skin at the same time across all of my paintings.  Secondly, it forces be to take a second, more removed look at each painting to make sure I'm happy with them.  Learn how to look at your own work in a detached, critical way.  It's a real help!

A word about white... Some watercolor artists ardently refuse to use it.  I like a little white when it's helpful.  Here, I used white to give the boots & bodysuit a little shine.  I also added a tiny bit to the eyes & lips for the same reason.

And this is what my table looks like most of the time! I have an amazing lamp that my husband got me for Christmas.  I suggest you use the best lighting you can - it makes a difference.

Next up, I'll go through the entire painting process of a painting an outfit.  If I can figure out how, I may try to make that one a video lesson.  I've never tried that, so we'll see if it works or not!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Historical Fashion Friday - Elizabeth

Here in the US, we're celebrating Memorial Day.  As a kid, I didn't think much about it.  There were parades and that was it, really.  I didn't know about the military history of my own family!  My grandfather was a Marine during Korea and I had no clue until I was a teenager, when I started my family tree project!  I've since discovered that one of my great-grandfathers was part of the last cavalry to serve during World War I and that my fourth great-grandfather fought in the Civil War.

To my knowledge, there aren't any women in my family who served in the military.  I may find some eventually.  Something to keep in mind, though, is that women have often served in military support positions.  This paper doll honors those individuals.

2014 is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I and I wanted to make a doll that represents that era.  This paper doll is Elizabeth, based on Elizabeth Remsen Thompson.  The costume can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's fantastic costume collection.  The only information I could find about Elizabeth comes from a PDF the museum issued.  This costume was donated by Thompson's daughter and the museum assumed it was an early nurse's uniform.  Thompson's daughter later corrected the musuem writing that "Mother never was a nurse, but knew all about automobile engines [...] and was known as Lightening Liz."  Apparently, she was a driver during the war!

As fascinating as that tid-bit is, that's all I've found about this woman.  Hers is just one of many stories, including those of so many support professionals, spouses, and all of the unsung individuals who assist our military even now.  Regardless of politics, I think these are all people who deserve to be recognized.

Enough about history... Here's the doll!

Download Historical Fashion Friday - Elizabeth pdf here

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kawaii Wednesdays - Mermaids

My nieces are going on their first beach vacation next week.  I thought, what could be more fun than coloring paper dolls on the beach?!  Today's Kawaii Kids paper doll is for them -- mermaids!

Usually, I have a boy & a girl in each of these Kawaii Kids sets.  This week, I decided to make it just girls.  If you want to have a little mer-boy, the tail will fit on any of the boy dolls.  I just figured girls were more interested in mermaids than boys. I'm basing that entirely on my sons versus my nieces so I could be totally wrong!

And I'll resume posting the Wicked Women walkthrough next Monday.  I took this Monday off to recover from my fun birthday weekend.  My husband & I spent the day wandering Boston - we walked something like 6 miles! It was a great birthday and we had a lot of fun, but it was tiring :)

Here's the mermaid set!  Enjoy!

Download the Kawaii Kids - Mermaid PDF here

Friday, May 16, 2014

Second Annual Star Trek Paper Doll - Deanna Troi Paper Doll edition

*edited April 29, 2020: added images of the paper doll pages because the PDF no longer works*

It's my birthday this weekend and I'm celebrating this week by sharing some sci-fi paper dolls.  Last year, I made a Star Trek paper doll.  After making that doll, I was inspired by the ladies at Fashion It So to create a Deanna Troi paper doll.  They have a hilarious blog about the costumes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and I highly recommend checking it out.

I was a kid in the '80s when ST:TNG was on the air.  I watched it with my parents while my sister grumbled somewhere about how terrible it was.  I loved everything about it!  And how could a nerdy '80s girl NOT love Deanna Troi?!  She had big hair, bright, tight clothing and dated Riker!

So this doll is for me and all the other people out there who love Star Trek, Deanna Troi, and paper dolls.  There's probably what, like 3 of us?! I'm hoping to cut it out soon myself.  I cut out last year's edition and loved dressing my Star Trek ladies.

Here's a preview of the whole doll. The outfits are more or less in order of appearance. I placed all of the uniforms in the first few pages in the order they appeared, and then all other costumes after that. These are the outfits from the tv series. I may include an extra couple of pages to include the movie costumes at some point. Did you love the Victorian costume from Time's Arrow? It's here. How about the Romulan undercover uniform? That's here, too. And not one but two workout outfits!

Download the 15 page Deanna Troi Paper Doll pdf here!

This literally took me a year to finish!  I worked on it in between other projects as a little labor of love.  I think it's complete and I couldn't have done this without the fantastic screen caps at Trekcore.

I hope everyone has fun with this one. I know I will!

