Saturday, December 03, 2005

Paper Doll: A Study in Red

There's an interesting contest up at Jac's blog for this month, and, well, let's just say that it falls somewhere in the realm of the unexpected:

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Starting NOW I'm holding a Dress Up PILYA contest! Just download this art here and design something for her to wear (like a paper doll?) this Christmas.

I'll award the best design a free, one of a kind, PILYA t-shirt!!! Custom-made for the winner!

Geez... she's a well-formed woman, isn't she? :)

I can live without the prize, mind you -- I can't remember the last time I pulled on a t-shirt -- but the prospect of dressing up somebody else's creation felt too good to resist.

A lot of people know that I write, but not many people know that I can draw to a certain degree. My skills aren't along the lines of the typical comics artist, but I think I can run a pencil along paper and not embarrass myself too much. Every now and then, when I have ideas that don't seem to be appropriate enough to write, I put my conceptualizations down on a small sketch pad; I find that this approach has helped me visualize more than a few characters over the last few years.

In addition to that, I still retain many of my skills in Adobe Photoshop (as evidenced in an earlier blog post,"The Resurrection of Dame Elemen"), and I think I can probably edit images with the best of 'em. Throw in a passing interest in fashion design, and you have a scenario that's about as made-to-order as you can probably get.

I never expected to end up playing with paper dolls in this way, but I figured that the opportunity was too good to miss. Since then, I've sat at my computer in bouts of two or three hours each, doing nothing but work with lines and paths.

Usually, when dressing a character, I first ask myself who the character is and what impression she is likely to give people. From there, I move to personality and motivation. General looks, combination and color come last. I'm of the opinion that clothes (or armor or such) should be at least vaguely functional as well as practical, and I'm unlikely to have a character wear anything on impulse.

I don't know much about Jac's character here, although I do know that she has no name at the moment. For the sake of this article, let's call her "Ada". (I don't know why; These names just pop into in my head for some reason.)

In the Pilya strips that Jac has posted, I believe that Ada has given people the impression that she's the extroverted, outgoing type. She wears a lot of revealing clothes, has one of the most unsubtle of jobs (she once appeared in a Playboy-bunny-type outfit as the "entertainment" for a bachelor party), and tends to say things that people don't expect. I feel almost certain that, if she would wear anything, it wouldn't leave much to the (male) imagination.

With regards to personality, Ada seems like a fun-loving, take-life-as-it-comes-along kind of person. She's forgetful at times. She can easily be seductive when she wants to. She appears to have an active sex life. She speaks her mind, often saying things without thinking about them first (or perhaps she simply says these things just to see what reaction she gets). She dresses in much the same way, I think -- what kind of person would wear an extremely short, revealing gothic dress to a wedding?

On the looks side, I've had to take note of quite a few elements: Ada has reddish-brown hair. Ada has some really beautiful green eyes. Ada has a mole on her lower right chin. And, as I realized with the "model" picture above, Ada has a pierced navel and really long legs.

Given these inferences, what would Ada probably wear for Christmas?

The first thing I concluded was: "She'd probably vamp it up."

I wanted Ada to wear something respectable for Christmas, so I thought of a sport jacket -- I feel that it's a nice, sensible formal outfit. I wanted it to be red, to go with the color of her hair and possibly accentuate her green eyes. I thought of a red sport jacket and black pants, and the image appeared to fit her.

The problem, of course, is that Ada doesn't quite act the part of a quiet, respectable woman. In fact, I would imagine that she walks into a room and becomes the absolute center of attention there. The amount of exposed skin would probably have something to do with that. Ada would wear the red sport jacket, but she'd wear it in such a way as to leave little to the imagination.

The solution, I think, was easy: Increase the cleavage, and remove any notion of a bra. That's non-subtlety for you.

After a few studies, I figured that the neck and upper chest area looked a little bare (yes, that was the point, but still...), so I debated adding something there. The blue pendant was a final touch, but I was uncertain as to whether or not Ada would be the type of person who would wear one with such an outfit. I still have the original raw file with me, however, so I suppose I can make a few changes if needed.

In any event, this is what I ended up with:

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Personally, I like how it turned out. The clothes seem to blend in well with the vestiges of the original drawing. I figure that I can probably do better, though, and that's why I'm watching the Lifestyle channel, sifting through fashion magazines and Calvin Klein ads, and generally sitting at the computer for periods of two or three hours again.

If I do come up with anything else, I'll see if I can post it up here. This is an oddly compelling exercise...


Jac said...

Yay! Thanks for joining ^_^ I knew you got those art skillz on ya, and I'm glad to see their results! Thanks for the write up :D

Sean said...

Jac: Yeah, but now I've got to wean myself off this new habit... :)