So Is Dolling Dying?

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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by OKami_hu » Mon Dec 08, 2014 4:24 pm

Going underground, I like the sound of it.

The problem is this though: There are no new dollers. Because, they look at the DA cats, and all they see are crappy anime traces and failed attempts at their customization. Back in the days, when you went there, you saw bases and dolls, and they were inspiring. Whatever good stuff gets posted on DA now, it's immediately buried under traces and unrelated material.

I think the first step on the right road would be a ban on traced bases. That'd solve the issue. They are talking about change and a bright shining future anyway, it's high time to change a few things. Those few who do good traced bases could go to Pixistar, if it's still around.
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Consonanta » Tue Dec 09, 2014 1:34 am

I have observed a trend of dolling becoming less distinct from related art forms, partially due to deviantART's influence. Pixel dolling is being absorbed into pixel art itself, while tooled dolls are evolving into miniature digital paintings. Dollers are much less reliant on bases and fixed styles compared to years ago, with dolls converging with other forms of art; I myself have experienced this as my work evolves and takes on various influences.
I do not believe that the Customization gallery on deviantART is an accurate indicator of doll output as many artworks that qualify as dolls are submitted to Pixel Art instead, perhaps to distinguish themselves from the My Little Pony traces that seem to have taken over deviantART's accepted definition of bases and infused it with as much stigma as possible.
Dolling is not necessarily dead, but it has begun to take on different identities, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, this undermines the community aspect of dolling. It may be necessary for forums to expand their scope to entice potential dollers, or for dollers to create a stronger presence on larger sites not exclusive to dolling. I am unsure as to how this will work in practice, however.

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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Daenerys » Tue Dec 09, 2014 3:55 am

Consonanta, that makes sense. Lots of the 'older' dollers are in danger of loosing sight of where dolling is at now. We take hiatuses, or life barges in and takes us away. But if dollers are taken in by other art forms, then we still lose 'dolling'. Because it has just become part of something else.

That would be a shame... Dolling deserves its own niche.
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Parker » Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:26 am

To be fair, I think what's killing dolling is this fixation with the past. Most posts dealing with dolling always turn into nostalgia trips rather than a proper discussion on dolling. In other words, we keep talking about this past Golden Age of dolling, what dolling used to be, instead of focusing what dolling is right now. And that's a huge problem because most dollers today are not the same dollers from yesterday, and there's not this sense of the old community anymore. The community has changed, dolling's definition and characterisation has not. Which is why I like Consonanta's post:
Consonanta wrote:Dolling is not necessarily dead, but it has begun to take on different identities, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, this undermines the community aspect of dolling. It may be necessary for forums to expand their scope to entice potential dollers, or for dollers to create a stronger presence on larger sites not exclusive to dolling. I am unsure as to how this will work in practice, however.
Let's be honest here, our previous understanding of dolling is not the only possibility anymore and that's what makes it difficult to create a more inclusive community. Say someone who doesn't know anything about dolling tries to gather some information from dollers: they ask something as innocent as "What's a doll?" and they get twenty different replies. There's no unified idea of what a doll is and it's to be expected when you deal with a hobby, something fun, spontaneous and informal. I'm not asking for an academic disertation of what a doll is, however, we do need to open the scope of the definition. Most of the techniques involved in tooling are derived from those in digital painting. Pixel shading stems from pixel art. Yet, we seem to be too reticent to acknowledge that dolling is not based on the resources employed, but a much more complex entity: dolling is a medium. If you got to DA and browse the Digital Art sub-sections, you'll see many works overlap. A highly detailed fashion sketch done on a computer is pretty close to a digital painting of, say, a woman wearing a gown. Yet, the intention behind each is different: our fashion designer may want to get the main concept down and wants the "fashion" label to stand out, a painter may want to focus on rendering the materials used for the gown or simply in creating a painting. Both are valid, and we could come across some pieces that fall in between. The only definite point all dolls have in common is that their creators intended to doll when making them. It doesn't matter if they have a background or not, if they're tooled or painted digitally, if they're pixeled, if they're big or small, or if the doller drew them with their feet.

