Monday, 3 February 2014

C.A. Cupid as a fairy + new doll

A Facebook fan group recently held a contest where they asked people to imagine a new school for C. A. Cupid, the character who transferred from Monster High to Ever After High, and draw her as a student of that school. Now that the deadline is over, I'll talk about how I drew my entry and then I'll show a doll I bought earlier that arrived in the mail this week.

One of the reasons I created this blog was (I keep repeating myself) to organize my crafting time and make a timeline of my projects. I have a bad habit of starting too many things and get bored or discouraged quickly, which results in many useless incomplete things scattered around the house and a growing sense of worthlessness and displease with myself. I'm thinking of ways to improve my work habits and implementing these changes on every occasion. I started blabbering more about my plans. I figured if many people are in the know, I might be shamed into actually getting something done. To support this incentive, I created a Pinterest board of my WIPs where you can look from time to time and tell me what you'd like me to give priority to (if you have opinions but aren't on Pinterest, you can always comment anywhere on this blog).

While I'm getting somewhere with my crafting and my blogging, there's still one thing that scares the bejesus out of me: art. For those who don't know, I came on Blogger from deviantArt (where I learnt Photoshop), and before that I sketched a lot during a brief window of reasonable eyesight when I was in school. I quit photomanipulations after computer problems coincided with my moving out from my parents (to lousy internet connection) and a tense atmosphere on dA. Every time I want to pick up from where I left, it's getting harder and harder to find motivation.

I'm tired of feeling like a failure so I decided to grab onto the next opportunity to draw. I knew that if I let this one pass by, I'd only make it harder for myself to gain enough confidence to keep me afloat. Besides, the contest holders made it very clear they weren't looking for a masterpiece. I managed to send my inner perfectionist on vacation, dusted my old tablet and let my imagination run free...

Drawing Cupid

First step: the concept. What school could I send Cupid to? To be recognizable, Cupid needs to keep her wings. In Monster High, Cupid had bone wings, in Ever after High - feather wings. What else has wings? A fairy! My Cupid was going to be a fairy. Lame, I know. I'm not big on original ideas. My creativity is in the "get that thing to work" department, or simply put, I'd rather someone else provide the inspiration, and I'll be happy to think of ten different ways to make it happen. No such luck for me in this contest - it's ideas they're after. Oh well, fairy it is. At least I get to draw and that's the important thing.

I recruited one of my dolls for a pose reference. I can't look at a blank page and draw things from my mind.

I opened Photoshop and started tracing on a layer straight over the photo. I wouldn't do so for a real drawing, but since it's only a character design, I didn't consider it cheating.

I hid the photo layer and started putting down bits of ideas I thought of during the previous couple of weeks. I figured it would be nice to give Cupid a full updo to make all that flying business easier. I made it a heart-shaped bun with a crown braid low on the forehead. I outlined some butterfly wings and for the outfit, I just made it up as I went. I tried to keep it generally fairy-meets-Greek-mythology. Here it is in full doodle mode:

When I was done I traced over the doodle to get slightly cleaner lines.

I began filling in the face, because at that point my brain couldn't squeeze any more ideas for the outfit. For some reason, the nose shading gave me a hard time.

For the following day, I grabbed a colour reference (the computer I was working on has no internet) and corrected my palette.

I forgot to take significant screenshots after this point. I tried many colour combos on the dress, initially I wanted to make the torso white. Made two custom heart brushes which I used on the torso and skirt. The lineart gave me headaches and I couldn't get my computer to cooperate. I cleaned only a little bit and lowered the opacity to hide some of the mess. Here is my finished entry:

My Cupid has a similar colour scheme to the official versions (especially the EAH one) and many heart and bow details that identify her as Cupid. She has a gold necklace consisting of two heart halves; heart patterns in the dress fabrics; hearts on the sleeve fringe, ankle laces and earrings. I decided against arm jewellery because whatever I tried seemed redundant. Instead, she wears a gold belt of bay leaves. Her bow shrunk to a little ornament on her arrow shaped fairy wand. Her dress hem is typical of fairies and also reminiscent of the drippy black things on her MH doll.

I didn't dwell much on all the drawing mistakes and imperfections and submitted my entry a full two days before the deadline, which might be a personal record for me. The best designs and the winners will be revealed in a couple of weeks. I'm dying to know what other people came up with! I bet there are at least 20 more fairies, but I'm curious how they went about it.

