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Supplies for repainting

Hi, please forgive me if I should’t be asking, but I have a couple questions about doll customizing and was hoping you could help?? I want to make my daughter one for Christmas 🙂 Anyway, I see a lot of people using Prisma color colored pencils, does it have to be that brand? I tried Crayola and it really didn’t work like I have seen in tutorials with people using colored pencils. Also, I have seen that people have to seal the paint, can acrylic paint sealer be used over colored pencil or would I need something else? Please, if you could answer these questions I would appreciate it so much, I don’t want to buy more than I have to and I don’t want to screw up a bunch of dolls trying to figure it out. Thank you!! 🙂

Veronica

I get this question a lot. I’ve covered most of it through my repaint tutorial over here but I have added a few things in my toolkit since so consider this an update of sorts!

This list consists of supplies used for repainting.

Sealants

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Sealants are used to lay down a foundation layer to protect, secure or enhance your work.

Primer (a.k.a. Mr. Super Clear)

You need to lay down a foundation so that your paint or blush work has something to hold on to. The most common tool for that job is Mr. Super Clear. There isn’t really anything close in the market that can do what Mr. Super Clear does but here are a few alternatives:

 Do not use any of the acrylic sealants you find in craft stores, not unless it’s Mr. Super Clear of course. Much of the acrylic sealants in the market are designed specifically to adhere to wood, vinyl (not the same type used for dolls/toys), and plastic (not the same type used for dolls/toys). Many of these sealants contain ingredients that cause chemical reactions to adhere to these types of surfaces which makes them awful for the type of plastic used in toys and dolls.

 Junkyspot offers other alternative sealants to Mr. Super Clear in their supplies section. I have seen other artists “talk about” how they work as good alternatives but I haven’t seen anyone publish dolls where these alternate sealants were used. They’re probably a safe bet if you really need a primer.

Gloss varnish/coat

I used to use Liquitex Gloss Varnish but have lately switched to MrColor Gloss. Some folks have reported how Liquitex got sticky after travel which may be caused by changes in temperature during transit. This doesn’t happen often but I’ve switched to MrColor Gloss. It acts more like a layer of plastic so it never gets sticky and adds some dimension to the applied area.

Matte varnish/coat

Liquitex Matte works well. You can mix it with paints to achieve effects or if you want to level a painted surface to be more receptive to watercolor pencils.

Paint

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Acrylic Paint

I use soft bodied acrylic paint, the kind that comes in tubes. Most repaint artists use fluid acrylic paint, the kind that comes in bottles. If you really want to repaint, you probably should use fluid paints since they require very little thinning and easier on your brushes. Golden and Citadel are popular fluid acrylic type paints.

 Using soft bodied paints are my own preference since I like the pigment content I get over fluid paint. Unfortunately, using soft bodied paints require that you thin your paints for miniature painting. You have to prep your paints thoroughly before you can start painting.

Flow-Aid

This is used to thin paints for airbrushing. You can also use it to thin your paints and maintain pigment consistency.

Slow-Dri Blending medium

Some colors don’t necessarily blend smooth and this is what you can use to help that along as well as extend your paint drying time. You always have to use some water in addition to using Slow-Dri medium. Don’t use too much or too often because it sometimes thins out the pigment content, or ruin your paint’s integrity.

Brush Cleaner

Brushes need love. This sort of “melts” the paint off your brushes. Be sure to give your paint brushes a thorough wash after soaking them into this. If there’s any of this left in your brushes, it might ruin your work.

 With the exception of what I use for the Brush Cleaner, everything I use happens to be Liquitex brand. That is a deliberate choice on my part. Some brands don’t play well with other brands. Liquitex is fortunately one of those few brands that happen to work well with everything that’s out there.

Brushes

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  • Round

  • Pointed Round

  • Detail Round

  • Flat

  • Blush brush (Used strictly for soft pastels or powders)

 With exception of the Flat and Blush brush, my round brushes are either size 0 or smaller.

 More info about Acrylic paint brushes can be found here. I’m actually not very knowledgeable when it comes to brushes. I’m very touchy-feely or pick up anything that “looks right.” This is a very simple list of types of what I use but if you want more thorough information, I suggest you check out this article. The type of brushes you use depend on what kind of paint you use. I paint 1/6th scale Fashion dolls in particular so tutorials that involve painting miniatures are very helpful.

