Tutorial: Bratz Makeunder/Natural Repaint Pt. 1

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 HERE on 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).

Materials

  • Matt Spray Sealant like Mr. Super Clear
  • Chalk pastels
    • 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).

If you have questions about any of these materials go check out my post on Materials and Doll Prep.

FIRST STEP: Preparing the Doll

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.

Our Model

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.

IMG_6020
1. Eye outlines. 2. Eyelid creases. 3. Eyebrows

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.
  • Practice. Repeat.

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.

1. EYEBROWS

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.

IMG_6034
1. Nostrils

1. NOSTRILS

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).

IMG_6037
1. Lip outline

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.

IMG_6040
1. Eye shading. 2. Nose shading.

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.

 

IMG_5962

 

 

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.

IMG_6041
1. White highlights.

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.

IMG_6042
1. Waterline.

1. WATERLINE

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.

 

IMG_6043
1. Color the waterline. 2. Fill in lips.

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.

IMG_6044
1. Blush

1. BLUSH

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)

SECOND LAYER


First, let the layer of MSC dry for ten-fifteen minutes.

IMG_6046
1. Iris outline. 2. Eyebrow lines.

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.

Placement

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.

IMG_6053
1. Iris color. 2. Iris shading. 3. Pupils.

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.

3. PUPILS.

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).

IMG_6055
1. Small eye line things.

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.

IMG_6058
1. Make upper lash line darker. 2. Eye whites.

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).

IMG_6059
1. White highlights. 2. Lip lines.

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!

THIRD LAYER


Remember to wait for the MSC to dry!

IMG_6062
1. Eyelashes. 2. Eye whites. 3. Darken Pupils. 4. Highlights

 

1. EYELASHES

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.

4. HIGHLIGHTS

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.

IMG_6063
1. Freckles.

Sorry about the weird green lighting. Dunno what was going on there.

1. FRECKLES

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

FINAL LAYER


Let that stuff dry.

IMG_6064
1. Unwrap doll. 2. Catch-lights.

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).

IMG_6069
1. Varnish

1. VARNISH

 

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.

IMG_6070

 

 

Advertisements

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.

Blog_FB-005

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

IMG_3695

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

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

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

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

IMG_3696

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

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

Play around with it!

IMG_3698

c
Another style
IMG_3700
Anooooother style. This one has softer, fluffier lashes.

PHASE 2: PAINT THE DOLL

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

Phase 2, Step 1: Prep

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

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

IMG_3708
The Moxie doll, wiped clean with acetone.

Phase 2, Step 2: Outline the eyes

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

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

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

Okay, now you can add the eyelashes.

Add in the eyelashes.
Add in the eyelashes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the eyes.

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

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

See? She’s less creepy, now.

Phase 2, Step 3: Seal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phase 2, Step 5: Eyebrows!

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

Eyebrows!
Eyebrows!

Phase 2, Step 6: Blush

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

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

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

Phase 2, Step 7: Seal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phase 2, Step 9: Varnish the eyes and lips

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

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

IMG_3742

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!

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.

IMG_2761

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.

IMG_3119

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!

Blog_FB

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

Click HERE for more Transformation Stories!

Back to Basics: How to Fix and Straighten Doll Hair

So you just got another doll to rescue, and like many dolls in need of rescuing, her hair is styled in the ever-fashionable ‘single dreadlock’ style.

Shiiiiiiiiit.

Darn.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • A sturdy, wide-tooth comb (or a fork)
  • A fine-tooth comb
  • Scissors (unless you have the patience of a Saint)
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Boiling water

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

1. Put a movie on. Seriously, that is an important step.

2. Stare in misery at the doll. Start by staring in misery at the dreaded mass of doll hair. Just take it all in.

My name is Rapunzel and my hair is a mess.
My name is Rapunzel and my hair is a mess.

3. Brush the hair out. Begin brushing the hair out with the wide-tooth comb or the fork. I take small sections of hair and brush from bottom to top. Brushing from bottom to top helps keep little snarls from developing (or worsening) as you brush. This is the step that takes me the longest.

