After writing the answers to so many questions in a notebook, there should be many ideas swirling around in any dollmaker's head. One of the best ways to start solidifying some of those ideas is to draw them with pencil and paper. Pencil and paper are very common and relatively inexpensive art materials, so there is no reason not to start the project with some drawings.
Traditionally, thumbnail sketches are the first drawings made. They are called thumbnail sketches because they are very small, and can be completed very quickly. The idea here is to get as many ideas as possible onto paper, as quickly as possible. Do not even stop to judge the value of any drawing.
The thumbnails may be of tall and slender figures, or short and fat, or anything inbetween. They can be slender and dainty, or muscular and athletic. The bodies can be mature or immature. The best way to do these quick sketches is to use basic shapes, like circles, rectangles, triangles, and so forth. It is easy and fun to draw this way. You should not have any judgmental feelings for these drawings at all. It frees you from fussing over any of the drawings. After all, none of these thumbnails are ever going to be seen by anyone! They are just for you, and you alone. Consider the thumbnail sketches as a way to loosen up, and lubricate the mental and artistic machinery for more detailed drawings later on.
Fill up as many pages with thumbnail sketches as it takes for you to exhaust the ideas that are swirling around inside your head. For some, only one piece of paper may be filled up. Others will fill up several sheets of paper.
Once the thumbnails have been made, it is time to really take a look at what you have drawn, and decide which of these sketches can be developed further. Now look for the sketches that look the closest to what you want your doll to look like when she is finished. Using these thumbnails, you can make some larger, more detailed drawings of your doll. These drawings are often called concept drawings. The figures can be in any pose, have hair, facial details, and even be clothed. These concept drawings are used to really focus on what the final doll should look like. Concept drawings can be colored using paint, colored pencils, ink, pastels, watercolors, whatever you have. The concept drawings are an easy, inexpensive, and quick way to develop the doll artistically.
At this point in the process, you have committed an idea to paper. The next step is to make working drawings of that idea. Working drawings are like a blueprint of the doll you want to make. While the concept drawings may not have indicated any of the joints in a BJD, the working drawings will have some indication of the joints; where they are placed, and how big they are going to be. At the very least, the working drawing should have a front view and a side view, side by side, and lined up with each other. So, for example, the bottom of the chin in the front view should line up with the bottom of the chin in the side view. Working drawings are used to show the size and proportions of the doll. They are also useful for showing the contour, or outline of the doll, as well as to gain an understanding of the finished doll. With all of the joints indicated, you will be able to see how many pieces the finished doll will have.
One of the best online web sites for looking at working drawings and how they are made is aimi-doll.com. This is a Japanese language web site, so you may have to run it through Google for a translation into your language.
One very important thing to remember is that the working drawings should have the shrinkage calculations included. I am making a 1/3 scale doll, using one inch to one centimeter as my scale ratio. My finished doll will be based on a human height of five feet three inches (63 inches), which will be 63 centimeters when scaled down. The total shrinkage of all my materials is 91% (.91). 63 divided by 91% is 69.23. I am going to round that off to 70 centimeters. Since the overall proportions of my doll are based on seven head lengths, then the head length of my doll will be 10 centimeters. 70 centimeters is easily divided by 10 centimeters into seven equal parts. If my finished doll is just a little bit over 63 cm, that is okay by me.
I am using a cork-backed steel ruler and a pencil. I start by drawing a horizontal line across the bottom of the paper. In this case, I am using the back of the poster board I used for my other working drawings. It isn't much bigger than 70 centimeters, but that is okay.
Next, I draw a vertical line for the front view, and a vertical line for the side view. The vertical lines are the center lines of the front and side views.
Starting at the bottom line, I measure and mark the 10 centimeter head lengths along each of the vertical lines. These indicate the head length proportions of the doll.
At this point I have the base lines of the working drawing in place. They are drawn lightly in pencil on the poster board, so I have shown where I draw the lines by using some computer enhancements.
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