Unicorngirl's Basemaking Tutorial
How to Make Your Own Base Using Only MS Paint
written by Unicorngirl (2010)
Note: This is obviously how I make bases. There are other ways, some of which may be simpler than mine. It isn't my intent to suggest this is the only or best way to make a base.
1. Getting Started
+ First you'll need a base for your base! Some people (I do sometimes as well) draw their bases in Paint from scratch, but I find it easier to use a picture. (If you're drawing the outline from scratch, skip to step 5) You can draw your own and scan it, or use a picture from online, a magazine, or your own photos.
On using artwork: I have seen conflicting views on this, but the general consensus is that tracing others' artwork (drawn by someone else) to make a base is plagiarism, unless you obtain permission from the artist. I wouldn't recommend it if you don't want to risk having your bases banned by someone else.
+ Make sure to save your file in the size you'll want the final base to be. (Tip: make it smaller than you would think. The larger the base, the more challenging and time-consuming to shade.)
+ Always save it as a 24-bit Bitmap Image! Images often start as JPEGs, which will blur if you save MSPaint lines on it. (I know from experience, it's really irritating after taking all the time to trace it!) Save it as a 24 Bitmap to begin with the avoid this.
+ Zoom in and trace the outline with a bright color, preferrably one which does not appear in any form in the original image (you'll find out why in the next step). The standard bright green in your original Paint colorbox works well. If you've got a lot of colors, you may want to take the original and use Photoshop or IAZA (free online) to convert it to black-and-white.
+ Feel free to make any alterations you want - the lines aren't set in stone.
+ Don't be too concerned with the face. Just get the rough outlines and placement of eyes, nose, mouth etc. if you like where they are in the picture
+ Okay, now that you've got your guidelines, let's make it easier to get rid of the background. Save your work in the original, then save the same thing (with a new name) as a 16-Color Bitmap. You will get a warning message, but this is just because your image is going from many, many colors to just 16 - click OK.
+ Voila! You should be left with a bright green (or whatever your color was) outline against a bunch of other areas of color. If your lines somehow got merged into a background color, open the original (which you saved for just this case) and convert your lines to a different color. (*If you don't know about the Magic Eraser Function, see below this tutorial)
Note: In my example, I used a black-and-white sketch of my own, which turned out to convert mostly to dark grey. Usually your images will have many more colors than this. (My apologies for a bad example picture :P)
4. Removing Background
+ Okay, now you have to color all the other colors besides your outlines white, to leave you with a clean white background. You can use the bucket tool for big areas, but there will probably be little specks of colors everywhere. That's where the Magic Eraser Function will come in handy! (* see below if you haven't caught onto this) Erase over the whole canvas to get rid of each individual color, then go back and make sure all the little spots are gone. It may be a time consuming task, depending on the complication of your original image, but it'll be worth it, I promise!
+ Whew! Once you're all done, you'll be left with a nice crisp outline! You may want to convert it to black now, as it's easier on the eyes.
5. Shading the Base - Part 1
+ Here comes the hard part! You'll need a palette to start with (unless you make them up as you go). You can find pre-made ones on some other dollz sites, or you can make your own. A lot of dollers don't mind if you use the colors of their bases for yours, but some get touchy about it (even though you can't reasonably copyright colors) so to be safe, ask first or pay attention to the rules. You can also use another person's colors as a starting point, but make your own colors. I'd recommend your palette look something like pictured below - use a dark color for the outlines, a gradient of 5 or so lighter ones, and if you like, one in-between color (not necessary, but good for a technique I use which I'll elborate on soon.)
+ Start by filling in the entire base's area with one of the mid-range colors. (I'd suggest #4) You want there to be one darker one and a few other lighter ones for shading. Also convert the black lines to the outline color.
+ If you want to use the "in-between color", which is preferably lighter than the outline color but dark enough to still stand out from the next color. I like to use this on certain "internal" outlines and eventually in the face. It's also useful if you want to fade one of the outlines into something.
*Areas where I use the "in between color"
- between fingers
- facial features
- inside ear
- collar bone
- erm ... nipples and around crotch
6. Shading the Base - Part 2
+ Now pick up the #3 color (or the darkest besides the outline and the in-between color). This is your shadow color. It usually goes around the basic outline and anywhere something overlaps. Just think about where your light goes, like ordinary dolling, and you should be fine. If you need help, take a closeup look at some bases you like by other dollers.
