Whoa…when I started this series I clearly forgot how much time tutorials take! Goodness.
But finally (FINALLY), the final installment on making makeunder/rescued dolls. This tutorial covers my very simple shoe-making process.
For the first part, a tutorial on repainting makeunder faces, go HERE!
For the second part, a tutorial on making simple dresses, go HERE!
And for the third part, a tutorial on making shoes, stay here.
Polymer clay in whatever color you want your shoes to be
Preferably use Fimo clay or Sculpey Primo (the good stuff)
An exacto knife (or any sharp knife)
A marker or pen for rolling clay
A pen or pencil or paintbrush
Hot glue gun (preferably high-temp gun but a low-temp gun should work fine)
Cooking oil of some sort, or vaseline.
A doll (duh)
FORMING THE SHOES
Here is the clay I’m working with. The clay on the left is Fimo, and the clay on the right is lower-quality Sculpey III. I wouldn’t recommend the cheaper Sculpey III – use Fimo or Sculpey Primo or something. The higher-quality clay doesn’t pick up fingerprints as well, and it’s stronger so small children won’t break the shoes getting them on and off.
Not many people know this, but I used to run an Etsy shop making tiny clay cupcakes and cakes. I ended up featured on Anderson Live! I had a shop in Etsy for a little over a year before I grew bored with the venture and stopped. But, working with clay so often gave me a head start on making shoes and other doll props with clay, so now I can pass on a bit of my clay knowledge!
Some Polymer Clay Background
If you don’t know what polymer clay is, it’s a plastic clay that hardens when baked. The higher-quality clay (Fimo and Sculpey Primo…anything that’s not the cheapest kind) is pretty sturdy stuff, but it becomes fragile and brittle if it’s too thin or if it’s baked improperly (not enough baking time or too much). It has to be baked on glassware, nothing else!
A note on choosing a color: this clay LOVES to pick up dust, and unless you want to spend half an hour sanding your shoes down after you bake them, I wouldn’t recommend using white or any other light color of clay for the shoes. It’s for your mental health, really.
Conditioning the Clay
Before you start working with clay, you should condition it first. ‘Condition’ is just a fancy way of saying you need to warm it up. Work it around with your fingers, smoosh it, roll it out and crumple it up…just get it nice and kneaded. Working with clay that is warm (literally warm, cold clay is rock hard) makes everything so much easier!
Once your clay is conditioned, roll it in a ball between your palms and then form it into a sort of log shape, shown above.
A note on surfaces: clay likes to stick to things, especially rough surfaces. For this project glass or tile is the best surface to work on, but you can make do with wax paper, aluminum foil, or just being really careful on whatever surface you have available.
Cut the log in half with an exacto knife or something sharp, then roll the two halves into balls.
Form the Shape
Now you’re ready to start forming the foot shape!
Here you can sort of tell the shape I was going for. I went with little booties with a rounded toe, although you can see in the left photo that there is a right and a left shoe, which I made by rounding the toe box out more on one side of the shoe.
The right photo shows the ankle. You can make yours shorter or taller depending on how you want your boots to look – but you can’t go too tall without making the boots fragile.
Making the Hole
…That sounds weirdly dirty. No. Just doll shoes! That’s all!
Take a pen, pencil, or the end of a paintbrush and smoosh it into the ankle part on the boot you just formed. This is the hole for the doll’s leg pegs to go into.
Work the pen around, making sure to stabilize the boot with your fingers as you work so the ankle doesn’t get too misshapen. If it does, just mold it back into place.
You want the hole to be a bit larger than the doll’s legs. The legs should fit in there with room to slip around.
Now take a new ball of clay, get it nice and warmed up, then form it into a ball.
Roll the ball out into a long, thin rope. My clay rope (on the left) is about half the width of an exacto knife or pen.
Making even ropes out of clay is actually harder than you would think. Try to make it as even as possible by using your fingers to roll instead of your palm. Use both hands and roll slowly to prevent the rope from flopping around.
Now take whatever you want to use to roll the clay out and gently roll over the rope, working to make the new width of the rope even. I rolled this out with an exacto knife.
This flat rope is going to be the ankles on the booties! If you want taller booties, make the rope taller or wider, just remember it can’t be too thin – polymer clay (even Fimo and Sculpey Primo) isn’t the sturdiest of stuff when thinned out.
Cut two length of the flat rope, and gently wrap each one around the ankle part of the boot bottom you formed earlier. Then take your pen or something that fits into the hole of the boot and use that to help press the two boot parts together (with the pen on the inside and your finger on the outside of the boot).
Smoothing it Out
If you’re like me, your boots are a mess of fingerprints by now. If this was a crime scene we’d be screwed. CSI would love us. There are a couple ways to smooth everything out.
First, you can just lick your finger and use that to smooth out the clay. I normally don’t do this. You can also dab your finger in baby powder and rub it on the clay, using the baby powder as a film between the clay and your fingers to prevent more prints from showing up as you smooth the old ones away. I don’t do this with boots because it’s a bit messy, and because it doesn’t work very well with dark colors (baby powder is white, after all).
So…get some rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip.
Dip the Q-Tip in a healthy amount of rubbing alcohol and start rubbing the fingerprints out.
Bake according to the directions on your clay package. I bake mine for 15 minutes for every quarter inch of clay there is. So I bake my shoes for 30 minutes. It’s better to err on the side of overbaking, underbaking will only make the shoes brittle.
Make sure you bake on glass, nothing else!
After it’s done baking, let the shoes cool before you pop them off the glass bakeware.
Making the Leg Peg Hole….Things
Get out that glue gun and get it warmed up. While you’re waiting, put a bit of cooking oil or Vaseline onto a paper towel and rub the doll’s leg pegs with it. They should be coated in a thin layer of grease (not so much that it’s just dripping off, though, so don’t just dip the doll’s legs into oil).
Fill the holes in the boots part way with hot glue. I normally fill the boots up to the line where the flat rope is wrapped around. Be careful not to over-fill, you don’t want the glue to spill out everywhere.
IMPORTANT! Before you stick the doll’s legs into the glue, WAIT for 10 seconds or so for the glue to cool a bit. You may not have to wait at all if you’re using a low-temp glue gun, though.
Now, after you’ve waited for a few seconds (if you have a high-temp gun), carefully insert the doll’s legs into the center of the glue, pushing down until the pegs are fully covered.
If the doll’s legs aren’t perfectly straight, you may want to insert one leg at a time, instead of doing both at once.
Now let the glue dry. I normally let it dry COMPLETELY before removing the doll, so I let them sit for at least ten minutes or so. To get the doll out, start by twisting the shoe around the leg to loosen it up, then pop the leg out.
Decorating is always the best part, for everything.
I painted these shoes with acrylic paint, but you can do lots of different things! You can wrap ribbons around the part that I painted, you can glue bows on, you can cover the whole damn thing with glitter if you want!
You can also use thin foam sheets to cut out a sole for the shoe, if you like.
After painting these shoes I coated them both in super thick varnish to make them super shiny. Then I put them on our makeunder model, Andy!
Hello hello! Took a bit longer to get this up than I wanted, but that’s because I actually made THREE of these same tutorials. Every time I made the dress I realized a better or faster way to make it, so I re-did the tutorial.
Disclaimer: this isn’t the perfect way to make a dress. I don’t finish my seams inside the garment as nicely as many people do (if you are one of those saintly people, hats off to you!) and even as I made this tutorial, I realized a better way to make the skirt (which I’ll mention in writing, but I’m not making the tutorial over again or else it’ll never get written up!).
What will you learn in this tutorial?
This tutorial covers how I make a simple dress for Bratz dolls. I’ve modified this pattern and approach for other types of dolls, too, like Monster High and Ever After High. It’s easy to do.
