Catwalk Couture: McQueen [Plates 7 & 8]

Because I don’t have any Judy Tuesday in the wings, you get some midweek couture instead.

I really need to do something with Lonan’s hair. He looks like a lion. Also, I gotta say Niall’s shirt was a horror to draw, but now I love it. And the gold sneakers.  Niall’s clothes are ridiculous, but somehow they just work for him. I gave Lonan my own aesthetic, but I’m trying not to put him in so much black.

It continues to be a major temptation to just make all-black and white clothing. It doesn’t help that it’s what’s on the runway recently.

All of the Alexander McQueen stuff this week came from farfetch.com, which it only just occurred to me that I should archive regularly. It’s a commercial site, so the fashions comes and go. I’ve already lost images from the collection. But you can still get those gold sneakers for 30% off at $648. And the shirt? That will set you back $825.  Sorry, Lonan’s red beaded jacket and the other jacket (which was khaki), are sold out! 

[click each black & white plate below to download a printable .pdf]

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Catwalk Couture: McQueen [Plates 5 & 6]

I can sit around and draw plates for this set all day long, but the coloring doesn’t come as easy. There’s a block in my head that differentiates something born color vs. born black & white. Not that these don’t look fabulous in color on the dolls. It’s just how flat the plates themselves look that bothers me for some reason. Hence why it’s been a little quiet on this blog recently.

After lots of finagling, here’s how it’s going to go. I’ll post a colored dressed thumbnail (like the one at right), and the black & white plates. Because maybe what’s fun about these is coloring them for yourself!).

I plated Ifu and Xia’s fashions separately here, but later I mix the plates up. I went through a lot of aggravating decision-making about what the heck I was doing. To be honest, I don’t think I resolved any of it. So for the first dozen plates or so, this is all sort of a mishmash.

And speaking of mishmash, these Alexander McQueen pieces are mix and match (more or less), and can be layered by design. In case it wasn’t obvious, I started with some pretty basic stuff just to get my toes wet. The more extravagant things will likely come later.

[click each black & white plate below to download a printable .pdf]

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Catwalk Couture: 2017 Oscars [Plates 3 & 4]

My fashion paper dolls are so unfashionable!  They’re not wearing 2017 couture to the Oscars. I’m going to blame it on the fact that this is their first time going and none of them knew any better. Well, Niall should have, but he’s kind of prone to break the rules.

So Ifu is wearing a two year-old Chanel gown–but c’mon, it’s not like Chanel goes out of style! And Xia is wearing last year’s Valentino-esque fashion. The wrap and bolero for the women are completely my own designs. I needed something to fill out the plate and clutch purses seemed too chintzy.

For the men, I separated the Tom Ford tuxedo jackets from the pants because it’s easier to pair the slacks and tuxedo shirt with multiple jackets. And yes, there’s that tiger-striped jacket of Niall’s that I mentioned on the salvage post. But rather than repeatedly draw more tuxedo slacks, it seemed the sensible thing to do here. I mean, I probably will draw more tuxedos, but the slacks are really only differentiated by colors–the style is typically very similar. Especially if they are black.

I should also say that the reason Xia’s dress is described as “Valentino-inspired” is because I drew it before I was being methodical about my choices and the reference picture I used said it was Valentino, but then I couldn’t actually confirm that anywhere, so I have no idea.

I’m being much more careful going forward! Rather than doing random Google searches, I’m using a variety of fashion-specific sources for reference, particularly:

Vogue Fashion Shows: comprehensive runway site!
Farfetch.com: couture outlet!

I made a conscious decision to fill in as little of the blacks on these line art plates. First, because it’s a drag on your printers, but also because you can color stuff however you want. The lapels and cuffs on Lonan’s Tom Ford tux jacket are black, but maybe you want them to be neon orange. Have at it!

I’m still working out the best way to plate these dolls, so prepare for a few bumps along the way. I’m trying to avoid leaving the plates too empty or too crowded, but it’s hard to find a middle ground. For the women it’s not too bad, but the difference in physique on the men makes plating their clothes an interesting challenge.

I decided to throw everything into this post since it’s the kick-off and I might as well make it sorta special. I also just haven’t figured out the best way to post these plates. Sometimes the colors look kind of flat to me when you can’t see what they look like on the dolls. I’m not sure why I have this impression.

To find all plates related to a character or designer, use the tags!

[click on each picture to download a printable .pdf]


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Catwalk Couture: Salvage [Plates 2 & 3]

Despite the fact that I completely changed Niall’s pose, I was able to salvage more from the men than I did from the women. This is why Lonan and Niall each have a plate, whereas Ifu and Xia only had one to share. Also, I had fewer painting disasters with the men’s clothes. They just came out nicer overall.

