The worst part of not having a scanner for all those weeks and falling into a funk is that I spent a lot of time thinking. This is an unfortunate business, of course, because thinking invariably leads to re-thinking, and subsequently revising. I love my water color paper dolls, but they give me anxiety for whatever reason. I seem to approach working on them with dread, which is the opposite of what making paper dolls should mean to me (and what it has always been in the past: a contemplative de-stressor). So when the think you love causes more stress than what it's supposed to alleviate, it's definitely time to reevaluate it.
Part of what causes so much stress is that it feels so time-consuming (even though it's really not ~ I can paint a page in under two hours; under one if it's not terribly complex). So even though it takes as long as it takes, it feels long and that's another good indicator that I'm not enjoying it as I should be.
I drew the dolls above over the last week; five last weekend and five today. I don't doubt I could produce clothing for all of them over the next two days (and then some). It would basically mean getting very well ahead of the last effort, which has taken me almost six months, in a matter of weeks.
I computer colored these because I have not decided whether to color them, how the color them, or leave them black & white. I do like the option of letting other people color them, so the original artwork is all simple ink.
I am shy here of a few characters I had previously painted (like Razi-el, Henry and Buster), but have added Eulalia and Peg & John Stewart Preston. You can click the image and see them a little larger, but since I have not decided what to do with them, I'm not making them the official choice until I can get some perspective.
If I stick with these, I can produce work quickly, which ostensibly means I can post more. Doesn't that sound like a good deal?
I dunno. Most days I just want to retreat into a corner.
Visit the Gallery
to see the new plates. I have been really behind in the posting of updates, so there's not much new (James' outfit in four pieces shown assembled here). I have a coat and bonnet for Emmaline as well, but it didn't fit on the plate (so: next time). The really good news is that I have been working on all manner of paper doll stuff for the last two weeks. The bad news is I haven't been sharing any of it yet! I am in the process of getting a new computer and scanner, so my world is a little topsy turvy at the moment, but presumably will run a lot smoother once everything is in place. Anticipating a new system in early February. It had to be done ~ I am rather tired of struggling with this poor old thing.For whatever reason I have been struggling with these plates too. I think my mind is a bit unfocused, but that's pretty typical at the beginning of a New Year, so hopefully I will get into a groove. I am definitely getting better at letting go of some of my horrid perfectionism. Now I just need to work on my color palette (could I possibly use more yellow???). I may not have anything very bold for the next two plates, but I will try to splash a little more variation in color where I can (if I can).
I am still apparently very myopic in the realm of color. I am working on a project to try to help with that. Also, more Judy to come. Lots more! I will be sure to post her by Friday at the latest.
I still haven't quite figured out the best way to post things here (but I will eventally, I guess). I have been reworking the opening of the story in huge ways (alas, it's endless, though I am giving myself a December 25th deadline to get this tiger by the tail). Unfortunately for me, this means I will have to redo the plates (but don't you worry about that, I will figure it out). In the meantime, the changes mean the story opens at the Christmas party in 1859, so I am currently painting Christmas formal attire for James and Emmaline. I finished James yesterday morning.
Anticipating that there will be other formal parties in James' near future and not wanting to have to paint the black trousers over and over, I made the tail a separate piece (and therefore changeable). I really love how this came out. Click to see the details a little better. he is holding mistletoe in his right hand.
This weekend I am planning to finish Emmaline's dress and a whole 'nother character, so hopefully I will post more soon. These long lags in between are kinda inexcusable, so I will continue to try to do better.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American (U.S.) readers! And thanks to you all!
Plates No. 1 and 2 are now available in the Gallery.
There was traveling and then I was all out of sync again with what I was doing, which is just tragic. I get so easily derailed! But I am back now and will hopefully get on the tracks again. For whatever reason, putting together the second plate was really agonizing! Fitting things in, making sure everything was right. I couldn't fit Olivia's apron on this plate, so it will have to come later. It's a good lesson to me to make sure to work in sets that I can squeeze onto a page. I will be more careful with the next round now that I know the format/size/etc. that I am working with.
Now if I could just figure out my tags in a way that made more sense....Will be working on new stuff over the weekend. Sorry to be such a slacker!
With caveats: I have not tested the printing on it to make sure it will come out okay. But it will
definitely download a nice .pdf at the moment, so feel free to clicky click! All of these plates will eventually be posted in the Gallery
. And while I am quibbling: the .pdf text refers to the website at Lookingland.com
, but I confess it's still not pulled together at the moment. In fact, I figure you who are visiting here and seeing this work are actually getting to see it before it's officially posted (which is great for you since I don't think I am officially posting anything over there until the start of the new year!). But anyway, here are the characters in their "official" scaling (unless the printing test goes horridly wrong). They are reduced about 25% of their original size, but I don't think they are too small to enjoy. I also gotta say: no matter how much I love Photoshop and think it's the most amazing thing ever, I also can hate it sometimes. Putting the dolls on their bases and getting all this laid out was practically painful. I sure hope it gets easier now that I have a template.
I'll try to post the download for the second plate (with all the clothes) this weekend. And then: new stuff!UPDATE: The print test was a success on my end. Yay!
As promised, here is the outfit James is wearing under his smoking robe from yesterday's post. It's pretty typical day wear: a plain white cotton pleated-front shirt, dun-colored trousers, and a print cotton vest. I wish I could say that I copied an actual Victorian fabric design for the vest, but what's here is actually a variation on a 19th century fabric design ~ so modified, we'll have to call it "inspired by" rather than based on. I will try to be a little more faithful to the period in the future, but while there are some artists who have done amazing work reproducing museum pieces as paper dolls, I may be too lazy for that amount of commitment. Besides which, the characters are made up, so why not their clothes as well?
