Disneybound Snow White Outfit with Yellow Tulle Skirt

A shimmery dark blue camisole with a scoop neck tucked into a knee-length golden yellow tulle skirt. There's a light blue bolero jacket over the shoulders with lightly puffed cap sleeves. Each sleeve is ringed with a red ribbon and a small red bow.I recently got a book about drawing Disney princesses, “Learn To Draw Disney’s Enchanted Princesses” and although it’s ostensibly for ages six and up, I pity the poor six-year old who gets it for her birthday, sits down with her brand new sketchbook and tries to draw her favorite princess. The very first exercise is how to draw Snow White’s head, and if you’re wondering how to draw her eyes, well, here’s step 1 and step 2…
A picture of an oval next to a picture of a fully drawn cartoon eye.Looks like they’re missing two or three steps there to me!

That’s to say nothing of the later exercises: once you get to Tiana, who’s near the end of the book, they don’t even pretend to be holding your hand anymore.
Step 1: A circle for the head and a long curved line indicating the way the body will move. Step 2: A simplified body and large bell-shaped skirt drawn over the previous image.

“How To Draw The Tick” was a joke, but the difference between steps 1 and 2 here is no joke at all. This book either should be a lot longer, or should focus on only two or three princesses; either way I think the steps should be broken down a bit more for the benefit of readers who might not have several years of drawing experience to back them up.

However, I’m glad I bought the book, because of the very complexity that makes it so frustrating. If you have patience and drawing skill, it teaches you how to draw the princesses — not simplified approximations, but the princesses everyone wants to see more of, princesses that will make you the Queen of Buzzfeed for a day if you master them and pick some pop culture reference or art style to mash them up with. All you need is to be stubborn enough to draw the same thing over and over and over. There’s a movie about a tour of the Disney studios, The Reluctant Dragon, in which the man taking the tour meets with animator Ward Kimball, who dashes off a sketch and, when praised, answers that the first 100,000 drawings are the hardest. Even if the book broke down every step properly, it can’t do those 100,000 drawings for you. I’m starting to feel like I really will need to do that many drawings just to produce a Snow White head that looks like Snow White, because the slightest mistake is so noticeable.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time with Snow White lately, and I’m not even particularly all that much of a fan of Snow White unless she’s the Snow White in Castle Waiting. As with so many other expressions of femininity, like ballet and applying natural makeup, it takes a lot of hard work to produce a princess face that looks natural, simple and attractive. Trying to draw Snow White reminded me of a blog post by Andreas Deja, who worked as an animator at Disney for 30 years, where he wrote about Cinderella that “if you are off by the width of a pencil line, this character would look like an alien from outer space.” In my quest to draw Snow White, I’ve fallen right into the uncanny valley several times, and you’ll note that I’m not posting any sketches here! (You can see some if you stalk my Twitter account, but I’m not helping you out with a direct link.) But hey, I’m much better at drawing Snow White now than when I first started.

Today’s outfit is inspired by Disneybounding, which is putting together casual outfits that are an allusion to a Disney character. Here’s an article about Disneybounding, the Disneybounding tumblr that started it all, and a cool Pinterest board with examples of real-life Disneybounding. For my take on a Snow-White themed outfit, I started with a trendy tulle skirt and added a subtly sparkly blue camisole and a blue bolero jacket. (In my imagination the bolero jacket belongs to a bridesmaid’s dress ensemble, and the wearer added the ribbons later.)

Next week… well, you may actually see that fourth doll, who’s coming along nicely! Until then, you can download combined color and black and white PDFs of all of my 2014 dolls and outfits for free! (I’ll add the 2015 ones soon…) Also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for sneak previews, fashion plates and malformed sketches of Snow White’s head. If you enjoy my work, I'd also appreciate your support through Patreon.

Shimmery Blue Princess Gown

An off-the shoulder gown with a tight bodice and a trumpet-shaped skirt. There are pearly white ruffles over the shoulders, while the bodice is light blue with a small swirl pattern and a silver pattern at the neckline. The ruffled overskirt is in three layers, which start near the hip and get increasingly longer until they touch the ground on the other side of the dress. The top one is light blue, the middle one is a deeper blue and the bottom one is a darker purple-blue. They all have a silver swirl pattern on the edges. They're over a pearly white full skirt with a subtle swirl pattern in white on it.Happy 2015! Coming a little late to the party, am I? Well, I’ve still got a large portion of the year to make up for it. And I think this is going to be a good year for paperdolls and, hopefully, for some stories to go with them.