I'll let you figure out the before and after.
I’ll let you figure out the before and after.
Finished with the first brush-through. Minor hair loss was involved.
Finished with the first brush-through. Minor hair loss was involved. No idea why this picture is green.

4. Shampoo and condition. Once the doll’s hair is pretty much brushed out—at least, you can kind of get a comb through it, sorta—shampoo and condition it. Depending on how badly tangled the hair is, I’ll comb the hair after I’ve put shampoo in it, but before rinsing. The soap helps keep the snarls from reforming. After conditioning, but before rinsing, I brush the hair out once again. And then AGAIN, I brush after rinsing for the final time.

Brushed after sudsing with shampoo. Pretty sure 'sudsing' is not a word.
Brushed after sudsing with shampoo. Pretty sure ‘sudsing’ is not a word.

Some people condition the hair with coconut oil. But let’s be real, I can’t even afford to cook with that stuff let alone use it on plastic doll hair. So I use Pantene conditioner that I got from the clearance rack of my local grocery store.

Hair cut. Also a great shot of the messiest workspace ever.
Hair cut. Also a great shot of the messiest workspace ever.

5. Trim the hair (optional). Sometimes the bottom inch or two of a doll’s hair is really, REALLY frizzy, even after all this. I have a pretty good feel for when frizzy hair can be fixed with boiling water and when it can’t be, so if I think the hair is just too dense and frizzy at this point the best thing to do is just cut an inch or so off.

When I trim a doll’s hair I layer it, so that the bottom layer of hair is the longest and the top layer of hair is the shortest. All in all, the bottom and top layers probably differ in length by a centimeter. It’s not much but it helps the hair lay flatter.

If I’m going to curl the doll’s hair I will make the difference between the bottom and top layer about three centimeters. This will help show the curls off.

This doll won’t get curls, but she will need a trim. I just don’t want to deal with the frizz at the bottom of her hair.

After her haircut. I put a rubber band around the bottom of her hair to try and help it dry a little flatter.
After her haircut. I put a rubber band around the bottom of her hair to try and help it dry a little flatter. Still not sure why the green is happening.

6. Boil and brush (only needed for dolls with very curly hair). Boil water in a pan. There should be enough water that you can submerge the doll’s head and hair in the water, and a little extra left over won’t hurt anyone. When the water is boiling, submerge the doll’s head and hair in the water for ten seconds or so. You can do longer, just keep an eye on the hair to make sure it’s not melting (’cause that would be tragic). Then, take your fine tooth comb and brush through the hair while it’s still hot. If it doesn’t seem to be helping, you can take smaller sections of hair and boil and brush those individually.

Okay do you HAVE to do this? It seems like a stupid amount of work. Honestly, I skip this step with a lot of my dolls. If the doll doesn’t have curly hair to begin with, then I’d just go straight to step 7, below.

Nope, I didn’t boil and brush Rapunzel’s hair.

7. Pour hot water over her head. After I’ve heated the hair once (or two times or seven times or not at all) in boiling water, I boil a kettle of water and pour that water over the doll’s head while she’s sitting in an upright position. The force of the water will help flatten and straighten the hair more than simply boiling and brushing.

I normally section out the hair in layers, starting with the hair closest to her neck and adding more hair as I’m happy with how the lower layers look. This helps the hair straighten evenly.

8. Cold-set the hair. When the hair is as straight as I want it to be (or as straight as I have the patience for, whichever comes first) I cold-set the style by brushing her hair under cold water (use the fine-tooth comb).

Honestly, I’m not 100% this step is needed. But the cold water feels kinda nice and makes the hair easier to brush so why not.

After boiling, brushing, pouring hot water on her, brushing, brushing, cold-setting, and brushing. And at some point she lost her body. Weird how that happens.
After brushing, pouring hot water on her, brushing, cold-setting, and brushing. And at some point she lost her body. Weird how that happens.

