Wednesday, 7 December 2016

WIP #7 "Sapphire Phoenix" zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Finalising colours

Currently: Applying shading

Thoughts: My hand is sore from rendering so many pearls and teardrops in one go... x_x

Saturday, 3 December 2016

WIP #6 "Sapphire Phoenix" zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Applying flats

Currently: Experimenting with different colour combinations

Thoughts: I had the orange-red flame in mind when selecting colours for my "Ethereal Phoenix" zeitgeist. This time I want to visualise the blue flame. It's tricky when the colour blue is normally associated with water and in turn coldness...

Thursday, 1 December 2016

WIP #5 "Sapphire Phoenix" zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Line art

Currently: Applying greyscale flats

Thoughts: There have been a lot of distractions in the last week... It doesn't help that it's winter; the days feel so much shorter.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Xara Xtreme and Me

http://www.xara.com/uk/outsider/november16/
I'm so pleased to have been given the opportunity to share my anime artwork in this month's issue of Xara Outsider! It's surreal to see my alias coupled with the headline "Inspirational Art" - I feel unworthy, but am very grateful.

At the risk of sounding like I've landed some national award, I'd like to thank Kate for noticing my work and being generous with her time. All she needed was permission to use my art, but she made me feel valued and included even though I'm an unknown artist.

Having mixed in social media circles as a digital artist for so long, it's a shame I haven't naturally encountered fellow Xara users. The Xara community seems small and confined to the Talk Graphics forum, which can be found through the Xara website. What better time than this to shout about Xara Group and why I remain a loyal user?

The latest version of the illustration software I use is Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 365 (and it's Black Friday, so you get 30% off if you order before Cyber Monday ends!).

Believe it or not, I'm still clinging to a 10-year-old version called Xara Xtreme 2.0f... A couple of years ago, Xara offered a free download of Xara Xtreme 5 to prise people off the old version (that's right - it was FREE. Who does that?!), but apart from minor features, I didn't think it was all that different... so I casually fell back on my ancient kit!

Admittedly, I can do without the bugs that come with such an early version, but they're easy to live with and the software itself still meets my artistic demands. It's a testament to how powerful this affordable program is.

As a hobbyist who was still in full-time study, Xara Xtreme had what I was looking for. It was quick and easy to download a free trial and I was excited by what it could do, even if I didn't have the skills (or patience) to recreate the glorious 3D art or realist paintings seen in the Xara Gallery.

The other advantage was that I didn't need to buy a graphics tablet. Xara Xtreme operates in vector and allows you to complete an illustration using just a computer mouse.

Growing up, I was influenced by my favourite cartoons and anime. My first instinct was to try and capture what I saw on TV as precisely as I could, so cel-shading was all I wanted to do. I like clean, crisp lines and I like vivid, block colours. They look tidy (I was a particularly tidy child).

In school, I learnt I had no artistic instinct when it came to painting. It felt so messy and random. Even now, when I get inspired by digital artists who know how to use a digital paintbrush, I can't enjoy the painting process, because I'm too fussy when it comes to finer details.

Vector drawing also gives me freedom to change my mind whenever and however many times I want. I'm dreadfully indecisive (painting in Photoshop would involve much manual erasing, colour replacement and wondering why a character's arm/eyes/legs still look funny no matter how many times I redraw it). With vector, I can grab a piece of my existing drawing and resize, rotate, drag and tweak it until I'm happy. I also love how you can zoom in 25,000% and not lose any quality on screen.
Having seen such beautiful pieces of art that were painted digitally, it has at times been difficult to stay satisfied with my block colours. Whilst I can never hope to paint like a pro, I've turned to bitmap textures as an alternative. Xara Xtreme came with an extensive gallery of bitmap textures, which can be used to "fill" any shape you draw. Since launching myself as a freelance artist, I've handmade my own textures using crumpled paper, ink, paint and chalk. I've scanned them into the computer and imported them as bitmap fills in Xara.

Browsing through the Xara Gallery, I'm still amazed at the potential that my good-old Xara Xtreme has. There are many free online tutorials that have enabled me to create awesome effects and complex shapes with ease. It's a bonus that the people behind Xara are openly supportive of the artists who use their software. I can't recommend it enough.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

WIP #4 "Sapphire Phoenix" zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Front, back and side views. Rough draft of main image.

