Voyage of the Dawn Treader Paperdoll Series #1: Cool Colored Gown based on the Dawn Treader

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

“It was a picture of a ship — a ship sailing nearly straight towards you. Her prow was gilded and shaped like the head of a dragon with wide open mouth. She had only one mast and one large, square sail which was a rich purple. The sides of the ships — what you could see of them where the gilded wings of the dragon ended — were green. She had just run up to the top of one glorious blue wave, and the nearer slope of that wave came down towards you, with streaks and bubbles on it. She was obviously running fast before a gay wind, listing over a little on her port side. (By the way, if you are going to read this story at all, and if you don’t know already, you had better get it into your head that the left of a ship when you are looking ahead, is port, and the right is starboard.) All the sunlight feel on her from that side, and the water on that side was full of greens and purples. On the other, it was darker blue from the shadow of the ship.” – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

I have often thought it would be fun to do something like this, and since so far this February I have done nothing but a trio of (admittedly cute) rainbow gowns and feel rather as if I am in need of forgiveness from my very patient audience, I thought that now is as good a time as any to try it out. Before you ask, no, I have not seen the movie; rather, I saw a couple of the trailers and decided I most certainly did not want to see the movie, but I would very much like to re-read the book. My favorite of the Narnia books is The Horse And His Boy, but I love the sense of adventure and beauty in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and as I re-read it, I couldn’t help but think about adapting it to paperdolls. It’s a great medium for a project like this, don’t you think? It provides room for something in between a costume and an illustration, and allows waves to become ruffles and for wildly impractical dragon wings that frame the face.

I’m going to aim to draw a new one every week until I finish, not a whole series of them all at once, so don’t be alarmed when there is a kimono next Saturday! Also – don’t forget to join me for livedolling the Oscars! Apparently the part I’m most interested in (that is, the red carpet) will start at 7:00 PM EST, 4:00 PM for me out here on the west coast.

Now, let me see if I have correctly judged what will most delight a nice big share of my readers…

Colors used: Poppy Red, Crimson Red, Tuscan Red, Black Grape, Violet Blue, Lilac, Cool Grey 20%, Cool Grey 50%, Cool Grey 90%, French Grey 10%, Black, Dark Umber, Light Umber, Cream, Sunburst Yellow, Goldenrod, Dark Green, Kelly Green, Peacock Green, Parrot Green, Pale Sage, Light Green, Spring Green, all the blues I own Light Cerulean Blue, China Blue, Powder Blue, Indigo Blue, Peacock Blue, Sky Blue Light, Cloud Blue, Mediterranean Blue

Grey Kimono with Floating White Camellia Pattern Inspired by Sanjuro, plus bonus Black and White Kimono

Click for larger version (PNG):grey kimono, black and white kimono; click for PDF version: grey kimono, black and white kimono. Click here for the list of dolls.

Brian and I signed up for Netflix again recently. We had it a few years back, but canceled our subscription when we both went to grad school and then when he started his own business, leaving us little time to see each other let alone watch movies together. Now, with more reasonable work schedules, we’re merrily filling up our queues again — although I think I got up to around 300 movies in my queue last time, and I’m trying to be more restrained this time around.

The last movie I got was Sanjuro, a samurai movie directed by Akira Kurosawa, and I asked Brian if he wanted to watch it with me. “It’s not going to be like that other one, is it?” he replied. “That other one” would be Rashomon, which we went to see last year; Brian had never seen it before, so he went into it expecting some fun sword fights presented from different perspectives. After he crawled out of the theater, he was despondent about the human condition for a full week. “I don’t remember the description too well, but I think this one’s supposed to be funny,” I replied, a little hesitantly, thinking that I really shouldn’t be so impulsive with that shiny “Add” button.

Luckily, I was right: I think Sanjuro is the funniest samurai movie I’ve ever seen, although it’s hardly a comedy. Toshirō Mifune plays a wandering samurai who lends his expertise – less out of pity than from exasperation at their incompetence – to nine young samurai trying to save their clan leader from being framed for corruption. I don’t like to give too much away, so if you like samurai movies, see if you can find this one somewhere.

