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!


  1. I love these process posts. I find it fascinating to see how you create paper dolls.

    1. These are my favorites, too. I majored in art history, and I constantly wanted to know about an artist's process more than anything else. It wasn't a popular interest within art history scholarship and I feel like I'm still pursuing that interest now! I love knowing how people work, and it's nice to know that I'm not the only one!