I’ve been posting paper dolls online for at least five years, give or take. Anyone who’s followed me for even part of that time knows I have an incontrovertible bias toward men. This morning I was drawing gowns and found myself mentally wandering. I love beautiful dresses, but I just find men’s clothes more interesting to draw! Maybe it has to do with the fact that most men dress badly ~ ha!

Anyway. Originally everyone started out with a foundation of Burberry.

For the men, I chose Tom Ford next instead of Balmain. There are only a couple of pieces from the original set that I didn’t salvage, and all of the shoes for both the men and the women. I really liked the shoes and wanted to salvage them. But since I had no line art and space on the plates was at a premium, I decided to recycle them into the new plates later on.

Also worth noting is that I redrew Niall’s Tom Ford jacket for his Oscars tuxedo. I just really liked the style for him: he would so wear something that borderline tacky. I really had to work hard to salvage Niall’s stuff, but there were pieces–like those tiger shorts and that hat that I refused to let go. Lonan’s stuff made it over like Ifu’s–with minimum fuss.

It’s been so much fun to work on this series for this last month or so since I scrapped the first set of dolls. There’s no end to the resources to draw from and I feel like a kid in a candy shop. There are fashions from the last five years I’d love to get to, but just the new stuff coming out has been immensely consuming!

Once again, if you have a favorite designer, let me know because my tastes run pretty particular. I’m trying to branch out and pick unusual things to challenge myself. But Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Marchessa–I could stick with those three and be in hog heaven forever.

I’m still figuring out this series as I go. And learning to render lots of interesting patterns and textures!

Sunday: an outing at the Oscars!

[click on each image to download a printable .pdf]

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Catwalk Couture: Meet Lonan and Niall

Like our women, the menfolk come from very diverse backgrounds.

Lonan is a twenty-eight year-old high school dropout who was “discovered” at a truckstop in Tonopah, Arizona. He was hitchhiking to the West Coast hoping to get work doing set construction for a movie studio. Now he lives in New York, which he prefers to the desert. He has adapted to modeling and enjoys his job, even though he sometimes struggles with certain aspects of the fashion world.

Lonan has a reserved personality, likes swimming, winter sports, horses, and historical dramas. He’s rather smitten with Ifu, but hasn’t screwed up enough courage to ask her out. He has a dog and does charity work for a local shelter. Lonan’s ancestry is nearly pureblood Zuni and his name means cloud–of course.

Niall is the son of a well-known documentary producer and equally famous photographer. He’s twenty-three years old and quite spoiled. Bored studying design in college, he never finished his degree. He’s a bit of an exhibitionist and flaunts his bisexuality, modeling for the thrill of it. Despite all that, he’s not a hedonist. He has always tempered his joie de vivre to avoid causing scandal for his doting parents.

Niall enjoys big noisy blockbusters, musical theatre, and the club scene. But he has good taste in art, music, and cuisine, and enjoys refinement. He loves to travel to exotic places and meet new people. His name is Gaelic, and, like all of the other models, it also means cloud.

Lonan and Niall work well together despite friction due to their different personalities. Or perhaps because of it. Niall constantly needles Lonan for his shyness.

As with the women, when I designed these two, I wanted them to be very different physically and temperamentally. When I look at designer collections I think about what each would choose for themselves. It makes it easier to pick styles that suit them, and to ensure I am considering a variety, rather than selecting items I personally find attractive. Much of Niall’s wardrobe consists of things I don’t especially like–ha!

Also, though I wanted to make Lonan Native American from the outset, I was less certain of Niall’s ancestry at first. I didn’t mean to make him Irish. But I have a friend who is very enamored of Domhnall Gleeson, so I was unduly influenced after being compelled to watch his Burberry commercial.

[click on the pictures to download the plates]

 

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Catwalk Couture: Meet Ifu and Xia

At last! Two lovely ladies to kick of this series!

Ifu is from the Southern African province of KwaZulu-Natal. She was abandoned as a baby and grew up in an orphanage, but studied hard and won a scholarship to study abroad. Now twenty-one years old, she has a bachelors degree in political science and is modeling to support herself as she begins a masters program in public policy.

Ifu is cheerful, but serious-minded. She likes bright colors and percussion music, but adores quiet reading most of all. She is very frugal. Ifu is a vegan and will only wear fake fur. She campaigns for human rights and against animal cruelty. Ifu enjoys yoga, running, and arthouse films. Even though she is afraid of horses, she wishes Lonan would invite her to go riding. Her Zulu name means cloud.

Xia is the youngest of the models, at nineteen. She has modeled since she was a child and won several beauty pageants growing up. She has always wanted a career in fashion. Raised with a very Americanized family in California, she loves the beach, junk food, and big summer parties. But she takes good care of her health and guards her delicate skin from the sun.