Currently: Cleaning up draft

Thoughts: One problem with long, flowing fabric is how big it makes the overall picture turn out...

Saturday, 19 November 2016

WIP #3 "Sapphire Phoenix" zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Front view

Currently: Drawing right-side view

Thoughts: I used to get really wrapped up in creating designs that were "100% original" (i.e. zero references used). It's taken me a long time to understand & accept the fact that nothing can truly be unique; every creative is influenced by the people & world around them.

Pinterest is a favourite place of mine to get fresh design ideas & it was where I discovered Miracle Nikki, an anime app that's super popular in the Far East for its stunning fashion designs. Google it & get inspired!

Monday, 14 November 2016

WIP #2 "Sapphire Phoenix" zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Currently: Finalising design on Xara Xtreme

Thoughts: The hairstyle is the only part of the design I'm 100% satisfied with. Like Ethereal Phoenix, I'd like this character's costume to be made up of layered, flowing fabric. I'm trying to work out how to make the fabric resemble fire.

Friday, 11 November 2016

WIP #1 "Sapphire Phoenix" zeitgeist

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

WIP #7 "Ethereal Phoenix" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Base colours

Currently: Shading and finalising palette

Thoughts: I can't really tell if I've picked right colours until I start the shading process. I've already adjusted the palette a few times; it's tricky when you're working with similar shades of the same colour.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

WIP #6 "Ethereal Phoenix" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Line drawing of main image

Currently: Applying grayscale flats

Thoughts: I've never attempted a costume design that has this many layers before...

Monday, 10 October 2016

WIP #5 "Ethereal Phoenix" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Line drawings of references for the character

Currently: Cleaning up draft of main image

Thoughts: I want the main image of the character to be dynamic, so have been working to make the clothes flow and billow. It was all too tempting to draw enormous wings for an image like this, but it's not something I intended for the character, so I held back...

Sunday, 9 October 2016

WIP #4 "Ethereal Phoenix" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Front, sides and back views

Currently: Drawing bust shots of the character without his hood-scarf

Thoughts: I decided to draw the character with his hood-scarf on first and only had a vague idea of the hairstyle he had underneath... Finalising his hairstyle now, but need to go back and tweak the "hood-scarf on" line drawings...

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

WIP #3 "Ethereal Phoenix" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Front view

Currently: Drafting right side view

Thoughts: I'll have to dedicate more time and care to this character's model sheet, because the design is made up of several layers. The main front view is done, but I will need to show how the character looks without the hooded scarf!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

WIP #2 "Ethereal Phoenix" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Mythical phoenix bird with Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl'.

Completed: Design stage and rough draft

Currently: Cleaning up

Thoughts: I'm happy with the direction of where the design's going. The story of 'The Little Match Girl' conjures sad, yet beautiful imagery. "Ethereal" is my theme for this new character design. So far, it is freeing and fun to draw inspiration from a fantasy creature.

WIP #1 "Ethereal Phoenix" Zeitgeist

Sunday, 18 September 2016

WIP #6 "White Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Line art

Currently: Applying grayscale flats

Thoughts: My ideas for this character's colour scheme are vague, but at least I know the roses have to be white and that I'll be going for a cool palette.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

WIP #5 "White Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Rough draft of main image

Currently: Cleaning up

Thoughts: The weather in the UK right now is really distracting... I love bright and sunny weather, but this surprise heatwave is making me lethargic. It's taken a lot of willpower for me to draw instead of lazily going to watching some anime...

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

WIP #4 "White Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Front, back and side views

Currently: Finalising line art before starting work on rough sketch for main image

Thoughts: Most time consuming were the top hat and, for some reason, the plaited hair. I took some care to make sure I was drawing the top hat in the right perspectives. It was designed with a pleated ribbon beneath the brim, so there was a period of time when I agonised over how to draw it in a certain angle. As for the plaited hair, I wasn't sure how to draw the back view convincingly for a while...

Those creative juices just haven't been flowing freely in the past week. I normally wouldn't struggle so much over a design like this.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

WIP #3 "White Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Front view of character for model sheet.

Currently: Drafting side view.

Thoughts: I had to go through several stages to clarify the design. Every time I move up a stage, I draw parts of the design I like with greater certainty. Any element that doesn't quite sit right is removed, and then I experiment with other options that may be a better fit.

