Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 3

Another somewhat modest bustle on this Judy Tuesday. I’ll get used to the new size of the dolls hopefully in the next round. Once again, I’m not entirely sure why I thought a Cattleshow costume went with something called the St. Roseline. Although, that weird headcovering on the St. Roseline reminds me of French milkmaids for some reason.

The St. Roseline likely refers to the saint herself, but also the Chateau where she lies in France, where there is a vineyard. As wine and beef go together, I’m just going to pretend that was my justification since it might make more sense than the milkmaid excuse.

These are December costumes, so I’m glad I got them out before we got too far into the new year. At least they are sort of right for the season.

I really need to get some work done on this volume of Judy!  In my distraction to revamp the catwalk dolls, I’ve sadly neglected poor Judy and have now run out of buffer.  I guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend!

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



Geneviéve: 1971

I think I was the one who suggested this first theme for our collaborative paper doll: “The Year You were Born”. And afterwards I thought: oh, I guess I just dated myself online. But that’s okay. I’ve never minded being the age that I am. 45 is actually pretty great right now.

Yup. I was born in 1971.

All in the Family debuted on CBS, Charles Manson was sentenced to death for the Tate-LaBianca murders (yeah, that didn’t keep), Apollo 14 landed on the moon, and “Stairway to Heaven” had its premiere in concert. I share a birth year with Mark Wahlberg, Snoop Dogg, and Ewan McGregor. Jim Morrison died 43 days before my birthday

When I thought about what I wanted to draw for Geneviéve, I recalled my mother’s sewing magazines when I was a kid (she sewed for my older sisters). I did a Google search for “Simplicity fashions 1971” and the image that I posted below popped up. Amazingly, I not only remember this picture vividly from those magazines, but it was the exact picture I had in mind when I went looking.

Right away, I knew this was exactly what I wanted to draw for Geneviéve. The velvet knee pants, the satin mini, the crazy patterned jackets. It all screams 1970s without being the predictable bell bottoms.

I love Julie’s design for this doll’s body because it’s so easy to make clothes at this scale. I’m accustomed to drawing very small and this was an opportunity to go big and bold.

Making that intricate jacket was pure joy (I love to doodle). It’s not an exact match to the actual pattern, but it is a pattern from 1971 that I found online (and which was easier to see the detail). I did my best with the cats as well–again, it’s not exact, but close enough!

I confess I came very close to actually putting tabs on this doll, but I feared setting a precedence! So, as with all of my dolls, if you want tabs, you’ll have to add them yourself.

For those of you who find this confounding, it has to do with paper doll history and my fetish for 19th century aesthetics. I keep meaning to write an apologia about this. Maybe now’s a good time.

I hope you enjoy coloring and playing with this set as much as I enjoyed drawing it. And now don’t forget: you can find more theme outfits to match this doll at the following fabulous blogs:

This collaborative doll will be posted at the end of each month all throughout 2017 with a new theme each month.  To find all related posts on this blog, just click the “Geneviéve” tag.

[Click on this link or the picture to download the plate!]


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.

Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 2

Judy Tuesday brings you some post-holiday (but still winter-ish) costumes to maybe keep you in the spirit even as we leave the first month of the new year behind.

I just mentioned last week that I was trying to group these thematically. Don’t really have a thematic reason for why the “Cairo” costume goes with the “December” costume, but maybe I was just thinking it looked festive. In other words, my idea of theme may be questionable.

I really love the “December” costume. I had initially planned to separate the hood from the dress as I have done with other attached pieces in the past, but decided against it. Sometimes the goofiness of the style “as-is” is just right.

I can tell already I drew the “Cairo” costume with a rather conservative bustle because I’m still used to squeezing the costumes in for the larger dolls. Hopefully I will calculate better as we go along so that these fanciful creations can really breathe.

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

Geneviéve: A Collaborative Paper Doll

One of the best things about the paper doll community is that although it is rather niche, it’s also welcoming. I love to share thoughts and ideas with other paper doll enthusiasts, and two of the best bloggers out there right now are Julie Matthews at Paper Doll School, and Rachel at Paper Thin Personas. We’ve collaborated in the past to create dolls for a variety of occasions. Our last one was a while back: a masquerade paper doll, with costumes from paper doll fans all over the internet.