What WON’T you learn in this tutorial?
This isn’t a tutorial that will teach you basic sewing skills. There will be plenty of pictures of what each step looks like after I’ve sewn it, but I assume that you have at least a beginner’s knowledge of sewing to carry you through.
A small amount of fabric (really, you can do this with a 1/4 of a fat 1/4 if you wanted)
A sewing machine (or a needle and thread and a very good, long movie)
Fray check liquid
A seam ripper for the inevitable screw-up (I don’t even put my seam ripper away anymore. It just stays out on my desk)
A fastener of some sort. I use velcro, you can use whatever.
Other random sewing notions you probably need…like scissors, marker, etc.
Um….I have a life, here, how long is this going to take?
Not long! I can crank one of these dresses out in 30 minutes.
STEP ONE: GET A PATTERN
Waaaaiiiit…..you don’t have a pattern? No biggie. We can make one.
I did this part over a year ago now, so unfortunately I don’t have great photos of how I did it (okay, I have no photos). But it’s not hard.
I didn’t buy a pattern because I had a tank top made by Bratz that I knew fit the dolls. If you have a Bratz top lying around, pull out those seam rippers and separate all the seams. Lay the pieces out on some thin cardboard or cardstock, and add a seam allowance of about 1/4 inch (or whatever you want).
Or if that sounds like too much work, or you don’t have a Bratz top, buy a pattern from some wonderful patient person who sells them on Etsy.
You don’t really need a skirt pattern. It’s just a rectangle, and even the most craft-challenged can manage that!
CUT OUT FABRIC PIECES
Lay your top pattern over your fabric, making sure that any stripes/patterns are matching the way you want. Cut out the pieces! Make sure you have two layers of fabric cut for the top pieces, one for the right side, one for the lining. I sometimes use just a cheap white fabric for the lining, but I didn’t with this dress.
Cutting the skirt: The skirt I cut out here was about eight inches long. Notice the right side of the skirt has a little extra length cut out on top. This part will be to put the fastener on later (I use velcro, so I made the extra length the same width as my velco).
Keep in mind that this skirt will end up being rouched (or ruffled), so if you’re using a thinner fabric you can cut a longer strip because the skirt can be rouched more. If your fabric is thicker, like a normal cotton quilting fabric, you won’t be able to rouche the skirt as much because the rouched edge will be too thick for a tiny doll seam.
*Note to make this better* So remember I said I made this tutorial three times and found a better way to make this dress every time? Well, I could have made it a fourth time, but I’ll explain the difference now so I don’t have to do that. So instead of just cutting that extra little piece on the right side cut the little extra length thing on BOTH sides. One of the pieces will just be ironed flush with the skirt side so you can top stitch over it and keep the edge cleaner (this is explained better below). If you don’t cut out both sides of the skirt like that, the side without the extra length ends up being a visible raw edge, which is fine with some fray-check, but isn’t the most professional.
MAKING THE TOP
Pin together the top so the sides are lined up, right sides together of course. Stitch up the sides so you have the right side and the lining finished. If you’re using a pattern like mine, you’ll have three pieces of fabric stitched together, like in the photo below.
Trim the seam allowances to about 1/4″. Don’t go much thinner than that or you may rip the stitching out later! (Bad).
IRON! Get out the iron and press under a hem on the skirt. Be careful that you iron the shorter side of the skirt, not the side that has that little cut-out on it. If you want you can turn the hem over twice, I only do it once to cut down on bulk.
While you’re at it, press the seam allowances flat on the two pieces for the top, too. Helpful tip: press the allowances to the outside on the right side piece, and to the inside on the lining. This will help keep bulk down when you stitch them together.
If you don’t want your dress to have straps, you can skip all this. I make a lot of my dresses strapless because it saves a lot of time.
But if you like the idea of straps, take the lining for the top and wrap it around the doll to check strap placement. Make sure the side seams are lined up with the doll’s sides, then mark where you want the straps to be.
Cut out two strips of ribbon for the straps. I’ll be making halter straps for this tutorial, and the ribbons I cut were each about four inches long. I used the 1/4″ fabric for these straps because I’ll fasten them with velcro, and I’ve found velcro doesn’t really work on thinner ribbon.
In the photo on the left I’ve pinned the ribbon straps to the lining, over the markings. In the photo on the right I’ve pinned the right side of the top to the lining piece, right sides together, with the straps in between the two layers.
Caution: if your ribbons have a front and a back side (right and wrong side, whatever weird sewing terms you want), be sure you’ve pinned them the right way (I messed that up on the first tutorial draft).
Go ahead and sew the sides and the top of both pieces together. Don’t stitch the bottom side, so you can turn the whole thing right-side-out and press.
Clearly, my stripes-matching was an epic fail.
Sew the hem on the skirt (the hem you pressed earlier. You did do that, right?). I hemmed and stitched a ribbon on at the same time.
Optional: if you want you can turn over the raw edge of the hem another time so you hide that raw edge completely. I don’t do this unless my fabric is thinner, because otherwise I find it too bulky. And really, this is like a three-inch-tall dress for a doll that probably had a really skanky face on before you got your hands on her, so she can’t really complain about a raw seam. Please, doll.
Time to rouche! Which means ruffle, if you don’t speak bourgeoisie sewing language. I’m probably not even spelling it right anyway (‘rouch,’ that is, I looked up ‘bourgeoisie’).
Sew two loooong running stitches along the top of the skirt. Set the stitch length to the longest possible. Then pull one thread from each line of stitching and pull everything together. I use my dress top to measure the dress as I’m rouching. You want the bottom of the bodice (BODICE! That’s the word I’ve been looking for) to be the same length as the top of the rouched skirt.
Bodice. Bodice bodice bodice. Got it.
Pin the hell out of this bad boy adorable little dress. Remember to put the right side of the bodice and the right side of the skirt together. I sew two lines of stitching, one to reinforce.
Now we’re going to sew up the back of the skirt. Line up the sides of the skirt as shown, with the little extra cutout thing sticking out.
*Making this better tip* In the beginning of all this I said you should cut the little extra length thing (my vocabulary is utterly failing me today, but I’m charging on without it, apparently) on BOTH sides of the skirt. If you did that (you did, didn’t you? jk I don’t judge if you didn’t), press one of the little extra lengths back so the folded edge lines up with the rest of the side. Press, and just top stitch that little fold so it’s a clean line. This will be the side of the dress that overlaps OVER the little cutout thing that wasn’t folded over.
Okay stitch up the back of the skirt until you hit the bottom of the little extra cutout thing. Backstitch or otherwise reinforce the hell out of this seam, it will get tugged on when pulling the dress on and off those doll butts that are always weirdly big.
ADD A FASTENER! You’re almost done.
I used stick-on velcro, which works pretty well if you heat-set it with an iron after (it’s not iron on, which would be awesome, but the iron gets the velcro sticky stuff all up in the fabric weave so it doesn’t come off).
Just make sure that you put the velcro (or other fastener of your choosing) on the correct sides of the fabric. The side of the skirt with that extra flap thing goes UNDER the side where the flap was folded over (or the side lacking a flap entirely). So figure that out before attaching the fastener (that was the mistake in tutorial draft number 2).
Does your fray check smell toxic? Mine does. It’s concerning.
Anyway, take a bottle of that stuff and put it alll over any of the raw edges. Let dry thoroughly.
FINISHING THE STRAPS
Okay sorry for the switcheroo here, but I didn’t take pictures of this on the plaid dress I’ve been working with. So here’s the first dress I made for this tutorial (it’s very funky. Bad.)
Take your ribbon pieces and wrap them around the doll’s neck to measure the length you want for the halter. Trim to the appropriate length and stick some more velcro on there.
