White and Purple Gown

A sleeveless white gown with a boat neck that fits tightly over the legs. There's a pattern all over the gown of large purple and magenta scrolls edged with rhinestones. At the left hip is a length of iridescent trumpet-shaped fabric that falls over the gown to the floor. It's magenta near the top, fading into purple, and is sparkly.I experimented with a new coloring technique with this dress, which you can see in the pink and purple part. I confess I don’t have much else to say about it — it was fun to color, that’s all! My imagination’s been going towards NaNoWriMo (just hit 20,000 words!) and my Christmas project.

Next week, I’m probably going to try coloring something else this way. 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 gorgeous jewelry. If you enjoy my work, I'd also appreciate your support through Patreon.

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.

Retro Yellow and Black Ms. Pac-Man Dress with Fruit Pattern and Pink Bow

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

My beloved husband Brian requested a dress based on Ms. Pac-Man, and because I so often dismiss his ideas for paper doll outfits in a rather cursory fashion (and you would too, if you heard them) I thought it would be nice to indulge him a little.

We used to spend a lot of time at an arcade called Pinball Pete’s, back when we were in college and I lived on that side of Ann Arbor. Brian was pretty good at Ms. Pac-Man, and I liked to watch him escape the little ghosts. He was awfully cute when he wasn’t quite fast enough and got caught! He doesn’t play much anymore, now that we are stolid and serious adults (well, really rather that we live on the other side of town now), but you still can’t bring it up without him mentioning that the pretzel is counted as a fruit in Ms. Pac-Man. So of course, the pretzel duly makes its appearance in my dress.

For some reason I felt a sort of retro, fake-50’s feel would suit the theme, but now that the dress is done and I have no intention whatsoever of starting over, I wonder if perhaps an 80’s theme would have been better? Pretzel-covered leg-warmers? … Yeah, maybe not.

No one has quite won the contest yet… Just be glad I didn’t ask for the year, too!
What day is my wedding anniversary?
Post your guess in the comments! Again, the rules:
1) If you’ve already won this year, please don’t enter.
2) One guess per person per day.
3) If no one gets the exact date by 9:00 PM EST, June 9th, I’ll pick the closest guess.
4) I’ll give one hint each day the contest goes on.
– Yesterday’s hint: It was in the summer.
– Today’s hint: The day is an odd number.

Pink 1860s Ball Gown with White Scroll Pattern

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

Well, today’s dress wasn’t quite what I wanted. I was planning on trying to draw lace with the white gel pen, but I ended up doing it all in pencil instead, and then I picked up the wrong pencil while doing the bodice and colored for a while before I realized my mistake. What I have here is totally different from what I wanted, because after my mistake the only thing I could do was to make it as dark as possible and draw something distracting on top of it. I probably wouldn’t quite so annoyed about my bodice mistake if that skirt hadn’t taken so long!

Anyways, I just thought I hadn’t done a hoop skirt for a while, and it would offer a lot of opportunities to practice drawing lace with the gel pen, which I didn’t even do…

… I’m just going to post this and be done with it!