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MH Repaint Part 2: Let’s Paint!

 

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.

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This Post Has 79 Comments
  1. Ok, so my problem is this. You say to use the watercolor pencils dry, but they dont paint at all after i add the mr.super clear sealant. Please help.

  2. Hi! So I have a couple of questions!

    1) What exactly happens to the doll when you spray MSC below average temperature? I live in Alaska and I have a matte UV Cut MSC

    2) Does Liquitex and the vanishes you use, turn yellow over time and does it get streaky with application?

    3) How do you seal PearlEx when you want to use it on the cheeks or forehead? Is it a liquid or powder? Does it lose it’s glitter effect when sealed with matte MSC?

    I recently finished a Bratz repaint and started to reroot. I sprayed over the rooting holes while repainting so when I started the reroot process the holes started to turn white. Someone told me that this is a result when your spray MSC in bad conditions. I’m just very confused because the doll has been finished for a week now and nothing was wrong with it especially while refacing her.

    1. Here are some answers!

      1) I can’t give you the exact reason as to what exactly happens to MSC below average temperature since I’m not a chemist except that it won’t do what you expect it to do if you don’t use it based on the recommended “ideal conditions.” You can’t expect it to work when you aren’t even attempting to create the ideal conditions, of course there’s tons of variations of what will happen. What you want is for the solvent to spray evenly and result in a nice, smooth finish. Manufacturers of spray solvents want you to use their products based on recommended ideal conditions due to a variety of factors that can affect the product and because it won’t work as intended if the product isn’t used in ideal conditions. It is your responsibility to do everything you can to create the ideal conditions for the product to work as intended. Chemicals are finicky little buggers. There is no other way around it.

      I highly recommend reading these articles and the comments section:

      WIP: Mishaps with Mr. Super Clear
      http://www.nonaptime.com/2013/11/wip-mishaps-with-mr-super-clear/

      Mr. Super Clear
      http://www.nonaptime.com/2012/09/mr-super-clear/

      Review: Krylon UV-Resistant Clear Acrylic Coating
      http://www.nonaptime.com/2014/06/review-krylon-uv-resistant-clear-acrylic-coating/

      Repaint FAQ: Using Watercolor Pencils
      http://www.nonaptime.com/2014/10/repaint-faq-using-watercolor-pencils/

      2) I haven’t used Liquitex varnishes as a primer layer often enough to notice any yellowing; As a gloss or detail, I’ve never seen it yellow. I would recommend looking up Andreja as she seems to use Liquitex Varnishes for most of her repaints.

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2Et29eOO7ZKqJZ-VrSWsMA

      3) I usually mix PearlEx powders with a liquitex medium to bind it so that is essentially the same as creating a custom acrylic paint color, or use the powder as a blush. It’s a very versatile medium and I’ve only ever used the powder variants. I’m not aware if they come in any other form. I use MSC to seal them and occasionally use gloss to allow the glitter to pop since some variants of PearlEx appear to be dulled by the MSC Matte/flat finish. Painting a gloss varnish over it allows the shimmer to come back.

      As for your Bratz repaint, I can’t speak for other customizers but I personally always reroot first and do the repaint last. My rationale for this is that a doll’s face gets warped when you’re rerooting the head and if you happen to have done any kind of repaint while it’s being rerooted, all that repaint work is likely to get ruined.

      The reason the rooting holes are turning white is due to the MSC being disturbed as you were rerooting. The MSC layer is cracking due to the process of rerooting. That MSC layer is not flexible, it’s flaking due to the process of rerooting, just keep in mind that the plastic is being squished, from the action of punching needles on to that head. Just imagine MSC as a sprayed on piece of paper that dried on the surface of your doll’s head. Of course it will form a few crinkles here and there when you scratch or accidentally crinkle parts of it. Vinyl might be flexible but the MSC layer is not. Once you start seeing damage like this on MSC layer, it’s likely that more parts of the doll’s face will start to see those MSC surface cracks. You’ll need to remove whatever work you had and redo everything from scratch or those cracks will be the equivalent of damage to a foundation of a building if you continue.

      1. Thank you so much for replying! Especially about the MSC cracking because I felt that rerooting was the case but someone insisted that it was because of the weather conditions lol. I can’t wait to build my repainting skills and your answers about the PearlEx and Liquidtex really helped!

  3. Hi! I would like to ask is there a huge difference between MSC flat and MSC UV cut flat? I couldn’t gind UV cut one but it is still Flat not matt.
    Thank you in advance!

  4. I have a quick question, would I be able to just use regular colored pencils, charcoal pencils, or graphite pencils instead of water color pencils? I can’t seem to get a hold of the water color pencils anywhere here in Michigan, and those are the only things I have and can get. Would they work or just ruin the doll’s face?

    1. The places I’ve many times have heard people recommend to go to to look for water colored pencils are always sold out or no longer carry them. Is there anything you would recommend to look for and use if regular colored pencils, charcoal pencils, or graphite pencils won’t do any good? -Thank You

      1. You must use watercolor pencils. You need something that is water soluble and though charcoal, graphite, or oils will work on a paper medium, they have an entirely unpredictable or corrosive response when used with some plastics.

  5. Hi! I’m new to repainting dolls (but enthusiastic!) I’ve been working on my very first doll and have a question about the soft pastels: The ones I bought don’t seem to be sticking to the doll. Like, at all. I started the process with 2 light coats of Mr. Super Clear. Could it be the pastels I bought, or not enough Mr. Super Clear? Before I proceed I thought I’d seek advice. Thank you.

    1. This is tricky since it could be because there isn’t enough grit texture for pastels to stick to with the way you applied MSC, or it could be the pastels (which MUST and SHOULD be Artist grade). If you bought ordinary pastels, they don’t have enough pigment which may result in what you’re experiencing.

      1. Thank you! I did some looking around and found that you’re right! It’s the pastels I bought, so I’m buying a much better brand, one I saw recommended by “Dollightful” on YouTube, (Mungyo). They’re highly pigmented, come in lots of colors in the 64 pack and are within my limited budget on Ebay. I really appreciate your advice and love your blog!

      2. I am buying watercolour pencils and don’t know which basic colour shades to buy to make realistic eyes in blue, olive green, juniper green and brown.. besides what I just wrotte. What are the names of the colours in your set?

      1. I think it may be the too close option as I only do it at an arms length. Another question is, is there a way to fix it? I love how she looks and I would hate to have to redo it

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