AND YOU’RE DONE! You can go enjoy a glass of, well, whatever you want, and a good movie. Or keep going and make some shoe!
Part three of the makeunder series, shoe making, is HERE!
Oh wait…if you want to add accessories like bows or bows or roses or buttons or bows…go for it. I did. 🙂
Time for another makeunder tutorial! I did one a little under a year ago with a Moxie Girlz doll, but my style has changed (and improved) so much I figured another tutorial would be helpful!
You can find the Moxie Girlz repaint tutorial HERE.
Update: now that I’ve finished all three parts of the Makeunder/Rescued Doll series, you can skip to my tutorials on DRESSMAKING and SHOEMAKING for dolls, if you like!
Also, because this is the part of the blog people seem to write random things totally unrelated to the post that no one cares about or reads, I JUST WENT TO THE MOTHER OF ALL JOANNS FABRICS STORES AND IT WAS HEAVEN. My quick trip (I literally needed two items) ended up taking two hours and about $40 more dollars than I planned on. I know all you crafty people know how that goes!
Back on track….
WHAT IS THIS TUTORIAL GOING TO TEACH ME?
This is part 1 of a three-part tutorial that goes through my process of rescuing or making-under dolls like Bratz or Moxie or whatever. Part one (you are here!) goes over the process of repainting the face. Part two will cover making a simple dress, and part three will show how I make simple shoes.
This isn’t a quick step-by-step photo tutorial. It’s really in depth, with lots of tips and tricks for repainting explained under each photo. But if you don’t want to read all that, you can go through the tutorial by looking at the photos. The captions to the photos explain what I did in what order.
What is this tutorial NOT going to teach me?
Lots of things, I suppose. Like how to cook chicken without over-cooking it (this is a problem I have 100% of the time). But as far as doll-related things goes….
First, this tutorial does not cover how to wash/tame/fix/style doll hair. If your doll needs a good salon day, head over to my tutorial HEREon how to fix doll hair.
Second, this tutorial won’t teach you much about the materials I use or how to prep the doll for a repaint (“what?! But that is so important!” I know. Don’t panic. It will be okay.).
GETTING STARTED (This is the part where you should start reading if you skipped all that stuff above).
Matt Spray Sealant like Mr. Super Clear
You’ll use pastel dust, which you make by scraping the surface of a chalk pastel bar.
High-quality watercolor pencils (Derwent or Faber Castell or Prismacolor)
You’ll use these dry…don’t get them wet!
White acrylic paint
Satin varnish (or glossy varnish, I don’t care, you don’t care).
What, you thought you could get away without reading my tutorial on Materials and Doll Prep? If you have any questions about how I remove factory makeup from the dolls, and protect and seal them, you should read that ‘Materials and Doll Prep’ link just above.
If you’re a veteran, get your doll all ready to start applying pencils and chalk dust.
How many layers of MSC do I spray before repainting?
It used to be that I only put one layer down. That’s not enough. I use 2-3 layers of spray sealant now, and it’s SO worth it. Trust me. Go spray another layer just to be sure.
We’re going to call her Andy, because Andy is an adorable name for a girl.
Andy is a 2015 Bratz, so her head is bigger than the older Bratz, her body shape is quite different, and she has articulated knees (whoo!). This particular Andy is the ‘Hello My Name is…Meaghan’ doll I got in a five-pack of Bratz from ToysRUs (at a price that made it worth it, I promise).
In the photo on the right I’ve gone through all the prep necessary, including spraying two layers of MSC on her. We’re ready to go!
FIRST LAYER OF SEALANT
This doll was done using only three layers of MSC after I started repainting. So we’re going to go by layer, because I’ve found it’s the most efficient use of MSC (which is expensive; you definitely want to minimize your use).
* Note on how this tutorial is organized: each picture has a caption with numbered subjects. Each subject is then elaborated on (in numerical order) underneath the photo.
1. EYE OUTLINES
Very first thing I do is outline the eyes. I never move on until after I’ve gotten both eye outlines where I want them.
Eye placement and size
The bigger the eyes are, the younger the doll will look (until they’re so big it’s just creepy. Don’t go to that place). I find that the 2015 Bratz look better with eyes about the size I did here. Smaller eyes start to look out of place on the super large heads. I went with medium-large eyes. They could be a little bigger, but not much.
As far as placement goes, on a big-headed doll I make the eyes wider than normal. You can see the shadows in the picture above where her ‘eye sockets’ are. I’ve made my eyes a bit wider than the sockets, and they’re definitely wider than the original factory paint.
Um….How Do I Make My Eyes Symmetrical?
Practice? But seriously, practice. Some tricks I used in the beginning:
Do the left eye first so you can copy it while drawing the right eye (or if you’re left handed, do the right eye first). This way your hand isn’t blocking the finished outline.
Don’t be afraid to modify both outlines to make them match. I set one down, then the other, then I go back to the first and change it, then so on.
If you have a hard time reaching one of the eyes, turn the doll upside-down to work on it.
Look at the eyes from different angles, especially from the top (bird’s eye view). This is SO HELPFUL!
Don’t be shy about taking a ruler out and measuring distances between the corners of the eyes and the bridge of the nose.
Hold a pencil (or anything straight) against the bridge of the doll’s nose and make sure your eyes line up along the pencil. I use this to make sure the corners of the right and left eyes are on the same plane.
Hold the doll up to a mirror for a different perspective.
Put thin outlines down, and make them more symmetrical by making them thicker in the same places.
2. EYELID CREASES
After the eye outlines are in place, you can pencil in the eyelid creases!
To achieve a more natural, child-like face, I keep the creases rounded and fairly close to the upper lash line of the doll’s eyes. For other dolls I might make the eyelid larger and the eyes less round (this achieves a more sultry look).
I also do a double-crease, just because….why not?
3. EYEBROW OUTLINE
Now for the brows.
I only pencil in an outline for the outer edges of the brows, because I’ll fill in the rest with chalk pastels. These brows are going to be pretty neutral brows, nothing crazy going on!
Caption: 1. Fill in brows. 2. Eye whites.
This is where the chalk pastels come in. Make some chalk pastel dust in the right color for your brows. Then use a small flat brush (I use my black 10/0 flat brush for this) to pick up some pastel dust and fill in the eyebrows.
You can go back and clean the brows up with a kneaded eraser (the weird grey kind that’s like gummy clay) or any eraser, really.
2. EYE WHITES
Using a white pencil, fill in the eyes. A lot of people have trouble getting the whites to show up well enough, and this is normally because they didn’t seal the doll enough before beginning. The picture shows just one layer of pencil, and it shows up so well only because I sprayed two layers of MSC on the doll before starting.
If your white watercolor pencil isn’t showing up like mine, don’t worry, you’ll just need some extra layers of MSC sprayed on to make the color show up more.
Use a dark brown or medium brown pencil to mark two nostrils, about the shape of those in the photo. Make sure they’re centered as well as possible, and even. As far as placement goes, I put them right where the nose mold curves into the lip.
Warning: don’t make them too round or too tall! The doll will look pig-nosed (of course, if you adore pigs, go for it).
1. LIP OUTLINE
Use a dark or medium-brown pencil to make two very small dots in the corners of the mouth. Then draw a thin dark line from the dots towards the center of the mouth. My line is only about 4 millimeters long: they’re very short.
Then use a pink or red or whatever-lip-color-you-want pencil to outline the corners of the lips, and the upper lip curve. If you don’t want the lines to be too noticeable, use a lighter pink or nude pencil.
1. EYE SHADING
Break out those chalk pastels again! Make pastel dust in nude colors. Here, I used light tan, tan, and brown dust to shade the eyes.
