This tutorial does not apply to the Ghoul’s Alive line. A Different type of plastic is used for the line’s heads. Using Acetone will result in melting the plastic.

This tutorial is covered in two parts:

Additional resources:

Here’s the next part of the Monster High repaint tutorial! If you haven’t already, you can catch the first part here.

 

Tools of the trade

Before we jump right into the fun bit, it’s important to get to know your tools. These are just a list of tools I use prefer to use. It’s good to understand their properties and qualities to achieve effects that you are going for.

My tools are generally divided in the following categories:

  • Seals: Mr. Super Clear UV Flat, gloss and matte varnish
  • Pigments: Acrylic paint, Soft pastels, water color pencils
  • Tools: Brushes, cotton q-tips, kneaded eraser

 Seals

If you’re familiar with digital programs like Photoshop, Sai, Painter, Manga Studio, or MyPaint, seals are essentially the equivalent of how layers are used during the repaint process for me. Unlike digital programs though, there is no “undo” feature once you’ve done something with your canvas but to start over from scratch. Seals keep your work intact, protected and enhanced.

Mr. Super Clear UV Flat

If you do any kind of doll repaint, Mr. Super Clear UV Flat is an absolute necessary part of your tool kit. Mr. Super Clear was especially designed for resin and vinyl dolls. As such, the finish has a “toothy” texture that allows pastels and powders to stick to surfaces that it’s sprayed on.

Other types of matte sprays are specifically designed for traditional art surfaces such as oil paintings, wood paneling, or canvases which will cause a yellowing effect if applied to vinyl or resin, sometimes even damage it due to unusual chemical reactions. Mr. Super Clear is available at most hobby stores, Junkyspot and Amazon. It’s been particularly hard to get it lately but it’s usually available for $16-$20 in the US.

When using this stuff, make sure you do it outside or a well ventilated area with a mask on. It’s absolutely toxic and very bad for your lungs! Make sure that you shake the can before you spray it to make sure that all the contents are properly mixed. Spray within 1-2 feet of the doll’s face to get an even coating. Don’t use this if there is too much humidity since the moisture will prevent the seal from adhering to the surface properly and cause white flakes.

From personal experience, Mr. Super Clear doesn’t seem to take well to Monster High bodies and flakes off eventually. If you really wanted to, apply Mr Super Clear UV GLOSS, then apply the flat version. My theory is that the plastic used for the bodies are too smooth for any of the sealer to actually hold on to, much like why mentos explodes when you drop it in soda.

Since it’s been relatively hard to get a hold of this lately, I try to use it sparingly. Use as little of this as possible anyway not just for cost but for health and because it’s good for your work in general. All you need is 5-10 seconds of applying the sealant for one layer, just enough to coat the surface very lightly. Too many layers will cause cracks in your work or a caking effect.

Gloss and Matte Varnish

I acquired my first Gloss and Matte Varnish from Dollyhair so I’m not really sure what brand it is. I have seen Liquitex Gloss and Matte varnish by most doll artists. At first I just never used any but boy is it a huge improvement when you do!

If used during the repaint process, apply gloss or matte varnish over the sclera (white part of the eye) before you draw the irises. The result is you get something of a translucent, watery effect just like with real eyes. When used as a finish, it enhances and helps make colors “pop.”

Pigments

These are essentially items you would use to color or paint with.

Soft Pastels

I use a brand called “Pro Art Soft Pastels.” I have had this set since I was in High School (which was a very long time ago!) and have used these to make realistic miniature food, illustrations, basically anything where you want/need to control areas of blush/dirt.

This is the first thing to apply for a doll repaint since they are really easy to mess up due to unintentional smudges or just overdoing it. Sometimes it helps to plan your doll repaint process since it’s difficult to imagine your work finished when all you are looking at are blushed areas. However, applying the soft pastels first also adds that added “toothy” texture to hold your acrylics or water color pencils when it’s time to draw the face on.

Due to the nature of soft pastels, this is also why I apply a sealer on a blank face before any actual painting happens: 1) To create a layer that protects the vinyl from getting stained; 2) Tooth for the pastel pigments to hold on to. If you ever make a mistake and need to start over, it all gets wiped off clean.