Xia enjoys animated films, pop music, and is studying Chinese so she can speak with her grandparents in the Jiangsu province of China, which she has never visited. She loves flower and birds, and keeps scrapbooks full of pressed leaves and colorful feathers. Xia means cloud in Chinese.

Despite their differences, Ifu and Xia are good friends and share an apartment in New York. Xia has taught Ifu a lot about fashion and modeling and helps her with her English. In return, Ifu tries to keep Xia out of trouble given the pitfalls and temptations of the industry. Xia still has a lot of growing up to do and Ifu has a natural protective and motherly nature.

I had originally designed the bodies of the women to mirror each other so that they could wear one another’s clothes if you flipped the image horizontally, but that idea went out the window with the revision.

Apologies for their Barbie-like nakedness. I went through a dozen debates about underthings for them and decided this was the easiest way to go.

I’ve mentioned before that I modeled Ifu (vaguely) on Lupita Nyong’o, though her character in my head is very different. As I was thinking about their personalities, I knew I wanted to give them contrasts: make Ifu more tailored and studious, and Xia more avant garde and bubbly. Their wardrobes will likely reflect this.

[click on the pictures to download the plates]

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Catwalk Couture: Never Underestimate My Mule-Headedness

A week or so back I gave the unfortunate impression that my Catwalk Couture series was an unmitigated disaster and that I was throwing the bathwater out whether there was a baby in there or not. What I meant to express is that the series was a highly mitigate-able disaster. That in spite of redrafting from the top, I intend to be on track before the Oscars in February.

While this does mean that I tossed out a lot of work, I tossed out stuff that was plain bad. Anything that could be salvaged, I did. And I was able to salvage more than I anticipated through the magic of PhotoShop!

Although I don’t post that much about my process, I am a very process-orientated person. I love other people’s process posts. I love dirty stacks of scribbling, seeing multiple drafts of works-in-progress, and hearing about the artistic trials and triumphs of others. And I absolutely don’t mind sharing my own–I’m just often too preoccupied to do it. But I was thinking about how much I am personally encouraged by other people’s willingness to share their processes and how I shouldn’t be so distracted or lazy about sharing my own.

All right then: an update on what’s going on with Catwalk Couture. I’ve redrawn, inked, and painted the dolls. They are much happier, I am much happier. I no longer want to put a sack over Niall’s head. Life is good. I’ve drawn and inked those tuxedos that gave me shingles last week and they are awesome (trust me–they are). I picked some simple but lovely designs for the women’s gowns that I think will be stunning. Those are done as well.

I’ve organized. I made actual decisions about what I’m doing. I’ve struck a balance between easy and challenging, which is a delicate thing with me and drawing (and part of why paper dolls suit me so well: one week it’s a white t-shirt, the next week it’s insane Spanish lace with meticulous insewn beadwork).

Most importantly, I found the joy again in this project and I am super-excited to share it with you.

The bottom line is, I fail a lot–quite regularly in fact. And I have the old blogs to prove it: I’ve abandoned more projects than I’ve completed. But when I fall, I’ve learned to put my hands out before my face hits the pavement. You don’t just learn to walk the first time, but all the time, every day.

So here’s this quote from a 19th century source on paper dolls, which I snipped out of a Victoriana magazine when I was a teenager and have kept all these years. It always helped me as I was learning to draw, to not be overly critical of my own skill relative to my learning curve. There will always be artists who are better than me, and I will always be better than others.

And most importantly, share everything because other people will always find joy in your work, even when you can’t see it for yourself.

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Catwalk Couture: 2017’s First Disaster?

failI have eight plates of runway dolls and their clothes. I made dozens of mistakes with them: missteps, botched paint jobs, wildly off-model designs. Something about these dolls is cursed. 

It all began when I compromised on Ifu, model No. 1, who, if you’ve been following, was sort of a stand-in for Lupita Nyong’o. The doll I made wasn’t very statuesque, but I thought that would be all right: I have a typical body style and she fit it. Then I compromised on her face. I painted her lower cheek too dark and I painted her eyes wrong. The eyes I fixed in PhotoShop, but the darkness of her coloring could not be rectified. I should have taken all those little problems and stepped back from the project, but I kept barreling through, telling myself not to get hung up on niggling details.

But the mistakes kept coming. My Burberry lines ran all kinds of crooked, doll No. 2, Lonan, had to be reconstructed in PhotoShop due to hair problems, I failed to under-color doll No. 3, Xia. And then there was doll No. 4, Niall, who just…oh…there are no words, really. Niall is just an unfortunate thing.