Starting with the lightest shade, use a small flat brush (I’m using my black 10/0 that I used for the brows) to shade above the larger eyelid crease and the outer eyelids. I also used some of the tan dust under her lower lash line.
Note on natural v. makeup looks: for a natural look, this shading should be fairly light. If you want the eyes to look more deep-set, you can use some darker shading, but you have to be very careful not to go overboard. If you want your doll to have a more smokey-eye look, just use darker/not-nude colors to shade!
2. NOSE SHADING
For the nose, use the light tan and tan dust to make the bottom of the nose (area around her nostrils) a bit darker. You can bring the dust up the sides of the nose if you want more realism.
Warning: I would advise against using a pencil to outline the bottom of the nose. I haven’t been able to do it where it looked natural, so I only shade with pastels. But if you are a braver soul than I…I can’t stop you.
1. WHITE HIGHLIGHTS
This is more a personal style preference, so it’s up to you.
I use a white or off-white pencil to mark highlights around the doll’s tearducts and eyelid creases, and her upper lip curve.
Note: If you’re nervous about how white and bold these highlights are, don’t worry. They’ll fade a bit after they’re sprayed with sealant.
Use a dark brown (or whatever color you outlined your eyes with) pencil to add a waterline to the doll’s eyes just underneath the lower lash line you already drew. I keep them very narrow, and only extend this waterline to about the middle of the lower lash line. You can extend it all the way if you want; it’s just a personal preference.
1. COLOR THE WATERLINE
Use a light pink pencil to color in the waterline until it ends and hits the white highlight pencil.
2. FILL IN THE LIPS
Using pink/red pastel dust, fill in the lips. I use a larger brush for this (my short clear makeup brush that I show in the Materials and Prep blog linked at the beginning of this tutorial).
I use darker pastel dust in the corners of the mouth and the center of the upper and lower lips.
Using pink/light pink pastel dust, use a fluffier larger brush to blush the doll’s cheeks. I use a fluffy eyeshadow brush for this.
I use a lighter pink dust to blush the doll’s chin and center of forehead.
Why blush now and not earlier?
Because we’re trying to minimize sprays of sealant, I do blush right before I’m about to seal the doll. If it’s done earlier in the process it’s super easy to smear the blush dust all over the place, which sucks.
SEAL WITH A THIN LAYER OF MSC (OR WHATEVER)
First, let the layer of MSC dry for ten-fifteen minutes.
Tiny note: see how much the white highlights faded? It’s more natural-looking now.
1. IRIS OUTLINE
Using a color that is a shade or two darker than the shade you want your iris to be, make two round outlines for the iris. For example, I’m going for light blue eyes, so I used a dark blue pencil to outline here. You can go as dark as black, though, if you want.
I made Andy’s eyes looking to her left, but it’s easier to make eyes that are looking straight forward, if you’re just starting out.
Your outline shouldn’t be perfectly round. The iris should always be partly obscured by the upper eyelash (if it isn’t the doll will look crazy or terrified or some horrifying combination of both). For a rounder, more Caucasian eye, the bottom of the iris should just touch the lower lash line. For a more almond-shaped eye, or an Asian eye, the bottom of the iris can be partly obscured by the lower lash line, but generally not as much as it is obscured by the top lash line.
2. EYEBROW LINES
Using a pencil with a darker color than the pastels used to fill in the brows, use fast, short strokes to create individual ‘hairs’ inside the eyebrows.
I also colored in the outer edges of the eyebrows with a dark brown pencil to make them more solid. I often make the outer edges of the brows darker than the inner edges.
Oops, I forgot to take more pics of this process (sorry, I was watching Jurassic World and got REALLY caught up. Ahhh the raptors!).
1. IRIS COLOR
After penciling in the outline, color in the whole iris with the lightest shade you want in your eye. I chose a very light blue for this.
2. IRIS SHADING
Then take a darker pencil and lightly shade in the top 1/3 of the iris, trying to blend it into the lighter color as well as possible.
Using a black or dark brown pencil, pencil in the pupils using circular strokes. Start small, then build them outward so they don’t get too big too fast (if they get really big, your doll is going to look really stoned, which would be funny, but probably is not the intent).
1. SMALL EYE LINE THINGS
Using a dark brown or black or dark blue/green/purple/I-don’t-care pencil, make tiny lines in the irises, radiating out from the pupils.
1. DARKEN UPPER LASH LINE
Sorry about the lighting that keeps changing in these photos. I was chasing the good natural light around my tiny studio, which is definitely easier said than done!
Use a black pencil to make the upper lash line a bit darker and thicker. This is less ‘natural,’ so I suppose it’s my own personal style preference. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, but I’d recommend it.
If you want a more natural look, use dark brown instead of black.
2. EYE WHITES
Using a light grey pencil, very lightly shade the part of the whites that is just beneath the upper lash line.
Then, go over the entire whites with white pencil (including the grey, unless you want your shadow more pronounced).
1. WHITE HIGHLIGHTS
If you want the white highlights to be more pronounced, go over the white highlights again with your white or off-white pencil. Remember, after we seal the final time they’ll fade a bit more.
2. LIP LINES
Using a light red/dark pink pencil, draw tiny lines inside the lips. These are the lip creases that most people have!
SEAL WITH A THIN COAT OF MSC!
Remember to wait for the MSC to dry!
Technically you could do these on the previous layer. I sometimes do that. But I normally try and do them after sealing because I often have to erase them once or twice to get them perfect, and I don’t want to ruin anything underneath.
For the upper lashes I do thicker more doll-like lashes using a black pencil. For the lower lashes I use a dark brown pencil and do tiny, thin, straight lashes until the waterline ends. For a more natural look on the upper lashes, you can use a dark brown pencil instead of black, or you can just make the lashes thinner and shorter!
2. EYE WHITES
Go over the whites of the eyes with white pencil again. If you want more shadow, add more light grey underneath the upper lash line.
3. DARKEN PUPILS
Go over the pupils once more with a black pencil, or dark brown, or whatever color you chose for the pupils (they don’t always have to be black!). If you want you can also darken the shading in the irises.
If you want, go over all the highlighted areas from earlier again with a white or off-white pencil. If you like where they’re at already, you don’t have to go over them again.
However, ALSO add some thin white lines to the lower 1/3 of the irises, and to the lips.
Sorry about the weird green lighting. Dunno what was going on there.
Optional, of course, but Andy’s a redhead so I decided to give her some freckles with a tan pencil. So adorable. Love freckles.
SEAL WITH A LAYER OF MSC
Let that stuff dry.
1. UNWRAP DOLL
She’s looked like a serial killer victim for long enough. And she’s SO CUTE!
2. CATCH-LIGHTS IN EYES
Or eye reflections, whatever you want to call them.
Mix up one drop white acrylic paint with two drops of water to thin the paint down. Then, using a toothpick, make a small white dot in the same place in each eye. Then make a couple other small white dots (or not, the number of white dots is up to you. I use two-three, normally).
Just make sure the white dots are in the same place in each eye (for the most part).
Using a gloss or satin brush-on varnish, brush a coat over the eyes and lips (or eyes only if you don’t want the lips to be a bit glossy).
I have a satin varnish, and I used one coat on the eyes, and two coats on the lips, so the lips are shinier.
And she’s done! I don’t have Part 2 written up yet, but I’ll try to do that this week. Stay tuned!
Furthermore, if you like Andy, you can adopt her on my Etsy page, here! She comes with a cute pair of glasses, a pink dress, and booties.
Goodness it’s been far too long! I’m sorry to all my wonderful followers who put up with my ramblings! Grad school and blogging just don’t go hand-in-hand (okay, nothing really goes hand-in-hand with grad school except maybe reading and stress).
