How do you plan out the look of a doll?

Dec 28, 2015

    1. (I looked around for this but couldn't find a thread. delete if it's a repeat)

      Usually when I have an idea for an accessory or clothing for a doll I promptly forget it. I tried a system of writing things down or saving photos I like to a folder. Occasionally I sketch them out. It's mostly disorganized and I loose details pretty quick.
      So I was wondering how you plan the look of a doll. Face ups, tattoos, clothing, wigs, eyes, ect.
      I'm curious how the community goes about this.
       
    2. For one thing, my dolls shell characters that cosplay. Which means no such thing as ONE look for the doll :D Each one has their fav cosplays, their preferred normal hairstyles, clothing styles, their eyecolor. I create the characters THEN go looking for the doll to shell it.
       
    3. Most of my dolls are role play characters, so I've been playing them for awhile before shelling them as a doll. By the time I'm ready to buy the doll, I already have a strong image of them in my head, including their hair, eyes, faceup details, clothing style, etc. Some characters never get shelled, but they all get a pretty good description if they're at all important in my stories.

      However, my most recent doll had no previous planning. I wanted a Minifee, and had narrowed it down to one of three sculpts, in tan or normal skin, and female. The rest didn't matter, it was just whatever popped up on the MP at an affordable price from a seller with good feedback. I ended up with a tan M-line Celine with an artist faceup. When I bought her, I had no plans, not even a name. Since she was a total blank slate, I just went to Etsy, searched for Minifee clothes and started buying whatever I thought was cute and reasonably priced. I chose a wig that I thought would go well with her faceup, and a pair of eyes I already owned. Everything else, I'm letting "her" choose....by which I mean I plan nothing and just get whatever jumps out at me. Once I get her all together with a decent selection of clothes, I'll let her character come to me. Complete opposite of how I normally create dolls!
       
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    4. My dolls largely fall into two groups: original characters I've had for years, or "character dolls" who have established looks. In either case, I've got a baseline to work from, and buy or make things that fit the existing visual.

      For the few in those groups who have been added as dolls first, I can work within what's established to find their look fairly easily. And for the rest, who I haven't really started work on, each will be associated with a classical element, and styled around that general concept.
       
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    5. For the most I'll just search through pages of clothes on dollmore, etsy or Alice collection and eventually find a piece that I really like. Then I build around that. Such as I bought a really cute bunny hat and then found these sort of puffy pants to match and then a shirt. I did the same for another outfit where I found this really cool tank top and bought pants and boots to go along with them.
       
    6. I think I got into dolls because of dolly fashion at first. So I had a specific style of dress that I wanted to use for a doll and then I found a doll that I thought would look good with that style. But I get a lot of inspiration from people's photos on tumblr. Then I look for doll clothes on etsy and even if I can't afford something at the moment, I save it in my favorites.
       
    7. I don't use it very often myself but polyvore is a great resource for girl dolls who wear modern clothes. You can make outfits on their website or app and save them for later!
       
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    8. I have multiple sketchbooks and one of them is strictly for designing clothes and planning out my bjd character. Since it's in a book, I don't really need to organize and I'm able to look back onto my past ideas for more inspiration in the future pages.
       
    9. It's really interesting and fun to see that each of us has their own methods to establish a doll's style! For me, it always begins with a character inspired by an idea that I had for a while or by an illustration or photo I liked a lot. One of these is a starting point and from there, I build the character first and figure out their clothes and accessories accordingly.

      I never tried to make it the other way around though, like @somewheresunbear does. That looks like an interesting process, too ;)
       
    10. My Minimee dolls are based off of fandom characters and role play characters, so I just refer to pictures and description for those. My Hui Ka and Soom Ai are a bit more tricky; they are complete blank slates. I am still solidifying their designs, but what I usually do is:
      1) Decide on a theme/feel, such as gothic, Victorian, boho, etc.
      2) Look at pictures based on that theme to get ideas, if I don't have one already.
      3) Make concept sketches
      4) Do Photoshop edits based on what eyes and wigs are available
      5) Trial and error

      What may look good in my head may look awful on the screen, in terms of skintone. And what looks good on the screen doesn't always look good in person, hence the trial and error. Luckily my Soom Ai is easy to work with. She looks cute in just about everything.
       
    11. When i pick out a sculpt i usually sit down and imagine what they would look like dressed from different time periods, styles, etc. that usually leads me to a rough outline of their backstory based on what look ive decided for them. After this whole process its just a matter of hunting down the clothes online or sewing them!
       
    12. I choose sculpts completely based on aesthetic (for the most part I don't have any characters to shell), so from there I create a basic write-up of their personality and a simplistic background/story. If I like the look of the fullset, I'll get it, other times if it's not the direction I want to take with the character I'll just use pieces or none of it at all. My dolls wear either fantasy outfits, modern casual, or modern dress/business attire as I prefer these looks, so depending on their personality and story they'll be put in one of those categories. I'll look at owner pictures of the same sculpt or similar sculpts to see what wig styles I prefer, and for eyes I like to coordinate with their faceup, outfit, or fantasy parts. That's just a rough outline of my process :)
       
    13. I have a photo story in mind and that needs specifical characters. For this I choose my cast crew and give them a personality. Then I think about their looks, what would work best and try to figure out their relationship. I made a whole list with things like their hobbies, favorite places and such, that way I didnt have to think about their appearance too long. The list gets updated quite often and throws in new questions. This way I go even depeer into their personality and it makes them become real companions :)
       
    14. I usually don't have a character to start with when I want to make a new look for a doll. I just like to see nice fashion combinations. I try to make a list on a wordpad document, or more often, bookmark the item page into a folder named after the doll its for. Some doll shops let you make wishlists and those are helpful. Especially if the site is huge and disorganized.