It's not so much real life and the need to take a break from the Internet that has made dollers lose touch, it's the lack of perspective. If I'm used to doing things one way, then I expect everyone else, even if it's not intentional, to do it in the same way. And I'll be surprised if I find out that they don't follow my same methodology. That's why in more formal aspects, we have protocols, to ensure that variety of action doesn't compromise effectiveness. In dolling we don't have protocols and there's no real need for them. That's the fun in dolling, you're free to experiment without feeling constrained by any specific rules or limitations, just the common sense of no stealing and giving credit. However, we do impose our personal views on what others do and don't do, and that results in dolling being too limited to people who may want to break away from the old dolls. I'm not saying it's bad or criticising it, I'm just saying we need to try to widen our perspective as a community to make sure we don't set our own limits. And I only mean this as a community project, each doller will do as they please with their own work, of course.
Daenerys wrote:Dolling deserves its own niche.
In order to have a niche, you need an identity and that identity cannot be based on single variables like using a base or colouring a given way. It has to be a series of features that define dolling in an informative yet not excessively restricted way. And to do that you do need to look at the current community, see what works and doesn't work as a doll and create a definition of dolling that is specific in what makes it different from other mediums AND vague enough so as not to restrict creativity.

Once you have that it's very easy to make it work: advertise it, educate people, write resources and share them where people can see them, show what dolling is and what cannot be dolling and support those claims with proper evidence, create events and showcase them within the community. Make a huge dolling contest on DA and have the CVs advertise it: think of people who have a big following and deal with more than one category, who may also know other CVs and may ask them to feature a link to the journal or group hosting the event in their journals. Someone will always come across it and read and see for themselves what it is and choose whether they want to be involved in it or not.

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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Daenerys » Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:24 am

Parker, that makes sense too.

Maybe it would therefore be a waste of time to try and keep the dolling community together? Because there is no identity anymore and there are no new dollers, not in the sense that we see them where we're used to seeing them.

If we can't describe what dolling is, then it's gone already. Or do you really think that huge contests are the way to go in promoting dolling (once we figure out what dolling is these days)?

I never experienced dA as 'the dolling community', so maybe I just missed too much to even try to get people together to 'revive' dolling.

Frankly, you're post makes so much sense I am probably not going to bother with the community-idea anymore. Seems like a waste of time :( Let someone younger, newer and better at dolling step up.
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Parker » Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:35 am

I don't think there's a need to be so pessimistic, and I'm sorry if my post made you feel that way. The way I see it, as long as you have people making dolls, dolling will still live. We just need to be more open in accepting what dolls are. Instead of still talking about DHF or Angychan as examples of dolling, we could look for more current examples of dolling. DHF, Angychan, Fainelloth, The Gathering... all those things came and went away. Of course they're part of the community, but of its past, not its present. And many people were never part of places like TG and preferred other places with a different theme and atmosphere. And all the different big forums didn't necessarily share their exact same user base, and yet, we could talk of dolling as a unity. We can do that again, but we need to update our perceptions of dolling. Each of us will have their own, and that's a great thing, but that doesn't mean that we can't showcase work by other dollers we like, or create a doll that's totally different from our style every once in a while.

The definition problem, to me, stems from looking too closely at our own techniques an experience. Usually, people explain dolling as taking a blank base and drawing the clothes and hair on top of it. That's good. Then someone shows up that says that we should also remember that dolls can be baseless. Great, we're providing more examples... Until someone adds those dreaded words: "That's not a doll" and doesn't really explain why. When someone tries to open a new path, mostly alluding to the artist's intention, you get comments saying that intention is not a good enough explanation. What do we have left then? At the end of the day, you and I are two different people with very different tastes and interests. We don't even know each other except for the one thing we share, which is dolling. Are you sure you can build a community by severing the main thing that may bring people together? Having one thousand definitions is not the problem, getting into petty discussions on whether a baseless doll is no longer a doll is. And we could say the same with different shading styles, backgrounds or text. I do understand the rejection of traced materials, and that's a necessity into building a healthy community, but I can't wrap my head around the endless debates on whether something is a doll or a base. They sound too similar to those pixel vs tool debates from way back, and they may scare people away. We've grown up, we no longer have forty paragraphs with rules for our bases, we are no longer as immature as we used to be. Let that show through a more flexible community that is willing to give a clear idea of what it is. A good article that I'd like to read would be one explaining dolling's greatest hits, offering a definition based on the fads in the dolling community. The differences in size and style, the different trends in dolling, the different techniques... That would be a great way to explain what doller used to be and what it is now.

We need to cut down on the proper dolling etiquette, which is already happening. Then we need to try to explain clearly what we do and why. And I keep thinking that a more educational approach is the best. Maybe build a community focused not only on the finished dolls but also the process behind them: inspiration, techniques, purpose etc. And by seeing how or why people do things, you get to learn new ways of understanding your hobby. It's not late, and it's definitely open for everyone, including old school dollers. We just need to be open to discuss and to share things. To build up a real community, you need to be constantly negotiating with all members so they feel like they're an active part of it. We do have the spirit and the tools to do it. It's just a matter of time and motivation.