A word of warning! I don’t have proof for this, but I’m always a little concerned when brushing boiled doll hair that the brushing stretches the hair, making it snap back a little frizzy, or just stretching it out in general. I know many doll rescuers have complained that after straightening doll hair it will slowly lose some of its sleekness over the following few weeks, and my theory is that boiling and then roughly brushing the hair may damage it in some way. Not like that has changed my boiling and brushing behavior, though.

Can you use heat tools on doll hair? The safe answer is ‘no.’ Curling and straightening irons are generally too hot; they will melt the plastic hair and trust me, you do NOT want that to happen.

However, if you are very, very, very careful about using heat tools, you can do it. I’ve had success straightening doll hair by wetting it, wrapping it in a thin rag, and pulling it through a straightener on the lowest heat setting. That said, I’ve also had success melting the doll hair this way, too. Try at your own risk. Or, at the doll’s risk, I guess.

Okay hold the phone. Her body is gone. Why is it gone?

Look so easy. And yes, that is dental floss.
Look so easy. And yes, that is dental floss.

Rapunzel had a slightly wobbly head, so while her vinyl doll head was soft and pliant from the hot water treatment, I went ahead and popped it off so I could fix the wobble.

Taking Bratz/Moxie dolls heads off is super easy. Heat them up with hot water, push down on the head, and pop them off. Don’t twist or angle the head: just pop it straight off.

And yes, that is dental floss. Waxed, to be specific. Because no one has string just lying around anymore.

9. Dry. After cold-setting the hair, squeeze the water out but don’t brush it out. Let the hair dry completely.

Here she is, straightened (enough for my purposes at least) and brushed. So much better.
Here she is, straightened (enough for my purposes at least) and brushed. So much better.

10. Style. At this point, you have a nice blank canvas to work with. Styling straight hair is much, much easier than styling frizzy hair. You can, of course, leave the hair straight at this point, or you can curl it into ringlets if you want to spend some more time playing with hair.

Curl? Check out my tutorial on how to curl a doll’s hair HERE!

11. Finish your movie.

Before and after. I'll let you figure out which is which.
Before and after. I’ll let you figure out which is which.

Questions or suggestions, leave it in a comment below! I love to help and learn from other rescuers.

Made-Under Doll Repaint Tutorial (Moxie Doll)

Sometimes I am in the mood for instant gratification. And by ‘instant gratification,’ I mean two-to-three-hour gratification.

What I mean is: I wanted to feel like I did something productive with my day, so I decided to start and finish a doll in one sitting.

Mostly it’s an excuse to watch a movie. My repainting movie tonight was Mission Impossible II, which is a terrible movie, as it turned out.

So in an effort to feel productive, I grabbed one of the three blond Moxie rescue dolls I have lying around and the TV remote, and pressed play.

The before.
The before.

So there’s the ‘Before.’ Honestly, compared to Bratz, Moxie dolls are already pretty made-under. But I have enough of an ego to believe I can make her look cuter.

FIRST STEPS – PREP

(1) Removed makeup with acetone.
(1) Removed makeup with acetone.

–> The first of the first steps is to seal the doll’s face with a sealant that has some tooth with it. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT! In order to get good color build up on the doll’s face, the face has to be sealed first. Otherwise the pigment won’t stick to the vinyl and the colors will be very faint.

For a more-detailed explanation about how to prep a doll for repainting and the materials involved, please see this post: Repainting First Steps

Note on sealing layers: I do my made-under dolls in two layers. So I seal the plain vinyl (with no makeup at all); do the first layer, which includes the eyes, eyebrows, and mouth; seal that layer; add the second layer, which includes some little details and the cheeks; then seal for a final time. You can seal more or less often depending on your preferences.

To learn how I fixed this girl’s hair, go HERE!

(2) Fixing the wobbly head.
(2) Fixing the wobbly head.

