Tutorial: Anime and Manga Doll Repaint

Lately I’ve been (frantically doing homework, working part-time, attending classes, teaching high school civics, trying to keep my house clean) repainting a lot of Moxie dolls.

Basically, I first started doing makeunder dolls on Moxies, because that’s what I happened to buy off Ebay this one time five months ago.

But then I ended up with, like, twelve of them and I started getting bored. Maybe I’m totally ADD when it comes to dolls (is that not PC to say?), but I can’t paint the same face after same face. Especially because Moxie dolls have very, very, very flat faces.

It occurred to me that the Moxie’s flat-ness works very well for some things: very large eyes. And what art style involves girls with very large eyes?

Anime and manga.

I felt like a genius. Still feel like one, actually. But that’s a personal problem.

Okay you’re here for a tutorial. Not the ramblings of an exhausted student with too much creative energy.

So here you are:

PHASE 1: THE EYES

Every time I write a doll tutorial I end up saying something like “the eyes are the window to the soul.” So there it is again. It’s especially true with anime and manga eyes, because they are literally half the face (if not more-than-half). If you have the eyes down, you’re in good shape.

Phase 1, Step 1: Design the eyes

Some general characteristics of anime and manga eyes:

  • They are large. Like, really large. Weirdly large.
  • They are rounder than natural eyes.
  • There is generally not an outline surrounding the whole eye. The lashes frame the eye on the top and bottom, but not necessarily the sides of the eyes.
  • The lashes are much thicker on top than on bottom.
  • The pupils are larger than natural. Think somewhere between ‘really dark room’ and ‘really high.’
  • They are much more reflective than natural eyes. Very large shiny white spots, basically.
  • They are not as detailed as a realistic human eye.
  • They are framed by fairly thin eyebrows.

So now you know all that, grab a piece of paper. Or, if you’re familiar with anime/manga styles, go ahead and grab the doll you’ll be working on.

If you want to start work on your doll instead of planning out the eyes on paper, make sure the doll is properly prepared to be repainted. For information on how to prep a doll for repainting, see my post on Materials and Doll Prep. I’m going to proceed assuming that you’re practicing on paper first, but if you’re drawing directly on the doll, the same principals apply.

You can start designing your eye in any way you want. Sky’s the limit. If you haven’t seen a lot of anime or manga art, do a google search for ‘anime eyes’ or ‘manga eyes’, or click here for the google search I used: “Anime eyes” image search.

I start by drawing the outline of the eye, then the top and  bottom lashes. Thicker on top, thinner on the bottom lid.

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Then I sketch out the iris. Large, more oval than a real iris.

IMG_3695

Add in the pupil. There are different styles you can use for this part. Some anime or manga eyes are shaded to be very heavy on the black. There are black outlines everywhere, very much like a traditional comic book. See the picture below.

I know. She looks green. Oops.
I know. She looks green. I promise that she’s not in real life.

Alternatively, you could use a more gradient approach to fill in the iris and pupil, and leave out the black outlines.

Here's an example of eyes without the black outlines around the pupil and iris.
Here’s an example of eyes without the black outlines around the pupil and iris. Want to adopt this little lady? She’s on Etsy, here!

IMG_3696

Now that you have the idea of your pupil and iris laid out, add in the reflections. If you’re working with pencil or pen on paper, you’ll probably need to use a white gel pen to do this (or white paint).

Remember, anime and manga eyes are more reflective than realistic eyes. However, if you add too many reflective spots or too large of reflective spots, the doll will appear to have very watery eyes.

Play around with it!

IMG_3698

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Another style
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Anooooother style. This one has softer, fluffier lashes.

PHASE 2: PAINT THE DOLL

Most of the materials used for this tutorial.
Most of the materials used for this tutorial.

Phase 2, Step 1: Prep

Now that you know what you want the eyes to look like, you’re ready to begin repainting. If you want more information on what materials I recommend, and how to properly prepare a doll to be repainted, see THIS tutorial: Materials and Doll Prep.

What kind of doll to use? This is a tutorial using a Moxie doll as a model. Like I said earlier, Moxie’s flat faces make them ideal for this style. However, with some creative adjustments I know you can modify the eyes to work with almost any doll mold.

IMG_3708
The Moxie doll, wiped clean with acetone.

Phase 2, Step 2: Outline the eyes

First, did you prep your doll? Seal her face once? It’s important! You cannot pass GO until you’ve done that!

Now’s the fun part! Draw in the outline of your eyes. Don’t worry about the eyelashes: you’ll add those in next.

Outline the eyes. I used a light brown pencil to mark the placement, before I went over it with black.
Outline the eyes. I used a light brown pencil to mark the placement, before I went over it with black.

Okay, now you can add the eyelashes.

Add in the eyelashes.
Add in the eyelashes.

Phase 2, Step 3: Make the eyes less soul-less and creepy.

Draw in the iris, then the pupil. If you want a more cartoon-y look (I mean, all anime/manga eyes are cartoon-y), use black to outline the iris. If you want the more gradient look (discussed above in Phase 1), you’ll want to use a dark color of whatever your eye color will be. With this model, I’m using more black outlines than a gradient look.

Add in the iris, then the pupil.
Add in the iris, then the pupil.

Note: You can kind of see in the picture, but I use a light brown or light pink pencil to mark in where my irises/pupils/anything is going to be, then I layer black over that. I don’t commit to black pencil too soon.

Well…she’s kinda creepy. I promise, we’ll fix that. Now you can fill in the irises. Fill in the entire iris with the lightest shade of color you want to use for your eyes. You will layer on darker colors next.

