The BJD that I am planning on making is based on the Alice character in the 1865 novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Since I can remember, I have always pictured Alice in my head, similar to the John Tenniel illustrations of Alice, which the above 1923 illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith resembles.
There are, however, slight differences between Lewis Carroll's Alice and my doll. The character of Alice in the book is about seven and a half years old. My doll's name is Aalish (an old French version of the name, Alice); and she is going to be a teenager. Otherwise, I hope to make her with blond hair, green eyes, wearing a blue dress with puffy sleeves and a pinafore, and black and white striped stockings with Mary Jane shoes.
There are as many ways to approach making a doll as there are doll makers. Basing the doll on a character from a book is just one way to establish the character of the doll. Dolls may also be made to illustrate stories or books. I find that it helps me to get to know my doll as I am making her. So far, during the last year and a half, I have read the Alice books, watched several Alice movies, and looked at many illustrations on the Internet. All of these have had some influence on how Aalish will turn out.
The fact that Aalish is going to be a teenager helps to determine her overall proportions. Artistic proportions for human figures are based on head lengths. A head length is measured from the crown of the head to the bottom of the chin. Human figures have different proportions as they grow from infancy, through childhood into adolescence, and mature into adults. An infant has a very large head compared to the rest of her body. The overall proportion of an infant is about four head lengths, whereas an adult is about seven and a half head lengths. This chart from Stephen Rogers Peck's book, Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist shows female proportions.
Using the above chart, I can easily see that a fourteen year old female teenager is about seven head lengths tall.
This chart from Andrew Loomis' book, Figure Drawing For All Its Worth shows male proportions.
Note in this chart that the human head only grows about three inches, up and down, from first year, to adulthood. By the time a human is a teenager, the head is fully grown.
All of the above things can be useful to know when planning a BJD. Besides the proportions of the figure, it is also helpful to know overall shrinkage rates of the materials used to make the BJD. The working drawings should be made oversize, so as to take shrinkage of materials into consideration. Since I have already figured out what the overall shrinkage of my materials is going to be, I can use that to help me make my working drawings.
Resources for Drawing Different Ages
Calculating Shrinkage Revisited
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