White Rose Cardinal was supposed to be a tomboy version of Red Rose Cardinal, but I ended up going a completely different direction... ^^;

Sunday, 4 September 2016

WIP #2 "White Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Design stage and rough draft

Currently: Cleaning up

Thoughts: I'm at the point where I'm tired of scribbling down vague ideas and just want to get on with line art... Once I start clean up, everything becomes clearer. I find out what I like about the design so far and what doesn't work as well as I initially thought. Design, for me, is ongoing... ^^;

Friday, 2 September 2016

WIP #1 "White Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist

Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Currently: Sketching rough ideas

Thoughts: My Red Rose Cardinal Zeitgeist is now open for adoption! I'm now working on her sister: a white rose version who is going to have a more tomboy-ish design. I always wanted to design a character whose main accessory is a top hat, so have a good idea of where I'd like to take this upcoming adoptable.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

WIP #7 "Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Rough draft and clean up

Currently: Finalising line art

Thoughts: I think she's blooming into the prettiest little zeitgeist :) I hope you'll like her, too.

Monday, 22 August 2016

WIP #6 "Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Front, back and side views

Currently: Drawing rough sketch for main image

Thoughts: The perfectionist in me keeps challenging me to do more (than necessary??). More often than not, I'm unhappy with my first attempt at drawing a character I've never drawn before. As a result, I don't want to use the image previewed from WIPs 1-5 as the main image, because I know I can do better...

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

WIP #5 "Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Colours

Currently: Starting work on the model sheet

Thoughts: I've been debating whether or not it would be worthwhile to draw up a model sheet... It takes a great deal of time to do something detailed like that. I'm not even sure if anyone would be interested in adopting this character design! I've decided it is worth the effort - I don't like the idea of a buyer having a hard time figuring out how to reproduce my design correctly...

Saturday, 13 August 2016

WIP #4 "Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Base shapes for colours

Currently: Experimenting with different colour combinations

Thoughts: Obviously going to work with mainly reds and whites, but it will be interesting to see what other colours may work for this character.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

WIP #3 "Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Rough draft and clean up

Currently: Finalising line art

Thoughts: The most tedious part - the lace - is done! Looking forward to bringing this character to life with colour.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

WIP #2 "Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Completed: Design stage

Currently: Drawing rough draft

Thoughts: Most of my opening sketches featured a fancy headdress of some sort. I was trying to incorporate the cardinal bird's distinctive pointy crown, but couldn't make it work. To me, her hair looks a lot better with just a rose ornament.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

WIP #1 "Rose Cardinal" Zeitgeist

Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species). To be put up for auction as an adoptable!

Inspired by: Red and white cardinal birds with Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'Snow White and Rose Red'.

Currently: Sketching rough ideas

Friday, 22 July 2016

WIP #8 Curio Model Sheet


Working on: Model sheet for (original character and species) zeitgeist Curio

Completed: Rough draft and line art of disgruntled Curio

Currently: Applying flat colours

Thoughts: Curio isn't one to hold grudges. On the rare occasions when something does displease him, his anger never rises above a gentle simmer.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

WIP #7 Curio Model Sheet


Working on: Model sheet for (original character and species) zeitgeist Curio

Completed: Sleepy Curio and thoughtful Curio

Currently: Drafting facial expressions for Curio

Thoughts: Too busy and hot to think...

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

WIP #6 Curio Model Sheet


Working on: Model sheet for (original character and species) zeitgeist Curio

Completed: Rough draft and line art

Currently: Applying flat colours

Thoughts: Wanted to draw (for the first time) Curio without his little duffle coat.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

WIP #5 Curio Model Sheet


Working on: Model sheet for (original character and species) zeitgeist Curio

Completed: Back view of Curio

Currently: Drafting facial expressions for Curio

Thoughts: This will be interesting, because Curio's face isn't very expressive... Most of the time, he looks either sleepy, bored or dazed.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

WIP #4 Curio Model Sheet


Working on: Model sheet for (original character and species) zeitgeist Curio

Completed: Left-side view of Curio

Currently: Drafting back view of Curio

WIP #3 Curio Model Sheet


Working on: Model sheet for (original character and species) zeitgeist Curio

Completed: Right-side view of Curio

Currently: Drafting left-side view of Curio

Thoughts: I've been catching up on lost sleep, so hopefully I'll be able to move a little more quickly with this model sheet.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