Photo 2 was taken while fixing this doll’s wobbly head. Thankfully, Bratz and Moxie dolls are pretty easy to fix (unlike the Monster High heads). I won’t take credit for this method: Novastar Dolls has a helpful video on how to do this; I learned from that. The only change I made to her video was to heat the doll’s head up with hot water before popping it off and on again. The hot water heats the vinyl head and softens it, making it easier to pull the head off.

Next (after the head was reunited with it’s body), I wrapped the hair and hard plastic body in saran wrap and sprayed the bare face with a layer of Mr. Super Clear.

The eyes. Getting the eyes done takes the most time, so I do that first. I also just kinda want to get it out of the way.

(3) Outline the eyes.
(3) Outline the eyes.

First I use a dark brown watercolor pencil to get the rough outline of the eyes down. Because I was planning on making the upper lid a little thicker than normal for this doll, I didn’t worry about making the eyes perfectly symmetrical at this point. You can see in photo 3 that they’re pretty different.

(4) Finished outline of the eyes, plus eyelids.
(4) Finished outline of the eyes, plus eyelids.

Then I go back and draw over the outline, making the lines thicker in certain places to get the two eyes as symmetrical as I have the patience for. (Photo 4).

Eyelids. After the outline of the eye is in good shape, I add the eyelids. Usually I draw two lines for the eyelids, but you can do as many or as little as you like.

(5) Added eyebrows.
(5) Added eyebrows.

Eyebrows. As I’ve mentioned in other tutorials, eyebrows do the most expressive work of any characteristic on the doll’s face. Basically, whatever expression you want the doll to have, the eyebrows are going to be your best friends.

I use a pale pink watercolor pencil to pencil in the eyebrows, shown in Photo 5. I use pink because it usually doesn’t show up under the pastel. This little gal got asymmetrical brows. It gives her a bit of sass.

(6) Erased the brows until they were very faint.
(6) Erased the brows until they were very faint.

After penciling the brows in, I lightly erase them until they are very, very faint (Photo 6). This ensures that the pencil marks don’t show up under the pastels.

(7) Applied brown and yellow pastel dust to her eyebrows.
(7) Applied brown and yellow pastel dust to her eyebrows.

Then I apply pastel dust with a 10/0 flat brush to the pencil outlines (Photo 7). Getting very light colored (read: blonde) eyebrows is almost impossible with pastel dust, so I combined some light brown and yellow dust and used that. The outer edges of the brows got darker pastel dust than the inner edges.

(8) Filled in the whites of her eyes and colored her lips.
(8) Filled in the whites of her eyes and colored her lips.

The next steps are combined in Photo 8. First, I used pastel dust to do a bit of shading on her eyelids (brown, pink, and orange pastel dust). Second, I filled in the whites of her eyes with a watercolor pencils. Third, I added some color to her lips (otherwise she looked like a zombie and it was creepy).

Lips. I use a small brush to scrub pink/dark pink/red pastel over the lips (Photo 8). It can be difficult to build up color, so I use quite a bit of pastel dust. Residual dust flies everywhere (all over her nose, chin, and cheeks), but that dust will brush away easily.

(9) Brushes I use to apply pastel dust.
(9) Brushes I use to apply pastel dust.

The larger brush in Photo 9 is an eye-shadow brush (the Q-Tip can give you a size reference), which I use to brush loose pastel dust off the doll’s face. I also use it to apply blush to the cheeks. The smaller brush is a weird eyeliner brush that I use to apply pastel dust to smaller areas, like the lips.

*Seal this layer!*

I seal at this point to protect the color on the lips, the shading on the eyelids, the eyebrows, and help the color of the irises (next step) really pop.

Irises. So when you get tired of your doll looking like a soulless zombie, go ahead and add the pupils. This gal (I really need a name for her) is getting side-glancing eyes, because those are my favorite with a raised eyebrow. It’s by far my favorite look for a doll.

(10) Adding the irises.
(10) Adding the irises.

