I use GIMP for making dolls. back in the day I used MS paint and could never work out why other people's dolls looked so much better.
Start by using someone else's base. Create a new layer, and draw the outline of the clothes. Use the Pencil (N) and the Eraser (shift+E - set DYNAMICS OFF and HARD EDGE) to do this. Now, fill (shift+B) in that shape with a lighter colour.
Dodge/Burn is your friend. Set it to midtones (because your fill colour will be a midtone, and put DYNAMIC ON). Start by burning in the places shadows might be. I find that dodge highlights can be too overwhelming, but it can be good in small doses. Dodge/Burn will give a kinda glossy look, but most importantly it'll choose some really good colours for you. You can then zoom in and neaten up with the Pencil.
In the Colour menu, Colorize will turn the whole image (lights and shades) into one of a particular colour. Hue Chroma is good for tinkering with exact shades.
When you click on a colour to edit it, setting to HSV mode will allow you to adjust Values (light-to-dark) and Saturation (vivid-to-greyscale), and this is perfect for finding pixel colours.
Rule of thumb is to make brighter collours "more yellowy" and shadows "more blue", to make the image pop.
Put each garment or feature on its own layer for easier tinkering.
You can copy-paste in photos to trace, if you're not sure about dimensions. Colours>Posterise will reduce the number of colours in the image, and by shrinking this number you can speed up placement of highlights and lowlights
Types of doll!
Left: Bonita; Right: Silent
A Bonita dollmaker!
Preps! There were a lot of prep dollmakers around. I still think their faces are so cool. Preps were everywhere. See also fantasy style
Wunderkins. I vaguely remember these?
These are websites I remember, or have found since, where you can find dolls. (B) means there are bases there, T tutorials
- Shattered Innocents - where it all began!
- I remember this from back in the day! such envy for the softness of these colours
- Archive of doll bases - great idea but totally broken by time; not sure what, if anything, could be salvaged
- Over The Moon/Josie's Dolls (B;T)
- I used bases from this site in the 00s; i remember vividly my love for this swoonworthy layout
- Moon Pixel Dolls (B;T)
- Indexed Colours (B)
- Laurelinn - one base but lovely
- Meo24 (B)
- Firefly's World (B) - very nice!
- if Looks Could Kill (B) - Cora is fab
- Dollz Hotcity - huge collection of bases for old-school forum dolls
- We should try and revive Doll Trading Cards