Monday, March 28, 2016

Making of Mondays: Outfit Sketches

Every time I work on a project, I try to remember the failures of the past.  I have a tendency to rush because I love what I'm creating.  This time, I'm trying to take the project in manageable chunks, take some time to look & analyze, then continue.

There are some things I'll be changing about these paper dolls as I progress.  I realized that the ears on the oldest girl doll are way off.  One is much higher than the other so I need to fix that.  I also realized that the base outfits I gave all of the dolls just don't work, so I'll change that a bit, too.

This is a work in progress and these are usually not images or thoughts I would share.  But process is really important to me.  I've seen this joke floating around the internet that really resonates with me: it's a page from a drawing book where step 1 is a set of circles or ovals or whatever and then step 2 is a photorealistic drawing of a bear or something.  I'm interesting in the in-between steps & if that means sharing the failures, then so be it.

These are my sketches.  It's not everything but it's a start.

I found that one of the best things for me is to print out my outlines in a color (blue or magenta or whatever) and draw directly on these templates.  For this project, I'm printing the templates out on 8.5in by 14in paper.  Why? Because I accidentally bought a ton of it and want to use it up!

Here's my Photoshop file.  I printed directly from this. Then, I'll draw on this sheet, scan it, fit it, and outline it in Photoshop.  It's a lot of paper to computer to scanner to computer and repeat as needed! Because I chose bright colors for the lines, I can selectively get rid of them in Photoshop after scanning and have just the black of my pencil lines.

I decided that the first thing to do is check the fit of the new base costume.  That's the image here. I set the sketch to Multiple so I can see it over the doll.  I like how it fits & I can outline it anytime.  The next thing I want to do is take a sampling of the outfit sketches and create a rough page layout.

When I layout a page, I give myself a half inch margin. It's larger than I need to print on a standard home printer or for publishing a book.  I do this so that I don't have to rework a book for something easy to avoid in the first place (which I've had to do and I'm not proud of it!).

To create an experimental layout, I opened up my back cover file.  I added approximately half inch margin guides.  Then, I opened up several sketch files, copy & pasted outfits, and arranged them on the sheet.  The goal of this experiment was to see if I could fit all of the similar themed outfits for each kid on one page.  In this case, I chose my raincoats sets.  These are some of the largest sketches so far & this will give me some upper limits to work with.

At this point in the project I've learned a few valuable things:
1) I still need to edit & refine the base dolls.  That's ok, because I don't have a ton of work put into the outfits, layout, etc.  Better to discover this early.
2) I can proceed with the idea of having page themes for each doll.  The experimental layout confirmed this for me.
3) I have about half of the outfits I need for the book.  That means more drawing.  I need to decide if I want this to be completely mix & match or if I want some one-piece outfit sets as well.

For now, it's back to Pinterest for inspiration and more drawing!


  1. That trick about printing colored outlines is a really smart one. I've never done it, but I think it's a good idea. I'll have to think about trying that in the future.

    1. It works really well, especially if you aren't fussy about the type of paper you sketch on. I've had to streamline my methods while taking care of the boys & this one has been a huge time saver!