I set the irises with a light blue pencil, then outlined them with a dark blue pencil (Photo 10). Side-glancing irises will never be perfectly symmetrical because the shape of the inner and outer eye is different, so I don’t worry as much about making them symmetrical.

Pupils. Then I begin shading in the pupils. I use a ‘soft pupil’ look, where the pupil sort of fades into the iris. It’s very unnatural and if a real person had this they’d probably be blind. Then again, if us real people looked anything at all like dolls we’d be missing half our organs.

(11) Shading the pupil.
(11) Shading the pupil.

I use a dark blue pencil to begin shading the pupil, but you can use any color that will go with blue. I shade using small circular motions, making sure that the darkest area is in the same place on each eye–that’s the direction of her gaze. (Photo 11).

Then I shade over the dark blue with a black pencil (Photo 12). When the pupils are dark enough and fade nice and gradually into the irises, they’re done!

(12) The finished irises/pupils.
(12) The finished irises/pupils.

If you want a more traditional ‘hard pupil,’ it’s actually much easier. Just outline it in over the iris, then fill the outline with black (Photo 13). Make sure they’re symmetrical. Otherwise the poor doll will be forever cross-eyed.

(13) An example of 'hard pupils.
(13) An example of ‘hard pupils.

Facial details. Next I added a few little details to her eyes (Photo 14).

(14) Another layer of white over her sclera (whites of her eyes), and changed her lashes from brown to black.
(14) Another layer of white over her sclera (whites of her eyes), and changed her lashes from brown to black.

First, I applied another layer of white pencil to her sclera (new word! = whites of the eyes). Second, I changed her upper lashes from brown to black by going over them with a black pencil. Third, I drew in faint eyebrow hairs with a dark brown pencil. I drew the left eyebrow hairs in first by turning her upside-down. Fourth, I added tear ducts.

Blush. Now for the easy part (finally!). Blushing the cheeks is pretty simple. I use my eye-shadow brush (shown in a photo somewhere up there ^), dip it in bright pink or red pastel dust, and just lightly dab it onto her cheeks (Photo 15). See? Simple. I wouldn’t lie to you.

(15) Added blush to her cheeks.
(15) Added blush to her cheeks.

She’s pretty much done at this point.

*Seal this layer!*

This is the final time I will seal the doll. The sealant protects the blush, the pupils and irises, and all the other little details we added.

Eye reflections. Take a tiny bit of white paint, water it down a bit (or use a fluid retardant like I do), and use a teeny-tiny brush or toothpick to apply a white dot–or two, or three–to the eyes (Photo 16).

(16) The little white dots! They add a LOT to a doll's face.
(16) The little white dots! They add a LOT to a doll’s face.

Be sure to apply the dots in the same place in each eye. Don’t measure it by where the dots are in relation to the pupil (especially if the eyes are side-glancing), measure the dots by where they are in relation to the upper or lower lid. This helps me align the reflections in both eyes correctly.

Varnish. The LAST STEP! YOU MADE IT! See that wasn’t too bad, right? Took you, like, ten minutes from start to finish, right?

This is a pretty simple step, shown in Photo 17 below (barely shown. It’s hard to photograph). Use a brush to apply a shiny varnish to the eyes (avoid the eyelashes). I also glossed this girl’s lips, although I don’t often do that with my made-under dolls. If necessary, apply a couple coats.

Note on varnish. I mentioned this in my post about materials, but some varnishes apparently dry tacky. Those varnishes probably don’t like the vinyl the doll head is made with–few sealants like this material, which is why you have to be a little careful with what you brush or spray onto your doll’s face. Anyway, I use a Delta Ceramcoat gloss interior varnish. It’s for use over acrylic or oil paint, but it fully dries on the dolls, so I’ll take it. It’s an ancient bottle, so I’m not even sure if Delta makes this type of varnish anymore.

IMG_2805(1)Here she is, all done! What should I name her?

Unfortunately this little girl won’t be available in my Etsy shop for some time…She needs a new outfit and my sewing machine access hovers in between non-existent and not-worth-it.