I have a few posts in the works, and those should be out within the next month or so. One is a tutorial to make a ballet outfit for Bratz, and the other is a tutorial for mermaid outfits for Bratz (although the tutorials can be modified for any doll).
But for now, I thought I’d get back into the swing of things with a photo blog that shows you how I repaint my dolls, step by step.
Our lovely model is Cerise Hood, an Ever After High Doll. Unfortunately I didn’t take a before picture, but if you really want to see that just google ‘Cerise Hood Enchanted Picnic’ and photos will pop up.
Let’s get started!
Layer one: just the outlines of the eyes and a layer of white pencil over the whites. (Not shown: spray seal before starting with MSC!)
Layer one: Added dark brown to the corners of her lips (gave her a bit of a smirk because she sassy), and outlined her upper lip with a light red. Drew in a simple upper-lash line, added eyelids, and outlined eyebrows.
STILL layer one! Filled in eyebrows with dark brown chalk pastels, filled in lips with red and peach chalk pastel, but erased parts of it on her lower lip to get a more natural/nude lip color. Then I used a dark red watercolor pencil to make small lip lines on her lower lip.
STIIIIILL layer one! Shaded in her smokey makeup with chalk pastels (from tan to black). Added a second eye crease with a black watercolor pencil. Blushed cheeks, chin, forehead, and nose with chalk pastel dust (skin tones and blush tones).
Layer two! (Finally). Used dark red and white watercolor pencils to make her lip lines more pronounced, highlited the upper lip line with a white pencil. Added a beauty mark with dark brown pencil. Made her upper-lash line darker with black pencil. Shaded more eyeshadow with chalk pastels to make the color deeper. Colored in her waterline. Darkened her lower-lash line a bit. Highlighted her brow with off-white pencil. Made eyebrow hairs with dark brown pencil. Highlighted eyelid crease with white pencil.
Still layer two: Added the irises first with a light lime green. Made a dark green ring around the iris. Lightly penciled in the pupils first with a dark green, then with black.
Layer THREE: Blended pupils into the irises with dark green, dark brown, and black pencils. Shaded the irises with those same pencils. Added another layer of white to the whites of her eyes.
She’s so much less creepy now!
Layer FOUR: Everything white on the doll got another layer of white pencil, including the upper lip highlight, lip lines, around her tear ducts, eyelid crease, brow bone, and eyes. Added all her lashes (I always do this on a layer separate from the pastel eyeshadow because I normally have to erase some of the eyelashes to make them match). Also added dark lines radiating from her pupils into her iris.
Seal for the last time!
Finishing touches: last-minute I added some gold shimmer dust (PearlEx powder) to her eyelids. I did this before I sealed for the last time.
After the final seal I wait for the sealant to dry for about half an hour, then I unwrap the doll from her saran-wrap serial-killer-victim cocoon, fix her hair (I boil washed it), and add a layer of semi-gloss or gloss varnish to her eyes and lips.
Repainting a face is well and good, but what about the rest of the doll?
That’s what blushing is for. When I say ‘blushing,’ I’m actually talking about shading. Shading a doll’s body will make the doll appear more realistic and three dimensional, just like blushing/shading the face does.
I’m sorry that I don’t have many pictures here. I had a terrible time trying to get good pictures that actually showed the blushing; unfortunately blushing tends to happen where shadows would naturally fall, so it was tricky to get pictures that showed the blushing and not just the shadow.
A doll (note: this tutorial, and blushing in general, will work best on dolls with hard plastic bodies. Disney Princess dolls, Barbies, and Bratz tend to have legs that are sort of rubbery: this plastic doesn’t take well to blushing at all! If you’re working with one of these dolls, only blush the torsos).
Super optional: pearl PearlEx powder for highlights.
Paintbrushes in assorted sizes (at least one big-ish, one small, one tiny).
A toothy spray sealant (Mr. Super Clear is my go-to, but if you have a different sealant go for it. As long as it has some tooth or grain to it!).
Before we get started, you should know that blushing a doll’s body makes the doll less awesome for playing with. Playing with a blushed doll can easily scratch the sealant and rub off the chalk pastel. This is especially common around the doll’s joints, where the plastic will rub against itself when the limb is moved around.
When I post dolls on Etsy with their body’s blushed, I encourage the dolls to be used for display only.
Okay now we can start: The Prep
If you’re planning on repainting the doll’s face, I recommend doing that first so you don’t accidentally rub off any of the body blushing while working on the face.
Wrap the doll’s head and hair in saran wrap so the spray sealant doesn’t get on it (wrap legs too if they’re the Mattel/Disney rubbery type). Then slightly spread the doll’s limbs apart, making sure to bend/place them so they are exposed to the sealant.
I spray the front and sides of the doll’s torso and arms first. Let dry. I then bend the arms so my next coat gets the inside of the arms (the outside and front of the arms is covered on the first spray). With the second spray I coat the doll’s back, inner arms, and the back of the arm. Let dry. Spray the front and outside of the doll’s legs (IF they’re the same hard plastic as the torso–if they’re that rubbery material, spraying them will work for a while but the sealant will normally start to fall off after a period of time. Most sealants aren’t designed to stick to that kind of material). Let dry. Manipulate the doll’s legs (if possible) so that the next spray gets the back of the legs and the inner legs. Spray. Let dry.
How much do you spray?
No, I kinda do. Only kind of, though. With MSC there is a very fine line between too much, where the chalk pastel won’t stick to it, and not enough, where the chalk pastel won’t stick to it. I spray from about ten to fifteen inches away from the doll, and do a fairly light coat. If you see the doll’s skin become shiny with wet sealant, that’s probably too much but it may not be the end of the world. Don’t panic. Panicking is not conducive to a relaxing evening of body blushing.
What brushes do you use to blush?
I use three brushes to blush. (1) The first is a big fluffy eyeshadow brush i bought at Fred Meyer for $3.00 or something. (2) The second in a small cream eyeliner brush that I got for free with a horribly expensive cream eyeliner I bought forever ago. I love it for blushing because it has short but firm bristles, so I can really smudge the chalk dust around. (3) The third is a super small 10/0 shader brush by miniMAJESTIC ™.
The fourth is a pen. No, I’m kidding. Don’t use a pen.
Picking the Right Colors
Choosing what colors to shade with probably comes naturally to most of you who are artsy enough to customize dolls. But there are a few rules of thumb.
Do not shade with grey or black unless your doll has grey skin. There may be a few other exceptions to that rule, but otherwise you’ll just make your doll look like a sickly zombie, and that’s not great (unless you want a sickly zombie, of course).
Choose a tone, warm or cool, for your shading. This will help you determine the darkest color for the shading. For example, my model in this tutorial has bright pink skin, and the customer who commissioned her wanted cooler tones. So my darkest color for shading was purple (a cool color), whereas it would have been red if the customer wanted a warm tone.
Don’t shade with only one color group (i.e. green, including all shades of green). For example, my model in this tutorial was shaded with two shades of pink just deeper than her skin tone, as well as purple, which gives the shadows extra dimension.
I would encourage you to shade with a bit of pink, even if the doll’s skin color is blue or grey or whatever. It’s up to you. I just think that adding a bit of pink makes the doll look a bit more alive.
Here are the three colors I picked to shade my doll (remember, she is bright pink, so that’s why my shading colors aren’t normal skin tones):
Ready, Set, Blush!
Once you’ve picked your colors, use an Exacto knife or coin or butter knife or nail or nail file or whatever to gently scrap the chalk pastels into a fine dust. Don’t scrape too much: you can scrap more later but once it’s scraped it gets really hard to store without smudging everywhere.
