Magenta, Charcoal Grey, Olive Green and Wine Red Ruffled Gown

A strapless, velvet gown with a silver sash around the waist, a peplum, and multiple ruffles dangling from the waist. Most of the gown is dark magenta, while the ruffles are either magenta, green or red at the edges, turning grey towards the top of the ruffle.Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.
It’s contest time! This time it’s on Facebook, so please take a look at my Facebook page to enter. The winner gets to tell me how to color a brand new medieval dress! If you don’t use Facebook, no worries, because I plan to move the contests around. The next one may be over Twitter, through my mailing list or on this blog. This was colored for the winner of my last contest, Lauren. She guessed that my son had a thing for spoons. (It’s been long enough since then that he can’t be easily amused by just handing him a grown-up spoon. No, he wields spoons on his own these days, and he only needs me to just scrape up the last bits of peanut butter oatmeal for him.) Lauren wrote, “I like the ruffle gown from the may 15th 2010 post; I picture it in a dark purpely magenta with wine red, olive green and charcoal grey accents. I think the dress should have a velvety, smoky look to it.” I hope you like it, Lauren!

I decided to use colored pencils for this dress, just for old times’ sake. If all goes well, this will be the last dress for Grace and Ivy, and it just seemed right to color it this way. I haven’t touched my colored pencils for so long that when I started taking them out, I felt like the hero of a samurai movie or a Western who’s forsworn violence taking up the sword or gun one more time. Because of my carpal tunnel, I’ve been scared of what it would feel like, but my thumb didn’t go numb at all. It just felt awkward to draw with a brace on my hand, and my hand ached slightly. This experience made me feel more confident about moving to digital coloring. I’m not saying I’m never going to use colored pencils again, certainly. It was just plain fun to draw with them, and I’m glad I did this dress in them.

But they have so many drawbacks compared to digital coloring! For one thing, they never look as good as scanned as they do drawn. This one looks much more subtle in reality, but if I try to even it out once it’s scanned, it just looks washed out. Doing digital coloring, I know from the start how the color will look in the end, and it’s much less frustrating. Plus, I don’t have to deal with a hundred plus pencils, not to mention sharpening them. That’s a real concern! If I’m drawing while my son naps, there’s no sharpening for me.

One of the biggest problems is that there’s no changing things after the fact. I decided, after drawing the first green ruffle, that the ruffles really needed just a touch of a lighter color on the edge, otherwise they looked too flat. But it was too late to add it with colored pencils. (I added just a touch of green in Photoshop later.) With colored pencils, I put something on the page and that’s where it stays, but I can redo lines, colors and so on as often as I need to when I’m using Photoshop or Procreate (my iPad drawing program). This can be both good and bad — you should see me redraw a simple-looking line ten times to get it just right — but mostly I think it leads to better drawings.

It does make my hand hurt, sadly, although it’s nowhere near where it was when I first started wearing the wrist brace. I can tell that I don’t want to do the detail work that really makes a drawing great, just because it would involve a lot of gripping the pencil tightly and pressing really hard. It makes me feel like I just want to get this drawing done already.

All the same, using colored pencils gave me a sense of nostalgia. I’ll probably never write them off completely…

Next Friday, if all goes well, you’ll meet my new doll and see the site redesign! If all doesn’t go well, I’ll still have something pretty for you to enjoy, so no worries. Wish me luck, and wish my husband Brian luck, because he’s the one doing all the fiddly WordPress stuff! Don’t forget to enter my contest on Facebook, and for updates on how the new content is going, follow me on Twitter. Also, if you use Pinterest, please check out my profile: I’m taking a page from RLC’s book and using it for paperdoll reference — and plain old pretty thing reference, too.

Edit Jan. 24 1:17 PM: My mom suggested that I add a mask, and I thought that was a great idea, so I did! The PDF has now been fixed, too.

Halloween ’10 Day 6: Blue and White Ghost Costume with Red Ribbon

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

For today, we just have a generic ghost costume. Although, to be sure, no ghost thinks of itself as generic, as you have to have a rather elevated opinion of your own unique grievances to bind yourself to the waking world in such a way. Sketch on a pair of wings, too, and throw away the red ribbon, and voilà! our ghostly friend gains redemption, and perhaps a second year of Halloween usage, as an angel costume.

Would you look at that? I do believe that’s a whole week of nicely colored costumes, plus the robes from the first. I think for now I can call my slump over, don’t you agree?

It is starting to look like we’ll be seeing an outfit from the Good Queen’s heyday, but I can’t help but be a little glad that at the moment fourteen percent of you are as morbid as I am…

Prismacolors used: French Grey 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, 90%, Cloud Blue, Blue Violet Lake, Tuscan Red, Crimson Lake, Verithin Dark Brown, colorless blender

Mermaid Monday #20: Grey-Tailed Mermaid with Red, Blue, Green and White Patterned Skirt

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

Now, mermaids love color; it’s a precious thing because their environment itself makes the bright shades they prefer transient. Get even a little ways down, without the benefit of the magic lights many mystics make a living out of producing, and everything is just blue and purple. But because of the intermittent nature of underwater color, the ensembles worn to well-lit mermaid gatherings are wonders to behold, and even just knowing you have shining auburn hair or that the emerald and opal bracelet on your wrist is absolutely fabulous in the sunlight is enough to be happy, most of the time. This is also part of why mermaids value their tail color so highly: feeling like a brilliant blue or gold is an intrinsic part of you gives you a pleasant warm sensation when you’re feeling grumpy or plain.