Doll support arives

While I was finishing work on the drawing, a package came in the mail. It was a doll we ordered a day before my birthday, a JCPenney exclusive Draculaura sans the car, shoes and glasses. We got it very cheap from a Chinese store and although they had a photo, I was worried they would send me a fake. But no, aside from a floppy knee, the doll is perfect straight from the package.

Even the hair is great. I haven't touched doll hair this nice in a long time. It has no glue or sticky stuff in it, only a bit of crispy hair product that brushed easily. I even like the curls, they are fun to arrange. I'll still straighten them, but not in the near future. The face is very pretty. There's glitter around the eyes and darker makeup. I noticed that unlike two Draculauras from last year, this one has clean fangs without the white teeth line between them that looks like foaming at the mouth. This Laura earned a solid spot at the end of the repaint list.

I can't get over how short the dress is though. It's very difficult to photograph even from a straight angle. It looks like underwear to me. I can't decide if I want to cut it into a top or let it be kinky. I couldn't help adding stockings :>

Can I make this outfit worse? Yes. Yes I can.

To be fair, it's not my fault the dress is so short. They put the idea in my head.

With the colours toned down, I can appreciate the beauty more. Love the raised eyebrow! This doll is fighting Dead Tired Cleo for the #1 spot in my favourites and that's saying something. The timing was great too, a nice reward for me participating in the Cupid contest.

Did you ever do something that scared you and feel good afterwards? What are your strategies for boosting your confidence? Share in the comments!

The Black Kitty (^^)~~~


  1. Ohh! The drawing looks so great! Wow. I love your style. Maybe I'm going to try out a style like that soon :)

  2. Cupid looks great, and I hope you do well in your contest. Good luck!

    This is a really pretty Draculaura. Her face looks more mature than most Monster High dolls. She looks to be in her early twenties, instead of a teenager. I like your addition of tights and a corset, and that might be part of why I'm getting the more grown up vibe from her.

    Also, creeping through your works in progress Pintrest, I really like the Draculaura with uneven bangs, and I would love to see a doll hair post. I've been playing around with hair (cutting and curling) on my own dolls recently.

    1. Thanks, I hope I do well too!
      To be honest, none of the MH look particularly teenager-y to me, but this one is very mature indeed. It's why I felt like dressing up the nightie/dress.
      I planned to post about Draculaura's haircut at the end of a trilogy of hair posts (cleaning-curling-cutting), but I'm a little stuck at the curling stage so if I don't get that done soon, I might skip to the haircuts. Thanks for showing interest, it's much appreciated!

  3. What a nice design - I like the points on her skirt with the hearts at the end, it would really give some nice movement to the outfit. Pretty much everything I have ever done on dolls has been pretty scary, as I hate the idea of ruining stuff by bungling it. I think the scariest thing I did was a recolour of the Cat CAM (from the cat and witch set) - I really hated the idea of messing it up. But it worked out OK, and I got lots of nice comments about it. Makes it easier the next time!

    Glad its not just me who gets annoyed by the micro-skirt plastic-flashing business. I'm no prude but for God's sake put some knickers on these dolls Mattel! The Roller Maze dolls are particularly bad on this front, it makes them quite hard to pose.

    1. Thanks for the compliment! I intend to make a similar doll skirt for real, we'll see what kind of movement it gives :)
      I remember your cat CAM! It was among the first posts I read from you. It was very cool and got you an unusually high amount of comments, too! Didn't you feel like the queen of the world when it was finished? I think you have an eye for doll makeovers and you shouldn't be afraid to do them more often.

      "Plastic-flashing" cracked me up. I didn't understand the Roller Maze fashion either. Who the hell skates in that? I dressed mine in pyjamas from another doll and the original dress will probably become a tunic or a top. Just like this one, unless I find myself having too much fun with it as a slutty night gown. The funny thing is, this outfit was designed for a doll who sits down all the time.

  4. I love what you did here, on both girls! Cupid has all the elements, and many little hearts here and there, but in such a subtle way (I had fun looking for the hearts in this project ^^). Her outfit is adorable, the style and colors are beautiful and work so well together! The hair and wings are perfect as well. She is all gorgeous! And I REALLY love how you used the doll as drawing reference, it was such a smart idea! Best of luck and success in the contest. ^__^
    And on Draculaura. What a BEAUTIFUL doll! Specially after you added the corset, stockings and shoes. The hair, expression and outfit make her look so classy and sexy. It's probably the prettiest Draculara so far. <3

    As for your question, I was always scared of contests. It was a mix of good and bad anxiety, like "omg, am I gonna do a good work? Why did I even enter?" and also "heck it all, this is fuuuuunnn!". The 2nd annual one at the legendary forum was specially scary. I wanted to use a tonner and age her, but I wasn't sure I could do it since I had never tried it before. So I started another doll. But some days from the deadline I was super uninspired and displeased by the second choice, so I decided to just go with my instincts and do the aged doll. It was one of my best works to this day, and a super fun to do one. And for boosting confidence, I like to think of the works that I was scared to do (or lazy to start) but that had a good result once I moved my butt. =)

    (And speaking of moving butts, I'll go there write a bit now.. XD)

  5. First of all, thanks for the comment! I love long ones :)
    LOL, I should make this a hidden object type of game - find all the hearts and arrows on my drawing :D
    Your appreciation means a lot and brings me more joy than a prize, had I won it (I didn't). It's because we are both doll customizers and you are the most experienced of the two of us. Speaking of customs, I saw your old lady doll, she was very realistic! An unusual and challenging choice too. You must have been super proud of it! Accomplishments like that make you feel like you could do anything.

    Draculaura thanks you for the comments and agrees that she's the best of her clones :)
    As usual, thanks for stopping by!

    1. Yeah, I really get carried away when writing! XD
      Too bad you didn't win, your work is trully gorgeous (design, posing, expression, hair, outfit, wings, and all the little details and color scheme)! But you know? You ARE a winner. You finished this beautiful entry, in time, and also beat your inner pefectionist as you said (though even she must be really proud of this Cupid), and more than that, you went back to drawing and regained your confidence! :D I bet your prize was a lot better than the 1st place, huh. ^__^ I really hope you'll share more of your drawings, as well as all your other works. Since the forum, and now here, I see your projects, like the corset, boot, tights, jewelry and so many other things, and you put so much work into them, so much heart. No wonder they turn out so perfect! And btw, thanks so much for the super sweet words! I may have more experience in years (though many times life got in the way and I got away from dolls), but quality wise your works and creativity surpass mine by far. And I'm being honest to what I think. I don't consider my works bad (I'm very pleased with many of them), but I really admire you as an artist. And a very complete one, btw, that does so well in so many different forms of art. =)
      Congrats on achieving so much and keep up the great work! :D

    2. Thank your for the kind words! I do feel good, even though I didn't win. Regarding the second part, I put myself at beginner level because of the sheer amount of things I made. I am a perfectionist, but that makes me extremely slow. The stuff on the blog is pretty much everything I've done, plus a few more pieces of jewellery. I don't even have a complete doll outfit. I'm striving for it, but until that I admire productivity above anything. I believe someone who practices often is bound to improve quickly. Unfortunately, I'm bad at following this particular advice.and it drives me crazy. This is why I think you with your many doll customs are much superior to my... one corset and couple of doll shoes? If only I knew the secret to getting my lazy ass to do stuff, I'd be master of the universe. Kidding! Thanks again for the visit!

    3. I know what you mean. Many times I put my dolls aside and didn't work on them at all for months (and once for over a year). The contests helped me be back to them (though till recently I was mostly away again). Life gets in the way, and when a project is giving a headache, I usually just drop it and go do something else (I go from one project to another as a monkey from branch to branch, I have an army of wips waiting, and rarely one or other gets finished ^^'). One doll I finished recently was a reroot from 2012, I gave up adding highlights, gave up the repaint, and just gave her a pretty braid and an enhancement. Overal the rest of her could use tweaks, but I did my best to just be happy with the fact that she is one of my few complete dolls (like, not just a reroot or repaint, but she has a bit of everything). But because I wanted to list her, otherwise she would still be waiting.. I'm in this for over 12 years, and I didn't finish 10 complete ooaks. But I don't feel that bad, I had way too many things getting in the way. I'm sure you do too. I think with time we'll end up adjusting and finding what works best to motivate us! :D Hugs and good luck!

    4. All the things you said - story of my life. Well, at least I don't feel like a complete failure now that I've met several people with my exact same struggles. Let's try each to make a complete OOAK this year and have something ready to enter Tanya's Secret Santa :) Hugs to you too!


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