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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Shixam » Tue Dec 09, 2014 1:52 pm

Decided to procrastinate Capstone work because I have so many thoughts on this now. And I apologize now if I sound harsh at all, but all a few of my pet peeves were touched on so I might but I'll try to hold it in.

1) Everything Parker said.

I fully agree. Some of what I say might be building on top of what she's already said.

2) dA and traced bases.

I don't agree that the solution is to leave dA or to try to strike down all traced bases. I view traced bases as what Parker was talking about with:
Let's be honest here, our previous understanding of dolling is not the only possibility anymore and that's what makes it difficult to create a more inclusive community. Say someone who doesn't know anything about dolling tries to gather some information from dollers: they ask something as innocent as "What's a doll?" and they get twenty different replies. There's no unified idea of what a doll is and it's to be expected when you deal with a hobby, something fun, spontaneous and informal
Dolls on traced bases are an offshoot of dolls on original bases. Even many original base users have admitted to tracing in the past. It was a phase of theirs, and it CAN be a phase of current tracers if we don't view this all as an Us Vs. Them: Original or Traced Bases, Two Bases Go In, One Base Leaves sort of scenario.

Take Holli for example. Holli, if I remember correctly, used to trace bases and use traced bases. And now she does not, but she has a HUGE following of both original and traced base users and my understanding is that she has inspired some traced base users to attempt to make and use original bases.

And I believe THAT is the attitude we need to have towards them. Instead of viewing them as something bad that's killing dolling and that needs to go away in order for dolling to survive, I think we need to encourage and dA clean up the miscats in the Digital Dolls category so that all traced bases are in the Traced category, resulting in original bass and dolls on them getting their rightful attention in their own appropriate categories.

I've taken on the belief that people using traced bases are still dollers, but their dollers who have their own separate community and conventions. And our aim should be to be friends with them, so that maybe some of them will look at our dolls and see what we do and try to copy us like others have with Holli.

But instead we say, "No. This is terrible. This needs to go away and stop. We need to get this off dA." And when we do that, of course they react defensively and fight stay and they form a very specific image of us: We are the enemy. We hate them. We want them and their hobby to go away. If we get traced bases off dA, it will not bring new dollers to Original Bases. It will caused the traced base users to find somewhere else to post and use their bases, and the original base community will still seem as slow as it does now.

However, if we take the time to be kind to them, give them polite C/C, become friends with them, and get to know them, then our community starts to grow because we chose to welcome people into it.

3) No New People

And that brings me here. Because everyone's saying that we have no new dollers, but I disagree. I've seen many people join Glam and state in Auditions that they are new to dolling.

The problem isn't that there aren't any new dollers. The problem is new dollers aren't being encouraged enough. Whether it's because the forum has gone through slow periods or because they haven't gotten enough comments and encouragement when there's been activity, new dollers haven't been sticking around because they haven't found the sense of welcome and community that others felt in the past.

And that was a problem even "back in the day." The more talented dollers have always gotten the most attention and comments, and the least talented have either worked their butts off in the hopes that senpai will notice them, or gotten so discouraged that they gave up entirely.

That needs to change too.

When there's a member who says they're new dolling, we need to give them a warm welcome, when they post we need to give them polite, encouraging comments and C/C. We can't just ignore them.

4. We Have No "Pioneers"

This is a thought I've had for a long time.

When dolling first started, a lot of people looked up to dollers like Angychan and DHF. When I started, people were looking up to dollers like Hollay and Pyro.

When I think about this, these are all dollers who did something. Either had a hand in making dolling what it was known to be when it started, or they had a huge hand in inspiring dollers, creating pageants, forums, bases, etc.

The current "generation" doesn't have that.

When I look around, I don't see any "leaders" or "pioneers." There's no one making new forums, there's no one making new pageants, there are very few new bases. I can think of people who could stand out to be that new inspiration, and if I had to pick I'd say Parker is actually the closest we have right now, partly because of talent and partly because I've seen her in conversations like this in the past and she always really strong, well-thought out responses that always make me think of Pyro. I might say Holli too, but I don't know how active she is anymore.

Even on the dA front, we don't really have any new CVs. It basically goes between Rhys, Pyro, and Holli and I don't know if that's because there's a lack of applications now or because there's a lack of QUALIFIED applicants.

A lot of people have this sort of, "I want more [pageants/forums/etc (circle one)], but no one is making them," attitude without realizing that THEY could be making those things themselves.

Like I said, I plan to open up a forum sometime soon. Hopefully next year, but I need the time to properly work on it, and maybe give it another makeover. I know Artzy has reopened Catwalk, and last year (/this year) Bree picked up MDI for pageant season. But the vast majority just kind of want things to happen and then look to other people to make them happen. And I think that's because we're used to "Big Names" leading the way, but we have so few of them now, it seems.