Acrylic Paint

They’re so versatile! I have been using Liquitex Basic Acrylics for years. They’ve always been reliable and accessible for various artistic experiments I’ve done in the past. They’re like glorious versions of watercolors for me. They don’t fade with time, and they’re perfect for doll repaints since they sort of dry in some kind of rubbery consistency that just “bends” with the plastic.

If you’ve worked with acrylics on flat surfaces, don’t be afraid to apply similar techniques on uneven surfaces… like doll faces. You can achieve some interesting effects.

Water Color Pencils

In some cases, brand name matters. I have tried other brands of water color pencils but nothing quite works like Prismacolor. I’ve avoided Prismacolor in the past because they were just so expensive! For good reason though. The colors are vibrant and they’re solid! They make other color pencils look and feel like crayon in comparison. Whatever kind of pigment was used to make Primsacolor pencils, they have a tendency to adhere better to the toothy surface of Mr. Super Clear.

If you ever make a mistake with these, just apply water and start over! They achieve nice crisp lines, sometimes finer and more controlled than what you can do with a brush. They also help me with those nice gradient effects if the acrylics aren’t quite working with me.

Pearl EX Pigment Powders

I think these were meant to be for calligraphy ink effects. I used to use these in clay miniatures or illustrations to add that glorious “sparkly effect.” It was less tacky than using glitter. It looks even better on dolls. Use sparingly unless unicorns are involved.

 

 Tools

Brushes

I personally don’t have any preferred size. It’s just very important that you get a hold of the tiniest brush accessible to you. They are easily found at any hobby or craft stores. Junkyspot and Dollyhair sell tiny brushes ideal for doll repaints if you don’t want to hassle yourself with research.

Cotton Q-tips

Available at any grocery store near you! They help with the clean up, they can also be used as make shift brushes or an alternative to sponge brushes to apply pastels or any powdery type stuff. Awesome.

Kneaded Eraser

These usually come in grey and are those rubber, doughy stuff used with charcoal pencils. They’re available in any art store. The fact that they are like clay makes them ideal to use for correcting stray blushes and erasing pencil mistakes. Remember to knead the eraser often so that you’re always using a “fresh” side. If you accidentally use a stained area, it will result in unwanted smudges.

 

Let’s Dance

Okay… Let’s paint.

The process is essentially: 1) Apply sealant, 2) Apply blush, 3) Apply Sealant, 4) Apply acrylics/watercolor pencils. Sealant is applied every time you are satisfied with what you’ve done with a layer or you want to secure it. Try to limit your sealant to 5-6 applications.

Apply blush! I want to keep Rochelle’s make up so she keeps her pink eye shadow and lips. I used a round brush and q-tips to apply the soft pastels.

Because pastels get smudged very easily, I seal this again to keep it in tact. We move on to the next layer.

I like to place outlines because I like to color inside lines. I used watercolor pencils to outline the eye shape, eye lids and some detail work on her lips.

Still on the same layer, I painted her sclera. I used watercolor pencils to enhance the sclera with shadows when the paint dried and applied gloss varnish. I seal it again so I can work on the next layer.

I painted her iris. Defined parts of her make up with color pencils.

More definition with water color pencils!

If I’m content with the resulting eyes and lips, I apply seal to secure it so I can do the eyebrows on another layer. That way eyebrows can be drawn and erased as many times without disturbing the layers below. I usually use a color pencil and lightly sketch out the eye brows until I get a good shape. I turn the doll upside down to draw the opposite eyebrow to help with symmetry. 

One more seal!

More definition work to make things pop, applied white highlights to the eye and one last seal! I dabbed a bit of Pearl Pigment on her iris which looks really nice and glittery. Gloss varnish applied to the eyes and lips and she’s done!

Attach the head back on the body and pour boiling water over her head to straighten her bangs back. The hot water should also remove the greasiness.

There you have it! Be sure to watch out for other repaint subjects.