Start with your lightest shading color (it should be just a bit darker than the doll’s natural skin tone), and layer the darker colors over it as needed.
Keep in mind the doll’s anatomy when choose where to place shadows. If you stand the doll up in natural light, the areas where the shadows naturally fall, or would natural fall if the doll had actual bones and muscles, is where you should blush. The skin under the breasts, around the collar bones, around the belly button/abdominals, around joints, in between fingers…all those places should probably get blushed.
Blush the doll’s torso first, spray to seal, then blush the legs. If you do it all at once you’ll be smearing your earlier work around by the time you get to the later stages of the process. No good.
I start by blushing the big areas first, using my big-ish eyeshadow brush. On my model (meet commission Gooliope #2! We’ll call her Goo for short), I started by shading the area between and underneath her breasts, followed by her hip bones. I followed up with the darker shading colors under her breasts, but left the hipbones less shaded.
Then I take my small eyeliner brush (not the tiny one) and blush the smaller areas, including her belly button, collar bone, and in-between her fingers. Of course, Goo is a 17″ doll, so if you’re working with a smaller doll these areas may require the tiny brush (especially the fingers).
Goo is a sort of radioactive goo doll, so her skin is sort of…dripping. I have a lot of questions about if the radioactive goo hinders her fashion choices, but that’s for another day. My customer asked that I blush her so the drips are more enhanced, so I took out my smallest brush and used the darkest pink and purple colors to shade each and every drip.
Some more pictures, finally!
If we were working with almost any other medium, shading a drawing or painting doesn’t stop after adding the darker tones in. You would then add highlights to areas that will naturally pick up the light more. On a person, these are the tops of the shoulders, tops of the collar bones, tops of the breasts, etc. You get it.
Unfortunately, unless you have and are very good with an airbrush, options for highlighting a doll are limited. (If you’ve figured out a way to do this, PLEASE comment below!).
White chalk pastel, in my experience, doesn’t show up at all on the doll after applying it and then sealing it in place with MSC. Instead, I use Pearl EX powder to highlight.
PearlEX powder was featured in one of my Transition Stories posts, but if you didn’t read that, PearlEx is a very very fine shimmery dust that is normally used mixed with acrylic paint to give the paint a metallic sheen. When applied as a dry powder, it looks nicely shimmery. Even better, it comes in a lot of different colors (I have purple-gold, pink-gold, and pearl).
If you want a really shimmery doll, you have to apply the powder in several layers, because spraying it with a sealant dampens the shimmer a bit.
On Goo, I put a touch of the pearl-colored powder on the tops of each drip. The effect is subtle enough that my camera can’t get a good picture of it, but when the light catches her drips they show up more!
PearlEx does NOT make a ‘glittery’ effect: the particles are too small for that. That said, it is shimmery, so if you don’t want your doll to have a slightly shimmery torso in some places, it may be better to skip the highlighting all together.
Here’s a few more pictures of the Disney Ariel I blushed alongside Goo. Her shading was super subtle (I think over-shaded dolls look scary), so I didn’t use her for my model. You can barely see the difference, but in person, she looks much better!
You can see the shading on her nipple area, her elbow joints, under he breasts, and on her stomach.
You haven’t seen the last of Ariel…she’ll be featured in my upcoming blog about tattooing dolls (the faint marks you see on her chest, arms, and hands are the beginnings of a heavy ink job).
And…..an upcoming giveaway!
I promised that as soon as I reached 100 likes on Facebook I would do a giveaway! I reached 100 likes a couple weeks ago, just before leaving for a holiday trip. Now that I’m back at my work space, I’m working hard on getting two dolls (one made-under Bratz, one Monster High) ready for a giveaway. If you haven’t liked my Facebook page, do so now for updates on the giveaway as soon as it’s posted!
So my newest sewing obsession is making tiny super-fancy dresses for my more detailed Bratz repaints. They can be quite a bit of work, but it’s worth it! If you like tiny super-fancy dresses, that is.
This is not a sewing tutorial, so if you’re not familiar with basic clothing construction or sewing principles, you might want to brush up before attempting this!
A few notes before we begin:
I don’t use a pattern. Or a ruler. I don’t do math. So if you don’t do any of those things either, you’re in good hands. *Later in the process I realized that I do use a pattern, but for the bodice only. And it’s a very loose pattern.
Choice of fabric will either make your life for the next hour or so very easy or very difficult.
For the skirt you’ll want something that’s very flowing and drape-y.
For the bodice you’ll at least want your lining to be a bit stiffer (like a cotton quilting fabric).
If you want an overlay over the skirt you can use anything from tulle to lace to … anything lightweight and fancy.
This doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s a doll. Not a night on the red carpet.
Sewing stuff. Thread, fabric (see note above), pins, a sewing machine…
Fray check (seriously, you 100% need this)
The shoes the doll will be wearing (or an idea of how tall they are).
Some more patience.
And just in case … a seam ripper.
READY, SET, GO!
Lay your fabric out on a flat surface and cut out a skirt. I eyeball this, but I base my measurement off of the doll’s legs, with her shoes attached. Because this skirt will be a circle skirt, I just put the doll’s waist in the ‘center’ of the circle, mark it, mark where her feet end plus a centimeter (seam allowance), then draw a sort-of symmetrical circle.
If you want the dress to have a slight train effect (be longer in the back than the front) add three or so inches to one side of the circle. It makes an egg-like shape.
To make the waist opening, fold the circle or egg-like shape in quarters, and cut a small hole in the top where the folds intersect.
Err on the small side here! You can always cut more away later if you need to make the opening larger, but it’s hard to make it smaller if you cut the opening too big early on.
Then cut up the back of the skirt from the edge of the fabric to the waist opening. Yay. A skirt.
If you want an overlay on top of your skirt, lay the overlay fabric out, put the cut-out skirt over it, and trace the pattern. Repeat all the cuts that you did with the skirt.
I find it easiest to cut the overlay and the skirt fabric out separately, because I tend to use fabrics that are slippery and I don’t like pinning them more than necessary. It is possible, of course, to cut them out at the same time, if you prefer.
Crap, I totally lied about the pattern. I use a pattern for all my bodices, but this one is one I created myself by taking apart a Bratz top and copying the shirt pieces onto a piece of paper, leaving room for a 1/4″ seam allowance (you might give yourself more allowance than that, 1/4″ is not enough, as it turns out).
Cut out your bodice according to whatever bodice pattern you have on hand, or whatever pattern you make yourself. There are plenty of patterns on Etsy for little Blythe dresses that fit Bratz and have simple bodices.
My bodice is going to be strapless.
Cut out one set of whatever fabric you cut your skirt from, and one from a lining fabric that’s cotton or anything easy to work with and sturdy. Mine is a cotton broadcloth.
This is probably the most important step. If you used a fabric that frays easily (satins, organza, whatever) I would fray check EVERY raw edge of the fray-y fabric at this point. You will thank me later.
When fray-checking, make sure to go with the weave of the fabric. You can tell if you’re going with the weave because if you’re going against it, you’ll actually start pulling the fabric apart. Because the skirt is a circle, the weave will change ever few inches, just to keep you on your toes.
Sew the skirt
This part is a pain. First you want to ‘hem’ the slit you cut up the back of the skirt. I just press each edge to the side with my iron from Target that cost $10 (and is the worst iron you can imagine).
Then move on to the the circular edge. I have no tricks for this, except to say that it is hard and you might want to reserve time to drink a glass of wine or meditate after you’ve finished this.
I press the hem in about 1/4″ with my worst-iron-ever, then sew it and the slit up the back of the dress very carefully. Pintrest probably has better tips for you on this subject than I do.
