Friday, August 5, 2022

Hometown Girl - Paper Doll and Process

 A few months ago I picked up an iPad Pro and Procreate. I've been experimenting ever since. Recently, I discovered that Procreate automatically records a time lapse of my drawing! So today, I'm sharing a quick speed paint video and the final paper doll. 

I don't have a lot of experience with video so forgive me if it isn't great! This doll - Hometown Girl - is something I made for a local newspaper. There's a recurring column about locals and I happened to be in it. 

The doll is dressed in a swimsuit to represent our local hidden gem, Forest Lake. She has a Methuen Rangers shirt for cheering on our local high school. Next up, a sparkly holiday set that represents our amazing Methuen Festival of Trees, which benefits numerous historical preservation projects. And finally, a flannel perfect for studying at the Nevins Library, a gorgeous brick library in the center of town. 

Feel free to right-click and download my Hometown Girl and print one out for yourself! What would your hometown girl look like? Maybe I'll make a whole series!

Friday, July 29, 2022

Vintage Julie Paper Doll

I loved two things specifically about the recent paper doll convention: all of the people are AMAZING and the variety of paper dolls I got to see was unbelievable! 

One of my paper doll pals found a vintage paper doll named Julie for me! 

How cute is that?! It even looks like me! Here's me on my fifth birthday with my very rad Barbie house & car (and in my favorite dress). You can't tell in this very '80s photo, but I have bright blue eyes just like our little vintage Julie paper doll.

It was unopened but I'll admit, my curiosity got the better of me. With permission from my favorite archivist (thanks Rachel!), I carefully opened it. I'm glad I did! The cellophane essentially disintegrated in my hands. The staples came out easily, thankfully. Inside, there was a sheet of cardboard which I am quite sure is not acid free. After taking it apart, I scanned all of it. 

The paper doll has 5 pages of outfits, four on the inside and one on the back cover. They are really bright! On the pages above, the only editing I did was to color correct the white background. It was slightly grey but not at all yellowed. 

In my very rudimentary research, I found that this is a Queen Holden illustration. It was issued and re-issued several times throughout the 1960s. Julie also had companion Trudy and Vicky paper dolls. This set isn't super valuable, another reason why I felt pretty good about opening it. 

And just for fun, I created a one page printable. I did a little bit of color correcting, some slight fit correction, and added cleaner tabs. Feel free to print it out and have fun playing!

Friday, July 22, 2022

A Long Break and a Convention

 I know, I know.... It's been a million years since I wrote on the ol' blog! It's been a hectic year after such a quiet couple of years... 

March was full of kid stuff including a bunch of birthday parties. In April, we took a vacation to the Poconos in Pennsylvania - we went to an indoor water park for the second time! SO FUN! May and June are always hectic, with Mother's Day, Father's Day, end of the school year stuff, and so many birthdays... 

Which brings us to July! And my first Paper Doll Convention!! 

I traveled to the convention with Jenny from Portland. First, I hate flying out of Boston and second, it's more fun to travel with friends. We had uneventful flights (thankfully!) and arrived in plenty of time for the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. That was the big event/dinner for the first night. There were some technical glitches but overall, it was fine. The souvenirs were Mad Hatter themed. Kwei-Lin Lum, Cory Jensen, and I were all featured. 

My pictures are not great! There are tons of great pictures on the Paper Doll Convention Chatter Facebook page. Also, I was so busy having fun that I didn't even take many pictures! 

The next day there were several things going on. I listed to Kwei-Lin give a talk about women's suffrage ephemera. Teri Petit gave an overview of Donald Hendricks which was great. Eileen "Rudy" Miller gave a really wonderful talk about her career, too. Once the day's activities were over, it was time for dinner and the artist's gallery. I set up my iPad and gave demonstrations of how I draw on that.  The souvenir from dinner featured my art on the cover and a variety of chapter book characters with art by Marilyn Henry, Karen Hunter, Guillem Medina, Patricia Corte Rooney, Andrea Helen Smith, and Tracy Williams. It's a lovely book with a large variety of subjects and artists! 

Another one of my dreadful pictures... 

That image from the cover was everywhere! Jill (who hosted the convention) used it on so many things. I was just delighted to see all of the clever uses all over the place.

