Happy 2023 and 2022 Growth

 As I write this, it’s still 2022. I find I have a little bit of downtime and really wanted to get this out. I wish I was a bit more organized – maybe that’ll be the goal for 2023! I’d like to say I have a comprehensive list of all the things I did in 2022. I don’t. And that’s ok. I want to share a few highlights over the month of January. 

First, I want to compare two paper dolls that are about a year apart – my “January Blues” from January 2022 and my holiday paper doll, which started as a sketch in October and then I shared it in full color as my holiday card.

You can grab a PDF of the holiday paper doll here https://paperdollreview.com/JulieChristmas2022.pdf

To me, these look like they were done by totally different people! I guess they kind of were…. I created the “January Blues” paper doll on my Surface with Sketchbook Pro and Photoshop. It’s no secret that I’ve been frustrated with the Surface line of computers. This is my second one and it will absolutely be my last one. The touch interface is not great. The raw computing power is dismal. The stylus is ok but I’m on my third one. I absolutely destroy the pen tips! Sketchbook Pro is a good program (app? I’m old). I like it. It has a minimal interface and a good selection of brushes. They spun off from Autodesk and lost some of the proprietary color management, but still very solid. And very affordable. 

So that’s the technicals. Let’s talk about the doll. You can look at some of the process in this post. It’s not my best doll. The pose is stiff. A lot of the body and face is poorly drawn. Drawing is such a key part of any art – my art teachers/profs always stressed that. Drawing is fundamental. Color can only cover up so much of a bad drawing! As for the colors, they are ok but totally lack value shifts. It’s all just flat and boring.

Next up is the holiday doll. It came out so much better than I could have hoped! I started with a sketch. I find that rough sketching on paper is a really important first step. I can create a whole illustration start-to-finish digitally, but it takes longer. Rough and loose on paper helps. Rachel and I decided to create a Witchtober set (you can find mine here and Rachel’s is here). I volunteered to draw the doll because drawing doll bases is hard and I need to work on it. The harder a task is, the more I want to tackle it! This went through several iterations. I was happy with the black & white set, so when the time came to put together a holiday doll, I used this base. But I wasn’t crazy about the face. I knew I wanted a sparkly 80s inspired set. I looked up the Rockettes and used several faces as inspiration for mine. I love it! She looks a bit like an 80s Barbie. Not the look I was shooting for but it totally works. Drawing from reference really helped on that one. The other key thing with this set is value. David Wolfe pointed out on a different project that I needed to push my value scale – especially my darks. I really took that to heart and ran with it! Every time I work on coloring now, I think of David. Are my darks dark enough? How can I push the values? It’s made a big difference.

The other really transformative difference between this paper dolls is the technicals. In March, I took the leap and bought myself an iPad Pro with an Apple pencil. I’m not a big fan of Apple products in general (nothing wrong with them, of course, just not for me) so I was a bit hesitant. 

I was wrong. 

The iPad, Apple pencil, and Procreate have become the best combination of digital drawing tools I’ve ever used. The iPad Pro is a great size with a gorgeous screen. The pencil is lightweight and feels incredibly natural. And Procreate is both robust and simple – two qualities that I really like about Sketchbook Pro, too. When I’m drawing on the iPad, I can totally lose myself in it the way I used to when painting or drawing traditionally. I love drawing again in a way I haven’t in a long time. 

For me, 2022 was really about growing and getting out of my comfort zone. I tried new things. I pushed my boundaries artistically (more on that later).  This was the year I started to feel like a person again and these two dolls really demonstrate that growth.