Pigments

pastel-acrylic-pencils

Watercolor Pencils

The truth is, the brand doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you use artist grade type. Artist grade watercolor pencils aren’t the type you can pick up from a grocery store and something you can only find in craft stores or order online. The two brands I use are Prismacolor and Derwent.

 Artist grade pencils feel a little bit like a combination of charcoal pencils and chalk. They have a lot of pigment, no parafin/wax content and as a result, don’t keep their pointy tips as long as student grade watercolor pencils like Crayola would.

 Here’s a great article which helps illustrate the difference between student grade and artist grade color pencils. You’ll notice how student grade pencils have a more washed out look.

Chalk/Soft Pastels

Same as watercolor pencils, brand doesn’t really matter, look for artist grade type. Look for soft pastels which look a lot more like chalk. Soft pastels are not the same as chalk (the kind you can find in grocery stores or use to write with). If you can find a powder pigment, use those instead.

Pearl EX Powder

Shimmery, shiny, sparkly effects!

Tools

Odds and ends that are helpful to have

  • Kneaded rubber eraser – For erasing work on uneven surfaces

  • Staedtler plastic eraser

  • X-Acto Knife – For carefully and selectively removing dirt

  • Large Blush brush – For removing excess powder

  • Q-tips

  • Paper plates

  • Cotton Gloves

  • Paper Towels

  • Masking tape

  • Rubber bands

  • Hair elastics

  • Daylight light lamp

 

This Post Has 44 Comments
  1. You mention in the article about powder pigments. Is there a brand to use? I am a pottery instructor and I have powder pigments to use in clay, but I know those are the kind your talking about. Mine have chemicals I wouldn’t want to use on dolls and I have to use a respirator when I use them.

  2. Hello! Me and my friend are both custom dolls makers (?) and we LOVE your work! We find it so inspiring and helpul, especially your tutorials! Everything is so helpful on your site! Our favorites are Chrysaora, Rhea, Serafina, Melpomene, Sloane, Summer, Brair Black, Fran Harker, Ashley, Gore Ghoulia, Rydia, Poisen, Alessa, Zombie Ghoulia, Lorelei, Enigma, Winking Draculaura, Ceinwen, Ylfa, and Side Glancing Draculaura. I know its a lot, but they are all SO GOOD!!!

    1. Aww, thank you so much. That’s so sweet! Much appreciated. =)

      None of this information is standardized or organized in any way for this hobby so I thought I’d share my own experiences. Everything here started out as a way to document what I observed or learned from doll craft/hobby the same way I found other people’s contributions helped me out. I’m glad you found this website and that they’ve helped build a foundation for you to enjoy doll craft as well. I hope you’ll contribute what you learn yourself to the community as well!

  3. What is strict painting? (In the primer section of your article.) If it means when you paint/seal only a small area then yay! because I was wondering how to handle sealing when you only repaint, say, a doll’s lips.

    Also, thank you so much for your tutorials! I wouldn’t have the guts to try repainting my monster high dolls without them.

    1. It’s the same concept used when you do Oil Painting. Just as explained in the primer section, you need to prime a surface in order for your medium to stick to properly. It is better explained here: http://www.nonaptime.com/2012/07/an-illustrated-guide-to-repainting/

      If you do “strict painting” as in you just want to touch up a part like lips or eyes but retain the factory matte look, then you can paint over the existing factory lip/eye/eye brow with matte finish, follow it up with your new paint color, finish it with a gloss or matte finish.

      I’m specifically wording it as a “finish” since you will find matte medium is something you generally use as a binder or mix with paint to get a matte look. You do not want to paint directly on plastic since that means there won’t be a protective layer over your working surface which will lead to the paint interacting with the plastic and just generally a bad idea. That’s what priming is for, you want to prime any kind of surface you plan to paint not just as a way for your art materials to bind to but to protect the surface you’re painting on.

      In this scenario, you’re using a matte finish as the primer and alternatively a finish if that’s what you want the finished product to look like. Since you’re only changing one specific area, might as well just paint a protective layer over it instead of spraying the entire surface.

