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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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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Tutorial: How to Curl Doll Hair

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
  • Pipecleaners
  • Tinfoil (sort of optional)(actually, not optional)
  • A comb or brush
  • Boiling water

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.

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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.

Here are my tinfoil pieces and pipe cleaners. Also a comb.
Here are my tinfoil pieces and pipe cleaners. Also a comb.

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.

Halfway there.
Halfway there.

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.

All done. See how I haven't slid the tinfoil down to the end of the hair? That's to keep the foil from slipping off when I'm wrapping the rest of the sections.
All done. See how I haven’t slid the tinfoil down to the end of the hair? That’s to keep the foil from slipping off when I’m wrapping the rest of the sections.

*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.’ 

Slide the foil down to the end of the hair.
Slide the foil down to the end of the hair.

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.

Wrap the pipe cleaner around the foil.
Wrap the pipe cleaner around the foil.

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.

The first roll.
The first roll.

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:

All rolled up!
All rolled up!

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.

6. Wait. 

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.

I split each ringlet in half after taking the pipe cleaners out to get slightly more volume in the hair.
I split each ringlet in half after taking the pipe cleaners out to get more volume in the hair.
She knows she's the cutest faerie ever.
She knows she’s the cutest faerie ever.

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.

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Transformation Story: Devon; Part II (Bratzillaz)

Why work on my real job when I can just paint dolls instead?

That was rhetorical.

Here’s part two of Devon’s transformation, her repaint! If you missed part one and want some tips on fixing wobbly heads, removing ink stains, and taming hair, check it out HERE.

Here’s the ‘Before’:

If only 80s hairstyles were still in...
If only 80s hairstyles were still in…

She was a Hot Mess. She came with another Bratzillaz, Violet, who I repainted first. If you want more tips on painting Bratzillaz and on using PearlEx powder, you can check her Transformation Story out HERE.

This doll has been named Devon. She’s a teenage witch, and attends a school for witches and other creatures with magical powers. That’s how she met her best friend, Violet, who’s a flower faerie. 

And ^ that is what happens when I watch fantasy TV shows while repainting dolls.

I wanted Devon to have a lot of character. Her friend Violet came out very nice and innocent and flower-faerie-ish, and I thought it would be fun if Devon had a noticeably different personality. She’s the edgy one of the duo.

IMG_3061As I’ve mentioned in other tutorials, eyebrows are the main conveyor of personality, so I knew right away that Devon would have a raised eyebrow and a lot of sass. I also figured I’d put some darker makeup on her.

At this point I think I’ve actually lost her body, because her head has been impaled on a Bic pen for so long.

Her eye shadow is a mixture of browns, black, and a dark purple (all chalk pastels). She also got heavier eyeliner compared to Violet. Her lips will be a reddish pink.

I broke down and decided that because Violet got glitter (and I mean glitter EVERYWHERE) Devon could have glitter. Check out Violet’s transformation story for more on PearlEx glitter.

IMG_3066Instead of putting glitter all over Devon’s face, though, she just got a touch on her eyelids and a dusting over her cheeks.

Because she still looked too ‘normal’ at this point I put some tiny black stars around her eyes. Because that’s…witchy….kind of…

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Transformation Story: Devon; Part I (Bratzillaz)

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.

They look worse in real life. This photo doesn't do the tragedy justice.
They look worse in real life. This photo doesn’t do the tragedy justice.

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.

The hair.

If only 80s hairstyles were still in...
If only 80s hairstyles were still in…

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:

Look at the waves!
Look at the waves!

The head.

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.

The face.

The stains are on her nose, cheeks, and chin.
The stains are on her nose, cheeks, and chin. They’re a little difficult to see from a computer screen.

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.

I used:

  1. Acne spot treatment with 10% benzoyl peroxide.
  2. UV rays (sun)

IMG_2829I 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.

IMG_2830It 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.

After a day in the sun, all the stains were gone!

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Part II of Devon’s Transformation Story: the repaint!

Click HERE for more Transformation Stories!