I’ve taken a stab at drawing a kimono here – my first one, and it sure does show, so if you know more about kimono than I do, please forgive me. I have a passing acquaintance with the various kimono rules and guidelines, but I’m no expert yet, so rather than a formal kimono I was aiming for a more casual and stylish look. (It might help to know I’m a big fan of CHOKOとチョコと, Mamechiyo — just try to tell me this isn’t awesome — and so on) The main design is a reference to the climactic scene in the movie, where the signal to attack is a mass of camellias floating down a stream. Now, camellias are apparently a rare design for kimonos, because the entire flower drops off the plant at once, instead of petal by petal; this was thought to be evocative of beheading, and therefore not the kind of imagery you wanted all over your sleeves. My design is intended to reference the movie, so I will not worry about emblematic misfortune. (But, should your doll accidentally get her head ripped off, she’s in a better position than a samurai — just print her out again.) Incidentally, the white thing on the obi (the sash around the waist) is the sail of a boat – I didn’t position it right, and it’s covered up by the obijime (the yellow cord). Since you can’t see the back of the obi, you have to imagine that the large, flat knot at the back has a pattern with two more boats on it, for a total of three boats. That would be a not-so-subtle reference to the actor Toshirō Mifune, whose family name 三船 literally means “three boats.”

Since I missed Saturday, I’m adding a bonus today, a black and white kimono. Kimono are all about the patterns and colors, so I thought it would be much easier to draw kimono if I could just have a coloring-book style page to test colors on. I’ve been reading about kimono for many months now: the problem is that I’m familiar enough with them to know all the many ways in which I could get things wrong. If I draw a French court gown in colors that weren’t popular back then, or a 1920s skirt with a hemline a couple inches off, it doesn’t bother me, but somehow kimono are really intimidating. But now I’ve gotten over this first hurdle, I’m going to try some more designs!

By the way, there are a couple new paper doll blogs for you to enjoy: …. Of Paper Dolls…. and Kat’s Paper Doll Emporium. Check them out and leave nice comments! Don’t miss the other delightful paper doll blogs, either – there’s a handy list of them to the right.

Prismacolors used: Cool Grey 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 70%, Sandbar Brown, Aquamarine, Light Aqua, Indigo Blue, Blue Lake, Powder Blue, Black, Sunburst Yellow, Goldenrod, Tuscan Red, Crimson Red, Dark Umber and Light Umber, Verithin Black, Sakura Souffle White Gel Pen

Blue Halter Dress with Yellow and Pink Flower Pattern

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

Someone got a new tooooy ♪
I ordered some white gel pens, because I wanted to see if I could do, well, something like this. After playing with them all day, I can happily recommend the Sakura Souffle for use on top of Prismacolors. I will do a tutorial about it at some point, and a comparison of the types of pen I bought as well. But for now, I’m just happy I could do what I wanted to do with white ink! Or rather, I’m on the way to making some cool things, I think.

So this is just me playing around with my toy, I hope you like it. And since I am in such a cheery, experimental mood I couldn’t help fussing around in Photoshop and making a bonus version, too, which is a little less refreshing and springy, a little more chic.

Blue Watery Masquerade Ball Gown with Satin Blue Underskirt and Crystals

Click for larger version; click for the list of dolls.

So recently, I got an e-mail from Diana asking if I could draw a dress for a roleplay she was taking part in. I went through and read the scenario, and Diana’s character Leslie is a human spy in a magical world who has to infiltrate a masquerade ball attended by aristocrats. So I thought this was a fun challenge: what sort of thing might a spy wear to such a ball? It’s dead easy to make a gown that says “hey everyone, look at me!” or one that says “I am a Woman of Mystery” but one that looks expensive and magical enough that no one questions its wearer’s right to be there, yet isn’t so noticeable that everyone winds up talking about her… fun. I ended up going with blue, a rich but soothing color, and an overskirt with fabric like shimmering water and seafoam, studded with crystals — although I don’t really think the crystals worked out too well. Oh well. Diana, I hope you like it anyways, and I look forward to seeing where the story goes!

The poll is yet ongoing…