About Periwinkle

Illustrator, crochet doll designer, doll customizer, author and owner of No Nap Time. She likes to make miniature items in 1/6th scale. She loves dogs, baby elephants and alpacas. She owns a pet chicken in Minecraft named "Mr. Cluckers."

33 Comments

  1. Heather

    I am having the worst time with watercolor pencils ;_; They will NOT give me a good line, it’s always mushy and soft… I have tried using them dry and moistened… How the heck do you get a good fine line with these things?! (They are well sharpened too)

  2. Cat

    I’ve been searching for the perfect step by step instructions for hours and I gladly found your post!

    I do have a question; What did you use the acrylic paints for? To make the colors vibrate or..?

    Thanks.

  3. Zapatilla Loca

    I think your tutorial is great..as someone who is just getting started with repaints, the “less is better” approach works for me..I need basic steps..and yours pretty much layed out exactly what I need to get started..later on when I have more experience, Ill look for specific details to make my work stand out. Thanks for taking the time to do this, and fooy to the nay-sayers..

  4. scarlita688

    brava for explaining ‘in-detail’ why you didn’t do a step by step by step tutorial… it’s important to remember one thing here. first and foremost, this is an artist, who has worked very hard ,trained, practiced, experimented, studied and probably failed a few times to get this looking the way she does. it is not fair for us to ask her or expect her to divulge every last thing she knows to us In 5-6 easy as you please steps. it doesn’t nor should it work that way. she has a style that belongs to her. one that was hard earned and shouldn’t necessarily try to be copied… yes its perfectly gorgeous and we are all in awe! but what she has done is given you the first essential steps that are so important. and then been kind enough to grant us access to the kinds and types of tools used to get specific effects, including brand names and why the preference to it. just for the prepping mentioned alone we should rightly bow down. that is a good chunk of info to be mined for your future reference. so madam thank you kindly for being as kind to share this huge gold mine with us . both experienced and new- tos can learn at least one great thing here and probably many, many more. now… go forth and find your OWN style. then , if its not too much trouble(and you will think maybe it is) tell others what you learned. p.s. this ooak thing rocks!

  5. Raven

    Hey. I’m realy realy realy realy realy REALY one more time RE-A-LY afraid to repaints my Monster High. I have Operetta and Ghoulia ( Waiting for my classic Draculaura <33 ) it's not afaid " Oh my Rá, I can do something whong, i'll kill my doll" … oh wait, is allready it. But is just because when in the my Country a Monster High price tag is… $89 THE BASIC LIKE, SCARIS, AND DANCE CLASS, the other is $130, Ghou's Alive is $180… Cupid is $300… I'm so revoltd ºnº MY MOM'S GONNA KILL ME IF I DEFACE MY DOLL can you do more tutoriais like that one for me and the others? I'm wnat to be sure myself I gonna not do something whong…

    1. Periwinkle

      I wrote these tutorials to demonstrate the process my own repaints go through. Even though there are slight variations later on, the basics are essentially the same. I have my own personal preferences on the resulting repaint and I don’t want to impose on other folks what style or results they wanna get.

      If you’re a beginner, repetition and just tons of practice will get you to a place where the results will look the way you want them to. It helps to pick up cheap dolls to practice with before you try it on a doll that you really love. If you have any old dolls you no longer care for, you should try it out on those until you feel comfortable enough that you want to try it on the actual doll you want.

      Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s good when you make them. That means you’re making progress, you’re getting better. =)

    1. Angel

      You could sort of use just simple Prismacolour pencils but you would need more layers of it and it’s not as easy to erase. Regular pencils don’t hold to the MSC teeth as well as the watercolour version.

      Pencils in general will have a tendency to stain the vinyl. This is why it’s very important NOT to work on an unsealed surface. I would also recommend applying the pencils as lightly as you can. If the pressure you apply in drawing on the vinyl surface is too hard, you are probably going past the seal surface directly on to the vinyl. This takes some practice.

      I would also recommend using light colors at the beginning, moving on to darker colors for definition. Red and yellow pigments tend to stain more than cool variants so be very careful when using them. Those are the colors you want to be very light with your hands.

