I love painting and I also love surfing. So I love to combine the two wherever I can! Read on to learn how to create a cute paper doll with changeable outfits. Paper dolls are so nostalgic of our youth and have a long history.
Your doll can be a mini-me or inspired by someone you know, or completely fictitious.
300gsm watercolour paper or Bristol paper
Watercolour, gouache or acrylic paints, coloured pencils or markers
Pencil and eraser
Tracing paper (or cheap oven paper)
Waterproof fine-liner pen, like Unipin (optional)
Light box or a bright window
1. Let’s start with the paper doll. If you enjoy drawing, draw a person freehand. You can stylise the body, face and hair. Or if that is stretching your skills too far, take a full length selfie, or snap a pic of your friend. Wear something figure hugging, or even your bikini. Your doll can have her hands by her sides, or strike a pose that you want your doll to hold, such as a hand on hip.
2. View the photo on a tablet or computer screen and zoom it to the size you want your finished doll to be. Then grab your trusty tracing paper, or oven paper, and lay it on your screen. Pressing gently, trace the important lines. Make sure you get the outline, plus simple lines for facial features and hands.
3. If you like, draw a bikini on your doll, so she is still wearing something when she’s unclothed.
When you are happy with your design, go over the pencil lines with the black pen, so it is easier to see.
4. Now that you have the doll, you can use this as a template for drawing the clothes. Tape your tracing paper with the doll to a light box or to a bright window. Carefully tape the edge of the watercolour paper over the top so you can see your doll through it. Now draw an outfit straight onto your watercolour paper, or draw it onto a fresh sheet of tracing paper if you’ll need a few goes to get it right. The outfit can be bigger and wider that the doll but not narrower.
If your doll has its hand on its hip, you may need to include the hand on each new outfit. Once you finish an outfit, move the watercolour paper to align the doll with an empty spot so you can draw your next outfit.
Drawing wetsuits are super easy. You could also draw your fave holiday outfit, swimmers and post surf kit, wintery clothes, and evening wear.
5. On each outfit, draw tabs that will fold over and hold the clothes onto the doll. They need to be long enough that they can wrap around. One on each shoulder and a couple near the waist or hips is usually enough.
Why not draw some accessories, like your dream surfboard?
6. Using the window again, trace your doll onto watercolour paper. If your outfits are on tracing paper, transfer those too.
7. Paint the outfits using your preferred supplies. You can even use coloured pencils or markers, or a combination. You may like to ink the important details with the waterproof pen and erase your pencil marks before painting. When painting, wait for one area to dry before painting next to it. This will stop colours bleeding into each other.
8. When everything is dry, cut out your doll and outfits with a pair of small, sharp scissors. Don’t forget to keep the tabs attached!
These paper dolls make wonderful gifts or keepsakes from an adventure. When you complete the project, share your paper doll with @mermaidscoin and #surfgirlpaperdolls on instagram.
Hey! I wanted to share my fresh prints! I recently completed this series after starting the first one as a class demo. This is my first series of work combining watercolour and gouache together. It was a big learning curve and I really enjoyed being a stylist - decorating each room and deciding on a colour scheme for each one.
Which one is your favourite?
These illustrations will be available as A4 prints and as a 4-pack of greeting cards in my Etsy store next week!
Do you take online classes? What's your preferred platform?
If you're interested in learning how to paint you own boho bungalow, or about using gouache and watercolour together, check out my Skillshare class! You can sign up for 2 free months and watch a load of classes for free.
If you freak out about the idea of having no idea - I'm here to help you.
I don't ever find myself with a shortage of ideas. In fact, I'm so time-poor that it is the least of my worries!
First things first...
So the first thing you should do is get an 'ideas notebook'. Keep all your notes and ideas in one place so you can dip back into it - you never know when that terrible idea might evolve into something fantastic.
Now that you have a blank notebook you need to fill it with something! Here is a process I often use.
The Pick & Mix
First, I do a brainstorm/ free word association around the prompt.
For example: Flower.
I write down everything that springs to mind for 'flower'. Write it down, even if the link is tenuous.
flowers in her hair
garden in bloom
hot house flowers
flower arranging, repotting.... the list goes on and on. And it will be different for everyone.
Here's another one:
take your medicine
ocean rhymes with potion
Some of these might already be generating vivid mental images for you. Great! Draw some quick thumbnail sketches if you want.
But why, tho?
Next, I have a think about the kinds of illustrations I might want to create. What is the purpose of this illustration/painting/print/drawing? Maybe I need some more patterns in my portfolio, or something for a greeting card with lettering. I choose one of these.
