Judy : Vol. 29, 1881 Plate 5

vol29_05_thumbDigging up Judy, I discovered I actually did have two more plates worth of costumes drawn for this volume.  There were still four more that I had intended, but didn’t draw. The ones that I did, however, I might as well share–even if they aren’t the most glamorous.

The “Paraluna” costume here was rather lovely in Chasemore’s original drawing and included an interesting rectangular parasol. I not only made a hash of the dress itself, but then bailed on the accessory. Not one of my finer moments ~ ha! But I’m trying to post stuff even if it’s not to my (already low) expectations. I remind myself that just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean other people might.

I redrafted the Judy dolls, but I’m kind of torn about replacing them (the new ones are prettier, more delicate, but essentially the same pose). On the one hand it seems silly to trade horses mid-stream, but at the same time, I think the current couple of dolls have had a pretty good run.  New year: new dolls. Seems like a good idea. I was hoping to sort it out over the holiday, but lost the weekend in visiting and enjoying other stuff.

As usual, to find all the plates in this series (and the dolls themselves) click on the Judy tag down below.

[Click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

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!


Judy : Vol. 29, 1881 Plate 4

vol29_04_thumbMost of the Judy volumes have at least five plates. So hopefully I’ll do at least one more for Vol. 29.

I like these two costumes because of their rich textures and the black contrasts. These are my favorite kinds of Judy costumes to draw. I was talking about baroque tastes in a previous post and yep: there you have it.

This is part of why 19th century styles appeal to me so much. 18th century clothing was obviously even more opulent, but also less practical (not that the Victorians were very practical-minded in some of their couture). But those insane dresses of the mid-to-late 1700s are too much for me. I like a slimmer silhouette and fewer bows. Trim, dense patterns, and opulent jewelry I can dig, but too many flowers and bows and I get a bit nauseated.

I tend to get lazy with Judy and don’t work on her for months. Then I’ll sit down on an afternoon and draw a whole volume’s worth of costumes. Maybe that’s what I’ll do over the Thanksgiving holiday.

As usual, to find all the plates in this series (and the dolls themselves) click on the Judy tag down below.

[Click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

Catwalk Couture: Paper Dolls in Progress

painting_01I love being a fly on the wall to observe others’ processes. Whether it’s art or writing or any kind of planning, really, I just enjoy seeing how people go about creating. I like my own process too, but I am abysmal at documenting it. I get caught up in the doing, and forget to visualize an audience, even when I’m mindful of it.

This is my way of saying I utterly failed to capture my work from conception to completion on the catwalk models even though it was my intention to provide a blow by blow. And perhaps that’s not terribly interesting to some of you anyway. There are many ways to skin a cat, but not everyone wants to watch it happen.

But I will at least give some specs: these will be Holbein and Winsor & Newton watercolor/gouache on hot press 100% cotton (ooo fancy!). With a little bit of Sharpie marker, a bit of Copic marker, and lots of small touch-ups in Photoshop. I’ve been using the same paint and paper for at least ten years and more. Some of my gouache I inherited from a painter back in Texas more than 20 years ago. Which is awesome because Winsor & Newton cadmium red in particular is insanely expensive and I have enough to probably last a lifetime.

I tend to use cheap brushes since my method of painting (which is more like pushing pigment around on the paper until it goes where I want), is hell on fine brushes. I am well aware that my tools and methods probably make the process more work than it needs to be. There are habits at this point that I can’t seem to break.