For the record, I created the detail on the vest with watercolor pencils (Faber-Castell's Albrecht Drurer). I am just learning how to use them, so as an initial experiment I am pleased with the effect. They go on amazing when the paper is wet, but I let the under-paint on the vest dry first, so the effect is drier here than I wanted.
Lastly, he has no shoes here because he's wearing this outfit with the slippers I posted on Monday.
And I am posting here as well, the full set of items (except the nightshirt) assembled for your amusement. I am pretty pleased with how James came out. I think I mentioned elsewhere that he's always been a pain in all my other many incarnations of these dolls, but I am very happy with this particular rendition and am having fun with him. This is a good indicator that I will continue working and not let things slough off as I have in the past. Yay!
I am currently working on Olivia's clothes and hope to post them soon. Then I have additional clothing for James and Emmaline and another character who is introduced in the next scene. I have so many characters and clothes to make, I better step it up!
I am also rethinking my tags on this blog, which are getting kind of unwieldy. Not sure how to fix that, however. I can't make tags for every single character (there would be dozens and dozens!). I would hope the gallery would help organize the characters and anyone who is not a "principal" would just be labeled "Supporting Characters" or something of that ilk.
And speaking of the gallery, I am still working on that. Maybe this coming weekend I will be able to get it in order.
This gold smoking robe (it's longer than a "jacket", but too fancy for just a bathrobe), is a bit much even for James, but I had fun designing it and painting it. Originally I was going to add some maroon detailing to the piping and the belt, but decided to leave it the way it is.
When we first see James, he's taken this robe off in the kitchen to flirt with the sometimes-cook. The outfit I will post next is what he's wearing underneath (the doctor is in the house, so he is dressed ~ otherwise there would likely be nothing underneath!).
I may enhance the lost detail on this as you probably can't read the title of the paper he has in his hand. It's called The Whip. There was a popular underground movement in the 1840s to publish racy political tracts that were ultimately banned as pornography for their lewd poems and often salacious engravings.
In the 1850s, I imagine there may have been one or two still quietly in limited circulation. James would have easily been a contributor to such trashy rags.
I had a busy and distracting weekend (probably more distracting than busy, but the point is I didn't get around to painting all the clothes I had anticipated). Nevertheless, to show that I am actually still working, I offer you a few undergarments for James this morning:
Basically a night shirt (that he probably almost never wears, which is why it's so nicely ironed and not rumpled), a pair of silk stockings, and a pair of mildly amusing carpet slippers that I adapted from a pattern I found online. I have James' smoking robe and some other things to post, so I will try to scan them this week.
We're almost out of underwear. Outerwear to follow!
Second character for the weekend (hoping to do at least one more). James has always been a bit of a litmus test for me where it comes to making paper dolls. Most of the time I struggle with getting him right and then give up or "make do" with something that will ultimately put me off somewhere along the way (click on his name under the categories at the right and you will see past versions ~ and then you will know what I mean).
This time was no different, except that I struggled through it and ended up cobbling together pieces from two separate drafts. So this required a lot of touch-up on the computer, unfortunately. On the bright side, I'm pretty happy with the result. I like his face especially, though his hair turned out a lot darker than I had intended (it should be dark brown, not black!).
One of the problems I often have with James is deciding what to make him wearing. Particularly in his youth because he is the sort of man who didn't wear any undergarments until a certain age. But I didn't want to risk offending by drawing him nude (considered it!), so I put him in some simple drawstring drawers. I wanted to make them balloony the way they would have been in the 1850s, but didn't quite get there. Nevertheless, I am not dissatisfied. He definitely needs some clothes, though. Razi-el wasn't so naked!
Although I am trying to do everything in "real" (as opposed to digital) media, I admit I added the body hair on the computer. I was afraid to ruin the doll (despite a very fine brush, I just don't think I could have made it look right). I actually imagine James even hairier than this, but decided to show some restraint here as I did with regard to his underwear. You are probably thanking me on all counts.
The title, "Stain the Earth Red" is the name of first story in which we see James (more on that later). Will try to post some clothing for him late tonight or tomorrow morning. The other doll I would like to finish this weekend is his wife, Emmaline.
It's kind of appalling how little drawing I have done this year, but I am striving to remedy that.
I am a firm believer in the fact that anyone can learn to draw because I have no particular natural "talent" for drawing, and yet I have managed, slowly, over the last five years, to learn how to do it. Just in the span of the time since I created this blog, I have managed to improve pretty mightily (frankly I am kind of amazed myself since drawing is probably my most neglected hobby).
So if you are an aspiring artist and frustrated with your inability to draw hands or feet or relatively believable anatomy, just keep at it. Do the work! Copy images out of books, draw from life, use Google image search to find poses to help you. Study animation techniques (you will learn more about dynamic drawing from animation than you will from a straight anatomy text).
If you just keep doing it, and pay attention to what it is you are doing (i.e. learn how the body works under your skin), easier free-hand composition will gradually come to you! Hang in there!
The picture above are the bases for my final bodies. I haven't quite assigned heads to the poses yet but these will eventually be Lewis, James, and Morse. The fourth body might be Mish and I am drawing a fifth for Razi-el.