Here's a quick list:
A collection of things
A how to - instructional illustration
Something seasonal, like Valentine's or Christmas
Make a Chunky Connection
The last step is to go back to my first list and see which of these talks to me and how many ideas I can 'chunk' together. Perhaps you decide to create a how-to infographic on 'how to prepare and arrange a bouquet of spring flowers'. Or maybe you create a greeting card with lettering and a lady with sunflowers in her hair. Or a repeat pattern with gardening elements inspired by repotting plants, like pots, seedlings, a trowel, and gloves. The combinations are endless!
You can see from my second list that a whole pile of these ended up in the final painting: an ocean potion in a cork stoppered bottle with moonlight and stars.
If there are any on-trend colours or trends (like crystals, flamingos, indoor plants) you can consider which of these might also fit your brief and your concept.
The birth of an idea
After I complete this brainstorm process, then I'll likely start a Pinterest board to group reference images, colour ideas, and research.
My last step is to start sketching thumbnails to develop and refine the composition of my illustration.
Not all of your ideas will be good ones and you'll probably have some good ones that you don't get to birth. But at least you won't be short of them! Keep all your planning and ideas in your notebook to refer to down the track. Sometimes a different state of mind spawns a whole new perspective.
Let me know if this process helps you! If you have another process you like to use, why not share it in the comments? Happy designing!
Hey there! It's been a while. You know how it is. Keeping all the balls in the air and trying to have a social media presence is just too much sometimes.
After having a month long break from social media, I spent the last week having a lovely time painting new illustrations for an instagram art challenge 'Mystic Sun Week'. A bunch of great artists were involved and it was a nice chance to work to a deadline on something totally different. Each day had a different prompt to spark an illustration and everyone tagged their posts with #mysticsunweek.
1. Increase in Engagement
The insta algorithm shows 'interesting' content to more viewers. Higher engagement = interesting. So the more people that are liking and commenting on your post, the more people will actually see your posts. After a long break from insta, my engagement was non-existent. So taking part in a challenge was a great way to boost this engagement. All the participants used the same hashtag, and then would follow that hashtag to explore all the new work being created. So an online challenge means an engaged, captive audience!
2. Build your Portfolio
This online challenge ticked a couple of boxes for me. I loved the theme, plus it enabled me to get back onto instagram AND create some new work for my portfolio. I'll also make prints of my favourites to stock my Etsy shop. You could even pop your new work on Society6, RedBubble or another print on demand site.
You could create unrelated illustrations, or choose a colour scheme or motif to carry through the whole week so that you have a cohesive collection at the end!
3. Beat the Procrastination
I've had the best of intentions with the 100 days project over the last couple of years, but I don't think it is actually feasible for me at the moment with 2 young kids, juggling work and a side hustle - it just doesn't even make it onto my list of to-dos most days.
However, an online challenge that lasts a week is achievable for anyone if you have a bit of lead time. We are all prone to procrastination but done is better than perfect! A week long challenge is a great kick in the pants to just bang out some work and not be too precious or torn about what you create. It is really liberating! Plus posting every day keeps you accountable - you have to meet that deadline.
4. Connect with a Creative Community
A challenge is such a fab opportunity to connect with other artists, receive feedback about your work AND discover other artists you love! If you are lucky you even generate work from someone new seeing what you create. I often had a couple of colour variations for one project and would ask my audience which they preferred. This gave me some really useful feedback and meant my whole audience could share their opinion and vote.
5. Yoga for your Brain - Stretch Yourself
Most people would argue that it is heaps easier to create artwork about what you are loving right now. But what about when a client wants something that just doesn't float your boat? If you can get excited about it, you are likely to produce much stronger work.
Online challenge prompts a usually fairly broad. For Mystic Sun Week they were: Flower, Goddess, Sun Bath, Flourish, Fruit, Animal, Festivities. It's a pretty open brief, but you still have to come up with an idea that fits. This is great practise for client work, or those commissions. It keeps you agile and make you work outside of your comfort zone.
Generating New Ideas...
âIf you freak out about the idea of having no idea - I'm here to help you.
In my next post, I'll share my process for generating loads of fresh ideas. Catch you then.
Over the last six months I have been working to build up a portfolio of watercolour work available for licensing. Now that my website overhaul is finished I'm happy to launch this new part of my business. I'll be uploading lots of beach-inspired repeat patterns and illustrations over the coming months. View my portfolio.
WELCOME TO MERMAiD'S COiN
Surf Artist, Hannah Katarski is based in Fremantle, Western Australia. She creates ocean-inspired art that is bohemian, retro and fun.