My dolls are typically about nine inches tall (I reproduce them at actual size in the downloadable plates). It makes doing little accessories a challenge and some of the detail work is very fine. That little face in the image above is about an inch and a quarter. Without the hair, it’s about the size of an actual quarter, in fact. I have thought of going larger to make it easier, but I am very bad at achieving solid color coverage (even in small scale), so this size feels ideal for me. Can still manage the little details, but I don’t get overwhelmed by large areas to paint. I have an insurmountable tentativeness about painting due to a traumatic event in my childhood involving colored paper that scarred me for life (you don’t want to hear about it–ha!).

burberryOnce I finished the models, I decided I wanted to plate them with some foundation pieces. I didn’t want to just post a bunch of half-naked bodies. My friend who asked me for a General Hux paper doll is (as you can imagine) a huge fan of Domhnall Gleeson. We were talking about that Burberry commercial he recently made. So I thought: why not start with Burberry?

Here’s why: I can’t draw a straight line to save my life. Burberry is all about lines!

But I decided not to let it stop me. If I quit every time I paint a lopsided line, I’ll never get anything done. And I want to learn from this process. Learn how to use and coordinate colors (even if I’m copying), how to paint patterns, how to reproduce styles and folds I don’t typically draw. So much to learn! Working on Cookie’s outfits for Empire showed me that I’m up for the challenge (more on that later).

The models are more or less done (two men, two women). And their handful of Burberry bits are done (thank you Lord). I’m still working on the plating. Then I’ll start to select wardrobes for them (not Burberry). I’ll try to capture that process as I go. I expect to start posting finished plates the first week of January, 2017!


Star Wars Clone Wars: Satine Kryze Paper Doll

satine_thumb_01I didn’t want Ahsoka to be lonely in the paper doll world, so I made Satine Kryze, Duchess of Mandalore.

Satine is an interesting character. She’s wise and powerful and has a doomed (though not unrequited) attraction to Obi-Wan Kenobi. She was so popular on the show that a sect of the fandom believes she may be the grandmother of Rey in The Force Awakens.

I like her wardrobe because it’s full of interesting colors and textures. I might make another plate of costumes for her. She had more wardrobe changes than many other characters on the show–still not to be outdone by Padme. A lot of people think Cate Blanchett should play her in real life. Originally I was going to draw her with Cate’s face, but decided to stick to the cartoon representation. I already chose that route with Ahsoka.

These dolls are super easy to make. Did this last Saturday afternoon while futzing about. So I still might make Obi-Wan and Anakin and Padme. We’ll see.

[Click this link or the image for a printable .pdf]

To see all Star Wars related posts and plates, click the tag or category at right. If I make more plates for Satine, click her tag (this is her first).  Same is true of the Clone Wars tag to see all in the series.

The Catwalk is Coming!


For a long time I have wanted to create some runway models for contemporary fashions and red carpet gowns. Drawing stick models is not my style, though, so I kept kicking that project down the lane. Recently I was looking at pictures of Lupita Nyong’o and thinking to myself: “dang, that woman makes everything look good!” I was going to make a Lupita Nyong’o paper doll, but then I realized this was my opportunity to expand that ambition.

Runway couture can be kind of silly. Sometimes it’s more about putting on a show and creating a buzz for an aesthetic rather than trotting out practical wearable garments. I love costuming, so both the fanciful and the practical are interesting to me. Also, my taste for clothing leans (if not falls over completely) for rather baroque influences. I like embroidery. I like velvet. I like heavy decoration.

This past weekend I knocked out my first two runway models (I’m thinking of doing four). I think I’m happy with them and I’ll introduce them to you shortly. And yes, one of them is definitely inspired by Lupita Nyong’o.

I have a couple of designers in mind that I’m going to start with, but if you have favorites, let me know!  I’m hoping to have these dolls and their fashions up and running in time for Oscar season!

Judy : Vol. 29, 1881 Plate 3

vol29_03_thumbWe’re having Judy Tuesday on a Thursday!  Aw, why not; the continuity with this volume was completely shot long ago, so who cares what day we pick it up on again, right? See: chaos.  emoji_wink

The important thing is that Judy’s back!  And I have a couple of plates to carry us forward. Ironically, when I left off it was spring and I was drawing fall/winter costumes. Now the dates kind of align! Well, almost. Let’s call it fate.