Friday was the sales room day! 

Jenny and I shared a sales table. I brought prints and self-published books as well as my newest book, Miss Hollie Day. You can grab it here. It was fun and tiring and great. I ended up mildly dehydrated! My mission in the sales room was to acquire originals to frame for my new office. I snagged a lovely watercolor from Norma Lu Meehan and a fashion drawing from Rudy Miller. After the sales room, we had a roaring time during paper doll trivia! I knew exactly one answer. We all were in hysterics. It was super fun! 

On Saturday, I went to the Milwaukee Museum of art with Rudy Miller, Norma Lu Meehan, and her daughter Mary Meehan Firtl. It was lovely. The museum is a stunning monument to the Great Lakes and resembles a ship. The main exhibit featured the posters of Jules Cheret. Once we got back to the hotel, I was on a panel with Teri Petit and Sylvia Kleindinst ("Jenny and Friends") to talk about three different generations of paper doll enthusiasts. The last question Jenny asked was about how paper dolls have impacted our lives. At that point, I kinda lost it. I've had a few bouts with depression. I started this blog to cope with post-partum depression even though it took years for me to share that here. And it helped my deal with being a caregiver for my grandmother, the pandemic, and so much more. I got weepy talking about it. And then the whole room got weepy listening to me talk about it! I'm in awe and humbled by how much my story resonated with everyone. It really hit me deeply and I will carry that moment with me always. 

Next up was the raffle room! That was another fun event! I'm not a huge collector but there were a few things I really, really wanted! I one THREE things! Two things were piles of childhood-themed paper dolls. One of those I wanted specifically for a Peck-Aubry Anne of Green Gables that I've wanted since I was a teen! Jenny found a copy, too, so now I have both the book and the unopened, larger doll set.

Another stack of children's paper dolls featured a terrific Red Riding Hood. I absolutely love Red Riding Hood and the very, very long history of the folk tale (you can see one that I did that I really need to update here). And I got it! 


This is a great set! The art is cool and the format is even cooler! On the left of every page is the story and on the right is a set of outfits. Even if you cut out all of the outfits, you still have a narrow story book. It a fantastic layout. 

Finally, I won a set of Outlander paper dolls by Rudy Miller. I don't have a picture of them handy. They are AMAZING! I love Outlander, I love Rudy's art, and I'm beyond thrilled to add it to my small but growing collection.

Sunday was our travel day. Jenny and I flew home together. We got into Portland late so we crashed at a hotel ear the airport. I slept more in that one night than I slept in the whole week of convention! There were so many people to see. I'd stay up late chatting. I'd get up early for coffee and chat with a whole different group of people. It's an experience unlike any other. There are no firm plans for another convention but there will be an East Coast party in May. Find out everything here.

I'll have more to share about the convention in the coming weeks. It was a joy to meet so many wonderful paper doll pals!

Friday, February 11, 2022

Valentine's Round-Up

 I rarely create round-up posts but I was inspired by Rachel's delightful round-ups so here we are. (She has a LOVELY book out - grab it here. I have a copy and it's so pretty!!) 

Unlike Rachel, I have not created oodles and oodles of lovely dolls for all occasions. But here's what I've got, in no particular order. With all of the following images, click on the image, then right-click to download and print.


Kawaii Kids - Birds and Hearts

Starting in 2013, I made a bunch of Kawaii Kids paper dolls. It started as a December Daily Doll and spiraled from there. I'm not actually sure how many there are total.... This one isn't specifically Valentine's themed, but it has some cute hearts to color.

Also from roughly a million years ago, a Valentine's set from my short-lived Paper Jane sets. This one never fully clicked for me. Her arms are too long and her hands are too book, but it still has a bit of charm to it. 

From my toddler series, here's Charity dressed for Valentine's! The toddlers were an extension of my Fashion Friday paper dolls. I've since compiled a bunch of toddlers into a book that's available here. If you search the blog for Valentine, there are a few other sets in the various Fashion Friday posts.

And finally, a sort of new paper doll. In 2018, I undertook a very ambitious project where I followed a doodle-a-day prompt. It was tough! I finished it, and it's one of my favorite series. I'd like to go back through and fix some things (HELLO TINY TABS!!) and print them up. The two "Sweetheart" pages are a compilation of the February 2018 series.

