Lavender-Tailed Mermaid with White and Gold Top and Starfish Brooch

A bluish-lavender mermaid tail with lighter, warmer fins along the top, sides and base of the tail. The top is a one-shoulder Greek inspired white top that shows the midriff and is bordered with gold scroll patterns. At the shoulder is a golden starfish brooch with an opal in the middle, and there are strands of pearls looped over the shoulder and upper arm.Here’s my first digitally colored mermaid tail! I’m not entirely satisfied with it, because without a little scale pattern I think it looks too flat, but I’m only just getting started with digital coloring so for today it will work.

I’ve had mermaids on the brain, because I read a book called Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee, which was all about how to construct a compelling, well-paced and satisfying story. It’s aimed at screenwriters, but it dealt with universal principles, so I got a lot out of it even though I’m not planning on writing a movie anytime soon. It’s a great book, but also pretty dense and something like 400 pages long, so I’ll also recommend Hilari Bell’s writing tips, which present much of the same information in a way that may be more understandable.

I always enjoyed writing my mini-stories about my mermaid world for this site, and I’ve often thought of making it into an actual story. I have a rather large amount of information already written about aspects of mermaid society, actually. Where I trip up is my lack of understanding about oceanography, general scientific principles and experience underwater, which has a direct bearing on a story set somewhere besides dry land. What does it feel like to hear things underwater, and what sounds are easiest to hear underwater? What might materials mermaids could possibly use to build cities look like after years spent in the sea? How far down can mermaids dive before they start to have problems with the pressure? Can they breathe underwater, like fish, or do they have to come up for air, like dolphins? If I want the geography to look a certain way, how did that come about? If you can’t store paper books underwater or too close to water, is there a good way of distributing and storing reading material?

For many of these questions, I don’t even know where to start looking because I have only a vague recollection of my science classes. I suppose if it’s my fantasy world I can answer all these things however I like, or simply not care, but to me it’s more fun if the world is plausible and the fantastic elements are placed elsewhere. I love worldbuilding, especially stuff like this geological history of A Game of Thrones where the setting is taken quite seriously. Still, it slows me down because I’m imagining a lot of things from scratch and learning a lot of things for the first time. If I actually want to write something, I’d probably do better with a setting that is easier to nail down, but I keep returning to my mermaids. And I do like it when I have the time to learn new things that I can apply to the world – I keep reading books about science or marine animals and coming up with mermaid world applications for little details.

In any case, it looks like an elf dress won my poll, with 51% of the vote, so I will sketch some out and be back next week with a black and white dress and a new contest, plus a 1930s outfit. Until then, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for site updates, previews and mermaid jewelry. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.

1912 Egyptian Revival Gown with Scarab Belt and Pith Helmet

A 1912-style gown. The underdress is a sandy golden yellow color, with an Egyptian geometrical pattern on the fabric. It has a shallow scoop neck, short sleeves and a long, tube-shaped skirt that falls to the floor. It is gathered slightly above the waist with a wide gold sash, decorated at the front with a large brooch depicting a jeweled blue scarab holding an orange sun and adorned on both sides with a multi-colored wing pattern. At the bodice and at the hem are an Egyptian fan pattern done in small rhinestones. Over this is an overdress made of white lace patterned with Egyptian geometrical patterns and lotuses. The overdress is like a shawl over the bodice, opening at the front to show the fan pattern at the neckline, and going under the belt. It covers most of the underskirt, and opens in the front to show the fan pattern and the drape of the underskirt. There is a pith helmet to go with it, which is about the same color as the dress, but slightly darker and with a more utilitarian texture. Around the crown of the hat is a line of rhinestones.So, this one requires an explanation. A 1912 gown won my poll handily, and then I did a contest to determine who would direct its coloring and patterning. 13 people entered, including my husband Brian, who posted the first comment. Brian is a big Animal Crossing fan, and one of the things you can do in that game is catch different kinds of bugs. He caught a wharf roach, which he warns me, and I will pass the warning on to you, not to google it unless you like really ugly looking bugs. Then one of the animals who lives in his village said “So I’m thinkin’ of basing a design on a wharf roach.” This tickled his fancy, and he produced this image. He also gleefully informed me that, should he win, he wanted a wharf roach themed dress.

I chose the winner by random number using I just made a list of everyone in the order they’d posted, assigned them a number and hit the button. Brian was #1, and as I hit the button, I thought “Not 1, not 1, not 1.”

He was kind to me, though. He didn’t actually order me to make wharf-roach themed lace. Instead, what he said he wanted was an Egyptian-themed dress with a scarab beetle on it. I was actually happy about this, because as it happened, I had seen some lovely Egyptian Revival 1912 gowns when drawing the sketch for this one. He left it mostly up to me, but said that he wanted it to be a sand color, and he specifically wanted a pith helmet. In his imagination, this dress belongs to the least practical Egyptologist in the world. She’s spending her inheritance looking for lost tombs. That’s right — she got her money from her mummy! (Blame Brian for that one.)

Now that this contest is over, let’s move on to the next one!

Next week, you can look forward to a mermaid tail! Until then, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for site updates, previews and thoughts on what I’m doing lately. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.