(PS: no lesson on Monday.  I don't plan on doing anything this weekend except eat copious amounts of cake and hang out with my family!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kawaii Wednesdays - Astronauts

My birthday is coming up this weekend and I decided to do celebrate with some paper dolls!

It's no secret that I love art (obviously!) but the other thing I love is science.  It's fascinating.  I struggled with math so I never excelled or learned as much as I would have like in my science classes.  Regardless, I've always loved space and science fiction.  So this week's dolls are all space themed.

Today's Kawaii Kids set is a pair of astronauts.  I love these!  And if you like science, space, or sci-fi, and are of a certain age, you are going to love Friday's doll.  It's been a year in the making and that's all I'm going to say about that!

Have fun coloring these astronauts!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tracing a Paper Doll onto Final Paper

The next step in my Wicked Women paper doll process is tracing the doll onto the final paper.  Last week we looked at adding patterns in Photoshop and printing the finalized lines out.  Today we'll actually get the images ready for painting!

Here's the process so far: sketch --> trace templates --> draw outfits --> scan --> refine in Photoshop --> trace to final paper.  It seems like a lot of steps early in the process, but trust me, it's worth it on the back end!

There isn't a lot to say about tracing the doll.

I printed my finalized outlines on regular ol' printer paper.  I like to tape my image down so that it doesn't move around too much.  I use a Gagne Port-a-Trace lightbox that I've had for about 20 years.  I've never had a problem with it -- I haven't so much as changed a bulb in all that time!

When choosing your final paper, keep in mind two things: is it the right paper for your chosen media and can you see through it? For most of my paper dolls, I like to use watercolors.  I need a paper that can handle that but isn't too thick.  I typically use Arches watercolor paper, but I've been experimenting lately.  I found a stash of hot press paper from my college days and I love it, but I have no idea what brand it was.  All I remember was buying it at the school store.  I love this paper so much that I'm thinking about driving out to the school and checking the store to see if they still carry it! It's only been 10 years.....!!

Anyway, the paper I chose for this is a Strathmore 90lb mixed media paper.  If you're curious about paper weights, Dick Blick has a nice article about it.  Also, Dick Blick is a great place to order art supplies! I haven't tried a mixed media paper before and I'm interested in the differences when compared to watercolor paper.  As you can see in the image above, it's fairly easy to see this paper.

And a close-up at work.  Aside from choosing your paper, you also need to choose the correct pencil.  I used a 2H pencil and tried to draw lightly.  I say "tried" because I've always been very heavy handed.  I have a hard time drawing fine, delicate lines.  Heavy, black, deep lines are a habit I've had a hard time breaking.  Keep in mind that these lines are guides for painting and shouldn't be visible later.

So that's tracing a doll.  This is the last step where I can make any major corrections before painting.  Next week we'll look at painting the dolls.  And you can see my two favorite things: my new desk lamp and my antique drafting table!

Till then, keep creating and look for new dolls on Wednesday and Friday!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fashion Friday- Donna

Today's doll is a retro inspired tribute to all the moms out there.  I love the owls & flowers pattern I developed a while back for one of the Kawaii Kids dolls and decided to use it here.  My grandmother had aprons like these (probably still does even though she doesn't really cook much anymore) and I thought Donna was a super retro name!

To the moms out there, have a nice Mother's Day.  To the kids out there - Mother's Day is Sunday! You've been reminded :) I'll be spending my day at Old Sturbridge Village so maybe we'll have some Colonial inspired dolls soon....

Here's the doll!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kawaii Wednesdays - Karate

This week's Kawaii Kids paper doll is karate themed.  And that's about all I have to say about that!

I'm thinking about coloring some of the Kawaii Kids and assembling them into a book.  What I've discovered is this is going to be a challenging task.  I created these in Illustrator and sometimes I made a line where there should have been a shape, or used a dreaded clipping mask to eliminate a background.  Now that I want to color these, all of these little shortcuts are getting in the way!  There's always something new to learn, and some new mistake to learn it from!! I'll keep you posted on my progress....

Here's the Kawaii Kids - Karate paper doll.  Enjoy!

Download Kawaii Kids - Karate paper doll pdf here

Monday, May 5, 2014

Adding Patterns

I've been working steadily on my Wicked Women paper doll.  Last week, I cleaned up and modified the outlines in Photoshop.  This week, I'm adding patterns to some of the outfits and then printing them off to transfer to watercolor paper.

I decided to paint this doll in watercolors, especially after that last image-heavy post about my Karl Urban paper doll.  That was Photoshop & it was fun, but nothing compares to actual paint with an actual brush!

A while back I wrote about combining digital and traditional media in order to add patterns to a painting.  That's the method I'll use here.  It's not foolproof so I'm going to leave myself some options in case it doesn't work perfectly.

Open your image in Photoshop.