5. Life

And the reason why we have so few is probably largely because life gets in the way.

Think about it: A lot of dollers started around the same age of 13/14. Somewhere between middle school or high school, some people younger and some people older. But most of us could probably be placed the same age range.

And that means that everyone who was really active years ago, was probably really active because they had less going on in their lives. They were too young for jobs and had mom and dad to support them, and middle and high school weren't as intense as college is.

Well, now we've all grown up together and we've collectively entered the work force and college at the same time, meaning we all pretty much simultaneously became too busy for dolling because we're too busy trying to earn our degrees or a living to support ourselves.

And when we have time we come back, but mostly we're just too busy for it. We're going to school, making money, or we've always wanted to make a living off of our art and have put more importance on more traditional art pieces in order to do so. And dolling had to take a backseat to that.
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Artzygrrl » Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:16 am

Great thoughts, everyone.

Shix, just to add to what you said:
But the vast majority just kind of want things to happen and then look to other people to make them happen. And I think that's because we're used to "Big Names" leading the way, but we have so few of them now, it seems.
made me think of the fact that those people were once just ordinary people doing & learning just how we are now. They weren't 100% awesome at the beginning. It's a journey - there are some dollers who will be "big names" in a couple years if they keep going, who aren't now because they've not been recognized by the community as such. I guess what I'm saying is, if you (the generic "you," not anyone in particular) want there to be "awesome" dollers, become one. Aspire, then learn what you need to learn, practice it and be awesome. (Takes time & hard work, of course, but what I mean is it's a process.)

That's why I did MDF and the Catwalk. One of the biggest reasons was inspiration - I was inspired & wanted to share my inspiration with others. The other reason, I think, that I have had in my mind since the LAST time I was in charge of these things, is that you don't have to be one of the "big" dollers to do something like that. You don't have to be the best at x y & z to run a pageant, or have a doll site, or run a forum. (leadership skills help a lot, though) You can do it and surround yourself with others who have strengths in areas where you are weak. There really is no need for people to depend completely on those they deem "best" at dolling to show them the way. New techniques, ideas, experimental stuff? Sure, those people will be handy. (And Parker & I are working on gathering resources to help new people & old people alike improve & be inspired all in one place, by the way. Stay tuned!)

Mostly I think there's wayyyy less turnover in the dolling world than there used to be. Fewer people coming, but fewer people "going," too. That means that we are going to be around longer & many of us have been here long enough to remember the way "things used to be." But change isn't bad. It's change. We can adapt. I think we are all trying to :)
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Daenerys » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:46 am

Parker, I was just depressed out the outline of the amount of work and activity involved. I slumped at my desk, realising that and then typed my response with my head down, sulking. But, after a night's sleep, and Shixam's response and Artzygrrl putting things in perspective actually made me realise the energy is here.

And of course, you made a lot of sense, Parker. It's just that I usually open my mouth to start something and then realise what I am getting myself into.

Maybe, Shixam, Artzygrrl, Parker, anyone, none of 'us' (see??) consider 'ourselves' big names. Maybe we always did rely on some 'leading dollers' to light the way and do the work. Mind you, we're a pretty harsh community sometimes and even though it has also proved extraordinarily supportive, it is just as judgemental about people standing out.

But hey. I think we're not done yet. Let's give this a shot. Glam is still a focal point off-dA.

There have been many tries to get a more educational resource site off the ground for ... literally years now. I think only one really succeeded, and then just sort of evaporated.

There are lots of workshops/tutorials on Glam, that are just lying around on the forum. Maybe we need to transfer more tutorials to dA, for starters? Maybe we need to put some heads together to write awesome tutorials, or guides, ... Just brainstorming here.

Dolling is at its most interesting when it is collaborative, for me. (Not that I don't like baseless, but it's the collaboration that sets it apart, for me.) I will try to set up something with people who have time and energy (see this thread as well).

I like actions, after thoughts and words :P
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Parker » Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:59 pm

I wanted to address one thing from Shix's post: point 4. I think this whole idea of pioneers has been fairly counterproductive in our community. We tend to have this following mentality which consists of: "Someone else will do it", which Shixam has already talked about, but what I want to expand on is the pressure this entails. When you appoint someone as a pioneer, dolling mama or dolling diva you add a tremendous burden to them: they're no longer an individual doller, they become some sort of symbol or emblem for the whole community, which means that people will look up to them and try to copy everything they do. And it also has an impact on people who try to do their own thing. Back in the day if DHF was doing pirates, EVERYONE and their pets would do pirates. To the point that, if some newbie did a Sparrow doll of their character, because all resources focused on those or because they had a Sparrow character, people would tear their work apart if it didn't match the work of that beacon of dolling.

