Welcome to Digital Dolls dA

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Deviation Actions

FionaCreates's avatar
By FionaCreates
Welcome to Dolling!
First off, we would like to welcome you to the Dolling Community on DeviantArt. We're a small community compared to other areas of the site, but we're very welcoming and encouraging of newcomers of all shapes and sizes. :D Due to the small size of the community, not many people seem to know much about us or our quirks and terminology, so we've compiled a brief guide to help you with dolling and where to post your dolls (as we are aware some of our categories are quite confusing).

On with the article!

What is dolling?
Dolling is where you take a basebody either created by yourself or by someone else and draw hair, clothes and accessories on it. A doll usually has a hard pixel edge and a transparent background so that it may be placed on any colored background website.
On DeviantArt, dolls are submitted into Customization > Dolls > and then into their subcategories of Pixel, Tool and misc shading.

There are many types of shading techniques but they are mostly grouped into three distinct types that form the subcategories of Dolls.

Pixel Shaded
Dolls in this section should be made entirely pixel by pixel, with the exception of the flood fill tool. Backgrounds, if any, should also be created pixel by pixel or should be a flat colour. Gradient, Photo and Texture backgrounds are not created pixel by pixel therefore rendering your doll not entirely pixel art. Pixel is also often created with a limited colour count.

Tool Shaded
Dolls created in programs such as Gimp or Photoshop using automated anti alias techniques such as brushes from Photoshop and the smudge or blur tool. Dodge and Burn tools may also feature. Colour count is not an issue and often these dolls are saved in .png format to preserve all the colours. Tool dolls can often look like miniature CG paintings.

This is a somewhat hard section to define as it falls somewhere between pixelling and tooling.
This is where dolls/bases with no shading at all or limited cell type shading where no pixel technique have been used should be placed. Also pixel dolls placed on gradient/photo/texture background belong here and dolls with computer generated text as part of the piece itself. Dolls with perhaps pixelled clothing and tooled hair may also belong here as they are neither entirely tooling nor entirely pixelled.

Cell Shading is shading in the style of what would be found in an animated movie. Typically there are only two shades, the flat colour and one shadow colour. It is often created by sectioning off the shadow and flood filling. It is different from pixelling because it emulates the animation style as opposed to following pixel techniques such as dithering, anti-aliasing and using a range of shades.

Original Base
This is for dolls you have created on a base you have made yourself. i.e you created both the base and the doll so the work is 100% yours.

Adopted Base
This is for dolls you have made on bases made by other people, ergo you have adopted the base.
If you post a doll in this section you must credit your basemaker according to their terms, though it is preferable if you create clickable links to the sites so other people who might wish to use the base can get there.

This section is for doll bases you intend for other people to use to create dolls. You may wish to specify terms and conditions for the usage of your bases in the comments.
Do not submit your dolls here, they will be moved into the apropriate category.

What are bases?
Most dolls are created by drawing clothes and hair over a base.
A base or basebody is something that dollers create that looks sort of like a bald pixel body, featuring inoffensive Barbie doll type nudity. It is the framework for which we create our dolls by drawing clothes and hair onto it.

On deviantArt there are two categories in which you can post a doll. Adopted Base, and Original Base.

Adopted base is for a doll you have made using a base that someone else made. You must link back to the basemaker so that people know where you got the base from. The majority of dolls are made on adopted bases because it's just too much fun to use bases in other people's styles of working.

Original base is for a doll you made on a base that you created yourself, i.e. the doll is entirely created by you. In this case there is no credit required as you made everything yourself. Baseless dolls are also included in this category.

There is one last category, simply called Bases. Basically this is the category where you submit any bases that you have created yourself. There is one in both the Pixel and Tool shaded categories respectfully.

Notes about Bases and Text
Any bases created pixel by pixel but include text in the form of terms of use are allowed to remain in the pixel category. The text is not part of the actual piece of pixel art (the base) and will not be classified as such, though basemakers are encouraged to use pixel type fonts to write their terms of use instead of fancy computer anti aliased fonts.

Making bases.
There are several ways from which you can start a base. From a drawing you have created on your own whether traditional or digital, drawing from referencing and lastly through tracing. Tracing is a great learning tool, but it's also highly encouraged that you take the next step and learn to draw bases on your own, the results can be far more rewarding this way.

Stock Referencing
For those who are less comfortable creating a base 'blind' from scratch you can easily reference a piece of stock on DeviantArt (See Pyrochan's Tutorial)
This is a good way to hone your observational skills as well as your drawing skills, and the best thing is it doesn't exist in the grey area that is tracing. (I personally love this method.)

Don't worry if you start out making bases that don't look good. We all came from that, even the good basemakers :D

Dollmakers and dA
A dollmaker, or Dress Up Doll Game, is a site or graphic spreadsheet with premade dolling pieces that are put together to form a doll. A doll created on a drag and drop, or point and click dollmaker such as those on the list below belong in Scraps. We know they are dead fun, but the doll gallery is for showing off things you pixelled or tooled, not for things you put together from premade pieces. Even if you have edited a doll made from a dollmaker, it is still not your art and must be put in Scraps.
FAQ #502: Can I submit things which I made using different "games" like a doll maker or with other character generators?

Examples of Dollmakers
and any other such sites.

WIPs or Work In Progress pieces are also supposed to be submitted into the Scraps folder being that they are incomplete. When finished though, you can edit the category so it shows up where it's supposed to be. You might wish to show off your WIPs in a journal or in the comments of the final deviation, but we don't need our small gallery cluttered with half finished works.

