Catwalk Couture: Balmain [Plate 17]

I didn’t leave myself enough time to paint this week’s plate, so I slapped some color on this in Photoshop. Will have to go back and replace it when I have a chance. Just didn’t want to miss an update since I managed to draw this at the last minute. Miracles do happen!

This is probably the first of many Balmain plates. This is a designer I absolutely love. A lot of it borders on costume rather than practical everyday wear, but somehow it manages to pull off a lot of glam and still look sophisticated in some way. Balmain does a lot of stuff in black that I adore, but also has some startling bright colors in the mix now and then.

I decided Niall would definitely be on the “bright colors” end of the spectrum. I tried not to pick all black stuff for Lonan, but yes, here’s another pair of black pants. Of course, with the uncolored plates, you can make them whatever you want: denim, fuchsia, marmalade–just go for it!

The pattern on Niall’s jacket is definitely an approximation. I started out trying to be faithful, but when the shapes get that small, I tend to give in to my laziness. That jacket is actually beaded, which is insanely impressive when you see it up close. It probably weighs a ton.

I gave them both sandals for this plate (so they are kind of Spring/Summer still). The next plate for them will have more cool jackets and boots instead.

Totally love the fussy details on all of Balmain’s stuff, though it is painstaking to draw–even when I’m fudging it. I probably can’t do many of these items justice, but they are fun to try render.

At this point in my life I don’t know why I am still so surprised how easy it is to fall out of the habit of drawing regularly. And how once you do, it’s all that much harder to get back into it. I’m going to try to get back on a schedule of making sure to always incorporate it into my week.

Lastly, a big Happy Mother’s Day to all you fine mothers out there!

Next week: more from Tome for the women.

[click this link or the black & white plate  to download a printable .pdf]

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Catwalk Couture: David Hart [Plate 15]

I probably have said it before, but it bears repeating: I really strongly (strongly) dislike spring/summer fashions. Maybe especially on men. So pulling this one out was real work for me.

I don’t hate the plate, really. I actually like their tropical shirts and they were fun to draw. The shorts and the shoes, though. Ugh. Give me the willies. I’m pretty sure Lonan hates them too (though he looks good, so there is that). Niall, on the other hand, definitely strikes me as a summer person and I’m sure this is not the last of the khaki we’ll see on him. That polo shirt totally makes my skin crawl!

I have been horrendously busy and neglecting this blog, which means I’m coming to the end of my couture buffer with no backup in sight! I’m hoping to double-down on my drawing efforts in the next few weeks, though, but posting may continue to be sort of sporadic. Summer is always a struggle, I guess.

And once again, it’s not for lack of reference material, that’s for sure. My reference folder is so out of control I could probably ignore the fashion sites for the rest of the year and never run out of material to work from.

I’d like to randomly point out, as a matter of process, that Niall’s awful shirt is the same color as Ifu’s dress from last week. This is because I mix all my own colors from a palette of alizarin crimson, indigo, and yellow ochre. Then I mix those and use Payne’s grey, sepia, and white to modulate the tones.

Aside from the crimson, technically these aren’t the colors you should mix with (bad color theory!), but I like them. It does make it hard for someone as lazy as I am to get a lot of particular shades. I still can’t make purple at all (which is why you never see purple here). I taught myself to paint with gouache that my dad got from some sign painter when I was a kid. Still have his tubes 20+ years later and the pigment is still good. So this is to say: all of my habits are bad and I probably work twice as hard as I should on this stuff.

One of my goals this summer is to make purple. Maybe add proper yellow to my palette. And proper blue as well. And maybe then the painting won’t be so hard. We shall see.

Next week: fashion from Tomé for the girls.

[click this link or the black & white plate  to download a printable .pdf]

 

 

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Catwalk Couture: Ralph Lauren [Plate 13]

This is one of my favorite plates.

Both because I managed to work in some unusual patterns/textures that previously I would have chickened out on, and also because it’s another great example of the difference between these two men’s styles even with the same designer.

Lonan’s geometric-patterned jacket isn’t quite exact, but I still like the way it came out. And Niall’s long sweater looks like something I wouldn’t mind curling up with on a winter day.

And I managed to fit everything on the plate without it looking too insanely packed. All wins!

As I’m painting, I’m seeing the mix-and-match possibilities between the designers and that’s pretty fun too. I’m trying to be very deliberate in not making things very similar (black pants on Lonan notwithstanding). So these two are gradually developing an interesting array of shoes and tops and jackets.

This is much easier with the women. With the men sometimes I really like something but it’s just too similar to something I’ve already done. So I end up skipping it in favor of something a little more unique.

I promise their next plate will be more appropriate for the season–and very colorful!

While I’m waiting for fresh inspiration to strike for to resume Judy and I have my last Star Wars plates on hold because I’ve falling down on sending them first to a friend, I may be updating/reposting some old paper dolls from my old blogs.

This is a busy month and I just haven’t made much progress on new stuff unfortunately. The Klondike dolls are done but I haven’t had a chance to paint any clothes for them! So expect to see some very random old superhero stuff over the next six weeks or so. I see from my files there’s stuff I just never posted, so some of it may be new to you. I’ll try to keep it interesting!

Meanwhile, I’m especially grateful that I have a decent Couture buffer because otherwise I would be seriously struggling to post something right now!

Next up from this series: more Marchessa!

[click this link or the black & white plate  to download a printable .pdf]

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Catwalk Couture: Gucci [Plate 11]

Yes, this plate is insanely packed. This was the moment I realized that I had to rethink my plating overall. Originally I had each character on a plate of his own except that Niall’s plate looked really spare and weird.

I knew putting the two together was too much, but the only other option was to add more items from the Gucci collection, which, I’ll be honest, for the men I wasn’t that crazy about.

As it is, I made some pretty weak choices with this designer. Too much red and black! Also, Lonan is doomed to have a closet full of black jeans apparently. That’s okay, though. Sometimes it just is what it is.

I did try to challenge myself to attempt a plaid-like/checked design, which is pretty much near-impossible without gradients. You can see in the colored version of Niall’s pants at least that these things aren’t nearly as ugly as they look in black and white.

I also wanted to take a stab at some printed t-shirts. The cats are hideous (but that’s really what they looked like!). I like the snake and it was fun to draw. Niall’s satin jacket was a late addition and I kind of fudged some of the details, but it came out all right.

Part of the problem was that I was just trying to follow the lead with the women: Gucci there, Gucci here. Bad idea. I won’t be forcing that again! Still, each plate offers its own interesting problems to solve and I’m glad I didn’t just pitch this one out. Also, I like their shoes.

Though, Lonan: I’m pretty sure those boots don’t actually go well with those pants rolled that way.  That said, it seems totally in-character for him to make that mistake. I’m sure Niall would tease him mercilessly for it.

I have one more sort of overstuffed plate for Lonan and Niall, but afterwards things will even out. The characters will share plates so that there’s a balance. I always like keeping a single character per plate (in case someone only likes x and not y), but this makes the process easier. And I like making the colored thumbnails with multiple characters instead of just one.

All of these first eleven plates came from mixing and matching on farfetch.com, but I’ll be getting into actual runway stuff after this.

Next up: gowns from Marchessa!

[click this link or the black & white plate  to download a printable .pdf]

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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: 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: 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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