Once you’re done with all that, drink wine/meditate/cheer, and then press the skirt. I always stretch the fabric a bit too much when hemming circle skirts so pressing it helps remind the skirt it’s supposed to be a circle, not a wavy mess.
Next, line up the waist opening of the skirt with the waist opening of the overlay and baste them together. This can sometimes stretch the waist opening too much, so basting by hand here is probably the better option. I won’t be basting this with a sewing machine anymore.
Sew the bodice
Sew all the bodice pieces together, trim the edges, turn right-side out, and press. Bam. Done.
Connect the dots (sew the bodice to the skirt)
This is another tricky part, mostly because I don’t have a pattern and so it’s always trial-and-error to get the size of the waist opening match the lower edge of the bodice.
I just start pinning the bodice to the skirt and adjust, cut, or gather as necessary to make it work. This is the part that is normally not perfect.
If your waist opening is too small: good! Easy fix. Just cut the waist opening a bit lower on the skirt until it fits. Or, you can just pin the bodice a little lower on the skirt. Because it’s a circle skirt, the waist opening will get larger if you cut away more fabric.
If your waist opening is too big: less good! But not horrible. You’ll just need to sew some basting stitches to the top of the waist opening and gather the opening until it’s small enough to fit the bodice.
Then sew all that together. When you trim all the seams and all that, you should have the bodice connected to the overlay and the skirt.
I usually sew a couple reinforced stitches just in case this dress is going to get into the hands of a five-year-old. Also make sure to look at the seam you just sewed from the front of the dress to check that you caught all the edges of fabric in the seam. Otherwise you’ll end up with a big hole in the front of the dress (definitely speaking from experience).
Sew up the back of the skirt
I always screw this up. You need one side of the bodice and skirt to overlay over the other for your snaps or velcro or whatever you use. I normally play around with the skirt (get the overlay out of the way for a sec) opening by folding the edges right sides together until I figure it out.
I think this is actually a lot simpler in real life than it is in my mind. So that’s good for you, I suppose.
I ended up messing mine up, but it’s hardly noticeable so whatever. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Stitch up the back of the overlay, too!
Add a fastener
I use adhesive velcro, and iron it in there to make sure the adhesive is really super stuck. You can use whatever you want.
Well, the hard part is done. I have a huge box of beads and ribbon and buttons and glitter that gets pulled out at this point. I ended up sewing a strip of ribbon onto the bodice before sewing it onto the skirt, and then I sewed another strip of ribbon to the bottom of the overlay fabric on the skirt.
So in typical Saturday-night fashion, I’m sitting at home watching movies and dyeing doll hair. And questioning my life choices, but that’s a whole other blog post.
This is just a quick blurb on today’s experiment: dyeing blonde hair with acrylic paint.
It’s totally not my idea, this is all over the internet. But I stumbled across it and decided to give it a shot today because I have FAR too many dolls with blonde hair (like, five, but that’s about four too many).
I first straightened and tamed my doll’s hair. I have a tutorial on this, HERE.
After I did that, I had this:
She’s a Bratz, if you couldn’t tell, and that’s probably all you need to know.
Rumor has it the finer saran hair that Bratz are rooted with doesn’t take as well to acrylic paint dye as thicker hair, like Barbie or Moxie hair, but I figured I’d see how it worked.
I used craft acrylic paint, which is not the best for this sort of thing. Actually, it’s almost the worst for this sort of thing, but here we go…
I mixed about a nickel’s worth of acrylic paint with about three ounces of water. That’s about a half ounce of paint with three ounces of water?
Then I took a paintbrush and painted the paint/water mixture onto the hair.
I didn’t paint all of the hair because I was going for an ombre effect, which totally didn’t work out in the end and I still can’t figure out why.
Then I let the hair dry. To prevent the paint from drying crusty and just flaking off, I brushed through the hair about once an hour. The brushing ended up transferring the paint from the ends of the hair to the roots, so by the end of the process her hair was almost totally pink.
After several hours of drying and brushing, drying and brushing, I was left with this:
That photo shows the hair before the paint mixture was washed out.
THINGS I LEARNED NOT TO DO: Do not blow dry the hair at any point. Right at the end I blow-dried it and the paint just got really flaky and was a mess to wash out.
After I washed and conditioned the hair, it looked like this:
A lot of the pigment washed out, as you can probably see. That was expected, though, so I wasn’t too disappointed.
Because I was really hoping for an ombre effect, I did the whole process over again on the bottom two inches of hair, hoping it would soak up more pigment.
After repeating the process, I got this result:
Not much improvement.
As in, zero improvement. My best guess is that the porous saran plastic is done absorbing pigment at this point. I’m sure using proper acrylic paint (as in, not craft paint that cost .99 cents) would help.
THINGS I CHANGED FOR THE SECOND DYE: I added some white vinegar to the paint mixture the second time around and only applied it to the bottom two inches of the doll’s hair. Vinegar can often act as a binder between dyes and the surface they are being applied to: I always used a bit of vinegar when I was dying fabric, and you’ve probably added vinegar to egg-dyeing kits around Easter. Not sure how successful it was here. It may have been more effective if I had used it the first time around instead of only the second.
Even so, I got a nice pastel pink, so this girl will be transformed into some character than can pull off pale-pink hair. Halloween will definitely be an inspiration.
SOME TIME-SAVING TIPS:
You may not have to wait for the paint mixture to dry fully. I didn’t experiment with this, but I have a feeling drying fully is unnecessary because…
The time the pigment is on the hair does not seem to make the color more intense. As you know, I was attempting an ombre effect. Although all the hair ended up with paint mixture on it, the top of the hair was coated in paint a couple hours after the bottom of the hair was, which means the ‘dye’ was on the roots of the hair for less time. However, the dye job on the roots of the hair is just as intense as the dye job on the bottom of the hair. No idea why. Plastic is weird, man.
On a random note, here’s the witchy girl I did today (she doesn’t have her outfit yet, but I figured a face is a decent start):
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.
Then I sketch out the iris. Large, more oval than a real iris.
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.
Alternatively, you could use a more gradient approach to fill in the iris and pupil, and leave out the black outlines.
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!
PHASE 2: PAINT THE DOLL
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.
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.
Okay, now you can add 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Doll hair just looks better when it’s curled into adorable little ringlets that are going to be destroyed by an enthusiastic five-year-old girl shortly after receipt.
There are a few different kinds of curls you can go for, and this tutorial focuses on curling hair into ringlets as opposed to natural wavy curls.
What you need:
A doll with medium-long hair
Tinfoil (sort of optional)(actually, not optional)
A comb or brush
To start, your doll hair needs to be straightened and brushed. If you’re starting with a doll with messy hair, follow THIS tutorial to brush and straighten the hair. Then come back here!
We’ll use Violet as our model today.
To see how I repainted Violet, check out here Transformation Story HERE! Also, look for her in my Etsy shop later this month. She’ll have clothes on by then, because even faeries can’t walk around naked all the time.
1. Cut up the tinfoil and pipecleaner.
The tinfoil will be wrapped around the bottom of the small sections of hair, so the size of the rectangle depends on how small you want your ringlets to be. The smaller the ringlet, the smaller the foil. For a section of hair slightly smaller than the width of a pencil I make my rectangles about 1.5 x 1 inch (approx. 4 x 1.5 cm). You could probably go for a square, too: 1 x 1 inches or 1.5 x 1.5 cm.
You need one foil rectangle for each section of hair you curl, in between 10 and 15, depending on how much hair the doll has.
The pipecleaner straws should be cut into lengths in between 2-4 inches. Sort of up to you and what style of curl you’re going for.
2. Get the hair wet.
You don’t get a picture of this.
It shouldn’t be drenched, but wet hair is a bit easier to work with than dry hair because wet hair will stick together and isn’t affected by static.