When Pyro became the next big name, things seemed to be more relaxed, or maybe I was more into the community and could see it from the inside. However, it always gave me the impression that there was a lot of pressure on her to be a doller, when she wanted to be an artist that, sometimes, dolled. If Pyro, Lyricanna or Holli didn't make any articles or tutorials, no one did them. And if they did, they went unnoticed: no comments, no feedback, no features, nothing. We don't need the next dolling idol, we need to see dolling as a whole community and accept that there are people who don't do things the same way as your favourite doller and yet they're as valid as them.

There's a saying in Spanish which loosely translates as: "If you want to catch fish, you must be willing to wet your ass" which means that if you want to get things done, you have to put the effort yourself. Well, we won't let anyone catch any fish if we don't let them get near the pond. Let people find themselves through their work and let their creativity flow. I know I refer to DHF way too much. I LOVED that site. It was THE dolling site for me and the big one when I started. I loved the layouts, the dolls, the bases, the events they held, their advent calendars, everything. I started dolling through Xandorra's Palace, but I got acquainted with Photoshop through DHF's. However, I never wanted to be a DHF clone. Not because I didn't like it, obviously, but because there was already a DHF and I wanted to be myself. I didn't follow any of the fandoms (Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or whatever), I had my own ideas, good or bad, and wanted to make them happen. I couldn't do that technique-wise yet, but that would come with practice. All I needed was to believe that I could do it myself, learning through practising, failing and starting over. Developing your full potential as you was not possible, because you were always compared to someone else and judged on it. Many people truly believe that you can get good by copying someone, and that is not true. You will be as good as you think you can be and you need to accept that your ideas are just as valid as the current great doller. You need to work on improving yourself, not being a carbon copy of someone else.

We definitely have people with great ideas and styles (each new doller) and we just need to learn to adapt to that. I think dolling is much more diverse now than it was back then. You cannot make boxes that fit us all anymore. And we get to see many different styles developing through the years. My dolls now have little in common to what I used to do when I joined GLAM, which was what started my DA account as well. Feeling that I was accepted as myself was what made me get a DA account and keep on dolling. I got CC and got to see my flaws anyway, but was never told to copy the style of someone else, which we all know used to be common with newbies in some forums.

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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Daenerys » Wed Dec 10, 2014 2:26 pm

Parker wrote:. If Pyro, Lyricanna or Holli didn't make any articles or tutorials, no one did them. And if they did, they went unnoticed: no comments, no feedback, no features, nothing. We don't need the next dolling idol, we need to see dolling as a whole community and accept that there are people who don't do things the same way as your favourite doller and yet they're as valid as them.
eh?

Unnoticed? The articles I wrote, I wrote on Glam. I even credited who helped out with facts and suggestions and improvements.

The various dolling websites, like Ninique's, with excellent tutorials and articles, unnoticed, because she was not Pyro? Eh? Eh??

... bit disappointed at that, really. Then again, I guess it confirms my idea that the community is incredibly fragmented.

Oh, thanks. :P Thanks. I mean, I have had articles about dolling and dollmakers, and dresss up games on my site snce.. for ever, at l;east 2003. Great to know no one noticed. :P
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Shixam » Wed Dec 10, 2014 2:38 pm

I think she was talking about Deviantart articles only. Although, the community now admittedly isn't dollsite-centered, so very few seem to think to look at them for anything anymore. Deviantart is better known for them, especially since you can get notifications when they happen. And Holli, Lyric, and Pyro all wrote articles as CVs on dA.
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Daenerys » Wed Dec 10, 2014 2:55 pm

Well, I don't read much on dA, so that explains it. dA is not very inviting as a community for me, and I have always prefered actual sites over dA.

Does that mean that without dA dolling is gone then...?
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Parker » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:11 pm

Shix is right, I was thinking of DA. I'm sorry for not making it more clear, and I definitely didn't want to make anyone feel unimportant, so, if that's the case, I apologise.

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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by OKami_hu » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:15 pm

I'm going to be an ignorant little thing here and go 'round everything what was said.

Huge-ass traced bases are BAD. Because, pixelart is small. Huge pixelart pictures consists of hundreds of tiny elements; you can't doll that large, it won't look good UNLESS you put a TREMENDOUS effort into it.

The young'uns don't have a positive example before them, something to aspire to, because the example _does not exist_. Back in the day, you looked at a Wayuki doll and you were like "I WANT TO BE THAT GOOD." What do the 'new dollers' see now? The very same things they do. Do the traced base makers eve use their own bases...?

