Trial and error: repaint, stain removal

The computer crash most likely ate my ever-growing backlog of Doll Pics I've Been Meaning To Post Some Day, and maybe that's for the best. The more photos you have, the less you actually get around to using them, I find, and modern technology doesn't exactly discourage hoarding. Now that I'm stuck with an old and slow computer and a lower-resolution digital camera, I'll have to be more economical. Maybe a good time to be a bit creative IRL instead?

So I finally took a stab at repainting a couple of doll heads. I wiped the Bratz head and one of the surplus Steffi Love heads and covered them with brush-on sealer, just to have something to practice on. Since I don't have a respirator yet, I used ordinary nail polish remover (with aceton) and Liquitex brush-on Matte varnish. Neither is ideal - I discovered the varnish doesn't quite stop the heads from staining, and I have no idea of the long-term effects of the cleaner, but for practice they're fine.

Watercolor pencils and brush-on sealer. Not recommended.

Face-ups are hard. Really hard! I wish I could blame the brushes, or the paint, or the weather or something, but the truth is I just nead practice. A lot. The pics of my first two attempts at the Bratz head were lost in the crash (and thank goodness for that - she looked like a raccoon) but I took a few pics of the latest version, which is me giving up entirely on acrylics and trying out some water color pencils to see if I still knew how to mix colors at all, then trying to put sealer on top of it to see if it really is as impossible as everybody says. I could, and it is! Good to know. She looks a bit spooky, like the death mask of L'Inconnue de la Seine, which isn't exactly what I was going for, but then again you could argue that anything is less scary than the original Bratz look.

I think I'll name you Dusty. Or maybe Visible Brushstrokes.

I don't have a lot to say about the Steffi, except I should probably have a plan before I start. And try to steady my hand against something. And learn how to use the brush properly to get a better line. And I should probably vacuum this place so I don't get so much dust in the paint. And she looks a bit like one of the girls from ABBA. Okay, that's quite a lot. Even if it isn't particularly good, it's interesting to see how much of a difference a new face-up makes on the same face sculpt!

I used liquid acrylic paint, which is something I've been meaning to try. I'm using a mix of Liquitex Ink!, Schminke Aero Color and Dr. Ph. Martins's Spectralite because that's what happened to be on sale when I visited the art supply store. The consistency is really nice and seems more or less perfect for this. I found the Schminke got lumpy easily and the Spectralite Bright Yellow is a bit too bright for my needs, but most of all I wish I had invested in a few brow hues. I thought I'd be clever and save some money by just getting the basic colors and mix the rest - a good idea in theory, but it's really time-consuming and very hard to be consistent. Some raw umber and burnt sienna is really useful for skin tones, so that's on my shopping list for next month.

What happens when you don't follow instructions

Just to keep you updated on my other experiments, I tried some Remove-Zit on some of Cool Kevin's clothes stains. The instructions says to proceed with caution and leave the stuff on for 1-2 days, but I decided I didn't have time to be careful, so I slapped some on and then forgot about it. Probably not a good idea. I left it on for at least three days, and the plastic did not react well. On the other hand, the stains seem to be gone! Maybe I'll try to file it down. I also tried it on the rubbery upper arm of a Mystic Girl Steffi. No damage, and I think the stain got at least a bit better. So at least now I know what not to do, and if I squint I can almost see this as a sign I should buy a brown haired Cool Kevin like I originally wanted.


  1. I'm no repainter, I've done a few faces here and there and almost none of them are to my satisfaction.. but here's something that may be useful: for the last couple attempts which I THINK are passable, I tried to copy the face paint of (vintage) japanese Skippers. If you search flickr (or elsewhere) for them you'll see they have a very simple but cute look which calls for very few thin lines (those are the worst arent they) and isn't too demanding where it comes to symmetry (I always have problems with that). So I think they could be nice for practice when you aren't really sure what kinda face to paint. :D
    Poor Cool Kevin though. I wonder what happened there.. I've seen dolls fried (literally burned, as in charred black) by zit cream before, but I haven't seen THAT. :)

    1. That might be a good idea actually. This kind of Japanese Skipper? http://aubreysmind.blogspot.se/2013/06/ahhhhhhhhhh-you-guys-ahhhhhhhh.html I tried copying old MLP eyes actually, those are a bit similar but require a few more lines.

      As for Kevin, maybe it's a new/cheap kind of plastic? Obviously I should keep experimenting on him to find out. :D