Monday, March 7, 2011

Welcome to Heritage Paper Dolls

I love paper dolls. My first memory of paper dolls was cutting some cute little paper dolls and dresses from some wrapping paper at a birthday party. I still have those dolls in an envelope somewhere. But my love of paper dolls was most likely inherited from my granny. Granny collected Tom Tierney and other paper doll books by the dozen. When we visited her home, I could sit down and look through the books at the beautiful dolls and clothing. I loved it when she gave me a book of paper dolls for my birthday.

There was only one problem. The books were so beautiful, I couldn't stand to cut them up. Today, I have many paper doll books, all intact. But back then, I still wanted to play with paper dolls, so I drew my own. I had hours of fun designing dresses for the dolls. Many of these oh-so-professional paper dolls are also in an envelope somewhere.

I eventually grew up, stopped playing with paper dolls, and went to college. I studied graphic design at one of the top three design schools in America. I worked full time for many years, but eventually switched to freelance design work so I could stay home with my children. When my daughters were old enough for paper dolls, naturally I bought them some. I also went online to find some free paper dolls I could print. Most of the printable paper dolls I found were very poor quality. Others had outfits I would rather not give to a seven-year-old. Some websites even posted Tom Tierney's paper dolls! Those were obviously posted in violation of copyright laws, and as a graphic designer I am very sensitive about copyright issues. (More on this subject later).

However, I loved the Jane Arden Paperdolls I found online, which were from old newspapers. The Jane Arden and other fashionable paper dolls were simple line drawings of contemporary (now vintage) fashions printed each week in the comic section of newspapers. I printed some of these free paper dolls off the internet, but as a professional graphic designer, the print quality did not impress me.

So I decided to design my own paper dolls for my daughters. I drew some paper dolls from a variety of angles, including a back view... some of those dresses have incredible backs! I used classic figure drawing techniques and tried to make the dolls more realistic in terms of body image. My paper dolls are not size 2 models, although they are still quite tall proportionally.

The clothing is based on beautiful vintage fashions. I try to keep the outfits fairly accurate to the original, but the nature of paper dolls requires me to make modifications to some of the designs. Additionally, the clothing I draw will always be modest, since the dolls are primarily drawn for young girls like my daughters. More later on techniques I use when I draw the clothing for the paper dolls.

All the dolls and dresses are line drawings, allowing for as much creativity as possible. Tom Tierney and other paper doll illustrators have beautiful, full color, historically accurate paper dolls. I wanted to do something different for my daughters, to allow their creativity to shine in how they colored and patterned the dresses. The paper dolls and dresses can be colored in historically accurate shades, or any color desired.

Every week, a new free paper doll fashion design will be posted. Within a short time, there will be an extensive collection of fashionable outfits on this blog. Once a good variety of outfits are posted, each new free paper doll page will be available for just one week.

I hope you enjoy these paper dolls!

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