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.
These are the absolutel final final final plates (officially, I promise). These are the plates that are going to be attached to the series, so there will be no more dickering with them ~ they are done done done. Right now I just have the two completed. I will be working on the others and rearranging them as I work on the series. I will always try to post the plates here before they are available for download on the Reconstruction web site, so that if you are visiting here, you will have them early!New plates will post every two weeks regularly, but again, you'll see stuff sooner.
Additionally, the plates are only posting on the actual "production" schedule. I will continue to post drafts and work that I am doing ahead of schedule here ~ it's just the final plates themselves that will be on my fortnightly posting timeline.
I'm not 100% organized yet, but definitely getting there. Hoping by the New Year I will have enough of a routine to be at least semi-predictable with regard to this work.
So much to do in the meantime. Will try to post something for Christmas in the next day or so to celebrate the holiday!
As promised, here are the rest of the pieces that go with the character I posted yesterday: a pair of ice skates (with curled prows), a winter suit of quilted trousers and light knit top, and a knit hat (that matches the scarf and mittens). The horse is probably wood or possibly gutta percha (no plastic in 1859).
Once again, I included an image of the assembled outfit. For the hat here, you would need to cut carefully along the inside in order to fit it on his head.
Painting the quilted pants on this was a total joy. Sometimes something just "works" and makes everything fabulous. I had also worried about the little horse he is holding, but it actually came off very well. All in all I am almost completely pleased with everything.
I had to do some PhotoShop fudging on areas where I was very careless with my overall design. Sometimes I don't use my light box when I should.
This is so far one of my favorite sets. It was fun to design and fun to paint.
Looking forward to getting more done, so stay tuned!
There are a lot of things I could quibble about with regard to how this character came out, but all things aside, for just leaping in without much planning, I guess I did all right by him and he will do.
Many of these characters will have multiple iterations as the story progresses, so I for now this one is just fine as a starter.
In 1859 Lewis is 14 years old (going on forty), though I did intend to give him a more youthful appearance. I may yet tweak his expression in the final plate, though I kind of like the scowl he has going on here.
I may use this same representation for the early 1860s as well (I haven't decided). But since he wouldn't look much different from 1850 through about mid-1862, it seems silly to create another. Again. i will have to think about it.
I had originally intended that this representation should be the only one of Lewis in which we would see his bare feet, but at the last minute I put socks on him anyway ~ maybe it's because I was painting winter clothing and thought his feet would look cold. And since I put long underwear on him, it just seemed to make sense.
And anyway, there's something kind of weird and fun about the fact that he never lets anyone see his feet and therefore you never get to see them either. There could be goat hooves under there for all we know!
I painted four pieces that represent Lewis' Christmas 1859 clothing: the pea coat shown here at the right, and three other bits which I will show in the post to follow this one.
The pea coat was supposed to be "too-large", but it fits him pretty well after all. The fate of his red mittens will also be a little leitmotif in the story, so I definitely wanted to include them.
I still have one other character to post, but I have not yet painted him. Don't know if I will get to him this weekend since it appears to have taken me all day to do these pieces. For sure I will post tomorrow; I need to finish the pair of ice skates that I am currently working on.
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.
No matter what I draw, I find the influence of Tom Tierney in all of my paper doll work ~ probably because I learned a lot about how to think about paper dolls from cutting out his characters and spent a good deal of time studying anatomy from his paper doll postures.
And while Tom Tierney is a past master in the paper doll world, I am kind of disappointed that my own style is not very original. I'm in good company, of course: I see Tierney's influence in a lot of original paper dolls on the internet.Perhaps what ultimately distinguishes one artist from another will be in the design of the clothes, the expressions and stories of the characters, and the handling of whatever medium in which the artwork is created. I have made no decisions about these two on the right. The last two dolls I created (two weeks ago), I completely ruined by attempting a new medium. I haven't decided whether to play it safe with these, but I want to get them out of the pencil stage before the day is over and hopefully posted properly by the end of the weekend.
Don't mind the hot cocoa stains on the art, there. The dog wanted to share out of my cup. Silly thing.Looking back through this blog to its beginnings, I realize I have gone through a lot of drafts and a lot of reboots on these dolls, looking for the right set (what a lot of work!). Sadly, I was never happy with any of the sets I posted (even though it seems to me that some of them were actually kind of cool). But something seemed missing, I guess, so I just continued to make dolls. I am definitely done with that rut. No more remakes, reboots, or starting over. I feel like I've learned a lot from creating those other dolls (over and over) and now's the time to settle down and get to work. Time's a'wasting, after all!Today is our first snow day of the season, so naturally I have all this crazy energy (yay snow!).