That's it for now. Happy paperdolling :)

Friday, February 4, 2022

Special Effects in Sketchbook

I hope everyone had a better January than we did! We all got sick with something but we're all 110% now. Between a never-ending cough and a blizzard, it was a challenging month! 

I'm feeling much more positive and motivated now. Days are getting a tiny bit longer and less cold. The kids, too, and getting past the blahs of January! 

Last year, I was lucky enough to work on another project with David Wolfe. He came up with a wonderful Motown inspired paper doll book and I added a bit of digital sparkle. Today I want to share some of the techniques I used in that book. (You can grab a copy from Paperdoll Review)

I've been experimenting with different digital art apps & programs. Photoshop has been just dreadful for coloring! It's terrific for a lot of things - coloring isn't it. I find I really love Sketchbook. The interface is easy to understand, the tools are fantastic, and it doesn't crash repeatedly. The only downside is color management.  Sketchbook became its own company separate from Autodesk. As a result, the Copic color swatches are no longer available, a feature I really loved. And the color wheel/color swatch menu is not great. As a work around, I add a layer as a color chart and just grab from there as needed.

Ok, enough about that. Time to give your project some sparkle & shine! 

The pictures below are a little small, but if you click on them, you can see them in all of their full sized glory!!

Here's my desktop. I'm using a legacy version of Sketchbook, but the version available now is very, very similar. I grabbed it from the Windows store & I can go over the differences at some point. Anyway, I have a layer with my color chart, the color wheel, and some of the brushes I use. 

First up, let's look at how to make square sequins. 

I start with a flat color. I tend to use the Paint Tapered brush to lay in flat colors. The default brushes in Sketchbook at great, but if you feel like you need ALL the brushes, there's a huge list of free brushes here. Although Sketchbook is available for pretty much any device, not every device has every feature. These ONLY work in the desktop versions, either Windows or Mac.

Once the flat color is down, I use the same color as the base and select the Pixels brush. You can make your sequins any shape you like, of course, but this works for me. In the Brush Properties menu (it's the little slider at the top of the brush palette on the left), set the Type to Glow. Then draw over your color swatch. Glow is my absolute favorite thing about Sketchbook! In the third swatch, I built op a couple of passes with the Glow Pixel brush and then added a couple of sparkles. You can experiment with colors, gradients, etc. 

Next up, let's look at some shiny beads!
Again, I start with a flat color. In both cases, I start with my darkest color. It's the anchor for all the shiny bits on top. For the beads, I use the Dotted brush. Sometimes, I use the Advanced tab on the Brush Properties to adjust the distance between the beads, the size, and the taper of the brush. That tapering is pressure sensitive so the lighter I press on my stylus, the narrower the bead string becomes. The first swatch has the next lightest color. In the second swatch, I kept the color the same and changed the Type to Screen. That makes it a bit lighter and a bit transparent so I can start building up layers of beads.  In the third swatch, I kept the color and switched the type to Glow, and then added a couple of sparkles. 

Finally, let's look at a bit of fur. 

Yet again, I start with a flat color of my darkest tone. There are a bunch of fur brushes available in the Brush Library - that's the line with three squares in the top of the brush palette. I'm using the Short Fur brush here. On the first swatch, I set my color Screen and color over the flat color. The second and third swatches are the same color, same brush, but I build up tones & variations by switching between Screen and Multiply in the brush type. 

Sometimes, after I use these basic techniques, I might go back with a different color for shadows and highlights. In digital or traditional media, I always start with three basic tones: light, medium, and dark. In watercolors, I build up the same color in layers. Same thing here it's just that my medium or dark tone is my base color, lights are created using Screen and any additional dark tones are Multiply. And Glow is my secret to extra shine!! 

Sketchbook is a really great, easy to use drawing program. It's about $20 USD in the Windows store (I bought it myself - no one paid me to say it's awesome!) It has its flaws, of course, but it's really wonderful to work with and I would recommend it to digital artists of any level.

