Blue Sparkly Dress

A sleeveless form-fitting blue dress with a hemline just above the knees and a V neck. The dress is sparkly and is covered all over with a pattern of blue sequins in scroll and flower shapes.After knocking myself out with last month’s series, the next few are likely going to be much simpler. This month I’m working on my special Christmas project and joining in on NaNoWriMo, so if I can practice digital coloring and work up some new brushes in this space, that’s good enough for me! In this case I tried a new sequin brush, and I think it worked pretty well.

Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo? Feel free to add me as a writing buddy!

Incidentally, Phoenix is thrilled that she’s run away with the voting. The thing is, by now all of the other archetypes aren’t all that impressed when she wears sparkly, vibrantly colored gowns; it’s what she’s known for and the novelty has worn off. She has to literally burst into flames to get any attention from them, so she’s glad to find an audience that appreciates her.

Next week, I’ve had a brainwave about how to do the type of pattern that I used on Phoenix’s dress and the white and blue princess gown, so you’ll probably see a dress decorated with that technique. In the meantime, you can download combined color and black and white PDFs of all of my 2014 dolls and outfits for free! Also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for sneak previews, paperdoll thoughts and sparkly formal dresses. If you enjoy my work, I'd also appreciate your support through Patreon.

The Mythic Ball, #5: Phoenix’s Rhinestone Gown

Liana's Paper Dolls: Phoenix's Costume. A dark navy blue gown with a high neckline and no sleeves. There's a circle keyhole cutout under the neckline, and the dress is mermaid-style, tight around the bodice and legs then fanning out near the floor. It's decorated with an abstract phoenix pattern in rhinestones all over the top of the dress and abstract swirls of rhinestones on the skirt. There's a long length of orange, yellow and red fabric patterned with gold swirls draped around the hips and legs, over one shoulder and over the skirt, fanning out like a tail. There's also a red and gold mask with stylized feathers on each side extending far past the head.Many of the attendees informally call this event the “Monsters’ Ball,” since all of the archetypes in attendance are fundamentally inhuman. (Are there human-based archetypes? Sure, but if they take physical form and throw a party, it’s not this one.) The nickname doesn’t sit right with everyone, though; Phoenix won’t let it be said around her, since she is very insistent that she’s not a monster. She likes to be known instead for her goodness and sparkly dresses.

“Destructive fire powers tend to suggest ‘monster’ to unbiased onlookers,” Dragon says. Her tone is a little arch but not unkind; they have this discussion nearly every year and the arguments are seldom novel.
“It’s not ‘destructive,’ it’s purifying,” Phoenix answers.
“Tell that to whatever’s being purified,” counters Dragon.

The ball draws to a close, and the archetypes get ready for the final event. It’s not a traditional activity, having only gained popularity in the last hundred years or so, but by now no one wants to be left out. There’s a flurry of movement as archetypes everywhere change their shape and adjust their clothes over the new, smaller bodies.

“This whole thing is so ridiculous,” sighs Fairy as she joins the line for the portal that will transport the group away from the ball.
“I didn’t hear you complaining when we found the house that was passing out full-sized Milky Ways last year,” Kraken says, poking her shoulder. The newly clumsy, child-sized feet of the archetypes around her keep stepping on her costume’s tentacles.

The portal leads to a quiet suburb, dotted with children and their parents going door-to-door. It’s dark enough that no one notices the archetypes stepping out of the portal and out onto the sidewalk, where they cluster into groups of extraordinarily well-dressed trick-or-treaters. A handful of archetypes, including Dragon and Phoenix, have retained their adult human forms, to provide what looks like proper supervision. They’ve learned it’s better if no one asks too many questions about the group.

Kraken is the first to ring the doorbell. “Trick or treat!” she says, directing what she hopes is a smile filled with child-like wonder at the woman who opens the door and holding out a rather large bag.

Now, I have an important question for you all. I understand the archetypes will abide by your decision, so think carefully…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this October’s visit to the mythic ball! I’m very proud of the five outfits I’ve done for this series. I don’t know what I’ll do next week, but it will likely not be as complex as this series has been. In the meantime, you can download combined color and black and white PDFs of all of my 2014 dolls and outfits for free! Also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for sneak previews, paperdoll thoughts and gorgeous clothes from India. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.

The Mythic Ball, Part 4: Kitsune’s (Japanese Fox Spirit) Wa-Lolita Dress

A knee-length teal green dress with a fox mask and nine fox tails fanning out from underneath the skirt. The mask and tails are in a golden brown color with white accents. The dress has Japanese touches, with a subtle rice sheaf pattern woven into the fabric and dyed red, orange and yellow maple leaves arranged on the skirt and on the sleeves, with a couple at the shoulders. On the skirt and sleeves, they look as if they're falling, with a few near the top of the sleeves and skirt and most at the hem or the base. The sleeve isn't sewn at the sides, but is rather tied with a yellow bow underneath the wrist, and the lining of the fabric is bright red. The collar is folded over on one side and is edged with a wide black field, then a smaller white collar near the neck is lined with a row of black lace. There's a black obi, or wide belt, with a pattern of golden leaves and abstract flowers, with a red obi sash puffed out over the top. The obi sash is decorated with a pattern of tie-dyed dots creating diamond shapes. Around the obi is a silver cord, on which is mounted a shining blue fire-shaped jewel. Although the top part of the dress mostly looks like a traditional kimono, the skirt is full and knee-length, puffing out to the sides in an exaggerated way, as if there's a crinoline underneath it. There are four rows of sea-green silk with a subtle interlocking circle pattern on them, arranged so that they drape in overlapping ruffles from the obi to the hem of the skirt. They're edged with black lace. The skirt is also edged with black lace, and there's a bright red petticoat visible underneath the skirt. The black stockings and black boots are mostly covered by the fox tails.Kitsune, a Japanese fox spirit known for shapeshifting, cleverness and a love of deep-fried tofu, has enjoyed such tremendous, enduring popularity in her home country that she has long reigned unofficially over the little clique of Japanese archetypes. The recent rise in popularity of anime, manga and Japanese culture in other parts of the world has raised her stature, and she’s spending more and more time outside of her little group of monsters and ghosts. This has caused somewhat of a re-evaluation of her persona, as she would like to impress the big shots of the English-speaking world — the ones with the near-lock on Hollywood movies. Kitsune would quite like a movie or two. The first one doesn’t have to win an Oscar; she’s not picky. She’s thinking rom-com, at least to start with.