  4. Hi! I’ve read most of your articles, but I still have a question. I use Mr. Super Clear as advised to prime a doll face, but when I start applying the watercolor pencils (after the seal has dried), they almost don’t draw. The lines can hardly be seen, and sometimes I can get a better line somewhere below the chin, but not in the eye area. Does it mean I seal too much (I spray for 2-3 seconds max)? Or the pencils are not as good? I tried Faber Kastell Albrecht Durer brand, but they seem to be as pale. Can the problem lie somewhere else – weather/temp regime? I seal outside (it’s cold, yep), but then I keep the doll in a warm box to dry (not too hot at all, just to keep it warmer than it’s outside). I’d be really greatful for a piece of advice!

    1. I highly recommend reading the following articles as there’s not one simple answer for this query. Please check out the comments section too:

      Mishaps with MSC: http://www.nonaptime.com/2013/11/wip-mishaps-with-mr-super-clear/

      All about MSC: http://www.nonaptime.com/2012/09/mr-super-clear/

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

      Illustrated Guide to Repainting: http://www.nonaptime.com/2012/07/an-illustrated-guide-to-repainting/

    2. Lory, I used to have that with my first repaint. What you should do is get a fair share of distance between the bottle and your doll, at least 40cm so that you seal the doll with the very fine mist at the end of the cloud that comes out of the bottle. And then spray 2-3 layers like that before you start using your pencils. The face should feel very gritty like paper and not shiny at all, but very matte. If you see shine, you sprayed too close and your pencils will slip. Hope this helps you.

    3. Usually the doll should be sealed 2-3 times before you start doing the faceup. Temperature can be a problem. Sealants usually dry best in a dry, cool climate. Also, you’re pencils are fine! Hope this helped!

  5. Hello, I´ve just started the hobby of repainting and unfortunately I can´t get MSC to my country… So I´ve used Liquitex (Switching between layers. I have one sealant for blush, and one for the acrylic pencils.) But I struggle with the sealant peeling of after some hours of work, I just wonder how I fix my doll after that. Do I have to trash it and get a new head, or can I remove the sealant in anyway? Or can I seal over in any way to hide it? Or do I have to seal it in more layers before I start at all. None of your articles I found or Q&A really helped me, so I really wished you could help me for this I´ve used so much money to start with this now, and feel like crying if I don´t get any way because of sealant. Please help me, I´m really frustrated…

    1. I have not personally used Liquitex as a sealant often enough that I can’t give you any useful advice. However, you should check out Andreja. She has switched from using MSC to Liquitex as a sealant for her BJD face ups so if anyone has any expertise and advise to share, she’d be the person to ask. Check her out at Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/nicollesdreams

  6. I am just a fly over..for now..lol.
    But I thought it important to tell you from one artist to another how delightfully open and careful you are to respond to these many queries.
    So many do not seem to want to show their craft as a process..albeit one with what could be a steep learning curve or at the very least with hitches and hiccups.
    You not only reply to specific questions you most probably have already answered in tutorials.. But its obvious that as you learn you share that as well..
    How grand!
    How considered and helpful!
    All of us are in awe of your inherent talent but of your fair support as well.
    Bless your artistic journey…
    And ours as well.
    Bravo!

    From someone just passing through who saw a bright shining light.

  7. could we have a clearer picture of MrColor Gloss, so I can find the proper one. I found MSC flat and have ordered 2 cans but since you recommend that over liquitex that I was about to purchase so… thanks

  8. Hello I want ted to try to repaint one of my dolls and I have a question What is the difference between the Matt, Flatt, and gloss Mr Supper clear? Do I need all of them or does it make a difference which one I buy?

  9. You are very talented and helpful! I asked questions around to other people I did never got an answer. But yesterday I asked you about the sealers and I got your answer! Very,very helpful!

  10. I have a quick question… I ordered prisma-color watercolor pencils and just realized i dont have a white one…. will using acrylic paint for the white and the others for the rest of it work ok?

    1. Of course! I’ve since moved on to do mostly acrylic paint since it gives me bolder colors and more effects at my disposal. I only really use watercolors now for some minor shade work.