If you repaint a doll using this tutorial, please show me your results by posting a picture of the doll (either finished or in progress) to my Facebook page! As always, if you have any questions about my methods or process, don’t hesitate to ask a question in the comments below.

Repainting First Steps: Materials and Doll Prep

I dislike this part of the process. It’s kind-of tedious, the perfectionist in me isn’t ever happy with it, and sometimes things happen and the doll is ruined before you even touched a drop of paint to her.

That said, preparing well makes the rest of the process much easier, so it’s not something to be brushed off. Read on for tips and advice about materials and doll prep.

MATERIALS

Acetone. I use pure acetone from the nail section of a drugstore to remove the doll’s factory paint. Some people prefer to use other, less toxic and less horrible chemicals to do this, some people have found a non-acetone nail-polish remover…I like pure acetone. It works.

Sealant. I use Mr. Super Clear Matte, a fairly standard spray sealant in the repaint world. MSC is great because it has a nice tooth (or grain) to it that allows the pigment to stick to it and it’s not shiny. MSC is less great in that it is super toxic, and because I don’t have a respirator anymore, I’m probably going to develop lung cancer in a few years. Trade-offs, ya know?

MSC tends to be a little pricey. It comes in relatively small bottles, and costs about $10-20 dollars, if you get it from the right place. I always get mine on Ebay. It’s stupidly expensive if you buy it on Amazon. Junky Spot (there’s a link somewhere below) also has it, but I’ve always found the best prices on Ebay.

Watercolor pencils. I mostly use Faber-Castell and Derwent pencils. These have a high pigment concentration and they show up better on the dolls’ faces. One trick is to keep them very sharp during the whole repaint process, so a good sharpener is key. Using a good-quality brand of pencils is really important–don’t cheap out on these; cheap pencils won’t work.

Chalk pastels. I have Faber-Castell pastels, but I’m not sure that the brand matters as much for chalk pastels as it does for the watercolor pencils. The key with this is to really make sure you’re getting chalk pastels, not oil pastels or pencil pastels or anything else. My pastels come in a short rectangle cube shape. I scratch the side of the pastel with a razor blade to make chalk pastel dust.

Brushes. These are used mostly to apply chalk pastel dust, white paint, and varnish. I would recommend having a varnish brush that isn’t super high-quality, because I always ruin my varnish brushes for some reason.

I use three different brushes to apply pastel dust. First is a fluffy eyeshadow brush I got at a drugstore for no dollars (okay, maybe three dollars). This is great for applying blush to the cheeks and forehead–large areas. Large, as in tiny, because these are dolls, but you know. Second is a small weird eyeliner brush that I got with a fancy cream eyeliner by Clinique (this is the short one with a transparent handle in the photos). It’s the worst eyeliner brush I’ve ever seen, but it works great for applying pastel dust to smaller areas like lips and upper eyelids. Third is a very small flat 10/0 paint brush (it’s the one with the black handle in the photos). I use this brush for eyebrows, shading on the lips, upper eyelids, and lower lids.

I have a nice 20/0 spotter brush (red handle in the photos) that I use for applying the white dots to the eyes, but sometimes I just use my ruined 20/0 spotter that is now my varnish brush, especially if I want the dots to be a little larger.

For tattoos, facial designs, and other things that really can’t be done well with just watercolor pencils, I use a stupidly tiny series of brushes (not shown in photo). The Psycho and Insane Detail brush from JunkySpot are good. I also used to have, and liked, the 10/0-30/0 size brushes from Reaper Miniatures.

Right to left: nice 20/0 spotter, varnish 20/0 spotter, 10/0 flat, eyeshadow brush, eyeliner brush.
Right to left: nice 20/0 spotter, varnish 20/0 spotter, 10/0 flat, eyeshadow brush, eyeliner brush.

