Rainbow Ball Gown with Rhinestones

A sleeveless ballgown with a black bodice and a sweetheart neckline. The bodice is covered with rhinestones in varying sizes and patterns. The skirt is floor-length, full and bell-shaped, and the colors on it go in a rainbow pattern, from red near the waist, then orange, yellow, green, blue and purple at the hem. There is a pattern of black lines over the fabric, giving it a dramatic look.As I wrote last week, I came up with a new way of doing my rhinestones, and this is the result of my experiments. To go into Photoshop talk for a moment, I like to sketch out the design on my iPad and turn it into a path, then go over it with a rhinestone brush. (That’s just a circle brush with spaces and a layer style — the same basic technique that I wrote about in my Tiny Tutorial #2 for making a basic bead brush.) I turn it into a path automatically instead of going over it with the pen tool, which would produce a much cleaner path but takes more time. What I realized is that drawing shapes, not lines, makes this work better, as well as putting those shapes on separate layers so that I can make some parts in smaller rhinestones and some parts in larger ones. There’s more experimentation to be done, but this is a good start!

Next week, you may see more experimentation with the technique. Until then, 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 non-clothes related pin. If you enjoy my work, I'd also appreciate your support through Patreon.

Ballgown with Tulle Skirt (A Not-Really-A-Tutorial Tutorial)

A ballgown with a halter-style black bodice and a floor-length, bell shaped skirt. The bodice is patterned with a metallic gold brocade. The gown is divided into three layers. The first one is shades of layered orange, yellow and red tulle under a light layer of black tulle, which the warm colors show through. The second layer is light green, dark green and light blue under a layer of black tulle. The third layer is dark blue, purple and magenta under a layer of black tulle. One of my Pinterest boards is titled “Paperdoll Reference.” It may as well be titled my “Why Can’t I Draw Like That?” board. I’ll pin dresses with interesting coloring, particularly shiny dresses or dresses with great draping, with the intention of using them to study from. Not being the most diligent artist in the world, I’ve been piling up interesting examples and not doing all that much with them. Then the thought came to me, why not make the learning process into a paper doll outfit? (Everything’s better with paperdolls.) Sort of like a tutorial, except I, too, start out with no clue what I’m doing. Let’s learn together!

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White Cake Dress with Pink Ombre Rosettes for Broken Age

A very light ivory ballgown with an almost exaggeratedly large, floor length skirt. It is off the shoulder, with a line of pink rosettes across the top. The bodice is fitted and decorated with a pattern of white lines and dots arranged into a sunburst shape, with a polka dot and grid pattern covering the background. Both patterns are shaded to look as if they're white frosting on a white cake. The waist is V-shaped and is edged with a line of small silver balls. The overskirt is open at the front, showing a large part of the underskirt. The top half of the underskirt has a pattern of delicate white scrolls and the words "Treat Yourself!" written in loopy cursive in pink frosting. The bottom half consists of three large rows of rosettes, designed to look like they were made out of icing. The top rosette row is very pale pink, the second is a shade darker and the third is even more darker, creating an ombre effect. The overskirt is edged with lines of small silver balls and is decorated with sunburst-shaped patterns of lines and dots going up the front sides and a polka dot and grid pattern covering the background.This ballgown was inspired by a recently released adventure game, Broken Age. Vella, our heroine and one of the two protagonists, is a young woman who lives in a town of bakers that is terrorized by a horrendous monster called Mog Chothra every 14 years. In a scene that you’ll always remember whenever you see a cake made to look like the skirt of a Barbie doll or a princess, our heroine, along with four other young women of the village, is offered to the monster as a human sacrifice at an event called the “Maidens Feast.” They are all embedded in gigantic cakes that look like skirts, which are gorgeously decorated with all the skill the villagers have and inscribed with tempting slogans like “Delish,” “Hot Stuff” and “Up For Grabs!” Each of the young women is hoping to protect her village and bring honor to her family by being selected (that is, eaten) by Mog Chothra… except for Vella. But how do you escape a floating monster the size of a mansion when you’re stuck in a cake, ready to be served up?

