A few days ago I received my Paper Doll Studio magazine. It's a little bittersweet. This may be the last issue but it's also an opportunity, I think. Before Paperdoll Review, I knew very little about vintage paper dolls and I know that there are a lot of collectors who know less about contemporary paper dolls because they only subscribe to Paperdoll Review. With one magazine, everyone gets to read about all of it in one place! It's going to be the best of both worlds.
For the Make Believe issue, I decided to tackle a project I've been thinking about for a while - Red Riding Hood. I took a fairy tale class in college and the idea of evolving fairy tales fascinated me. There's a classification system that traces stories around the world. It's really neat if a little academically dense. Anyway, Red Riding Hood has a long and rich history that I wanted to illustrate.
I started by sketching the doll. It was tough. I went through roughly 20 sketchbook pages! I just couldn't get it right. And I nearly gave up. Instead, I tried a different pose and that worked better.
That image is composite of the best of the bad sketches! Part of the reason why it was so tough is because I don't make drawing the habit I once did. I don't make the time to draw every day - especially in the insanity of 2020 - and my skills have suffered. It'll come back. It just takes time and dedication.
I finally settled on this pose. I wanted the doll to be a 21st century girl. She has a red hoodie, a pleated skirt, and a timeless hairstyle. Once I got the sketch to this phase, I took a picture of it and worked on it in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, my current favorite program.
In a different file, I worked on the background. I knew I wanted it to look like a traditional fairy tale book illustration. When I think of traditional fairy tale books, I think of gold leaf, illustrated drop capitols, and gorgeous lettering.
So that's where I started. I used a guide from Ian Barnard's Grid Builder kit to place my title text. (NOT a paid post - that's the tool I bought, for my use, and you can check it out if you want.) I used Photoshop to layout the title and borders. Once I was happy, I printed it and revised my composition.
So far, I have a file for the background, a file for the doll, and a ton of sketches. I colored the doll in Sketchbook and then added tabs in Photoshop. I "painted" my background in Sketchbook, added the gold accents as well as the red marble background in Photoshop, and combined them all into one file for the final illustration. It sounds more complicated than it was. It's not unusual for an artist to create a background and a doll, then combine them. I just did it digitally.
There are quite a few things I'd like to change about this, but overall, I'm happy with it. My compositions are evolving and improving. Her face is weird - her ear especially!! I really need to get back into the habit of drawing. I hope you all have enjoyed Paper Doll Studio magazine. I know I have - it's literally been life changing for me. If you haven't switched over already, go sign up for Paperdoll Review.
And a happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating it! Stay safe & healthy.