Catwalk Couture: Gucci [Plates 9 & 10]

The House of Gucci is 96 years old–one of the oldest fashion houses around. And certainly one of the most recognized brands in fashion. This year’s fashions have some fun patterns that were difficult to draw, but I’m glad I challenged myself with them. Once again, these pieces all came from farfetch.com.

I really love Ifu’s zebra shoes. And the purse with the bambo handle. I’m not good about making accessories for paper dolls, but always glad when I do.

These are the last plates with each character on their own plate. After I built the first ten, I saw it was hard to fill the plates in a way that made sense (particularly for the men due to their difference in stature).

So from here on out with this series, instead of two plates a week, it will only be one, but if I can continue to produce these at a quick clip, I might be able to post two a week after all. We’ll see, I’ve been super busy lately. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going.

Once again pieces of these plates can be mixed or layered for additional looks.

[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: 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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