Empire Paper Dolls: Cookie Lyon’s Closet [Plate 4]

empire_04_cookie_thumbWe finally come to the last of the Cookie plates, just as it was about to get interesting. This is also my last plate to post for the year. Unless I can actually get something for Christmas done in the next day or so (I’m trying!).

The red and the blue dresses on the right side I did back in the fall of last year. I think I hated both of them at the time (and it probably contributed to me putting this aside). The prints were so fussy and despite good references I don’t think either came out well.

The red/black dress and the blouse and the shoes on the left side I painted recently just to finish out a full plate to post. I have to say, I love how the shoes and the blouse came out–and these were the things that really convinced me to tackle the catwalk dolls. The blouse should have given me the horrors, but I dove right in and it’s not a bad approximation of the original garment (as complicated as that pattern was). It’s not perfect, but has the right effect. It also was actually worn with the black leather pants from Plate 3. I was happy to squeeze in at least one mix-and-match.

Click the Cookie tag to see all four plates.

[Click this link or the picture to download a printable .pdf for this doll]

Empire Paper Dolls: Cookie Lyon’s Closet [Plate 3]

empire_03_cookie_thumbI loved the challenge of doing all these animal prints for Cookie (she wore so many in the first season of the show!).  With good references, it wasn’t difficult, but it was, at times, pretty intense (even tedious). All those little spots on that swing coat and dress combo took me forever, if I recollect correctly. Even so it was a lot of fun. I learned how to make convincing “skins” even if they weren’t perfect.

At the time I was looking forward to making a bunch of mix and match pieces, but unfortunately I only have one more plate. I’m sorry I didn’t keep up with this. It’s too hard to go back and try to pick up something you dropped so long ago. Or maybe it’s just me. I guess I’m hoping that my catwalk dolls will fill this gap: a series I can work on regularly without the pressure of a live TV show getting ahead and away from me.

These are the kinds of paper doll pieces I really personally enjoy playing with: complex designs but simple shapes. They’re easy to cut out and look fabulous on the doll itself. And that’s also what I’m hoping to have with the new dolls.

[Click this link or the picture to download a printable .pdf for this doll]


Empire Paper Dolls: Cookie Lyon’s Closet [Plate 2]

empire_02_cookie_thumbLooking back on Cookie’s wardrobe, I’m surprised so many things went right with this paper doll, considering how many things could have gone wrong.  For one thing. I was out of my depth. Up until this point I had never drawn any contemporary fashion paper dolls that were stylish in any way. And Cookie is very stylish.

So a lot of what I was doing with these pieces was pure trial and error and fixing mistakes as I went along. You can see by the copyright on these plates that I actually did them in the fall/winter of 2015, so my memory is slightly hazy, but I do recollect that I struggled.

Most critically: use the right tools for the right job. My biggest mistake with these plates was one I should have learned long ago: you can’t paint intensively on cardstock! A million years ago when I painted my 19th century paper dolls, I exhausted myself fighting with the cardstock. So I’m not sure why I repeated the mistake. I guess I was being thrifty? Looking back it doesn’t even make sense. I have piles of watercolor paper that was paid for 20 years ago. The real waste is in not actually using it for, you know, painting!

Using the cardstock is great for Judy or other black and white or marker dolls. All the Star Wars dolls are on cardstock. But this is why I’m putting the runway dolls on real hot press cotton watercolor paper. I don’t want to fight with the materials any more!

[Click this link or the picture to download a printable .pdf for this doll]


Empire Paper Dolls: Cookie Lyon’s Closet [Plate 1]

empire_01_cookie_thumbThe beautiful Taraji P. Henson plays Cookie Lyon on Empire. Cookie is the long-suffering ex-wife of Lyon Dynasty king Lucious. She served 17 years in prison so that Lucious could build his music empire, and he repaid her by divorcing her while she was incarcerated. But the two have deep ties (including three sons), and their relationship, while volatile, is far from over.

Cookie wastes no time, once she’s released from prison, enjoying the spoils of her husband’s success. She’s quite the fashion plate and her animal prints and furs are legion. Once in a while she wears something down to earth like the lounge wear on this plate, but by and large she’s always on display.

Here she wears a bit of infamous lingerie (I meant to include the fur that goes with it in a subsequent plate–maybe I still will). Her Valentino shoes actually don’t go with either of these outfits, but I like them and wanted to give her a pair of shoes that could match with most of her outfits (because I can’t always clearly see her footwear in the show). The two outfits and hairstyles are from the pilot episode.

[Click this link or  the picture to download a printable .pdf for this doll]

As I mentioned long ago, I had intended to work through Cookie’s Season One outfits, then catch up to Season Two before the mid-season break was over last March. Now we’re at the end of Season Three and it feels doubtful I will ever catch up. Cookie is quite the clothes-horse. I hadn’t intended to do all her outfits, but I wanted to hit the highlights. She has a lot of highlights.

cookie_season01Cookie is a great TV character: she’s perfectly vindictive and yet she’s all heart. She loves her children and she’s been deeply wronged by her ex-husband and circumstances in the world. So even though she occasionally does some pretty heinous things, you can’t help but root for her. Henson’s performance is wonderfully sympathetic.

