Paper Dolls

Belle, a Dance Hall paper dollBelle a paper dollAs a little girl, I had days and weeks of fun playing with and designing for my paper dolls–and my ABSOLUTE FAVORITES were the black and white ones that I got to color!

Nowadays, there are more wonderful paper dolls on the market than ever before, but the ones in black and white have always been few and far between—so I drew some.

Then I drew some more.

Beginning with ancient times and the fashions of the Egyptians, through Victorian, Edwardian, and other Heirloom era dolls and going all the way up through the 1960′s and ’70s, I drew paper dolls and their wardrobes because I loved coloring paper dolls but I could no longer find them. Thanks to years spent studying costume design and costume history at Ohio State University, these are historically accurate and are a treat to color. This way I can indulge my desire to color whenever I like.

Belle as a Blonde
I’ve digitized my drawings by scanning them, cleaning them up and packaging them as .pdf files that I sell in my etsy store, because I know I’m not alone in enjoying paper dolls.

Now that I know about computer programs like Paint and Adobe Photoshop I also enjoy coloring them digitally, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to draw and color with a pencil, paper and pens.

Want to know more about costume history? Here’s a great link.

xmasbelleThese costumed ladies (and gents) are not JUST for little girls, but are enjoyed by anyone with an interest in fashion, history, and an enjoyment of coloring.

My favorite results are with from coloring with good, juicy markers.  I prefer Prismacolors or Copic markers with the double nib felt tip pens, both a fine and a chisel point.

They have great colors and are very transparent, along with a high degree of control and color mix-ability.

Brought to you by the same company as Sharpie Markers, you can find sets of their markers at most office supply and art supply sources. That’s how I did Belle, a Wild West Dance Hall Girl as seen above.

My OTHER favorite way to color them involves digitally coloring them with software like Paint,  Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.

Here’s an outfit designed for Belle using Adobe Photoshop and a lace image from a Dover Pictorial Archive book. I placed the image of Belle in a new Photoshop document  after she was scanned.

Read about it here. The use of layers lets you draw on top of the doll at 50% opacity so that you know where arms and legs and things are.

Below is a paper doll colored using the computer. The lacy border is made with a “dingbat” font that I’ve brought into Illustrator and made into a swatch. I think that Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are the Magic Coloring Books that I dreamed about when I was a little artist with my crayons, reveling in all those 68 colors that were never quite enough,  no matter how lovely to have more than just eight.

Click here to learn how to use Paint, Photoshop and Illustrator with my paper dolls.

1920s paper doll colored with Photoshop