3. Section and wrap the hair.
Now you can start sectioning out the hair, wrapping the end of each section with the foil strip or square.
What a pain! Why do I even have to do this!?
You don’t have to do this. But the foil strips will help the ends of the hair stay in place, and it will also help the hair sections curl down to the very tip. Without the foil strips the hair will curl the same, but I often have to clip off the ends of the hair when the ends didn’t curl as well as the rest. If you don’t care about cutting the doll’s hair feel free to not use foil.
*NOTE: some people like to combine this step with the next by sectioning out a piece of hair, wrapping it in foil, and then wrapping it around the pipecleaner before sectioning out the next piece of hair. The advantage to this is that you can get slightly neater curls by brushing out the section, wrapping in foil, and then wrapping before the section of hair gets mussed. Feel free to mix and match the steps!*
4. Put the hair in ‘rollers.’
Did you guys hate having your hair in rollers as much as I did when I was a kid? My mom used to put these horrid pink plastic rollers in my hair for Easter. It was the dreaded Easter hair-do to go along with the dreaded Easter dress to go along with the dreaded Easter mass.
If you hated rollers like I did, you can now get some vindictive pleasure out of making an innocent little doll suffer, too. Now is the time. Seize the day.
Take a section of hair and make sure the foil is covering the end of the hair. Pinch the foil-wrapped end with the pipecleaner by folding the end of the pipecleaner over the foil. This will help keep the end of the hair section in place. Now roll the pipecleaner up the strand of hair.
When it’s all rolled, secure the roll by wrapping the pipecleaner around it.
There are different ways to roll. If you want looser ringlets you might want to roll so that each rotation isn’t directly above the previous rotation. You basically roll the section of hair so that it spreads out over the space of an inch or so. If you want tighter ringlets you do want to roll so that each rotation is directly above the previous rotation, so that the completed roll is only about 1-1.5cm wide (you all love how I’m mixing my measurement units from metric to imperial, I know).
Violet’s curls will be very tight because I rolled all the hair on top of each other.
So now your doll looks something like this:
5. Boil the head.
This is another point at which you get to torture the doll.
Boil water by whichever method you prefer. If you are a small child or just an accident-prone person PLEASE GOD GET SOMEONE TO HELP YOU WITH THIS. Hot water is hot.
Put the hot water into a bowl deep enough to submerge the doll’s hair. Then stick the doll’s head into the water, making sure that all of the rolls are submerged.
This is an easy one. Just let the doll lounge around in the hot water for five minutes or so. I normally forget about it and just leave the doll until someone in my family tells me to get the creepy doll off the counter.
7. Cold set (optional)
After taking the head out of the hot water, put her head into some cold water to set the hair.
NOTE: you only have to do this if the water she was lying in was still hot/warm at the time you pulled her out. If you forgot about it like me, and by the time you remembered the water was cold, you don’t need to cold-set.
8. Let dry. Or don’t. Whatever.
After you take the doll out of the water, hold her upside-down over the sink to let any water in her head drain out. You can lightly dab at the hair with a towel to get some of the excess water out.
Now let the doll’s hair dry. You can let it dry halfway or all the way before removing the pipecleaners. I normally dry it halfway because it makes it easier to tame frizzies if it’s not completely dry.
9. Remove the hardware.
Gently undue the pipecleaner rolls and slide the foil off. If the curl gets messed up during this process you can neaten it with your fingers. The curls will snap back into place when they are unrolled, unless they weren’t boiled enough.
Other stuff you can do to make the curls look nicer.
Every time I take the pipecleaners out I’m always a little disappointed. Mostly this has to do with me being impatient and rolling the hair as fast as possible. But the way that the curl’s get rolled up is the exact way they will lay when they are unrolled. That said, it’s hard to get them perfect!
I always break up the ringlets with my fingers after unrolling them, and this takes all my disappointment away! I split each ringlet in half, and it makes the curls look MUCH better.
Tips for keeping the ringlets nice.
First, don’t give the doll to an enthusiastic five-year-old girl. But in the event that that isn’t an option, there are a couple other thing you can do to help the ringlets.
Second, don’t brush the ringlets, unless you don’t want them to be ringlets anymore. Like I mentioned above, if your ringlets are larger than you wanted them to be, you can split each one in half by separating the section of hair with your fingers.
I have had some success with taking the pipecleaners out of the hair while the hair was still damp and lightly spraying each ringlet with hair spray. I don’t like to do this when the hair is dry because the spray won’t go on clear (unless you use really nice hair spray but I refuse to use my nice hair spray on a doll I found in a thrift store).
I’ve also put a light coating of hair mousse on each ringlet while the hair was still damp. This works super well if you have the patience to re-roll each section of hair after applying mousse, but I’ve never had that kind of patience.
For the rescuers out there: you know when you get a doll from Ebay or Craigslist or wherever, and when she comes in the mail and you look at her you can’t help but think “what the hell happened to you?!”
Meet Devon, the red-head on the left.
Read on for tips on taming doll hair, fixing doll heads, and removing ink stains from doll faces.
Devon arrived a Hot Mess with a capital H (and M). I have honestly no idea how a child could take a doll and mess it up so much. Did it get run over with a car? Did you try to draw and quarter it? Did you think her face would look better with blue marker over all of it?
“Yes” to all of the above!
To categorize the damage:
Her hair was not in optimal condition. As in, it had been converted into a mass of frizz and then a frustrated mom, in an attempt to tame it, put the frizz into five braids that really didn’t help the situation much.
Her stomach joint (yes, stomach joint) was a little loose. Still haven’t figured out how to fix that without drawing and quartering her all over again.
Her head was so wobbly it was pretty much just not attached to the neck anymore.
Best yet, there was blue marker all over her face.
Fixing the hair was a three-day process. Now, hair is normally something I spend about half an hour on per doll. That’s it. I have no patience for hair.
For Devon, though, I was willing to put in more time only because I love Bratzillaz. Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of the process, but it went something like this: brush brush brush brush boil boil brush boil brush pour pour brush brush scream in frustration boil brush. Brush.
For an in-depth tutorial on fixing, smoothing, and straightening doll hair, see my post here.
And after all that, here she is:
I followed the method explained in a video here by Novastar Dolls. Bratz and Bratzillaz are both made by the same company, as are Moxies, so their neck joints are all built the same way, and can thus be fixed the same way.
The only change I made to the steps in the video was to heat up the head by immersing it in hot water before I popped it off and on. The heat makes the vinyl more flexible, which makes it easier to remove the head. Heated vinyl is less likely to tear or crack, as well.
Before I could repaint Devon, I had to get the stains out of her face.
If you have a doll with ink stains or marker stains on her face, you know that acetone won’t get them out. You have to bleach the stains out, but regular bleach doesn’t work.
Acne spot treatment with 10% benzoyl peroxide.
UV rays (sun)
I bought a cheap acne treatment from Walgreens (it was about $5.50), and then removed Devon’s factory paint with acetone, being very very careful not to get acetone on her acrylic eyes (it will melt them). Then I used a Q-Tip to liberally apply the cream to the marker stains on her face.
It looks like shaving cream.
Then I put her out on the porch, hoping that the sun would do it’s work and I could get to work on the faceup in the evening.
Of course, that didn’t work out, because I live in Colorado, USA, where the weather is notorious for NEVER DOING NORMAL, PREDICTABLE THINGS. The sun immediately disappeared and it started thunderstorming out of the blue, so I gave up hope and decided to start a custom project for a customer.
Five days later….So the sun came back. Finally.
Technically, the sun came back two days later, but I have some carpenters re-building my deck and I figured I’d spare them the trauma of building around a body-less doll with white cream all over her face. See, that was nice and considerate of me.