Monday, April 11, 2016

Making of Mondays: Outlining the Outfits

I've been a bit slow working on this project.  I'd like to say there's a good reason for it, but really, there isn't.  We've been visiting with family and I've been pretty involved in the Outlander book series.  It's one of those book series that I want to read all of, all at once, til there's no more to read and then I go into a post-reading, world collapsing funk.  I love it! And the TV series is beautiful, too. If I can get the motivation, I just might make a paper doll.  No promises, though.

Anyway, part of the reason I've been putting this paper doll series off is because I've had to redraw the baby.  I wanted to share the outlines of all three dolls but it just didn't work that way.  Regardless, I use the same process on all three sets so really, if you're seen the process for one, you've seen it all.

These dolls are being outlined in Photoshop.  One thing I love about Photoshop is groups.  I use groups in Illustrator and groups in Photoshop are essentially the same thing.  In Photoshop, a group is a little folder filled with layers.  Once the layers are grouped, I can interact with them together.  I can move the whole group, change opacity, etc.  AND I can interact with each individual layer.  When I create a paper doll in Photoshop like this, I try to do a rough fit and then draw in a new layer over the sketch.  The image above shows this. Within the Doll 1 group I have three layers: the bottom layer is a shape layer with the base shape, the middle (hidden) layer is the sketch, and the top layer is the outlines layer with a color effect (hidden). When I draw the outfits, I lower the opacity of the whole group, with the color effects on, and draw on top of it.

Here's a screen shot of the first outfit.  I have three separate within this group.  It sounds far more confusing than it is to group things like this.  In the long run, it really makes this much easier, particularly when coloring the images.  In this image, I have a faint image of the doll (that's the Doll 1 group with a lowered opacity), and then a group for each part of this outfit.

I want this set to be mix & match but I also want to make sure that everything fits together, both visually and technically.  I hate bad fit on paper dolls and it's happened in my own projects too many times!

I try to fit & outline all of the outfits in a set in one file.  Sometimes it gets too big and I have to split it up, but usually it works out.  I only do this with outlines.  Coloring the outfits creates HUGE files, so I manage those a bit differently.

In the image above, I've made some notes about my layers.  Think of it like an outline for a paper.  There's Set 1 which is the overall group.  Within that, there's the Bottom 1 group which had the base shape, an outline layer, and a group folder with the tab shapes.  Then there's the Top 1 group and the Hair 1 group.  I try to name everything very carefully.  It gets really chaotic if I don't!

Sometimes, there are elements I like to group together instead of flattening them into one layer.  The buttons in this set are a good example of that.  I tend to flatten things as little as possible.  I like the flexibility of mixing things up and coloring & recoloring them later on.

I still have a lot of work to do on this set.  The baby doll is a bit behind.  The older girl & the boy set are both coming along well. Once I complete the baby set, I'll test the layout and see how many more outfits I want to add to the set.

In the meantime, test out a 2 page paper doll set!

Right-click & save the images to print & color them.  This is just a small set of the outfits for the older doll.  There will be a lot more in the completed project. I'll create little sets like this throughout the project.  Feel free to let me know what you think of the set!


  1. I Love groups too! I don't use them as much as I probably should, but they are a lifesaver.

    1. Groups are great! I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves them :)