Recolored Regency Gown in Bright Colors

A lavender regency gown trimmed with white lace at the neck and sleeves. The sleeves are gently puffed and the bodice is ruched, trimmed on the right side with red roses and blue forget-me-nots. Under the bust is a pink ribbon sash decorated with a scroll pattern. The dress fabric is decorated with small embroidered white flowers, then at the edge of the skirt are pink swags, trimmed with lace, with pink hearts, red roses and blue forget-me-nots at the top of each swag. Intricate white embroidery surrounds the flowers. Under the swags are pleated turquoise frills that fan out to the ground and are trimmed with white lace. Long white gloves are attached to the outfit, and there is a pink wrap over the arms that is decorated with a shiny gold paisley pattern. At the neck is a thin gold chain and a pearl pendant.I didn’t finish the dress I meant to have up today (the contest winner), so for now, I will present the recoloring chosen by one of the two winners of my Oscar contest, dannyscotland! Technically, it was chosen by her 5-year old daughter, and it did turn out to be vibrant. She wrote:

I have consulted with my ‘assistant’ a.k.a. daughter, and she would like to have you color the Valentine’s Day Regency Gown. For five years old, she’s pretty specific, so please feel free to alter as you see fit. :-) And thanks for understanding. She (and I, I guess) would love to see turquoise gloves and bottom ruffle, a pink shawl, lavender dress (the body of the dress), red roses, and pink draping over the bottom ruffle, kind of like it is now. Maybe it could be a different shade of pink?

Dannyscotland, I hope you and your daughter like it! It was fun for me, because the finished dress is quite different from the original, but it does some fun things in and of itself. The blue of the ruffle actually complements the forget-me-nots, and with the lavender background, you can see that there is a very subtle swirl pattern on the fabric, which was pretty hard to see on the earlier version.

The top part of a blue gown with a delicate darker blue vine and white flower pattern and puffed sleeves. There are a line of pearls at the neckline and a wide gold belt with pearls.But wait – that’s not all there is today! RLC of Paper Thin Personas has been doing interviews with paper doll bloggers lately, and for this month, she interviewed me! Check out the interview for my thoughts on why I love paper dolls, how I created the pose for the new doll series and whether I prefer sparkly things with some shine or shiny things with some sparkle. Plus, I did a blue princess gown exclusively for RLC’s site! If you’d like to see and download the full dress, you’ll have to check out the interview.

Come back next week for the 1912 gown with colors and patterns chosen by my husband! (I’ll give you a hint: Beetles.) I’ll do the poll next week, too. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for site updates, paperdoll thoughts and very pretty opals. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.

Otohime’s Coral and Blue Undersea Gown from the Japanese Fairy Tale Urashima Tarō‎

A blue gown with a stylized wave pattern in a darker shade of blue. There is a vest and overskirt with uneven, coral-like edges in shades of orange and coral with a golden scaly pattern all over it. The vest forms a large V over the top and is held in place by a wide belt in an aqua and teal wave pattern with gold accents. There is a thin dark blue ribbon tied around the belt. It is held in place with a brooch made of polished green and blue abalone, and the two ends of the ribbon extend almost to the floor. Underneath the belt is a short overskirt in a semi-transparent white fabric with a subtle shimmer. The collar is formed by several overlapping robes in shades of blue, dark where it is in contact with the vest and progressively lighter until it reaches the neck. The sleeves are wide and bell-shaped, and at the shoulders there is another layer of the shimmery semi-transparent white fabric. There is a wide white ribbon that floats over the dress in a large circle and slips under the arms, its edges curling around the skirt.I’m sorry to have made you wait for this one! I just had some kind of block about it, but now it is done and I can go on to something else. This is my version of a dress worn by Otohime, who is a figure from a famous Japanese folk tale, Urashima Tarō‎ (浦島太郎). In the story, the young fisherman Urashima Tarō saves a turtle from some kids who are tormenting it, and as a reward, he is brought to the undersea palace of the Dragon God and meets his daughter, Otohime (乙姫), who was that turtle that he rescued. He stays there for a few days, but soon wishes to return home. Before he does, Otohime gives him a box, warning him not to open it. When he gets back, he finds that everyone he knew is long dead and his village has greatly changed. He opens the box, but in it was his old age, and he turns to dust and blows away. Some versions have happier endings, like this illustrated retelling. If you’re studying Japanese, give this version a shot.

Urashima Tarō‎ is a story that pretty much every Japanese person would know, and Otohime is a famous figure. As it’s a very old story, the way she is usually depicted is in a gown like this (with obvious Chinese influence) and not usually a Japanese outfit. As it’s a famous fairytale, though, the depiction varies with the artist.

Thank you for all of your fun entries in my contest! I really just need a post to enter someone in the drawing, but it’s more fun for me to read about whose costumes reign supreme. (The cast of Downton Abbey would triumph over the cast of the Titanic, according to my readers.) The winner, although I hate to admit it because he was talking about his plans for what he’d do if he won the other day and I know what I’m in for, is my husband Brian.

Come back next week to see what ridiculous design Brian will choose for my 1912 gown, and for a new poll! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for site updates, complaints about Facebook and gowns with interesting details. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.