I remember drawing paper dolls as a girl with my mom and sister, spending hours holding papers up to the windows, tracing all kinds of wild outfits and dresses for the dolls my mom so graciously drew for us. I still have one of those dolls from when I was about 10, and looking back at the dresses I drew then is a real hoot!
And now my daughter is drawing her own dolls and dresses. When she was younger, I would draw countless "princesses" in their skivvies for her to make clothes for, but now I encourage her to draw her own people. A little creative direction, some new watercolor pencils, and a cup of hot cocoa was all she needed to get rolling. I find that encouraging kids to draw stylized or cartoon people helps relieve some of the frustrations that can develop when they try to get things "just right." Personal expression and style tends to flourish this way, too. Of course, copying someone else's drawing is good practice, too. Confidence builds over time.
We used old cereal boxes with a primer of gesso. After it dried, we put down a light pencil drawing to get the basic shapes, and then added the color. The watercolor pencils are very flexible, a tool I'm still exploring and enjoying immensely. We tried lightly coloring with them then smudging the color with damp paper towels. That seemed too large for the delicate drawings. Cotton swabs were perfect for blending colors and still maintaining control. Outlines and other details were then added with colored pencil, pens, pencil.
Here's her work in progress, complete with green ballgown and hat to match!