Adopting is a term from which a fan saves and posts the works of their favorite dollers on their own, non DA website. They are always unedited and linked back.
DeviantArt is not the place to post adopted dolls and those that say 'non-adoptable' should not be adopted at all. Most of those are personal gifts to a single or group of friends.
If you like a doll you find on DA add it to your favorites list, this way other people can see what kind of dolls you love.

Dolling Dictionary
Anti alias – a pixel technique in which a hard pixel line can be made to look smooth (also known as a/a or AA)
Base Edit – This is where you edit the original base body as well as draw hair and clothes upon your doll. Be careful to check base rules, some makers do not allow you to edit.
Constructive Critisism (or c/c) – I'm sure you're all aware of constructive crit, and if a doller asks for it, try to think extra hard about the piece, tell the creater exactly why you like the doll, not just that you like it, and perhaps pick up a point or two for improvement.
DD (Daily Deviation) - A site wide feature that is chosen daily by your gallery moderator. See our GM's journal for details on submitting a suggestion for a DD.
Dithering – A style of pixel shading which blends two colours together using dotting of two colours together.
Forum – A non dA place to hang out and post dolls, usually a message board type set up.
Frankendoll - A doll created using bits and pieces that were stolen from other artists' dolls.
Frankenbase - A base created from bits and pieces of other bases.
GM (Gallery Moderator) - This is Lyricanna, she is the moderator for our section and deals with all community related issues. Go say hi, she doesn't bite. Watch her as well because her journals can contain important information about dolling events and issues.
Pageant – A popular style of doll contest involving multiple rounds of competition, styled somewhat like the real life pageants. They often come under the name of "Miss Doll _____"
Pillow Shading – A common mistake made by new dollers where shading is darkest on the edge of a shape and gets lighter towards the centre. If someone mentions you pillow shade I suggest talking to a fellow doller about how best to help you to stop. (Don't worry if someone mentions you do this, we all did at one stage or another)
OC – Original Character

A live chatroom where you can communicate with fellow dollers here on DA.

Wiki - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dollz

Helpful FAQs
FAQ #557: Can I submit art which I have made using a "base" (or line art) created by someone else?
FAQ #502: Can I submit things which I made using different "games" like a doll maker or with other character generators?

Doll Clubs/Groups you may wish to join

Thanks to isoldel for coming up with the idea for the article and for being a lot of the force behind getting it written and proof reading etc. It's been a collaborative effort between us and we hope the final result cleared up things if you didn't know them already.
© 2009 - 2021 FionaCreates
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MarySue1964's avatar
That paragraph under Doll Makers and DA is straight up insulting.  Though the tools may come from other sources, what you do with them is all your own.  Just credit the site where you built your image.  And I don’t think anyone’s “real art” is going to suffer for displayed along side images built on doll makers and other image builder applications.
ArchivistVotivus's avatar
A fellow doller MarySue1964 pointed out to me that FAQ #502 does not work anymore. :(

FionaCreates do you think deviantartsupport.com will add an article for dolling in general in the near future?

FAQ #502: Can I submit things which I made using different "games" like a doll maker or with other character generators?
FionaCreates's avatar
no idea. I'm not really involved in that side of dA anymore, this is a very old thing I wrote back when I was. You could always follow it up yourself.
ArchivistVotivus's avatar
Thank you for replying, and sorry for troubling you with something old. Support got back to my question about this FAQ and mentioned that digital dolls are going to be a part of the "standard DeviantArt terms of service and copyright policy with no special rules or restrictions." and this FAQ #502 won't be carried over.

I liked to use that FAQ link and your articles in my description boxes whenever I submitted a doll, in the scraps category of course! Instead of that FAQ I will link to their The Art Theft Discussion instead, closest thing I can find to FAQ #502. If you have any advice as to what to link to please let me know, thank you!
MarySue1964's avatar
Thanks for mentioning me. Most of the FAQ links go to that useless layout.  And # 557 goes to the general copyright page.
ArchivistVotivus's avatar
CaffeinatedGlitter's avatar
I actually am making a couple of dolls for my page but I don't know how to get them on... my page... Help???
FionaCreates's avatar
in what sense do you want them on your page?

In your gallery? Or in a custom box? Or as part of your journal?
CaffeinatedGlitter's avatar
Custom box, and journal
FionaCreates's avatar
You upload your doll to an image host such as dropbox, photobucket etc, and then using img html tags insert it that way :D
FionaCreates's avatar
CaffeinatedGlitter's avatar
FionaCreates's avatar
:D Glad I could help! :D
richlord1993's avatar
Hi, I just joined Deviantart a few minutes ago. I joined to help find digital doll programs in order to create my own Power Rangers. What would be the best program for doing so? Thanks.
FionaCreates's avatar
anything you can make digital art in can be used to make dolls. The most basic is MSPaint, I use GIMP, others use Sai or Photoshop. All the programs are a range of prices from free (GIMP/Paint) to super expensive (Photoshop)
PinkoPrint's avatar
Thanks for posting this. This helped alot.
ccsmom's avatar
So many helpful things in this. Thanks
FionaCreates's avatar
K3nel1OS's avatar
Aw, I love this! 8D It's very nice to have information on the dolling community for aspiring dollists <3

I do some dolls, too, but I'm really more of a...I don't know xD Sometimes I just combine techniques of this stuff so it's harder to choose XDD The only one I know I never do is "Tooling"...I never have been able to tool...>__>
FionaCreates's avatar
thanks :D Glad you found it usefull :P
Imadork007's avatar
I cannot find the Customization>Dolls in my catagories. :(
FionaCreates's avatar
it's stupid, but when you submit your work, it's called "desktop and customization" despite it being "customization" on the browse categories ¬¬ silly dA
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