Varnish. I use cheap, ancient varnish that works just fine because varnish is varnish to me. Two qualifiers: (1) it has to be shiny (so look for a glossy varnish), and (2) it has to dry non-tacky. Apparently some varnish is tacky. I don’t know why a company would make varnish that doesn’t really dry, but in any case, avoid that varnish for these purposes.

White paint. Acrylic paint, please. I use cheap craft paint that I get for .69 cents at JoAnn fabrics, but it’s a little grainy so I would recommend going a little higher-quality. I just can’t find a good art store in my area yet. This is used for the tiny reflective dots in the eyes. Also seen in that photo at the top is Liquitex Slow-Dry Fluid Retarder. It is basically expensive water that you put into your acrylic paint to thin it out and prevent it from drying so fast. I use this stuff, but I’m honest-to-god sure it’s just water that I paid eight dollars for. So you can definitely use water.

PREPARING THE DOLL

This is where things start getting a little serial-killer-esque.

Removing the factory paint. 

First, remove the paint with acetone or a suitable substitute. I use plain Q-tips to do most of the work, but using the special pointy Q-tips is handy for the hard-to-get places like the corners of the lips.

The Q-tips will smear the factory paint around on the face, which is fine. I get as much of the paint off with the Q-tips as I can, then, when the face is mostly clear, I finish up with a round cotton pad with a splash of acetone on it. The cotton pad has more coverage, so it’ll take off any remaining paint smudges without just spreading them around. This is a super important stepThere is really nothing worse than getting to the end of the repaint process (and you always discover your mistakes at the end, never the beginning) and realizing half the face is still kind of blue because it has smeared factory paint underneath all your hard work.

Rinse the doll’s face off with water to get rid of any acetone residue and the cotton pad fuzz. Just in case.

Some dangers about removing the paint. I have ruined some dolls at this stage. I have discovered while removing paint that the acetone can work itself into the vinyl of the doll and make small dark spots. They look like freckles. I think it may just be a naturally-occuring tiny hole in the vinyl that then gets paint smeared in it and it’s too small to the get the paint out….But I really don’t know what it is. Sometimes I can save the doll, and at least once I’ve had to repaint it and give it away because I didn’t like those imperfections. This has only happened to me in about five of the dolls I’ve ever done though, so it’s a fairly rare issue.

Other dangers about removing the paint. Acetone will melt the hard plastic on the doll’s body if it comes into contact with it. It will also melt holes in your plastic craft table, just FYI. It won’t ruin the hair if it touches the hair for a bit, though.

Protecting the doll. 

Now that the doll is face-less and super creepy, we get to make it creepier by wrapping it in saran wrap. This is when people in your family start wondering if they should be worried.

Wrapping the doll is pretty self-explanatory. I use saran wrap because it stretches and can be pulled really snug against the doll’s hair. The goal is to keep the doll’s hair and hard body from being covered in spray sealant. The hair especially, because the sealant turns it a crusty white and it’s super hard to get out.

Rubber bands or hair ties do a good job of keep the saran wrap close to the hairline. If the saran wrap goes over the hairline and covers part of the doll’s forehead, at the end you’ll notice a line between the MSC-sprayed vinyl and the vinyl that was under the saran wrap, which is something to avoid.

See what I mean about the serial-killer victim? I told you.
See what I mean about the serial-killer victim? I told you.

Seal the doll.

Now that she’s all wrapped up, spray a thin layer or two of MSC over her face. Do this outside (toxic, remember?), preferably with a respirator (not a mask; a real, actual, zombie-apocalypse-type respirator. They’re on Amazon for $30). If you live in a very humid place, try and do this at the least-humid time of day. You also want to spray when it’s a little warmer outside; the spray won’t work right if it’s very cold.

Hold the nozzle 10-12 inches away from the doll, and make sure to turn the doll at times so the sides of her cheeks get sealed as well. Let the spray dry for ten minutes or so in between coats. Try to avoid a really thick coat: if the layer is too thick the MSC starts to dry a little shiny.

As always…if you have a question, leave a comment below, or get in touch with me on my Facebook page.