I don't even know why people insist on making PIXEL bases; if they did it with a brush, the bases and the customized outcome would look heaps better.

Also, I still believe that those traced bases aren't there for dolling: they're there to substitute drawing skills. Of course, I can't really defend this statement, because 'dolling' doesn't have a definition whatsoever, and according to what I said, everybody who couldn't make bases back in the Golden Age sucked artistically.
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Artzygrrl » Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:06 pm

Dae, to answer your question about dolling being dead without dA, I don't know because it's not really something that's going to happen. Dolling is part of dA, now (not all of dolling, but they're inextricably linked). Personally I enjoy all the spectrum of types of dolling I see there. It's fun to discover new people.

BUT. That doesn't mean that outside of dA the dolling world is dead or dying, either. I have the feeling that it's sort of cyclical. We have periods of hiatus, then periods of revival, then periods of a dolling "boom" when lots of people are involved, then a lull period when everyone has to get back to life or plan new ideas for the next revival & boom. Right now I think we're in a "revival" period. Things are happening, but the community is not in the full swing of activity. But, I think it will be again. :)
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Daenerys » Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:30 am

Parker, thanks. I am a bit sensitive about the amount of work I put into loads of stuff for 'the community' and not really seeing any returns on that. I am working on that. It's stupid to care that much.

Okami, that made me think. Maybe dollers don't want to be 'that good' anymore, maybe they are either happy with the skill level or maybe (maybe) they already think their MLP thingies are the cat's whiskers, the nose of the salmon, ... perfect. They are a new generation with parents who seem to think that everything their little darlings do is beyond criticism. Not all, of course. But you know, the dolling community thrives on getting better through structured CC. Maybe that is absent in the MLP/traced bases community? I dunno, genuined question, because I don't find MLP or badly traced bases interesting enough.

Artzygrrl, I hope so. The thing is, no one 'needs' an active community to doll. Or draw. Or improve. It's just the icing on the cake, if you can find a community that suits you.

But from what I gather, dA is important. That's good to know. I will take that with me in our battle plan ...
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by OKami_hu » Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:10 pm

I don't even consider MLP bases 'bases'... I think it's because dolls always tended to be humanoid. Sure, there were mermaids and centaurs, but at least half those bodies were HUMAN. Back in the heyday, nobody did customized animals, unless for a background element.

And I'm pretty sure CC does not exist in those circles. What's there to CC? The unique and individual colors or cutie marks...?
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by meisie » Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:10 pm

Skimmed through most of the thread, this is just my two cents...

I'm one of those dollers that took perhaps 7-8 years break from this whole community. when I came back to it, i found most of my favourite web sites didn't exist anymore or hadn't been updated since before 2010 (so sad...do they still pay for the domain?)
Not knowing where else to go i went to deviant art.... when I went to deviant art there was just pages and pages of anime and my little pony traces. not even proper pony bases or anything...just traced images from the cartoon. traced scenes from anime scenes that are just wayy too big and awkawrd.

meh...what...lol

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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by slightly-caustic » Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:57 pm

OKami_hu wrote: Back in the heyday, nobody did customized animals, unless for a background element.
Not really true. There were MLP "bases" back in the day but they were proportional to the dolls of the time, so much smaller than now (I know multiple dollers had them the only one I can think of off the top of my head though was Swan Lake). I never saw any other animals as "bases" but there were lots of "templates" of animals and inanimate objects.

Regardless, the problem is not really with removing traced bases, it is with the proper enforcement of the Digital Dolls categories. But that is never going to happen, so don't hold your breath.

As for the Digital Dolls CV job, I guarantee that no one has applied because there is not actually a Digital Dolls CV position listed ... So, um yeah, not looking good on that front either.

Overall, I am not overly surprised that the community is not getting that many new people in. I know that when I started it was because I found the drag and drops and then made my way to the real thing. Pixel (or "Digital Doll") drag'n'drops pretty much do not exist anymore, they have been replaced by apps and stuff with digital artwork. The other main way was by introducing friends and such to it and hoping they would stick. Now we are all old and our friends are as tired and overworked as we are ...
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by mariiii » Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:13 am

Another reply from me, since I needed to explain dolling to a friend yesterday. And I had difficulties to do so, cause there's no real description for that (as mentioned above).