      1. Yuliya

        May I ask you more about using watercolors? I have Derwent, which I read is a pretty good brand. And I I just tried them today. I sprayed MH (Frankie) face with Flat Ms Superclear, then started painting her lips. And the color is not bright. I did a few layers, it’s getting a little bit brighter. But for example white pensil doesn’t make those cute white strokes. Is it because of the pencils or am I doing something wrong? Thank you!

        1. Angel

          Derwent is a good alternative to Prismacolor. They should be just as good. You might want to check on how Mr. Super Clear is applied. It should have a chalky/matte texture (nothing shiny, or too smooth). Read up on my Mr. Super Clear post for more info.

  6. tabbiemarie

    I love your repaints, they are so adorable. I was very excited to see you post a tutorial!!

    I love your tips about using q-tips to apply pastels. Somehow, that’s never occurred to me. Neither had glossing the whites of the eyes before you draw the irises.

    It was very neat to have a little insight into your technique! Thank you for posting this. :)

    But I have one question: when you pour boiling water over the head, do you cover the face? If you do, what do you use to cover it?

    1. Angel

      When I pour the boiling water, I actually don’t cover her face. I do make sure that all the seals have dried completely. Everything I use is waterproof so there’s really no worry when it gets exposed to water.

  7. Pingback: No Nap Time! » An illustrated guide to repainting

  8. Cass

    Thank you for the tutorial! I found it really helpful to get an idea of the basics and where to start!

    As I am too scared to try it though :D will your repainted Rochelle be for sale? She is just gorgeous!

  9. Ky'

    Well it helped me just fine lol. Im doing my first custom to this Tutorial, along woth some help from RetroGrades, and so far iLike yours waaay better. Especially the part about the sclera. Lol had NO idea how to do that part. Anyway for what its worth, you’ve got my vote :].

    1. Angel

      That’s good to know and thanks! I’d love to see your repaint when you’re done. =)

      Retrograde’s tutorial will always be valuable for me and a great visual tutorial because she has a system in place. I learned a lot from her. I would not have discovered or bothered to try out color pencils if it wasn’t for her. I’m also a fan girl of her work. XD

      I really wish I could take pictures as well as her. I probably need to upgrade my camera for that.

  10. April

    Not to sound….mean, but as a tutorial I found this rather lacking and more of a step by step of what order to do things. You very quickly move from blank face to popping blue eyes with the ony instruction being ‘more definition’ That’s…an instruction but not at all very clear or direct, nor do you touch on the shaping of the eyebrows or lashes which seems two very largse steps to miss other than to make sure you don’t forget them. Essentially I’d relate it to a cake recipe that states when to pour in each ingredient and then put the batter into the oven without actually saying what amount of each item is needed or the heat and baking time. I think it has a lot of potential if you could please add some more details on your process!

    1. Angel

      You’re absolutely right. I know it’s lacking on specifics but that was intentional on my part.

      I intended the tutorial as something that gave more information on the kind of tools used and guidelines for the process.

      My tutorial is not intended to be a strictly “how to” guide which is why I didn’t emphasize on actual techniques, why I decided I wanted the eyebrows to look or be shaped that way, or what to do when you’re painting the face. Many of these techniques really depend on the artist on how they choose their dolls to appear. I wrote this tutorial to show how my process works, not how to show you what you’re supposed to do.

      The repaint process is essentially: Seal, blush, seal, apply acrylics/watercolor pencils. Seal everytime you want to secure a layer.

      We’re different artists. We can share the same method but not the same style. We have different preferences and I cannot and should not dictate what your preferences are. The creative process is personal and up to the artist. This is where looking at other artists works and observing their work is also helpful. Find something you like and try to emulate it. More importantly, try something that makes you comfortable.

      I don’t use the same steps everytime unlike most artists. There are times when I use only acrylics, other times just watercolor pencils. I plan to cover those in the future but I needed to lay down the guidelines and process first which is what is shown here.

  11. Pingback: MH Tutorial Painting a Custom Face | Azure and Copper Crafts

Leave a Reply