Broken Age is a point-and-click adventure game, notable for being one of the first Kickstarter successes. To put it simply, adventure games are rather out of fashion, but two years ago Tim Schafer, known for other classics like Grim Fandango, said to the Internet “We’ll make a new game if you give us money” and people got out their wallets, leading to this game’s release. In games like these, you solve puzzles by exploring, talking to people, finding objects and using them in the right place. Some were notorious for being unforgiving (looking at you, King’s Quest series), and some had goofy, implausible puzzles (like one where you had to disguise yourself by making a mustache from cat hair and syrup), but Broken Age is nicely designed: you can never get in a situation that you can’t get out of, and the puzzles are entertaining but not exasperating. The art is lovely, with a style that looks almost as if it was all painted, and the settings are all detailed and fun to explore. Vella is also a fun, capable heroine, who rejects her world’s passive acceptance of Mog Chothra and breaks free of the cake skirt to find a different way to protect her village. The other half of the game explores the story of a young man named Shay, whose world couldn’t be any more different from Vella’s…

Right now, only the first half of the game is out, with the second half to come later this year. I think it’s well worth the price, and if you check it out, please let me know what you think of it!

It looks our our Oscar night winner is Lupita Nyong’o’s blue Prada gown! I don’t know when I will have that up – I will try for before the end of the month, but it might be later. Also, a 1910s outfit will be our contest prize; it beat out a pirate outfit and an evening gown with over half the vote. I will do some research and some sketches, so come back next Friday for a contest and a Japanese fairytale! Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for site updates, sneak previews and ridiculous amounts of fashion plates. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.

Black Velvet and Chartreuse Gown with Spiderweb Lace

A black ballgown with a flared, full skirt and long sleeves. The skirt is made of black velvet, with triangular cutouts that start near the waist which reveal a underskirt made of swirled green and chartreuse fabric and covered with lace that looks like spiderwebs. There are two flies trapped in the webs. There's a wide V-shaped copper belt at the waist, set with orange, green and yellow jewels. The bodice is made of black velvet and has a feathery pattern near the top. There are more copper accents near the shoulders, and the green sleeves are straight, fall to the wrist, and are overlaid with more spiderweb lace.Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

It’s almost Halloween, the paperdoll-friendly holiday, and I’ve been thinking about what would make a dress scary. The things that scare me don’t generally translate well to dresses, though, since they are too intangible. But there’s a couple of fears that aren’t…

My pride causes me to say I’m not scared of spiders, I just don’t like looking at them. If I put it that way, it’s perfectly reasonable to do things like cover up a picture of a spider when I’m reading a book, or avoid the tarantula exhibit at the zoo.

But it’s never reasonable, really, to wake up my husband at 4 AM when there’s a spider in the bathroom. It’s not reasonable that I have to use paper or my phone to cover up a spider picture in a book, and not my hand. And it’s not really reasonable to move as quickly as I do when there’s one close to me. Before I know it I’m halfway across the room, denying that anything’s wrong at all, I’m just fine, it’s not like I’m scared of such a little spider, because that would be ridiculous. (It’s gone now, right?)

When I was a little kid, I was scared of black holes, and I feel like I’ve gone down in the world since I stopped fearing the random indifference of the universe and picked up such a pathetically obvious, stupid, gendered weakness. I know perfectly well they’re more afraid of me than I am of them. I know they eat lots of annoying bugs and that they’ve only got two more legs than ants (which I don’t mind at all). I know I can kill them perfectly well myself, and I do, if there’s no other option. I put on my heaviest shoes and make a lot of noise, cursing each stupid spider leg and shouting warnings to all the other spiders that they’d better stay well out of my sight, or they’re gonna get it too. I calm myself down by calling up my husband and telling him “I killed a spider!” just like a normal person might say “I got a promotion!” or “I won a new car!” Kind man that he is, he indulges me.

If you were to stalk me over my various online activities, you’d notice I almost never mention this fear, because I’m just paranoid enough to consider how people could use it against me. There’s no real reason to share with the world how to yank this particular chain. But oh well — it’s Halloween, and while I amuse myself with ghosts, vampires and sorceresses, I don’t believe in the supernatural. I’m mostly just frightened of the quirks and instability of the human mind… and spiders.

What do spiders have to do with this gown, do you wonder? Well, there’s the spiderweb lace, and a couple of twitchy, fat flies caught in it. There must be a spider around somewhere, don’t you think? Ah, yes. A gigantic one, four feet long, with spindly long legs and a full set of eyes.

It’s on the petticoat.

Does that make the whole dress different for you? It does for me. I’ve drawn nothing, but all the same it’s still there, just like those spiders that disappear behind furniture while I’m still dithering about looking for my shoes. Now, is it merely embroidered or painted on? Or does it cling to the thin lace on the petticoat, waiting for its host to lure some prey away from the party and into the shadows? Dance with the lady in black and green at the Halloween ball this year, if you like, but I hope you will have the sense to leave that particular mystery well alone.

I’m never going to talk about spiders on this blog again, so let’s have a poll…