It was high time we did another, so now we have a monthly doll to share with you across all three blogs. With a body designed by Julie, each site has posted their own version of the doll, and all three will be able to mix and match their wardrobes (some headwear may not be compatible).

I named my doll Geneviéve, after Catherine Deneuve’s sweet naive character in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. I don’t actually imagine the doll as blonde, but with the magic of your own coloring tools, you can make her whatever you want!

Each month there will be a theme for this doll. For January, the theme is “The Year You were Born”. I’ll be posting Geneviéve’s first plate of clothes this coming Friday, the 27th.

[Meanwhile, click on the picture or this link to download the doll!]


Rogue One: a Star Wars Story and Noble Sacrifice


I hadn’t written a movie review in a while. Watched La La Land and hated it so much I felt like excoriating it, but then decided I’d rather talk about things I like, so here are my thoughts on Rogue One instead.

I want to preface this by stating a couple of things: first of all, you know I’m a big Star Wars nerd, but that I also don’t just love everything Star Wars across the board as a matter of course. I can be pretty critical, in fact, and continue to pretend that the prequel trilogy never happened.

So what do I think of Rogue One, the latest “non-saga” installment of this much-abused franchise? I think I might love it, even if it is deeply flawed.

This is a relatively spoiler-free rumination for those of you who didn’t hop out opening weekend for this one (I’m guessing that’s most of you). And yet here’s the thing: what could I possibly spoil? The movie is about the band of Rebels who set out to steal the plans for the Death Star–yes, those plans–the ones R2-D2 takes from Princess Leia to Tatooine, kicking off the original trilogy. So whatdaya think? Think they’re going to get the plans?  Think they’re gonna survive getting the plans?

Director Gareth Edwards does some wondrous things with the world of Star Wars. The took some chances. He should be lauded for that. He builds cities, he creates atmosphere, he films combat sequences that are beautiful and thrilling. Edwards also understands that a Star Wars film should not look glossy or clean and that the cgi effects need to be well-hidden (or at least try not to draw attention to themselves). He succeeds at many things.

But the script could use some shoring up. There just isn’t much of a plot here. Which shouldn’t be a fatal problem if our plucky heroes are engaging, bright, and you want to run alongside them. Unfortunately our heroes are a grim lot. Morally ambiguous in some areas, hopeful but resigned, lacking in the kind of inspiration that someone like Finn or Rey brought to The Force Awakens. This is a darker film aimed at an adult audience that in some ways lacks color (both literally and metaphorically).

The characters could be amazing but for all of its 2+ hours of runtime, we somehow don’t get enough time with them. Left dizzily wishing for more when this is a story whose sequel has already been told, I feel vaguely robbed. The original Star Wars was never planned as a trilogy and that first film pulled it all off (with a running time 8 minutes shorter). But this film wastes energy on fan service. A subplot with Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader–if it can even be called that–isn’t even necessary. And this coming from someone who loves Darth Vader! I would have gladly sacrificed that for a chance to really love someone else more: Cassian Andor or Bohdi Rook or even Jyn.

Missed opportunities with the plot, missed opportunities with the characters. Myriad cool new alien designs that are horrendously underutilized. People can complain that Rogue One is depressing or that its characters aren’t always very heroic. Or they will nitpick continuity questions and the general Star Warsyness of it all. But none of those things should impact a good story well told.

Rogue One has potentially awesome characters and incredible cinematography, but the story pretty much gets you exactly where you knew you were going in the first place. Too much of its coolness comes from brand recognition.  All that said, despite these things, it’s got humor and heart, and an ending that will have your heart pounding. Not bad at all for a film with what should really be fatal flaws.

So no, the movie isn’t remotely a failure, even if it could have been more successful in some ways. It does a lot of things very well. I actually got emotional a couple of times on my first viewing. And it does add to the world many people already love. It’s highly unlikely you will see any of these characters pop up as paper dolls on this blog, but I do appreciate the aesthetic Edwards was going for and there are plenty of cool costumes in the film. Design-wise Rogue One is definitely an achievement.