      When I plan a doll's look it usually starts with me seeing something really cool, like a nice shirt, and then I try to find things to match. If I am trying to make them a personality, it is generally just based on their face and what emotion I get from that. Not very in depth. I did come across a story character I want to sort of replicate in one of my dolls so now I am looking at items I think that character would wear.
      So many things bookmarked. :lol:
       
    15. My first doll fell naturally into a character I've developed for years (since my childhood actually) so her personality and style was well known to me from the start, it's just a matter of searching etsy and the like for clothes and items she would want to use. For the other two it's the other way around. I had no character in mind when I bought them, but I find their style is slowly evolving by trial and error. I do spend a substantial amount of time on Etsy creating lists for each doll. For me, figuring out who my dolls are is a big part of the fun in this hobby :)
       
    16. I started out by just buying dolls to fit my pre-existing characters, so I had drawings and clothing ideas to go off of, but since then I've had 5 dolls come along that I bought just because I loved the sculpt. With those, I tried a couple different things (outfits, wigs, etc) and from there, I figured out what did and didn't work, all the while coming up with ideas for their personalities and backstories.

      In addition to that, I've discovered ideas to improve the pre-existing characters aesthetically. Some of them were pretty vanilla in concept so finding little ways to spice up their appearance is fun. I don't actually write most of these things down. When I go looking for clothing/wig/eye ideas, it's usually through eBay or Etsy since I can save them to wish lists, but for tattoes and faceups, it floats around in my mind until I pick up the paintbrush, haha.
       
    17. Okay so first, I need to tell a bit of a story about Briar. Aside from his fantasy elements, I had planned on his style being mostly masculine for years. I wanted his character to be the type that didn't really care about how "girly" he or his things were, but I liked masculine clothes and accessories for him (although I've seen plenty of feminine male dolls who I think are cute!). He's my first and only doll so he doesn't have any clothes except for what I made him and a few accessories. I said I wanted him masculine, but he's currently sitting at home in a white sweater and galaxy print shorts with a pink bow in his hair. I couldn't help it! He's so cute!! @[email protected] ANYWAY, the point is that I planned one thing and I guess it failed in that that's not what it's ended up being so far, but it's also a win because he looks so cute in the hair accessories I bought him. :) Thank God for Claires and Ardene!

      As for how I came up with his look (the fantasy component anyway), as soon as I saw Sawsbuck from Pokemon, it gave me all sorts of ideas for fantasy humanoid creatures with similar antlers. It just so happened that Resinsoul's slim bodies and dark tan resin make for a pretty little deer person. :D

      Of course, he isn't done yet and I'll probably revise my original plans even more. lol
       
    18. I don't really have pre-planned characters for my dolls, so planning their look is something that I struggle with.

      I've recently decided to actually start fleshing out their characters and stories if only to make buying and sewing clothes have a purpose and goal. When I had just a few dolls they all wore modern style clothing, and for the most part still do. But I've accumulated so many of the darn things that I want to split them off into smaller family groups and branch out into different styles.

      So I started a document that syncs between my phone, tablet and computer so I can update it anywhere if I've got a sudden genius moment of inspiration without worry that I'll forget it later.
      I have folders I've made with clothing and style ideas that go along with where I want to take my dolls.

      But largely I've learned that no matter what I think I want, the dolls usually have other plans. I experienced this today when I got them all out for a group photo and ended up playing the wig and eye swap game and pretty much no one is wearing the things I'd intended for them anymore. I'm hoping now that everyone seems settled with their eyes and wigs they'll be a bit more lenient with clothing...
       
    19. My Pinterest is dedicated to being a doll wishlist and planning site. Every doll I have, am planning to bring home, or want to buy has a board where I pin things I'd like for their style. Sometimes I have a style idea before I get the doll, sometimes I have a fashion theme that I want a doll to wear, and sometimes the doll picks the style. For instance, before my Delf Miyu came, I was looking for clothes to go with a pair of SD shoes that I got by accident in a Taobao order. The outfit was super cute and she was magically a tomboy and got the name Alex. But the Senior Delf Eveline I want is planned to be an elegant, shy girl that plays violin and reads poetry. I started planning her character and look based on her beautiful serene face. I wanted to have a mori girl doll, and decided my Leeke Noella was perfect, and started building a character around her style. In all plans, though, I look for owner photos! I'm very inspired by the way other people styled their dolls, and can get great ideas. I love seeing different wigs and face ups. So I guess I plan differently every time!
       
    20. For me, it depends on the visual style I'm looking for that matches the story in my head. Recently, I've been looking for an extravagant, avant garde look, where the dolls are more like icons, than people. As if they are walking right out of some weird comic or animation.

      So, I work around each doll's character. Search for pictures that give me an idea what their face-up might look like (in this case, I'm mostly looking for special effects make-up, or things like the Cirque du Soleil designs), and that match their character. The idea is that both face-up and outfit give a clear image of what this doll is about. So, when searching for the face-up, I'm also immediately looking for outfit designs that would work. Especially the Avant Garde style, since they're so 'out there', but the designs are very visual and have strong shapes.

      I've got a few maps on my computer filled with pictures for every doll. In the end, the final design is a mix of all of them, or inspired by parts of some of those photos.