Monday, March 14, 2016

Making of Mondays: Set Up and Layout

Before I begin finalizing my sketches, I need to decide the scope of my project.  In this case, I know I want this to be a book.  Laying out the sketches before I start outlining them makes the most sense.

I publish my paper doll books via There are a few post from way back in 2012 that walk you through the process I use (starting here, then here) and, although Lulu has changed some, the process is pretty much the same.

Since I haven't created the dolls or clothing yet, I think the best place to begin is at the beginning.

Here's a screenshot of Photoshop.  I have the Lulu back cover template open on one layer and a white background layer underneath it.

Each doll is now placed on its own layer above the template layers (now in a group). I set the doll sketch layers to Multiply so that I can see the template layer. These dolls are a little bit smaller than I usually draw, mainly because I wanted to fit three of them instead of the one doll I usually make.  This is just a rough placement.  Next, I want to add the base to each doll.

There are lots of ways to add a base.  I'm really comfortable in Illustrator, so that's what I used.  I created a shape in Illustrator and added it as a Custom Shape in Photoshop.  If anyone wants to know how that's done, let me know.  It's not terribly difficult, but it would get wordy and would be better as its own post.

I've given each doll a base.  Because the doll layers are set to Multiply, I can see the base shape underneath.  I like using a custom shape primarily because it's a vector and I can scale it or change as much as I need & I can use it repeatedly.  The base colors are for my reference at the moment, and not the final colors.  Finally, I placed the sketch and base in a group.  I like using groups in Photoshop.  I can move and scale the entire group instead of each individual layer. I can give all of the layers within the group the same style (say, a drop shadow) by applying it to the whole group.

So that's the basic layout.  It's tedious but necessary. Next week, the drawing fun begins!

Til then, here's a picture of my little art buddy :)


  1. I really really need to learn to do this order of operations better. I tend to sorta draw things and then "Hey Let's Hope They Fit" which is NOT a good practice. I like the idea of figuring out your sizing BEFORE you draw the paper doll clothing.

    1. Trust me, I've learned this the hard way -- too many times! Because I'm making a cohesive set of dolls (a fairly new thing for me), I want to ensure that they are similar in scale. I drew them all separately and seeing them side-by-side helps correct any scale issues. I also wanted to make sure that the fit on the page reasonably well.

      I'm learning to slow down, test, re-work, and test again to make sure everything works. It takes time, but I find it's worth it. And it means better paper dolls out in the world!