+ Now use the rest of the lighter colors (#5 onward) to draw in the "shine" or the highlighted areas. You'll probably want at least 2 colors for the lighter areas, one to define the lighter part and the lightest color to give it more dimension. Pretend you're shading a very shiny piece of clothing if it helps ^___^
+You don't need to be too exact with any of this, so don't sweat getting each line perfect. In fact, it doesn't look as good if you stack up bands of color around the edges. I'd recommend just using the pencil or one-pixel tool rather than the line tool.
7. The Hardest Part : The Head
+ The head is perhaps the most personal part of the base. Here I am only offering tips on how I shade and add features. Look at bases you admire for ideas and be creative with your own face!
- Keep head proportions in mind - you can find these in most drawing books. The eyes should actually be roughly in the middle of the head, the ears are in line with the eyes, the nose is actually very close to the bottom of the nose, and the face actually takes up only roughly half of the total head. If your head doesn't look right for some reason, take a look at some pictures or other bases - you'll probably find that the placement is off.
- Shade the top of the head like a ball, with a circle of light on the forehead
- Leave blank rough shapes in a medium color where the eyes and mouth should be to begin with. You'll need room to experiment.
- Noses are very hard! I'd recommend leaving it off if you can, but if you need a nose, I'd suggest going minimalist. The less it's emphasized the better. Try shading it as if it were a raised line on the face, with a shadowed bottom. If the base's head is in profile, don't try to make it project too far or be too pointy or too round. Experiment until you find something you like, and don't get discouraged. Copy a piece of an admired base to put next to yours if it helps you draw your own. (This goes for other features too)
- Eyebrows arguably should go before the eyes. You can make them out of the same colors as the base outline to start with. Their shape gives a lot of character to the doll, so don't hesitate to keep playing with them, especially after you've done the eyes.
- Eyes are perhaps the most important part of a base. Start with the basic shape and a white inside, then use a bright color for the iris. Play with these until you get a shape you like. Then go back and put in more details and shading. Again, other people's bases are great sources of inspiration for this!
- Mouths are probably my second hardest area, second to noses. The only way to get good at mouths is look at others' work and use techniques and shapes you like. Again, try to get the shape right before you worry too much about shading, but keep in mind the "shape" can be modified by the colors. Red lips are probably easire for a beginner. Your lips can be as simple as two lines, one shorter (for the bottom lip - voila! a small smile!) or as complex as the ones on my Starlight base (I probably worked on those lips for half an hour before they looked right!) The mouth also lends a lot of character to the base, so go ahead and experiment - do you want her smiling or frowning? Open-mouthed or closed? Teeth or not? Note: For a male mouth, the secret is really in the colors - make it the same color as the skin, and your mouth could go on either gender.
8. Finishing Up
+ Whew! After all that work, especially on the face, you may feel exhausted. But now's a great time to step back (zoom out) and look your base over. Check it for any out of place lines or colors, and places you may have forgotten to shade (I do that all the time!)
+ Don't be afraid to keep reworking things that don't look right to you. Just hit Save before you change anything you're afraid you may screw up, and you can always not save the changes if you don't like it.
+ When you're all set, color the background and make it transparent using whatever means you normally do! You may want to add text with the name of the base, your site URL, your signature symbol, and whatever rules you want to make sure people know.
^ Final version of Lillian base
+ Click Save often! Nothing's more frustrating than doing a lot of work and having Paint crash, or screwing soemthing up and having to redo a lot of things after not saving changes. Use the Save button to your advantage.
+ Don't get discouraged if your base doesn't look like Pinkland's or DHF's. Your first bases surely won't! (Mine are atrocious!) If you get done with a base and hate it, don't give up! You can use the parts you like to make a new base, or start over - your second will be even better for the practice.
+ Have fun making more poses. It can be as simple as making a new arm, flipping around a hand, or editing the face. Just make sure to save the original safely away before you make changes!
*The Magic Eraser Fuction!
- Using the eyedropper, left click the color you want to change
- Using the eyedropper again, right click the color you want to change the first color to.
- Hit the eraser, and right click and drag across your canvas
Result: The eraser will erase only the color you don't want and replace it with the color you do want!