WIP #2 Curio Model Sheet


Working on: Model sheet for (original character and species) zeitgeist Curio

Completed: Front view of Curio

Currently: Drafting right-side view of Curio

Thoughts: Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of time to work on this for the last few days. A family medical emergency's taking up a lot of my energy... Feeling sleepy and whoozy... Glad this project's nice and simple to dip in and out of.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

WIP #1 Curio Model Sheet


Working on: Model sheet for (original character and species) zeitgeist Curio

Completed: Rough draft

Thoughts: Drawing proper model sheets for my original characters has been on the back-burner for a long time. I mocked up something quick and functional to get by, but now think it's time to make something presentable and eye-catching. This is also good practice for the zeitgeist adoptables I'm going to launch!

Monday, 27 June 2016

WIP #6 "Turtledove" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species) to be used as a supporting image for upcoming species guide.

Inspired by: Turtledoves

Completed: Applying flats

Currently: Experimenting with different colour schemes

Thoughts: The colours I've tried out so far don't seem to be sticking...

Friday, 24 June 2016

WIP #5 "Turtledove" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species) to be used as a supporting image for upcoming species guide.

Inspired by: Turtledoves

Completed: Line art

Currently: Applying flats

Thoughts: Glad to have had something therapeutic to do

Thursday, 23 June 2016

WIP #4 "Turtledove" Zeitgeist


Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species) to be used as a supporting image for upcoming species guide.

Inspired by: Turtledoves

Currently: Cleaning up rough draft

Thoughts: I love the idea and look of lace, but really find it annoying to draw...

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

WIP #3 "Turtledove" Zeitgeist


Completed: Design stage and rough draft

Currently: Cleaning up rough draft

Thoughts: I actually needed to design another zeitgeist called Froh for my original story. I think this "turtledove" will make a lovely Froh!

WIP #2 "Turtledove" Zeitgeist

WIP #1 "Turtledove" Zeitgeist

Working on: Original anime character design of a zeitgeist (my original Fairyland species) to be used as a supporting image for upcoming species guide.

Inspired by: Turtledoves

Currently: Sketching rough ideas

Monday, 23 May 2016

The Design Doll program: a FREE human model reference for artists

http://terawell.net/terawell/
I learned about Design Doll from deviantART member MariamTiarko. Somebody (namely Terawell) created powerful software that allows artists to shape and pose their own digital model to use as reference.

When it comes to matching the quality of established manga-ka, a good understanding of human anatomy is critical. As an anime artist, I hoard references. My skills have improved, but I lack the knowledge and discipline of seasoned pros, so decent references are indisposable guides.

If my How to Draw Manga books don’t have the poses or costumes or techniques I need, I go to Google. But, everything in Google Images is copyrighted, so extra effort’s needed to find relevant references in the public domain. Sometimes, I stop being lazy and get my camera. If I can scrape the necessities together, the resulting reference is way more helpful than any Google Image and, since I made it myself, way more fulfilling. If the picture I want to draw involves flying or leaping, however, my camera’s no good without a trampoline or wind machine. Is Design Doll the perfect modern solution?

Cautious web surfers have every reason to be suspicious, but the free version of Design Doll has been on my desktop for nearly a year. I bought a new laptop during that time and downloaded Design Doll, for free, again. Truth be told, if it weren’t for MariamTiarko’s endorsement (she’s a fellow Beyblade fan I’ve known online for years), I may have needed more convincing.

The main pages of Terawell’s Design Doll website are defaulted to perfect English. When you view their Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Disclaimer pages, however, you’ll see Japanese text. There’s even blurred Japanese script on one of the big splash images on the landing page.

I had no idea that Terawell was founded in Japan until I wrote this post. Suddenly, the ease of moulding figures to suit anime proportions makes sense. The only surprising thing is how easy it is to get Design Doll on your computer. You don’t have to be in Japan, you don’t need to worry about shipping and you don’t even have to pay.

I have no other information on Terawell, because I know very little Japanese. I did, however, stumble upon a Japanese Wiki for Design Doll.

The features available for the free version and paid version of Design Doll can be compared on Terawell’s official website. Terawell are being very generous with their free version, which isn’t a trial that’s going to expire. I can keep using the software and there are no hidden costs.

When it comes to shaping and posing the model, I’m in exactly the same playing field as users who have paid. I’m free to “morph” my model’s physique to fit the build of any character type. I can control lighting and shadow. I can create a group of models to interact with one another in the same scene. What happens when I want to leave the playing field, though?