I remembered the good old times ,which means the "dollmaker-time", and came to the point that dolling is to dress up an exisiting base. If you don't use a base, you're creating some kind of "miniature"-art, but actually not a real doll. (When you dressed your dolls at home, you also just "styled" them but didn't built the whole body/face).
I don't want to offend anyone (I have done "baseless" dolls, too) but my suggestion for the "description-problem" would be to call our art "Miniature Digital art" and Dolling could be sub-category of that.
And miniature would fit, because I'm pretty sure no one wants to do a doll which is 1000x1000px big. And tool-shaded works fit into this category as well; if they're bigger they're just "normal" digital art but not "miniature".
And if there are really huge dolls (bigger than for example 1000px) it could be still called dolling, just not in the miniature art category.

What about that? Any ideas/critiques? Because we really need to find a clear definition of our "dolling" community....
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Daenerys » Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:58 am

You bring up good points, Mariii.

I think collaboration really is a defining feature of dolling. Not to negate on baseless work, but (unless that base is for more or less common use) it is not what dolling is to me. People who make these wonderful baseless dolls should take pride in their work, and if they can call their work mini-digi art, that doesnt't take away anything from the work, imo.

Collaboration art is pretty unusual, you now. Especially in the way that it evolved here, online in a dolling community. The freedom people have to use a base in any way they see fit (within the basemakers rules obviously), that is unique. We're still making dolls on bases made ten years ago!

We're also the only place where we don't care if a doll has been pixeled, or tooled or mutt-shaded. We're not purists. Which is probably why it's hard to define... and yet, we also blow up over what type of technique is or isnt better. We're a weird bunch, us dollers.

But we identify as such, don't we?

I am all for calling it mini-digital art, with dolling as a sub-category if it is a collaboration between basemaker and doller. Makes sense to me.

I too miss dollmakers. But you know: they;re still around. As apps, as dress up games with larger dolls... it's still around.
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Artzygrrl » Sun Jan 18, 2015 10:26 pm

Nah, I don't think we can make a division there. Partly I think it's because intent is important in making dolls. What you are trying to make will influence the result. If that's the case, then we ought to consider intent important in classification.

I suppose if the distinction between something with or without a base was made back when baseless dolls were something very rare & not considered a normal part of dolling by many, we might have been able to make that case. I think its a bit too far gone for that now. Consider, if you will, the method that many tool shaders or tablet dollers use when incorporating a base: they use the base as a guideline for their pose on a separate layer and trace the pose, then create the doll based on that sketch. Now, how different is that from actually starting from scratch with a sketch made from memory or reference images? Only the presence of the base as a rough guideline, really. They're not even using the actual pixels to create the pose, yet choose to credit the base maker (appropriately so). It's so close to the way a baseless doll is created (I make a sketch of the pose, like drawing a base for myself before I begin), that I'm not sure a distinction can be properly made between those two categories.

I'm sure plenty of people would have a serious problem with tool shading being no longer defined as dolling, and I think that if we're going to try and come up with a definition of what dolling is, we should use the natural boundaries of what it is & what it's likely to become, not (quite unnecessarily) create confusion by subcategorizing dolling. We have been talking in this thread & other places about how to get people interested in dolling and I think that being inclusive will contribute to having a welcoming environment. If new people are confronted with several different categories and are expected to keep everything straight, I think it's going to turn them off.

Not to mention, you'll have to try to convince a whole community of those categorizations, and I just don't think that's a realistic expectation.

I think if we're going to define dolling now, at this point in our community development, we have to consider what dolling has become. The collaborative element of using a base made by someone else is a great thought, but what if it's your own base? Is that then a baseless doll? Or are you collaborating with yourself (a concept that to me doesn't make much sense)? I think we could draw the line at humanoid/anthropomorphic characters, and use terms like "generally." Such as, "dolling is an art form that includes characters, either human or humanoid, created on a small scale, generally no larger than 600x600px, but can be as small as 30-40px px tall. They are created using a) a dollmaker, a drag n drop page with bases (bodies created by the dollmaker's author, similar to a Barbie doll without hair), outfits, accessories & hairstyles ready to place on the chosen base; b) a graphics program, such as MS Paint, GIMP, or Photoshop, where the dolls are created using various techniques available. Most "dollers" prefer to use bases, which they then (sometimes) edit themselves & create the rest of the doll from scratch. There are 2 prevailing types of techniques in the dolling community: pixel shading and tool shading. Pixel shading is a technique that involves the placement of individual pixels to create a doll using a pencil tool (as well as a straight or curved line tool if available). Anti aliasing & dithering are sometimes applied to smooth out the shading & edges of these dolls. Tool shading involves the use of automatic anti aliasing tools such as a brush tool in Photoshop, and any other digital tools available, such as the smudge tool or the dodge & burn tools. Some tool shading is much like a miniature version of a digital painting, but tool shaders often still use & edit pixel-shaded bases as part of their creations. Occasionally some dollers, both pixel and tool shaders, elect not to use other artist's bases for their creations, making what is known within the community as a "baseless doll.""