This dress is a princess gown I designed when I was doing my other princess gown series, but just never got around to it. I wanted to give it the time it deserved, and I think it turned out pretty well!

Next week, I hope to have a new paperdoll, but they always take a little longer than I expect, so it may just be a dress. 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 gorgeous African print skirts, grousing about working in 200 DPI and sneak previews. If you enjoy my work, I'd also appreciate your support through Patreon.

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, Part 1: Dragon’s Blue, Black and Gold Masquerade Gown with Flame Underskirt

A black velvet masquerade gown with a square neckline, long sleeves and a large, bell-shaped skirt. At the neckline is a gold band in a stylized flame pattern, with a large fire opal surrounded by rhinestones set in the middle. The sleeves have blue ruffles at the shoulders and at the wrists, with iridescent blue-green highlights and shades of purple in the shaded areas. There's a bit of golden lace above each ruffle. A pattern of golden scrolls runs down the length of the sleeve. The bodice has a long, triangle-shaped area from the neckline to the waist patterned with shiny blue and purple dragon scales and bordered with delicate gold lace. At the waist is a gold band with a stylized flame pattern, set with three fire opals surrounded by rhinestones. The overskirt is open at the front and edged with a blue iridescent ruffle and golden lace. A golden pattern of a stylized dragon breathing flames is on the edge of the skirt. The underskirt appears to be made of fire. There's a light blue tail curling over the edge of the skirt and light blue wings at the shoulders, tipped with golden horns, and there's a small black velvet mask decorated with golden scrolls.Every year on Halloween, a certain kind of idea or story takes form, gets dressed up and throws a great party, called the mythic ball. These ideas prefer to be called “archetypes” (and you use the term “monster” at your own peril). For example, Dragon here isn’t a particular dragon; she didn’t make Saint George a legend, she’s never guarded the vaults in Gringotts and she doesn’t make a habit of burninating anything. Rather, she exists as the idea of a dragon, a force created by human culture and called upon when someone needs something large, reptilian and powerful for a particular creation.

It’s the night of the mythic ball; Dragon is holding court in her glorious dress. She was the queen of the monsters’ ball last year; those rare times she doesn’t win, she’s quite gracious about it, knowing as she does that the title will pass back to her sooner rather than later. Certain parties are known to hum “Puff, the Magic Dragon” behind her back, and there was a great fuss last year when Kraken made a snippy remark about her archetype being based on majestic giant squids and Dragon’s being based on cute little frill-necked lizards.

“I suppose you’re all just as popular as ever?” Dragon asks the group of archetypes surrounding her. She’s trying, without success, to keep from looking smug. Her courteous nature doesn’t allow her to directly bring up her own triumphs, but should someone happen to return the question to her, she would bring up how very pleased she was by that handsome and very popular young man voicing one of her newer representations, and how she had actually figured in several very popular cultural works lately. As a matter of fact, these days representing her archetype could be said to constitute its own industry. Not that she had calculated the salary of all the CG renderers, motion capture specialists, character designers and fantasy artists and authors who made up her most devoted fanbase, but she was sure it would be a most pleasing number. They feed their families and expand their portfolios thanks to the world’s desire for her; she grows as if nourished not by a hoard of gold but by a wealth of stories and artistic works.

Incidentally, there’s a second dragon archetype enjoying the party; this one is older than she is, and, she knows, more powerful. How much of her desire to be the center of this event stems from her jealousy, I can’t say.

Happy October, a month which you may know I like to celebrate as the most important time of the paperdoll year since it includes Halloween, a holiday that just begs for fanciful costumes. Those of you who have been reading for a while may remember this dragon-themed masquerade gown from 2010, and the promise of similar dresses to come. It never happened, because I finished that dress — still one of my favorites — and realized I’d never top it in time. (I think that’s also when I first noticed my wrists having problems.) Well, now that I’m doing digital coloring and shooting for one dress a week, it’s time to revisit the mythic ball…

Who will we meet next? The contentious Kraken mentioned in this installment, perhaps? Or another of the many archetypes attending the ball? Come back next week to find out! In the meantime, don’t forget that you can now 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 fun reference images of dresses. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.