And I would rate this easily above any of those alleged prequels. Without reservation.


Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 1

vol31_01_thumbIt’s Judy Tuesday!  Our first plate of the new era! I used to try to post the costumes in the order they appeared in the serial, but this go-round I’m going to group them in ways that maybe make sense thematically (sometimes). So the dates will likely jump around a lot.

Chasemore really hit a stride starting with this volume. The Judy designs, which previously had taken up a small corner (sometimes maybe no more than about an eighth of the page, were now commanding quarter pages. The fact that they were featured so prominently probably attests to their popularity.

We also begin to see Chasemore building on past designs. With more space to indulge in, previous ideas are recycled with more extravagant detail.

Weirdly, though, some of Chasemore’s offerings are just as lazy and uninspired. Could be the pressure of deadlines or maybe just a lack of motivation. I always the outfits that I felt were sort of “duds”, but far fewer in this volume that in volumes of the past.

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

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!


Revised Judy : the London Serio-comic Paper Doll

judy_2017_thumbIt’s Tuesday, so as good a time as any for Judy! Yes, we have two new dolls for the volumes going forward. They are agonizingly similar to the previous dolls. The main difference is that they are more petite (with smaller hands and feet), and have slimmer bodies. They also have much prettier faces, I think.

Much as I didn’t want to completely revise the Judy dolls, I needed to trim them down a bit to allow more room for the costumes as they get increasingly silly (particularly the hats and some of the bustles). I think we’ll be able to stick with these two until the end.

I’ll also try to wrap my head around making a Judy gallery since now we have four iterations of these dolls. It would be nice to keep them in a semblance of order.

Will be posting Judy on Tuesdays (or at least that’s the plan). She remains the easiest thing to produce in my lineup, so I really have no excuses. Well, I’m sure I have many, actually, but none of them are really legitimate.

Didn’t realize the Golden Globes were on until late last night when my sister texted me. I guess I better get my catwalk/runway/red carpet dolls posted! I will start them this weekend, I think. Did I miss any amazing gowns? Guess I’ll have to trawl the pictures to see.

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

Star Wars Paper Dolls: Leia Organa No. 6


I drew this December 27th, the day Carrie Fisher died.  It was a place to put my grief that was more constructive than slapping on the Original Trilogy and zoning out for 6+ hours (okay I did that later). But I couldn’t post it then because I didn’t know what to say.

I still don’t know what to say. Star Wars was an immense part of my childhood, my formation. Princess Leia was an indomitable spirit who normalized the strong female hero. Because of her, I grew up never feeling the lack.

It’s a hard thing to be reconnected to that wonder and to now have lost it so irretrievably in some way. I’m almost certain General Leia will live on somehow (she must for the good of the Resistance), but I will miss her deeply and always wonder at how this new trilogy has been impacted by Fisher’s sudden tragic passing. I only hope that Lucasfilm will give her character the happy ending she deserves (she has suffered so much).

leia_01_tfa_bwI don’t have much to say about the doll. These two costumes and alternate heads from The Force Awakens fit the original doll for the series. Leia is a pragmatic woman with military responsibilities and not a fashion horse, though she does put on a dress at the end (as a celebration of their victory? In mourning for Han?). The dress feels almost out of character in some regards. She no longer has a senatorial role in the galaxy; she is a private citizen and the Resistance is not a sanctioned operation.

With her typical good humor, Fisher described the first one as looking like a gas station attendant. She said the second one had the hairstyle of a baboon’s ass.

I would have liked to have seen her in more flattering attire, but perhaps in her final installment (Episode VIII) she will get to look like both the General and the Princess that she is.

I was honestly so surprised and overjoyed to see her reprise her role last December. Now it’s hard to imagine Star Wars without her.

Requiescat en pace, you talented, wonderful, irreverent woman. Along with your beautiful mother.

[Click on each image to download a printable .pdf copy of each plate]