Let's hope it leads to good things.Also, it's Edwin Booth's birthday, so please visit the paper doll I made of him a while back and wish him well (though he's been dead for over 100 years).
(Click to view at full size) I will post Katie's clothes tomorrow.
I uploaded the painted dolls to a photo album in the sidebar (at the right) under the heading "Paper Dolls" (obvious enough?). But I don't really like the way the album displays them: so tiny! And they are spaced apart so far as well. Weird.
Anyway, since I have been fussing with doing that, I haven't accomplished much else in the limited time I allotted myself to work on these dolls this evening. The good news is: the dolls are there and you can download them and print them and they should be at a decent enough resolution to print well. Meanwhile, I am still painting their clothes (almost finished), and I will be posting those during the week (I'm a bit behind, alas ~ but what's new, right?). I also posted the dolls here, since I figure they deserved their own post for all the trouble they've caused me this evening. I will try to find a better way to put all the dolls in one place since I'm not satisfied with the album thingy. In the meantime, at least they are here.
I think, now that I am almost done with one set of dolls, the dolls to come will be a lot easier (fingers crossed).
I re-uploaded the dolls to include the original commentary that went with them (just so that they would be complete. Also, because I included the commentary on their clothing and thought it would be strange that the dolls came without any. These dolls are printable and their clothes (which I will post tomorrow) will be scaled to fit them properly. If you had already downloaded the previous dolls, the scale should be the same.
It's been a long journey, but I think we're finally off and running!
Thank you for hanging in there with me!
I worked on dolls this weekend, though did not get as much done as I would have liked. Nevertheless, I decided (once again ~ I know, I know), to make some changes in what I'm doing. While the success of the digital versions gave me some great ideas about making dolls alongside the story, the story style has gone back to an line-art style (rather than digital), and so I think the dolls have to match.
It's so much easier making dolls on the computer as opposed to real paper, but I am determined to overcome my willies about coloring and the only way to do it is to continue to work in the physical mediums. This plan is going well for the story ~ I'm feeling so much less precious about each page. But the story is really painted in sepia, mostly (with only the hintiest hints of spot colors), so the narrowness (or lack thereof altogether) of a "palette" gives me a certain level of confidence.
To bolster a similar feeling with the dolls, I've decided to work in a slightly smaller format than I was previously. Dolls were roughly 7 1/2 inches, which is a lot of space to color if you're doing a skirt, for example. Now the dolls are about an inch shorter, which makes a big difference. I also created these two without removeable heads. I may get more complex about the main characters later on, but for now the attached heads seemed okay here ~ Katie is only a minor character and neither post obstructs the clothing in any way.
I also dramatically changed Katie's pose to reflect a more solemn demeanor. Despite her defiance in the story, she's clearly an cruelly abused girl and her ghost is definitely doleful. As for Lewis, I gave him a somewhat perplexed look. I think he spent most of his childhood being frustrated and uncertain and I wanted this particular doll to reflect his boyhood trepidation.
I'll try to paint these (and their clothes, which I have also redrawn), and have them in a downloadable/printable form by next Sunday.
I can't believe I forgot to post the clothing for the dolls I created at the end of last month (has it been two weeks already???). It's amazing how the time flies when you are distracted and busy. I was just thinking last night that I have so
much stuff I could be posting here and yet there are these long lags between posts! I am trying to improve, I promise.
A lot has happened since I last posted. I received my copy of the OPDAG Paper Doll Studio
yesterday and was very pleased to see my Henry Fleming doll
in color! That's pretty fabulous and I am very excited that people are finding their way to my blog through that venue (all the more reason to keep this blog current!). The theme for the issue was literary characters, so there's more I'd like to share on the great art in the issue (post forthcoming!).
Also, much as I had fun making these digital dolls (and much as I haven't abandoned the idea of making dolls alongside the story
as previously mentioned ~ not by a long shot!), I think I do prefer more traditional media. If I haven't already shown that I am crazy when it comes to remaking things and changing horse midstream, let me assure you that I am. The good news for you, however, is that means I am committed to redoing these dolls this coming weekend. Let's see how I step up to the challenge!
In the meantime, this will remain the template for the finished dolls. You'll just have to wait another week for the printable versions. Sorry! Once they are done, however, I promise they will be worth it!