I know that's kind of a mouthful, but it's a fairly truncated definition of what dolling is at this current moment. It doesn't include any lingo about tracing bases (because it's a definition of dolling, not base making) or My Little Pony stuff (because I think we can agree that those are really a different thing, even if they are called "bases" and "dolls" on dA).

I hope this makes sense. I think we should be inclusive to what the community accepts at this point, because it will never fly if we create an "us" vs "them" mentality between those who use bases and those who don't. (I don't think I know anyone who does exclusively baseless dolls and NEVER uses bases, so you'd be creating division between 2 areas or techniques that apply to the same doller making 2 dolls that look very similar or the same in style, but one which has used a base and one which hasn't. I really don't think it makes any sense to create problems like that when the dolling community already has enough drama. ;)
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Daenerys » Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:33 am

I don't see it as a division :S

Dolling is a collaboration.

Miniature digital art is not. It's something different from collaboration art, sure. But this is not dividing dolling. Dolling really is collaboration art. Baseless is not.

I think that if I made baseless dolls, I would not call them dolls anymore. In fact, I don't call my work that I make by myself that looks vaguely like a doll, a doll. I just don't.

Dolling is dying, if it is no longer focussing on collaboration art.

And yes, my avatar would be a doll, vbecause it is on a base that is available for all to use, even if it is my own basde. Dolls on your own bases are not baseless, unless there is no base.

It just makes things a lot clearer and give dolling a clear goal: collaborartion.
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Re: So Is Dolling Dying?

Post by Artzygrrl » Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:56 pm

I think the point i'm trying to make is, good luck convincing the entire community of that. YOU may not classify all your doll-like work as dolls, but other people might. Who's to say that (if we're going back to the original point of dolling) dolling shouldn't be only defined as "making dolls on a dollmaker," and hand-drawing your own clothes & hair on a base would be called something else? I just don't see any reason to consider "collaboration" to be the most important element here. It's simply based on opinion, an opinion which, I might add, is not shared with most or all of the community.

Some of dolling's most interesting work is that of people who decided to try things that other people hadn't really tried before. Look at Pyro - she took her illustrative skills and made phenomenal dolls that really crossed the borders of what others of us had even THOUGHT of. Look at Suzy - she was one of the "pioneers" (because she experimented) in realistic-style dolling and with tooling & lighting effects. Are you prepared to tell Pyro that you think her baseless work isn't a doll? Or that because Suzy didn't actually collaborate...? [Yes, I know you suggested it would still be considered collaborative work, but that makes no sense, because the collaboration didn't actually take place.] I don't know...Hard to retroactively fit a description like that on anything. Let's not forget that a baseless dolling contestant won MDE this year. If you are going to try and make those distinctions, then you run the risk of "disqualifying" contestants based on terms they've previously not had to deal with. Frankly, I won't enter a pageant if I can't make a baseless doll. It's not about collaboration or lack thereof - bases are more like a limitation to me than anything when it comes to something like that. That's not to say I never doll using bases - I do, frequently, doll on them. But if I am forced to do so as part of the terms of a pageant because of a rather exclusive definition, then I will never accept those terms (and a lot of other people won't, either).

I'm not sure about this:
Dolling is a collaboration.

Miniature digital art is not.
I think you may be overreaching here. If I used a reference photo for the pose I sketched to make a doll (say, from SenshiStock), then I am required to credit the source of that photo. Is that not collaboration? Also, "MiniDigiArt" really doesn't roll off the tongue the way "doll" does. ;) I think you're going to run into a host of problems if you try to create categories where none now exist.

One last thing:
Dolling is dying, if it is no longer focussing on collaboration art.
I think you're stating this as fact, when it's really your opinion. I think dolling is dying because a) the places we (dollers) got started with dolling are either defunct, or they're not the places where the younger crowd are congregating online anymore, and b) because dolling doesn't have a clear direction/definition. Our community is kind of "sleepy" these days, and because we spend so much time talking about the "good old days" of dolling or lamenting about how great things were back then, we are starting to lose sight of where we can go with it right now. If you did somehow manage to succeed in changing the overall "definition" of dolling, we'd have a c) because the "dolling community" has now splintered into several factions, and there really is no longer such a thing as the "dolling community." I think unity is NOT about uniformity, it's about choosing to accept each other even though our styles or opinions might differ slightly. I'm willing to do that, and I think if we all agreed to have that attitude, the dolling community would look like a more receptive place where people would want to join.
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