Was I too ambitious? Was I lazy and inattentive? Did I just not have a coherent plan?

I didn’t really have a plan–that’s true. I went from one model to four overnight and my choices were not well thought-out. At the end of the day, I really like Lonan and Xia, but Ifu and Niall give me heartburn. It all came to a head last week when I thought: “I should make tuxedos for the men so that I can do red carpet gowns for the ladies” and it struck me how much I didn’t want to paint all-black suits. Sure, tuxedos come in other colors, but it was too late. I had already broken out into mental hives.

Ironically, an all-black suit is actually very easy to paint compared to other things. Which is my cue that it’s not the suits that put me off, it’s something much more serious. I wanted these dolls as fun, unstructured fashion models–and they became a nightmare of over-organized, rigidly plotted, time-sucking, eyeball-burning labor.

If it ain’t fun, don’t do it folks.

It’s a mantra I’ve seen in fellow artists’ blogs and when it comes to hobby art perhaps wiser words were never writ. Some of the pieces I’ve made for these dolls are quite lovely and it’s a shame to waste them, but I am so honestly not in love with the whole set. Bits might be salvageable, but I made bad choices on the models and bad choices on the clothes and bad choices on my templates. I could post the eight plates as a cautionary, but I’m not sure I want to. Fact is, I’m chucking any future plans for them and starting over. No comment on what that would look like at the moment.

I ain’t asking for advice or consolation. I’ve made up my mind and I’m already over it. emoji_winkBut I did want to post about it to share this unlovely part of the process and to say, well, I promised I would have runway dolls by the time the Oscars came around and, hey: I still have 44 days to go!

disaster2017

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Catwalk Couture: Paper Doll Research

lupita_01I started with a folder full of pictures of Lupita Nyong’o. The research branched out since then.

There are things for which I am a meticulous researcher. Paper dolls is not one of them. I make paper dolls for my own amusement–mindless relief from stress and a break from my other great love: writing. In writing I insist on impeccable historical detail, even knowing most of it never makes it into the narrative. With paper dolls, verisimilitude is sufficient. If I get hung up on details, I’d never get anything done. Also, without being able to study garments up close or have a record of their construction, it’s impossible to know whether you are doing them right. The best you can hope is that your image resembles what you’re copying.

And I’m just plain lazy. As I trawl through Google, I skip over cool things because of the daunting detail involved. Some patterns are too much for me since I do everything by hand. I know some of my limits. I have considered digitally managing it, but that’s stressful and therefore antithetical to the whole exercise

Picked out a handful of designers when I started but it’s exploded as I learn about the vast landscape of the fashion world: names I never heard of, styles I’ve never seen. There’s a wonderful variety of everyday wear, fancy party stuff, and that theatrical-grade haute couture in which no one is ever really seen out and about. I like it all and want to make sure I include a mix.

Me personally? I’m not a clothes-horse. My wardrobe is almost entirely black so I don’t have to think about what I put on. I like things I can’t afford but I don’t look at the labels and usually shop cheaply. I bought a silk Anne Klein scarf with my very first real-job paycheck when I was 17. It cost $45 (an outrageous sum almost twenty-five years ago). I still have the scarf and it’s still beautiful.

As I Google various designer’s names, I attach the word “runway” to the search since many look books show models sitting or turning in ways that make it hard to see the clothing. There’s no dearth of material to browse, so the hardest part is narrowing down selections (it’s easy to want to do everything!).

purple_thingFinding cool stuff for the men is harder than expected. Runway men are either dull (I see Rachel‘s point about how disinteresting men’s clothes can be), or too silly to take seriously (that purple business featured here: case in point).

Someone like Tom Tierney could reproduce unconventional male attire as a matter of historical record, but I want my guys to look good! I’m okay with challenging myself a little on color. And styles that aren’t my idea of flattering. I’ve given each doll a personality and one of my men will wear the kinds of clothes that others think are fashionable even if they make me shudder. But I’m drawing a line at making my men look like idiots. By my biases, that means you will not be seeing them in raging pinks or baby doll dresses because I just don’t find those things attractive. On men or women!

As I search, my eyes immediately go to stuff that’s black. I might have to do a whole black & white regular feature to indulge that, but I want to really work more uncommon colors and styles into my mix.  Even (faith forfend) pastels.

I mix almost all of my own paint colors. So color itself is already challenging. My perception especially of reds and purples is very poor and in the past I have had to adjust saturation and tone levels in PhotoShop when I’ve failed to mix a color properly (I had to do it on one set of my Burberry pieces already). It’s one of the things I want to get better at through this process. But more on that aspect later.

To start with I’ve picked four relatively well-known designers. Are you ready? I’m ready!

 

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