Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Art Journal, Tuesday Tips & Art Tips | 2 comments

Awhile ago I was attempting to color a paper doll dress and had a problem with the colors. The dress itself was quite pretty but the colors were too strong. I put it aside and picked it up later. Usually I feel that even when mistakes are made in drawing or coloring you usually can correct them–and sometimes make something even better. But this time …it really didn’t work. I layered and added, softened and brightened … it ended up more like a mud pie. :-)

Making your colors harmonize (especially on paper doll dresses) can be difficult if not daunting. So how do we navigate color so that our paper doll dresses end up looking harmonized and avoid the mud pie that I experienced? :-)

Recently, I was preparing to share some coloring tips with a group of young girls and began to think about how best to help them choose colors for coloring their paper doll dresses.

I thought about it for awhile and then this six step system began to come together. I shared it with the girls, and it seemed to work. It’s still very much in the rough, though, so could you help me and try it out and let me know if it works well for you? I may need to add another step, or take out a step, etc.


1. Choose Color Theme

This step is very important and gets you off to a great start. Choose between “Bold & Bright” or “Soft & Gentle”.

2. Choose Focus Color

This is the color you’ll see the most. Look at the outfit your wearing. What color covers most of it? That’s the focus color of your outfit.

3. Choose Similar Color

This color will be the same as your focus color, just lighter or darker. For example, if you picked light pink for your focus color, you’ll want to pick dark pink for your similar color.

4. Choose Blending Color

This color is the background color that adds depth to your whole dress. It will either be cream or yellow. Yellow if you picked Bold & Bright, cream if you picked Soft & Gentle. (If you want white on the dress, see this post.)

5. Choose Touches Color

This color is your complement. It’s the “little” color that’s scattered about the dress. Maybe a touch of pink lace at the throat and pink satin shoes. Be sure to place this color in more than one area of the dress to bring balance.

6. Test Your Colors

Using a piece of scrap paper test your colors and see if they combine well together.



1. Color your whole dress lightly or firmly with your cream or yellow first. This will give depth to your colors.

2. Keep to the four colors. Don’t use any other colors but the four unless absolutely necessary!

3. Layer, layer, layer! This is REALLY important.


Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!