except it's not really click and drag

Digital Paper Doll Tutorial - Long Post

I was asked to make a tutorial by flarechess! This is the first tutorial I’ve ever made so I apologize ahead of time if it doesn’t make much sense, is unorganized, and possibly useless. The programs I will be using is Sai and Gimp. More so Sai than Gimp. Both of these are free art programs! I apologize ahead of time for the long post!


Make your basic body shape and pose of what you want to do. This does not have to be 100% accurate to what you will be doing, but you should settle on a general pose ahead of time so you don’t screw yourself over later. I did a very simple pose. This was sketched out in blue then outlined in green. I outline using the curve tool with a size of 1. I do not bother to mess with any other settings because I use a mouse so any sort of pressure does not apply. In the end, trust me, it will not matter anyways.

TIP: If you don’t like to draw out basic body shapes like this, you can just draw a stick figure with a big ol’ grin instead of every body detail. So long as it has the basic shape, pose, and size you will be fine. c:


Here’s the fun part! Draw out the basic idea / outline of where you want things to be. You can draw an exact outline of what you want like in the body area above but what fun would that be? I always do silly things for this part. ( You should’ve seen Olivia’s ) This might seem pointless but it is pretty important. You need to do the parts in different colors. This will tell you where things overlap and where things don’t. I actually messed up on a few things ( mostly the top of the shirt >>; ) but, again, this is just to help you get an idea of layers and where things go. 

TIP: This step can be skipped if not needed. I just put it here because it’s a step that I do myself. c:


This is where we actually start coloring. Imagine this as a bunch of layers. ( It technically is but whatever. ) Now, figure out what the bottom most layer is. For me, it’s the skin. This includes just about everything besides the head. Don’t forget it would create a shadow over the neck! Draw out the area ( blue box on the bottom, to the left ) and make sure that it overlaps into other layers that would be on top. Why? Because when you go to put the other layers on top then add shadow later, it will create a nicer shadow. Make sure you do this with all layers ( besides the very top layers ). After you outline it, fill it in! Don’t worry about texture or shadows yet.

TIP: So you do not confuse yourself later should you need to move any layers, make sure that your outline layer and filled in layer are merged together if they are not already one layer! This will prevent a lot of frustration later on.


Since this is just explaining basic lining and filling like above, I am continuing it here. 

When you go to do things that have small layers underneath, even as small as a fold on a skirt like shown above, it is easier to do them at the same time rather than do one then the other. Here I did the first pleat in her skirt. The first, upper left, box shows the bottom part of the skirt which would be a fold. The second, upper right, box shows the main pleat that will be on top of the fold. The third, lower left, box simply shows them together. The fourth, lower right, box shows them both filled in. Make sure that your layers are in order!


Another continuation. This is simply showing you the same thing as the continued step above, but with colors for a better visual approach. As you can see, the purple is underneath the blue. What you can’t see is that the purple is under the blue a lot more than at the seam. As stated before, this is recommended so the shadow looks better!


Last part of step three! This is more so a tip and to show you the finished skirt! Each section should have its own folder. This is not necessary but it is highly recommended so you do not get layers mixed up. If you have something specific that layers oddly, such as here the main hair would be over the left ( right from her p.o.v. ) bun. You would put the main hair in it’s own folder, then the pin and bun, then finally a folder for the pig tails. Since the pigtails are the lowest layer here, you would simply put them under all of the hair and bun folders.


Another fun part! Or possibly frustrating … It really depends on who you are. We’re going to add that signature ‘paper’ look by changing the texture! You can do this by simply using the drop down menu next to Texture and select paper. As you can see, there are two options underneath. Scale and Texture Strength ( the bar next to Scale ). Scale changes the size of the paper fragments and strength changes the intensity. Depending on if the color is light, medium, or dark will depend on how much intensity you need to give it. A lot of very light colors need 100% while others need less. Sometimes darker needs more than medium and sometimes it needs less. Really, you should play around with it until you find what you like. I used the colors above as an example for you to see what intensity/strength I used for it.

TIP: If you are not going to use GIMP for your shadows and would rather do it yourself, then you can add texture to an entire section if kept in a folder. Simply select the folder and put the texture on. However, if you are using GIMP, you must apply texture to every layer otherwise GIMP will remove it later.


This is the last step! Now that you have your super cute paper doll flat, it’s time to add shade! First things first. If you are adding shade yourself, you should use about a medium dark-gray, airbrush, and set it to about 50% opacity ( adjust as needed ). You may use whatever you want, but that is what I recommend. c: If you would like me to make a separate part for doing it yourself on SAI please let me know! I personally prefer using GIMP then going back to SAI to do a bit of a touch up. If you have any layers that do not get shadow ( such as eyes ) and layers that are clipped, write those layers down somewhere. Delete any and all layers that are hidden and save your file as a .psd. Now, open up GIMP! Pick a layer to start with ( the first or last layer ) and go to: Filters > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow. You will have a box pop up like shown above. It is usually set to 8, 8, 15. What you see above is what I normally use aside from the opacity ( I forgot to edit that. I normally use about 50% ). The color you want to pick is up to you. I usually start dark but never pitch black. You can always mess with it until you’re happy with the look of the shadow. Once the shadow is to your liking, apply it to every layer. To do that, you simply click Filter > Repeat “Drop Shadow” and it will automatically do it with your previously used settings. If you kept all of your layers in the right order, it should come out fine! If not, feel free to switch them around. If you are satisfied, you can save it and be done! If you’re like me, you’re going to save it and re-open it in Sai to do little touch ups such as adding shadow where it didn’t show up as dark as I would like, erasing where it shouldn’t be ( usually little small specs from me forgetting to erase ), and the like. 

CONGRATULATIONS! You are finished! I really do hope that this did not cause too much confusion. I would like to thank my dear friend Kimchi who read every single part to make sure I didn’t make any silly blunt mistakes. 

FINAL TIP: Drag each picture to the side! Except the last one. Sorry. Pft. If you’re unsure what I mean, simply click on a picture, hold it, and drag it away onto the side.