She always used to wear kimono to the ball, thinking that they make her look more refined and more in touch with her roots than the foreign archetypes in their showy gowns, but in recent years she’s tried out some masquerade dresses herself. The other archetypes in her old clique, who haven’t enjoyed quite the same popularity, felt threatened by this. Last year Kappa (another Japanese archetype) picked a big fight with her, mocking her Western-style gowns and accusing her of feeling superior to the rest of them. (Kappa has never quite recovered from reading the Harry Potter books; she was thrilled to hear that kappas were mentioned in one, and absolutely crushed when she found out that Professor Snape claimed that kappas were found in Mongolia.)

She doesn’t want to lose their good will, but she was really rather enjoying her forays into the world of fancy dress, so this year she opted for a daring new look: a wa-lolita dress. (Wa-lolita is a subset of a Japanese fashion subculture called “lolita” which emphasizes frilly, hyper-feminine clothes based on fairy-tale Victorian styles. Wa-lolita makes use of Japanese design elements like wide obi-style belts, kimono sleeves and Japanese patterns. To see examples of lolita and wa-lolita outfits, check out my Pinterest “Lolita style” board.)

Kappa, Oni and the others still think she’s putting on airs, but somehow it’s not quite as galling as seeing her in a knockoff of whatever Dragon wore last year. They’ll forgive her, Kitsune thinks, when she gets her rom-com and gives them all parts in it. (Little parts, of course.)

A couple little cultural notes about the dress! The blue ornament over the obi is a kitsune-bi (狐火), which are mysterious lights said to be associated with kitsune. The color of the fur is “kitsune-iro” (きつね色), or “fox color” — an actual color word in Japanese, often used to refer to things like the color of nicely cooked bread. The leaf pattern is based on Japanese maple leaves, “momiji” (紅葉); you don’t have to be a Japanese studies major to guess that it’s a fall-themed design element. Also, the fur brush I used was created by CoyoteMange and is extremely useful even for a fur beginner like me!

Next week will be our final guest at the Mythic Ball, Phoenix, and an opportunity to vote on this year’s Queen of the Mythic Ball. In the meantime, you can download combined color and black and white PDFs of all of my 2014 dolls and outfits for free! Also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for sneak previews, paperdoll thoughts and the occasional lolita dress. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.

The Mythic Ball, Part 3: The Glow Cloud’s Gown with Third Eye Mask

A strapless white gown. The skirt is made of puffy, multicolored clouds, lit from behind by a bright light source. The clouds are various shades of purple edged with bright blue or green, and there are bright spots of vivid yellow within the clouds. There's a white mask that goes with it that covers the whole face and has no decoration except for a large third eye drawn in glowing purple tones.A newcomer’s arrival always causes excitement in a gathering populated by archetypes that may be hundreds, even thousands of years old. Those that have endured over the years can’t help but judge the newer ones whose sudden popularity or unexpected flexibility brings them to the ball. They may retain their appeal and get used in new ways in new stories, turning into a true archetype, something greater than their original form… or they’ll wind up with the sorry lot that hangs out on the fringes of the party. Those poor creatures sneak strawberries from the snack table as if they don’t deserve to eat good things and trade stories about whatever triumph first won them an invitation to the party — while stringently avoiding any mention of the present day. If any of the organizers should notice that they haven’t made that jump from potential archetype to true archetype, and probably won’t, there may not be another invitation the next year…

The Glow Cloud is new; furthermore, she’s a creation popularized by the Internet, not by ballads, storybooks or rumors. So the others regard her with a certain amount of skepticism until she drifts by, and…

All hail the mighty Glow Cloud.

All hail.

The old-timers discuss the Glow Cloud in whispers, several minutes after she passes.
“Rather specialized, don’t you think?” Dragon says, her expression thoughtful.
“Do you really see an archetype like that getting popular in *other* stories?” asks Fairy disdainfully.
“It’s basically just a cloud,” agrees Kitsune.
“There’s some precursors, you know. Like the Airborne Toxic Event. And Lakitu, that almost counts,” Robot says. (Robot has more sympathy for newcomers than the other, older archetypes.)
“True,” says Dragon. “Well, we’ll see if there’s staying power there.”
“We’ll see,” echoes Fairy.

The dismissive words are intended to mask how shaken they are.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Glow Cloud, it’s from a popular podcast called Welcome to Night Vale, which is a story built around fictional news from a town where weird things are a feature of daily life. I used this cloud tutorial and brush, in case anyone else wants to try some digital clouds! Next week we’ll be meeting Kitsune, a popular Japanese fox spirit archetype and the winner of my poll. In the meantime, you can download combined color and black and white PDFs of all of my 2014 dolls and outfits for free! Also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for sneak previews, paperdoll thoughts and eye-centric teaser pictures. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.