I'm working on the sorceress outfit.  The story of Rapunzel has some Persian roots and I wanted to express this in the sorceress's costume.  I want an Arabic influenced repeating pattern.

When choosing patterns or brushes or anything for your projects, be careful.  I believe in copyright and try very hard to make sure that anything I use is available for commercial use.  I may do a project for personal use and then later on decide to sell it.  I don't want to have to remember if I CAN sell it! Just assume your projects are going to be commercially available!

Anyway, I found a Creative Commons pattern and opened it in Photoshop.  Instead of using the pattern fill option, I like to create a new file and fill it with my pattern.  I do any edits to the pattern in the new file.  In this case, I make the pattern black and white.  Once it's adjusted, I copy and paste it into a new layer over my doll outlines.

I'm not really concerned about resolution at this point, so it's ok it the pattern gets stretched into a block, low res image.  Remember, I want to trace this onto watercolor paper.

Once the pattern is adjusted and positioned, I remove the excess sections.

The pattern is now on the skirt.  I decided (after the fact, of course) to add the same pattern to the top.  I added it to each section individually: the bodice and arms needed to be adjusted so that the bent with the figure.

Here's the final placement of the pattern.  I added patterns to any dolls that I felt needed pattern and then printed the pages out for transfer.

A note about printing: watch your print settings! It doesn't matter if you print at 100% or scale or whatever.  Just make sure it's the SAME for every page.  If you print the doll at 94%, print all of the outfits at 94%.  If you don't they won't fit correctly.  And you don't want to find that out after you transfer it to your expensive, $50 a block Arches watercolor paper.  Trust me on this.

So next week I'll transfer this to paper.  I'm not sure which paper yet.  I've been testing out some new papers so we'll see what happens there.  And I'll go over how to keep your options open in case our pattern transferring doesn't work perfectly.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Karl Urban is from the Future

We interrupt your regularly scheduled fashion paper doll to bring you... Karl Urban is from the Future!!

The newest issue of Paper Doll Studio magazine arrived and I sent them a sci-fi inspired paper doll for the Favorite Films issue.  And it has backstory!

My husband and I are kinda nerdy.  Ok, more him than me I guess, since he's a chemical engineer and works for a pharmaceutical company curing cancer. (No, really, that's what they do.  It's amazing stuff! I can't even pretend to understand it...)  I fall in that niche category of girls and women who love sci-fi.  Always have.  Some girls remember the first time they saw The Little Mermaid or Beuaty and the Beast in theaters.  I remember seeing Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country with my parents in the theaters when I was 11!

So when the call came out for a favorite film paper doll, I wanted to make Morticia Addams.  Wait, what?

That was my original idea. I love the Addams family in all its incarnations.  My husband had a better idea! We have a joke around my house that Karl Urban is from the future.  Many of his movie (and tv) roles are in science fiction films and they all seem to take place in the future.  Dr. McCoy in Star Trek.  Judge Dredd in the Dredd movie.  He's even a future bad guy in the Chronicles of Riddick.

This was also a fun project to work on my Photoshop skills.  I'm trying to master digital drawing and coloring, so every little bit helps!

Since this site is all about tutorials, here's a bit of a walkthrough.

First, I collected reference images.  I've discovered that Pinterest is the perfect way to do this.  I set up a secret board and collected images.  It isn't a secret anymore - check it out here

Next, I sketched out the doll and and clothing.

I like to make notes on my sketches.  It helps future me figure out what past me was doing :)

Once the sketches were done, I scanned them.  I had inked my drawings but I wasn't really sure about the fit, so I opened them in Photoshop.  The fit was terrible!  I adjusted the images and re-outlined them in Photoshop.  My drawing was a little shaky.  I'm still not great at digital drawing.  I'll keep trying... Also, my male anatomy is not great.  There are parts about the figure that look really off, but I went with it anyway.

Once everything was outlined and tweaked, I set off coloring.  Here's a layer-by-layer (with LOTS of pictures) breakdown of how I colored the doll.  Some of the outfits were more complex than coloring the doll because I used a lot of textures.  I wanted these to have some realism to them, something tactile.

1) Lines are on one layer, set to Multiply.  Practice good layer management!

2) I like to start with the skin tone on all of my dolls, digital or otherwise.

3) Add highlights and shadows.  I paint each of those on their own layers and then mess around with colors, opacities, and such.  I think the highlights layer was set to Screen and the shadows to Multiply.  I used a brown instead of black for the shadows - it was a more realistic color.

4) I like to keep the face separate.  It's a detailed part and I like to isolate every little bit.

5) The hair was separated into individual layers, too: base, shadows, highlights, and brighter highlights.

6) And finally, the clothing, with a base layer, highlights layer, and shadow layer. 

I loved making this, and plan to do more digital work!

Here's the 2 page doll! Feel free to download and share.