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.

Green Dress, Khaki Jumper, White Cap and Gown and Michigan Shirt from Liana’s Paper Doll Boutique

Click for the doll.

I drew a handful of my own clothes for the Boutique, too. There are a couple of forgettable shirts that I won’t bore you with… Most notable, to me, is my rendition of my favorite green dress from the time, which was a beautiful light olive green which complimented my skin and hair perfectly. I wore it to death, and if I saw another dress like it, I’d jump on it even today. I don’t know what I was doing wearing that khaki jumper, though. Although I spend my free time doing a page like this, I have zero fashion sense. (Actually, perhaps that’s not so surprising, considering my penchant for eccentric, entirely unrealistic dresses.)

There’s a story behind the graduation cap and gown. I was born in Missouri, but my family moved to Kansas, then to Alabama, then to Ohio when I was in fourth grade. In my junior year of high school, my dad was transferred again, this time to Michigan. As it happened, though, I had been a particularly diligent student: I had taken summer classes and hadn’t taken homeroom classes or lunch periods all through high school, so by the end of my junior year, I was actually only three courses away from graduating. I took those three courses that summer at the local community college, and by the end of the summer I was set to graduate a year early. (Amusing anecdote-within-an-anecdote: my parents and I met with the principal to sign off the final paperwork one afternoon. “Where are you planning to go to college?” he asked me. “University of Michigan,” I said. “Oh,” he said sorrowfully, “I can’t let you graduate, then,” and he pointed to his Ohio State class ring. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with college football in America, University of Michigan and Ohio State have a long-standing, intense rivalry. As it happened, as I wasn’t really from the area and had not the slightest smidgen of interest in college football, I initially had no idea what he was talking about. For a frightening second, I took him completely seriously. Then, I considered the context, remembered there was some irrelevant connection between the two universities and laughed dutifully. My memory may or may not be reliable, but I seem to recall that my parents had a similar reaction.)

Now, at the time I was a geeky, sarcastic little thing well ready to be done with high school life, and I was hardly broken up about the prospect of missing prom, senioritis, a large picture in the yearbook and all the other useless things I hadn’t looked forwards to in the first place. I didn’t even much care about missing graduation; as a member of the school choir, I had attended the previous class’ graduation, and it wasn’t like the substance would be different just because my name would be in the program.

Ah, but that cool facade didn’t mean there wasn’t just a touch of wistfulness, though. Not much – not nearly enough to shade into anything approaching regret. (Saying I was well ready to be done with that stage of my life is technically a massive understatement.) But just enough to draw the cap and gown I wouldn’t ever wear for my paperdolls.

It all ended well, though, as I did get into the University of Michigan… Although, from the safe vantage point of having successfully graduated a decade ago, I can say that only applying for that single school may have been the dumbest, most overconfident thing I ever did in my life – I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t gotten in! My mom bought me this celebratory Michigan shirt, and I did have it for a very long time, but it wasn’t so shiny in reality. I drew everything shiny at the time, even blue jeans. These days I compensate by just simply not drawing blue jeans. Life is too short for such dullness, pass the ribbons.