There’s just an amazing clash of over-the-top garish loud-mouth brassiness and spangles cut by an undercurrent of past suffering and abiding love in her. She’s also street-smart and conniving–you know she’s capable of just about anything, which makes her dangerous.

It’s pretty atypical for me to be drawn into a series like this, let alone inspired to make paper dolls for it. At least that’s a testament to how entertaining Empire is both visually as well as story-wise. Unfortunately some bad planning and other issues set this project back (way back).

Even so, I have four plates to post of some of Cookie’s outfits from Season One. I want to share them–even as I explain the bad choices I made that led to stalling this one out.

So Many Irons; So Much Fire

desk_12_04_15Back in ye olden times I kept a livejournal where I periodically posted pictures of the evolving state of my desk. The links to those pictures are gone now, though I have the originals on my computer. It was fun to record the progression of my whims over time, so I thought I would start anew.

I probably have too many disparate series to work on, but it’s fun to give my desk over to them for now.

I’m trying to figure out a way to post plates that makes sense (and is reasonably paced). While I have a small buffer, I can see burning through it quick.

The Walking Dead has 7 plates (four of which have been posted) and then it’s pretty much done. Judy is on-going with 4 plates ready in the queue for Judy Tuesdays (I’ll work on Vol. 29 over Christmas). Meanwhile, I’m concurrently working on three other series.

I’m painting two of those series (Empire and Fear the Walking Dead [FTWD]), which always takes more time than I expect. FTWD is a big set (9 people, 6 zombies, and I don’t have a clothing count yet). Each character only has a plate or two of clothing, however, and much of it is pretty straight-forward (aside from a handful of prints and plaids). I expect it will be about 25-27 plates, of which I’ve drawn a lot but painted very little at this point.

palette_12_04_15Empire, despite only doing 2 characters, is intensive because Cookie’s closet is a bottomless pit of styles and colors (the woman goes through 4+ costumes every episode). Because of her, I had to mix pink paint Thursday night–might have been a first for me.

I’m enjoying doing new things and challenging myself to not get too sloppy about things I don’t want to do. I flirted with the idea of putting tabs on the clothing (something to which I’ve always been averse), then I remembered how much space tabs take up on the page. I did, however, push myself to do something about my horror of little shoes floating around. After much shoe-envy over other paper doll artists’ blogs, I came up with something I can live with.

The third series I have percolating is comic-book related. I’m keeping it simple by coloring it with markers (which works well for comics). I finished drawing and coloring two characters last night, but haven’t made any clothes yet.

As usual, I’ve probably deep-ended in the ambition pool, but I’m okay if some of these are slow to roll out. I’m not even worried about the FTWD stuff because the show is in hiatus and won’t be back until late Spring at the earliest. I’d like to have half the plates finished before I even start posting it.

I’d like to start posting Empire next week as my regular Thursday post for now.

And I’m not adding any more series to the queue, though I’m wildly tempted.

Empire is My Not-So-Guilty Pleasure

empire_logoNot-so-guilty because it’s just so much fun! Fox’s Empire stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson as the patriarch and matriarch of a music industry family in upheaval. Loosely King Lear for a modern audience, it’s got all the crazy murder and drama you can imagine, with a healthy heaping of song and dance numbers interspersed. It’s the perfect storm of entertainment for an American audience.

Now in Season 2, I only watched the pilot last year because I was already a fan of Terrence Howard. But I was totally hooked from the start. This really surprises me because there’s nothing about the premise that is otherwise a draw for me personally. I’m not really interested in the music industry, really don’t like rap or hip-hop music, and power Drama with a capital D isn’t typically my thing. But the characters are amazing, the acting is top-notch, the music is actually sometimes really good, and the story, while way over the top insane, abides by its own logic and is extremely well-written.

There are a lot of characters in this series (it has a huge, outstanding cast overall) and fashion is a huge part of the show, but I’m only going to make the two main characters as paper dolls (Cookie’s wardrobe alone could keep me busy enough). Fortunately, many of the costumes are very well documentedall over the internet, so I don’t have to trawl through the episodes looking for outfits, taking notes, and trying to draw stuff from the screen. I’m doing that with other shows and it’s not easy sometimes.

Cookie’s wardrobe is so extensive, in fact, I can promise you that I’m not going to be able to capture all of it. The fact that I’m already a season behind means I have a lot of catch-up to do as it is. As for Lucious, I don’t expect he’ll have as immense a wardrobe since he wears a lot of suits. He occasionally breaks out into something unusual, so I’ll try to capture those moments in particular.

This is a set of dolls that will work best in color (though Cookie does wear a lot of black and white, interestingly enough). We’ll see how that goes. I’ve only drawn the figures themselves at this point and I’m planning to start their wardrobe in the coming week, so expect these to begin posting at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, if you’re not already watching this show, I recommend it strongly. Even if you think it couldn’t possibly be to your taste…oh who am I kidding, good television is really to everyone’s taste, right?  And look at these guys. They. Are. Awesome: