Monday, February 28, 2011

Week 9: Poseable Figure

Sometimes you've just gotta follow your dreams. And if your dream is to create a poseable figure that's sitting on top of a huge seashell -- well, there have been stranger dreams, right? Right?

This figure -- okay, some might call it a paper doll, but it's much more artsy to say "poseable figure" -- will be part of a larger ocean-themed mixed media work that I'll be creating over the next few weeks. But you can do all kinds of things with this figure on its own: create several from a template to pose on a background, embellish in many different ways, or yes, even make some pretty clothes and dress it up.

What you need

  • cardstock
  • art doll template
  • acetate (I used Magic Scraps Clearly Creative Clear Colors in blue)
  • 1/8 inch hole punch
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • craft glue stick
  • brads (I used Tim Holtz Idea-ology mini fasteners)
  • alcohol inks, alcohol ink applicator, and applicator felt (Tim Holtz Adirondack)

What you need, clockwise from left: cardstock, brads, hole punch, scissors, pencil, acetate, craft glue stick, alcohol ink applicator with felt, alcohol inks
We played around with alcohol inks in Week 6, and we'll do more with them in this project. Alchol inks are wonderful for creating watercolor-like images, and using a transparent ground, such as acetate, really brings out the transparent brilliance of the inks. Ranger's Inksentialls Gloss Paper is supposed to work with alcohol inks, but it doesn't have the resulting lush transparency that you can get from inking on acetate or on wax paper.

Let's get started.

Step 1: Make a template

Enchanted Gallery has a lovely art doll template you can use. Because I wanted my figure to be facing sideways so I could pose it sitting down, I cut out the parts of the template, traced around them onto cardstock, and then, pencil and eraser in hand, modified it for a sideways pose. I'll try to re-create that template and post it up here in PDF when I get a chance.

Art doll template, modified for a sideways pose
Then I did a test run with the cardstock, cutting it out, punching holes for the brads, and posing the figure.
Test run just with cardstock
There's probably an easier way to do this, but I disassembled the pieces and then glued them down on the acetate with a craft glue stick. Glue the pieces on backward so they'll be facing the right way when you turn the acetate face up.

Gluing the cardstock down.
Let the glue dry, then cut out the pieces and punch holes in the acetate too.
Body parts flying everywhere

Ink the applicator felt with your chosen ink colors. I used an ocean-themed mix of Denim, Stream, and Lettuce inks. Let your first application dry (it just takes a few minutes), and then re-ink again with your color mix to create this nicely saturated look.
Inking with alchol inks. Ink the body parts on top of freezer paper or a craft sheet, because ink gets everywhere.
When the ink is dry, put the figure together with brads. I tested it out by posing the figure in a few different ways. It didn't look quite right, so I made some modifications on the fly.
Poor thing is a little deformed. The torso's too long, the legs are too thick, the neck is too wide and not in the right location, and the hands aren't at the right angle.
After some cutting and reshaping, the hands became a separate piece, and the legs and feet became more shapely. The neck was thinned out and moved back further on the torso, and the torso itself was shortened so that the body dimensions would be more realistic.
The final figure
Alright, go play with your doll now.

And, you can see the figure in the finished sea-themed painting in Week 11: Sea Joy.


  1. How fun! I can't wait to see the next element of this series...

  2. Very Creative! It came out so well, you could frame it. FYI, my 7 year old daughter was interested in how you made it; perhaps we'll be making one soon :D

  3. @Jo Ann - How sweet, thank you so much! Look forward to hearing how your daughter's doll comes out - send a photo and I'll post it on the blog!

    @Grace -- Me neither! Better go figure it out now . . .

  4. Much fun! I think this would be fun to do with shrink plastic too!

  5. Oooh shrink plastic is a great idea! Thanks Andrea!

  6. This is wonderful! Thank you very much! I am a poor art student and this will do wonders for painting real life figures without models.

  7. So glad you've found it helpful, Isabela! :-)