Go ahead and use a white pencil to fill in the whites of the eyes, too.

The irises have been filled in, as well as the whites of the eyes.
The irises have been filled in, as well as the whites of the eyes.

Lip interlude! Take a quick break from the eyes to draw the outline of the lips and then fill them in. I honestly just did this as a color-check. I wanted to make sure the doll would look okay with bright red lips. You could easily do the lips after the eyes, but I like to get a lip color down in case I need to change the eye color to match.

Filling in the lips doesn’t have to be perfect: we’ll go over it with paint anyway.

The left image is the the outline of the lips, on the right is the outline loosely filled in.
The left image is the the outline of the lips, on the right is the outline loosely filled in.

Back to the eyes.

Now you can shade the iris. I used four colors to do this. The lightest pink was the base color, used to fill in the irises in the previous step. Next I used the red pencil to shade in the tops of the iris, going down to just below the pupil. Then I used the darkest red to shade the tops of the iris again, but I didn’t extend the dark red as far down. Last I used a black pencil to make sure the area just underneath the eyelid was very shaded, almost black.

The image on the right shows the irises shaded with pink, red, and dark red pencils. The image on the right shows the iris shaded with the pinks/reds, as well as black.
The image on the right shows the irises shaded with pink, red, and dark red pencils. The image on the right shows the iris shaded with the pinks/reds, as well as black.

See? She’s less creepy, now.

Phase 2, Step 3: Seal

Now you’re ready to seal her. Make sure you like what you have, though, because after she’s sealed you can’t fix mistakes made on this layer!

Phase 2, Step 4: Do random things to the eyes

Add in the eyelids! Eyelids look good with this particular eye design, but keep in mind that if the upper lashes are thick enough, anime and manga eyes may look just fine without an eyelid.

Either way, if you decide to draw in an eyelid, it should be fairly thin. No big sultry eyelids here; those are more commonly seen in American comics. I’ve drawn mine with light pink.

Also, now that you’ve sealed the doll once, you have a fresh surface to work on again. I always go over all the black lines, and the whites of the eyes, with their respective colors to intensify the pigment. This will also fill in any areas that weren’t evenly drawn the first time.

Going back over the lines you made on the first layer will make the colors more bold.
Going back over the lines you made on the first layer will make the colors more bold.

Phase 2, Step 5: Eyebrows!

Add in the eyebrows. Anything goes here, depending on the expression you’re going for. Anime and manga eyebrows are typically very thin and simple, although you can do variations on that, of course.

Eyebrows!
Eyebrows!

Phase 2, Step 6: Blush

I’m sorry for the bad photo here: it makes it a bit hard to see what I did with the blush. For this doll, I used a combination of hot pink and red chalk pastel dust to apply blush to her cheeks just below her eyes. I used a lighter pink dust to blush her forehead and chin.

Blush the cheeks, chin, and forehead.
Blush the cheeks, chin, and forehead.

I love this step because the blush brings out so much character!

Phase 2, Step 7: Seal

Spray seal the doll for the final time. Make sure you like what you have, though, because after it’s sealed you can’t easily fix it. Also try and blow as much dust off the face as you can, and do a check for any stray chalk dust that may be lingering in a bad place (under the chin is where my chalk dust goes to evade detection, apparently).

Phase 2, Step 8: Paint the lips and eye reflections

I use a paint retardant to thin my acrylic paints out. It’s basically just expensive water, so if you don’t happen to have acrylic paint retardant, use water with confidence. It’s the same.

Red paint is for lips, white is for eye reflections.
Red paint is for lips, white is for eye reflections.
Here's my super tiny brush. It's a 20/0 spotter, but it's in bad shape because I never wash it properly. Do as I say, not as I do.
Here’s my super tiny brush. It’s a 20/0 spotter, but it’s in bad shape because I never wash it properly. Do as I say, not as I do.

I do this lips first. Just thin out the red paint to the consistency of half in half or whole milk, and use a very very tiny brush (this one is an old 20/0 brush I had lying around) to go over the lines you already drew in on your lips.

Do a couple coats, until you’re happy with the color build-up.

Paint over the lip outline you drew in earlier.
Paint over the lip outline you drew in earlier.

Now do the reflections. I added a heart and what turned out to be a semi-colon to each eye. Anime and manga eyes can handle A LOT of reflection, so if you want more reflection than I used, go for it.

Too much reflection and the eyes will look watery, though (which can be great if you’re going for a teary look).

Add in the eye reflections.
Add in the eye reflections.

Phase 2, Step 9: Varnish the eyes and lips

Use a small brush to apply several layers of glossy varnish to the eyes and lips. Wait for each layer to dry before applying the next. I used the same old brush I used to paint the lips, because I find that the varnish can ruin good brushes if they aren’t washed out properly. And apparently I don’t wash my brushes properly, because my ‘varnish brush’ is just a disaster by now.

You can see that I added a little heart on her cheek. I did that before I varnished, so I could seal it properly with MSC.

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Congrats! She’s all done. And I’m sure she looks great. 🙂

My models in this tutorial are for sale in my Etsy shop. You can find the dark-haired anime girl for sale HERE. You can find the light-haired girl HERE.

UPDATE 1/25/2016: I just added the little pink-eyed girl to my Etsy shop! You can adopt her HERE.

If you liked this tutorial, leave a comment below! And if you use it to repaint your own doll, I would LOVE to see your results! You can post your picture in the comments, or if you’re shy, you can send I Am Loved Dolls on Facebook a message.

And of course, if you have questions, ask away!

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