Friday, January 28, 2022

January Blues - A Whole Mood & A New Doll

I don't know about anyone else, but January has been tough! I had plans to go to Peabody Essex Museum and had to reschedule it twice. I'll get there in the next week or two & it'll be the first time I've gone to a museum since the pandemic started! We've also had a cold (covid??) going around the house. Both kids tested negative for covid, so I'm going with a cold. But it's been brutal. Sick kiddos and a sick mom make for an unhappy house! January is blah and grey and miserable enough without a horrendous cough, too. 

So I'm using our general malaise as inspiration! I've been scribbling at a new doll and not really getting anywhere. It hit me that a one page "January Blues" might be a fun way to put that scribble to use. It might even become a whole year's project!

The color version is way at the bottom, after a bit of chatter about coloring it....

Here's where I landed with the doll. I elongated the legs and slimmed her down a tad. I wanted a model or vintage paper doll kind of look. I could fuss with this forever and never like it!! 

Next up, I sketched a little mix and match wardrobe. I drew this in Photoshop, which I don't typically do. My favorite drawing program (app? I dunno, I'm old!!) is Sketchbook. It used to be free but now it's like $20 USD for the desktop version. Anyway, great program but I wanted to experiment with Photoshop. I grabbed a huge set of brushes and I wanted to test them out. (I'm not selling these or getting paid for these or anything - I bought them myself, just to tinker with.) I used the pencil set, specifically the HB pencil. That's what I use on paper so it seemed like a good place to start!

Once everything was sketched out, I drew lines. I try to have closed shapes when I line my images. After creating lines on the layer above the sketch, I select outside the lines with the magic wand, inverse my selection, and create a white fill under the lines. At this point, I also like to add my tabs so that I can make any fit adjustments before coloring.  

And then I color.


For each doll and outfit, I draw all black lines on one layer. Then I color in layers underneath the lines. I like to set the blend more of the line layer to Soft Light. It gives me subtly colored lines. It takes a while but it's what works best for me. If the lips are on one layer, for example, I can edit the shape or color or whatever as needed without altering anything else.

It's a process coloring these! I did all of the coloring in Photoshop and it was loooonnnnnggggg. Photoshop crashed at least a dozen times and lagged out more than that. It would be faster in Sketchbook. Anyway, I have it in black & white and color, so feel free to download and print! 

To download and print, CLICK on the image and then save. If you just save the image, it's low resolution, but clicking on it gives you the full, printable image

Friday, January 21, 2022

Random Sketching

I haven't got a real plan yet for the ol' blog. I have some previous projects & some future projects that I'd like to share. Other than that, I'm winging it at the moment. I'd like to get back to to sharing my process, too, and that's what I'm going to do here today.

Inspiration has been hard to come by. I decided to just randomly scribble and see what happens.

I've been interested in sewing pattern illustrations and this pose was inspired by one from the seventies that I found on Pinterest.


 Because I knew from the beginning that I'd work on this digitally, I snapped a quick picture with my phone instead of scanning it. And really, depending on the setup, a phone can work just as well as a scanner. I opened it in Photoshop for editing. It's possible to edit this in other programs - I've been tinkering with Affinity - but Photoshop is my go-to. Most of what I do would work in most photo editing software.


 The head was a little big so I reduced that. The torso felt a little long so I used the Warp tool (Edit>Transform>Warp) to shorten it. The sketch on the left is edited and the one on the right is the original. It's better but it still isn't quite what I want...


... So I tried a different head! That's what I love about digital art - the flexibility to experiment with different things all a the same time. I don't have to redraw the body or head or trace it etc. I just pop it into the computer and try something new.  I like the new head but the shoulder on the right side of the drawing feels like it's dropped too far.


 It's a subtle difference. The left is unedited and the right is edited. At this point, I'll work out a few more issues with the sketch and draw the line art.

 Staying in Photoshop, I reduced the opacity of my sketch and drew lines on the layer above. I used a brush meant to simulate  a 4H pencil. Typically, I like to draw in Sketchbook but since I was already using Photoshop, I just stuck with that. 


And here's what I came up with. On the left, the lines from the initial sketch. Then, I tweaked the torso a bit. In the third pose, I turned the torso to be more forward facing. Finally, on the right, I pulled the legs in together more, just to see what would happen. 

I'm not sure which I like the best yet. I'm not even sure what I'll do with it! But it was good to put pencil to paper.