I’m thinking of freshening up the dolls for this series. Maybe not changing the post, but I feel like the face are kind of schwein-ish (how did I never not notice that before?). I’m pretty sure I can do better.

I’ll finish this volume before I make any decisions on that, however, so in the meantime, enjoy! I really love the tall peaked hood and acorns on the October dress. I have no idea what the other one is supposed to be, but the boutonniere is fun!

As usual, to find all the plates in this series (and the dolls themselves) click on the Judy tag down below.

[Click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

Let Chaos Reign


I love chaos. And yet I get hung up on trying to do things in an orderly fashion. I’m a librarian by profession and so it’s in my work nature to be orderly. I love structure and organization.

My creative nature, however, is a whole different story. In my creative life nothing is orderly. The only reason I was able to take the picture of my art supplies in a single place is because I haven’t yet unpacked them since I moved mid-October.

But if you’ve followed this blog, you already know I’m disorganized in my creative work. I say I’m not going to make Star Wars paper dolls and end up with more than 20 of them (and no end in sight). I work on stuff that I never post. And even the stuff I do post never really has any structure to it.

So this is me, not making promises about what I’m posting in the future, appreciating those who can (and do) stick to a schedule/a project/order. If I try to be orderly about stuff, I’ll just stall out. So if there is an expectation regarding this blog, it’s that things here will be random and chaotic.

I have stuff to post: some Judy plates for Vol. 29, some Cookie plates from Empire, and yes, more Star Wars. I considered finishing my Fear the Walking Dead plates, but I’m not going to get hung up on that. I want to start new projects. Original projects! Story projects. Fun things! And I want to try to just post as I go instead of worrying about plating and making things tidy and perfect.

And I want to go through my paper doll collection and share some of that too. That was the original purpose of my 19th Century Paper Dolls blog: to share the obscene collection I’ve amassed over the years. Much of it is probably familiar to people who enjoy paper dolls as much as I do, but I also have some gems. It’s primarily dolls with clothing from the 1800s (with a few exceptions). So I hope you like bustles and crinolines and corsets!


Star Wars Clone Wars: Ahsoka Tano Paper Doll

ahsoka_thumb_01There are many things I’ve been working on, but of course I knocked this one out quickly just to distract myself (because isn’t that always the way of it?). I recently finished watching the cartoon series The Clone Wars and though I didn’t really like a lot of it, it did have good things in it. Including the character of Ahsoka Tano who turned out to be pretty cool.

For the doll I only made the few outfits I remembered well enough over the span of the six seasons. Cartoon characters don’t typically change their clothes much (though, as always, Padme is an exception in the series). I honestly don’t recollect Ahsoka wearing much outside her usual gear (a coat and a cloak, perhaps, but those didn’t seem very interesting to draw–for the moment).

She has a new costume from her appearance in Rebels, but for the moment I am sticking with her Clone Wars outfits.

Nahsoka_thumb_02o black and white versions, though. I gotta say: doing the two styles was really trying for me when I worked on the other Star Wars dolls.

I know people like to have the option of coloring their own, but it really doubled the work. I’m going to struggle with the Force Awakens characters. I’m seriously considering not making colored versions (especially since everybody wears so much dang black!).

I am tempted to do other characters from this series. Mostly because making this one was surprisingly easy. Cartoons are fun because they are typically pretty colorful. Did these almost completely in Copic markers. Not too awful for a rush job and I like some of the details that actually came out.

Though I didn’t love the show, the designs on it are definitely fun to draw. I very loosely drafted Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan, and Satine, but again, I don’t know whether I will follow through on them. Maybe eventually. As yet another side project.

[Click on this link or either image to download a printable .pdf copy (2 plates)]

To see all Star Wars related posts and plates, click the tag or the category at right. If I make more plates for this character, click the Ahsoka Tano tag to see all the plates (this is her first).  Same is true of the Clone Wars tag, if I decide to make other dolls.