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Watch and Learn

I started repainting dolls after being exposed to Obitsu dolls. Obitsu dolls are known for their high pose-ability and affordable price and I picked one up to help me with figure drawing. It was inevitable that I would be exposed to what they were really for which was for making your own custom dolls.

They were so tiny that at first, I had used eye decals so I wasn’t staring into blank faces all the time. I was so amused that I ended up getting all available body models which did help me with variety in body forms for drawing… and then suddenly I found myself customizing these dolls for real.

My initial attempts were highly stylized and you can tell that some of them are unsteady or uneven lines. It was really difficult working with such tiny heads that it made me appreciate OOAK Obitsu and Volks dolls created by Japanese artists.

And eventually I did end up making my first full custom doll which is the cat girl below. She’s wearing an outfit I had collected piece by piece from various places.

Obitsu dolls led me to discover Yamamuratatsura. I found her through Junkyspot which is essentially “THE” place to go for anything Obitsu in the US. She’s an amazing artist who used to do anime character customs but she has since fell off the map. I somehow found her through Tumblr again but I don’t think she makes custom dolls as often as she used to. She still works with dolls and you can still find some of her work through Tumblr. I attribute a lot of my style from observing her work.

I really wanted to a bigger BJD doll, maybe something like the 60cm Obitsu. I’ve never had the chance since they’re so expensive and it was going to be difficult to look for outfits and accessories for them. The closest I ever got was a Hujoo and only because they made a good alternative to Pullips and Dals whose Head to Body ratio is something that I’m fond of.

Later on, I rekindled an interest for Barbie and Monster High. Jointed bodies were introduced into the lines. I was really looking for a more masculine body type but I just ended up getting sucked into Jointed Barbie and Monster High. It’s through these lines that I found Kamarza, RougeLively and Retrograde Works.

I was really fascinated by Kamarza’s Monster High Customs. They stood out because they were either beautifully ugly or just looked like they were alive. I’d really love to learn how she does the speckled look on many of her customs.

Rougelively has the flawless ability to create very delicate and precise detail and features. Please check out her gallery to see for yourself! You usually want to keep staring at the kind of repaints she makes because there’s always something that draws you in. I also really like the way she styles her dolls.

Retrogrades has a signature look in the way she makes her dolls that you’ll know it from anywhere. It’s really cute and stylized where many other artists would make it too busy! What I do like the most and learned from her is how she photographs her dolls. I think she’s also got me interested in the art of photography in general since she takes such beautiful pictures. I was really happy to discover that she maintains a photoblog with some of her dolls which is something of a “guilty pleasure” for me. I end up looking at entries far longer than I should be when I should be doing something more productive.

Aside from the artists I mentioned, many artists have published tutorials on customizing or repainting dolls. They are really worth the look if you would like to explore or improve on painting dolls. It’s very generous of them to publish their process and it’s equally difficult to photograph them to begin with. For example, I was working exclusively with acrylics until I came across Retrograde’s tutorial. It was through her that I really explored introducing water color pencils. I had already observed using color pencils through Kutsuneko, but Retrograde’s execution showed that it can be done in many styles or ways. I like the method a lot since you can get fine lines with better control and I wouldn’t have to sacrifice too many tiny brushes in the process.

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Acrylics and soft pastels[/column] [column size=”1-3″  last=”0″ style=”0″]

Soft pastels and watercolor pencils

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Soft pastels, acrylics and water color pencils.[/column]

The addition of using water color pencils adds the ability to do controlled gradient effects while acrylics allow you to do opaque or glassy effects.

If you’d like to use watercolor pencils, it really does matter that you use Prisma brand color pencils. Other brands I’ve tried feel like crayola and either smear or don’t take to the vinyl, or sometimes bleed right into the plastic. Prisma is the only brand I’ve tried that stays solid and vibrant.

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