There’s no Save button in Design Doll’s free version. Terawell let you build, play with and even take pictures of your own character, but when playtime’s over, that character’s gone until you decide to build it again.

The absence of a Save button means that you have to get the reference you want before it’s time to shutdown your PC. The goal is the reference – not the perfect model. Free users have access to all of Design Doll’s “morph” features, but as someone with a busy work schedule, it wouldn’t be worth my time to fuss over these features. Only paying users have the luxury to refine and keep their models for the next reference shoot.

As a free user with little time to spare, I’ve gotten used to building models that are rough round the edges. I pull together a character’s general body structure and spend most of my time positioning it to fit the image in my head. Once I’ve finalised the pose, I use Design Doll’s Export Image function to take pictures of my model from as many useful and interesting angles as possible. When I’m 100% happy with the references I’ve saved, I can close the Design Doll program.

I count Design Doll as part of my hoard of references. It’s an additional tool that hasn’t replaced my How to Draw Manga books, camera or even Google Images. If I owned the paid version, I don’t think this would be any different. I treat the models I shape and pose as bases to guide me – not, god forbid, to trace over. They’re skeletons that need fleshing out by artists, and an artist can’t do that convincingly without some skill.

When it came to drawing ‘Time with the Spirit in the Glass Bottle’, I used the models I made in Design Doll to anchor my early drafts. I find it quicker to get the right pose in Design Doll, because it’s easier to see if a stance or limb placement doesn’t look natural. It’s much faster to tweak and experiment with a digital model than a hand-drawn sketch (mine can get so messy, I end up confusing myself).

Drawing characters interacting in a group is something I find challenging. It takes a long time to plan the scene freehand when I need to factor in height (more difficult if there’s a mix of standing and seated characters) and think about body parts that are going to be hidden from view (but need to be sketched to help produce a convincing picture).

Design Doll removed these frustrations when I used it to plan the composition of ‘Time with Snow White and Rose Red’:

There’s a difference between moving a puppet and bringing a puppet to life. Terawell understood this, so they made a "pose creation" tutorial that asks you to consider things like centre of gravity and weight and balance of the body. To make great references in Design Doll, you first have to master striking perfect poses for your model. If you find this learning curve a tad too steep, consider buying Design Doll’s paid version.

http://doll-a.net/terawell/
Terawell have launched Doll-Atelier, a public online gallery full of ready-made, posing digital models. A paying user is free to import these models for use in Design Doll, be it for non-commercial or commercial purposes.

Having used Design Doll for nearly a year, I can see the appeal of the paid version. Without a Save button, I can’t make the most of the powerful tools at my fingertips. I love the idea of sculpting perfect models of my original characters and using them again and again to help me draw. The Doll-Atelier gallery is also a cool idea, and though I can’t imagine using it much (I’d feel funny about using another artist’s pose when I have the ability to make one myself), I like the idea of experienced artists sharing their posing models and I like the idea of rookie artists using those models to improve their skills.

I think Design Doll will be very useful to the right kind of artist. It can help rookies draw the human body more accurately and enable more experienced artists to create wild poses that’d be difficult to capture in real life with a camera.
http://terawell.net/terawell/?page_id=60
The only negative thing I can say about Design Doll is that I, personally, find the “morphing” tools hard to understand. You have a big range of options to choose from, which means there are big possibilities for the look of your model, but (maybe I have untrained eyes) some of the options seem to produce very similar effects.


I still look at certain thumbnails and can’t say for sure what they’d do to the model. I play around with all the sliders and max them out, but besides a subtle rise in the chest or slimming of the legs, I honestly can’t tell how the model’s changed or why I'd seek to make the change. My guess is that to get the best out of “morphs”, you have to use them alongside the “scale tag”, which changes the size (length and thickness) of the model and its limbs.

As I mentioned, I don’t fuss over the look of my models, because I'm using Design Doll's free version. I therefore haven't taken pains to learn how to use the "morph" tools expertly, but I'm not sure if studying will help me understand why some "morphs" are so subtle (why can't I see the difference between a number 50 blend and a number 100 blend...?).

One way or the other, I'm very happy to have access to such a helpful, fun and sophisticated reference tool. I encourage you to make up your own mind about Design Doll.