Vynil Fashion Doll Repainting Series
By artist Svetla Vavova-Clifford
Now that you have all of the needed supplies ( see Supplies Article) and have removed the facial paint, it's time to start repainting.
Even though fashion dolls are just vinyl, we all want our girls to have their own individuality, to look like they will start walking and talking. While that takes time and practice, here are a few simple guidelines to insure that your repaint looks as realistic as possible.
The eyes should be the same size and not appear cross-eyed. The easiest way to accomplish this is to paint both eyes at the same time constantly switching from one to the other. You should start from the whites then do the iris, the pupil and finally apply the reflections of light.
For the whites of the eyes, thin out white paint with water. The ratio of between the two requires some experimenting but the consistency should be almost liquid. If the paint is not diluted enough the doll's eyes will have ridges in them. If it's too liquid, it will flow into the crevices of the eye without sticking to the vinyl. Adjust it until the paint flows evenly. This process can initially be quite frustrating but with time it will become almost second nature.
When painting in the whites, the first two strokes of the paintbrush should outline the top and bottom of the eye. Do it in long, smooth strokes so the lines themselves are smooth. The top of the eye will be covered with the eyeliner so it is less important. The bottom line, however, should be as smooth and even as possible. More often than not, the thinnest line of eyeliner (if any at all) will frame the bottom of the eye. Barbie ® as well as most of the larger fashion dolls have well defined eye shape and both eyes are the same size. Gene Marshall's ® right eye however is a tad smaller then her left. Adjusting the size of the whites will almost guarantee you even eyes.
It is peculiar that a doll's face is not perfectly symmetrical. Gene's ® creator Mel Odom ® wanted to make her as real as possible and emulated the human form more so by making her facial features almost imperceptibly uneven.
Once you've done the first coat of white let it dry completely. Repeat the process until the white is opaque. While it might be tempting to only paint the corners right, I would not recommend it. When painting with acrylic paints, all the layers should be complete and smooth. Otherwise, the following layers will be bumpy -- not a pretty sight in a doll's eye.
The iris part of the eye should have a minimum of two or three circles. The difference is due to light vs. dark iris. If you choose a dark color, there is no need to outline the iris. While there is no rule that a light colored iris has to have an outline, it does give the eye a much more natural look.
When painting the irises keep in mind that the top lid of the eye covers the top part of it. Look at magazines or your own eyes in the mirror. The circle of the iris can be seen in its entirety only when a person is scared or surprised. This can be the perfect look if that's goes with the theme of your repaint, otherwise avoid it.
On the other hand, if you hide too much of the iris' top, then your doll will look dazed or drugged. A good rule of thumb is to hide about a third (1/3) of the size of the iris. It seems to come out as the most natural look.
I will go over painting a light eyed doll as this has one more step than one with dark eyes - at least in my method. For the sake of this article let's pick light green as the doll's eye color. A light iris looks most natural when it is outlined by a darker color. In this case, let’s go with dark green but you can pick any color that is found in human eyes. You can even use black.
Decide on which direction the doll will look in: straight-ahead, to the left or to the right. For newbies, I would recommend straight ahead. This seems to be the easiest perspective to paint. Once you get comfortable with painting an eye, shifting the direction the doll is looking is quite easy.
Use water to thin out the consistency of the paint. Dip the brush in the diluted dark green and apply a dot in each eye where the center of the iris will be. Remember to do so more towards the top eyelid as about a third of the iris will be hidden below it. If the dots are not symmetrical adjust accordingly. Once you are satisfied, start enlarging the dots in bigger and bigger round, full circle stokes of the brush. Remember to constantly switch between eyes to keep them even. Let the paint fully dry before applying each consecutive circle.
The bottom of the iris may or may not touch the bottom of the white of the eye. It's totally up to you. If you prefer to paint large eyes, then it might be easier to make it touch. A smaller eye, however, probably will not touch.
Once you have sufficiently enlarged the iris, keep putting more layers of the paint until its opaque. With black paint you will probably need about 2 coats, while dark green for example might require more coats. Each coat should be completely dried before the next one is applied.
The iris true color comes next. Dilute the light green paint. Again apply a dot in each eye where the center of the iris lies. Enlarge them in circles until they light green almost covers the previous dark green iris. Leave the thinnest possible line visible of the dark green. This way you have an easy outline of the iris without having to actually outline it. Apply more coats until the eyes are truly light green, opaque color.
Use diluted black paint for the pupil, again starting with a dot in each eye and enlarging it. Yet again, a third (1/3) of it is "covered" by the top lid for a natural look.
For the eye to look alive, you have to add the reflections light makes in an eye. There are so many possibilities but I think that the best way to learn about them is to examine doll with their manufacturer's paint intact. Barbie ® in particular has many different styles of eyes with various kinds of light reflections in them.
As a general rule, you will need at least one larger dot in each eye. Place it on either the left or the right side, towards to top eyelid where the edge of the pupil meets the iris. Whichever side you pick the other eye should have it on the same side, i.e. both dots are on the right or both on the left.
While this is sufficient to give your doll a realistic look, you may add more, smaller dots on the opposite side of the eye - from one to whoever many you want. For that matter you may chose to put a thin line following the edge of the iris. The reflections should be lighter yet then the color of the eye. You may go with white or with a mixture of the eye color and white.
In the next article, I will go over the eyebrows and lipstick. You will notice that I am skipping over eye shadow and eyeliner. While your doll will look a tad scary without them, the eyebrows must be drawn in before we apply the eye shadow. The later must follow whatever shape the eyebrows have even if it does not go all the way up to meet them.
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
E-mail the artist at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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