This means that grey-tailed mermaids, like the one we see today, have an unfortunate tendency to be maladjusted or insecure, more than those with other tail colors do. Even colors like white, black and brown are thought of as preferable. After all, white has a sort of unearthly cachet, while black has a rakish, cool image, and both of them are easy to match with other, brighter colors. Even brown can look good, assuming you can afford the right shades of red, gold and so on. Grey doesn’t seem to match with anything, really: blue and green, maybe, but the combination just seems glum. This mermaid, I wouldn’t precisely say she’s come to peace with her grey tail, but she’s scared of mystics (some of whom might be able to change it for her… for a price), so she overcompensates with long skirts and vivid colors, and she has a habit of tucking her tail close to her body while she works, so only the pale edge of the fin sticks out from under her skirt.

This would, certainly, be hard to swim in, but she works as a scholar in a big city, and so she doesn’t generally have to get around very quickly; in any case, she thinks it would be better to meet her end courtesy of a shark than to live a long life with her tail in full view. It’s a shame to feel that way, but that’s what happens when you feel hideous all your life. Honestly, I think it draws more attention to her than a skirt with a more normal cut, or a sheer skirt, would: no one wears skirts like this underwater, and even the mermaids with big old scars on their tails are often proud enough of them to not much care whether they show or not. So even though this is a mermaid equivalent of wearing a sandwich board that says “I’M INSECURE ABOUT MY TAIL,” it makes her happy. And heck, if I had a rainbow-colored skirt with a coral and fish pattern that cute, I’d probably be happy too.

I was asked to list the colors I use for each drawing, and I’m going to see how it works out to list them…

Colors used: Colorless Blender, French Grey family, Cool Grey family, Black, Sky Blue Light, Greyed Lavender, Violet, Ultramarine, Violet Blue, Spring Green, Dark Green, Yellow Chartreuse, Grass Green, Sunburst Yellow, Crimson Red, Poppy Red, Yellowed Orange, Tuscan Red

Grey High-Collared Suit Based On Anna’s Outfits from V

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

I’ve been watching V, ABC’s remake of an older show about an alien presence on Earth, out of sheer love for Firefly’s Morena Baccarin, who plays the alien queen Anna with creepy aplomb. Inexplicably, V got renewed, and inexplicably, I’m still watching each episode the whole way through, instead of just skipping to the scenes that she’s in. A story about evil aliens and scrappy resistance members sounds great, but the focus seems awfully narrow considering that the whole world is involved, and our main characters seem just a little Too Dumb To Live at times. Plus, the dialogue is leaden. Erica, the main character, had a line when she was trying to reassure a regular guy who had gotten in over his head, saying that she, too, up until recently, had just been a normal mom… oh, and also an FBI agent. It sounds like it could be funny, but it just felt like it hadn’t really been thought out all the way. My husband commented, “There should be certain lines where, if you write them in your script, the orbital Hollywood satellite fires its laser and the laser hits the ground and forms a little crater.”

The only reason I’m still watching is because I keep hoping that Anna’s going to snack on Tyler, Erica’s massively unsympathetic son. Hopefully there’d be just enough time between the big reveal and dinner that he could truly comprehend the depths of his own gullibility before making himself useful for once and providing Anna with some nutrients. (And believe you me, I wouldn’t say no to seeing fawning newscaster Chad served up as dessert, either.) Actually, the more annoying humans Anna ate on-screen, the more I think I’d like the show. Unfortunately, it’s a little shy about revealing anything that matters, such as what exactly the Vs are actually here for, the mysterious “mineral” they supposedly want that no one seems to want an explanation about, or the hybrid baby’s face. (A wiggly tail doesn’t do it for me, I want to see goo-goo eyes and a full set of chompers.)

Anna’s wardrobe is about as far removed from Inara’s sumptuous silks as you can get, with the exception of that peach robe that I longed to run over my palms. For me, it does a good job of conveying the thought the Vs put into human clothing — a point that is underscored by Anna’s contemplation of a purple kimono in one of the early episodes, as she contemplates a pose of modest femininity to impress and reassure the very people she plans to eventually run generically creepy tests on. She could be an executive in her somber outfits, but the high collars are just sci-fi enough to be out of place. No pants, ever (that I remember): she sticks to skirts, conveying just a shade less power. No jewelry, minimal decoration. It’s all unearthly in a style specifically designed to appeal to modern humans. (Oh, and she has a fantastic wardrobe selection mechanism. For the sake of the doomed Earth fashionistas, I hope she at least bestowed it on humanity along with the healing centers and blue energy.)

This outfit is based on the various outfits she’s worn. I thought it could be something she could wear to create a softer image, because of the rounded corners of the jacket, the less severe hemline and the gentle grey tones. I’m sure there are times she’d want to project a softer image, don’t you think? Like, as she lulls Tyler and/or Chad into a false sense of security in order to get them relaxed so that their meat tastes better. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for such a scene next season.

No one’s got the right answer yet… One hint, it’s under 1,000. You guys realize that these pencils are about $1.25 if you buy them individually, right? Thanks to online shopping and that store closing I haven’t paid full price for them in a while, but… still!

Question: How many Prismacolor pencils do I own as of May 18th?
This includes the ones that I use, all the stubby little pencils that are too short for my current sharpener but I just can’t toss, all the ones I have in reserve and my set of Verithin pencils I hardly ever use.

Just to restate the rules:
1) It’s a new year, so even if you’ve already won one, feel free to guess again.
2) One guess per person per post.
3) If no one gets the exact number by noon EST, May 25th, I’ll pick the closest guess.