      I’m surprised white isn’t included in the basic set for Prisma-color though. O_o

  11. Hi, your blog is the most helpful I could ever find about doll modifying. Thanks so much.

    I stay in Dubai and I’m really frustrated that art and craft stores here are nearly non-existent. I can’t even get hold of a can of Mr. Super Clear as I can not order these things from ebay, mainly because of their spray-can and flammable nature.

    Is there an alternate to spray can sealants? Something that you can order off from ebay. Cos if there is none, I may not start at all… :-/

    1. Yeah, MSC is becoming a little scarce. It’s generally difficult to import anything that’s a propelant and restocks take about 6 months in the stores that I frequent. I’m trying to figure out an alternative too since I usually have weather to compete with.

      1. I’m thinking of paint on sealants. Winsor Newton matt varnish is something I stumbled upon. It can be ordered by ebay. What do you think? I really wanna try to customise dolls. I already bought a Rochelle Goyle too as my first doll.

        1. I know nothing about that particular brand of sealant but if you do try it, I’d love to know how it worked out for you.

          MSC was virtually unknown for many years in doll customizing. I’m not even sure what artists did use until the first person to suggest MSC came along. Some artists appear not to even use sealants(?).

          The best way to find out whether something works or not is to “do it yourself.” If you’re dealing with something experimental and you don’t want to ruin your first doll, it’s always best practice to purchase a dollar store doll you don’t care about. Experimentation goes a long way in answering your own questions.

          1. I’m excited. I just found out that there’s an art supply store in a mall near my place. Although the store focuses more on traditional art rather than a hobby place. Will experiment and shall update. 🙂

          2. I wanna stress on “Experiment on a doll you don’t care about.” So you might wanna pick up a few dollar store dolls or second hand dolls. What you learn from the clean up process itself can come in handy later on.

          3. No turning back. I just got the Rochelle Goyle doll, she was on sale on ebay as one of the nude dolls around $14.99. Removed the factory paint and she’s a blank canvass. Shall shop for materials this weekend.

            Also, one of my dolls had a smudged lipstick. Used acrylic to cover it up and clear nail polish for sealing. It worked out fine. Though I have to act quickly as nail polish dries up really fast. Quite risky, but the result was nice.

    2. Just an update, Winsor Newton matt varnish stays sticky even after drying for 24 hours. First attempt failed but salvaged the doll. So, back to square one.

        1. I am really interested in knowing if anyone has tried Winsor Newton matt varnish (brush on) recently on vinyl or abs dolls. I have read 2 different things online. One artist here says it is sticky but I read somewhere else that this is what customizers used for a long time on Barbies before MSC came along. I have tried the Liquitex stuff and it is definitely not matte, more satin. Dolls by Maria also recommends it but does not give a lot of details.

          1. I did try it on some vinyl heads and it was not sticky for me when applied thin and undiluted but it doesn’t mix well with flow aid or water (not that I needed it thinner, but I was experimenting). The more coats you add, the shinier it becomes and there’s no going back, so you have to apply it carefully and be happy with the first coat even if it’s a little streaky. It’s good for mattifying glossy paint but I don’t know how to apply it smoothly on the whole face. One thing I can’t fix is that while it dries absolutely matte (matter than the doll heads!), it gets a very thin shiny edge. Most of it can come off with alcohol, but so will any paint underneath. Shaking the bottle thoroughly before use doesn’t help much with this problem.

            To sum up: it may become sticky if it’s mixed with something else or if it’s applied too thick. Overall, I’m quite happy with it because it’s matte and doesn’t require a ventilator.

  12. Thank you so very much for this. Currently I use acrylic paints found in crafting stores (Americana, Folkart, Apple Barrel) is that a huge no-no? I do use some Liquitex, but I don’t have a lot. Also, could I ask what specific brand of chalk pastel you use? I know you said brand doesn’t matter, but I’d like to invest in a nice set and I want to know I’m getting a good one 🙂 Thank you!

    1. There’s just so many brands out there it would be wrong to restrict to just certain brands. Blick’s website does a pretty good job organizing what their artist grade products are.

      Acrylic paint – I think these are all artist grade. Make sure you read the description for the product!
      http://www.dickblick.com/categories/acrylics/

      Chalk/soft pastels – DO NOT get Student Grade. DO NOT get Oil Pastels. Get Soft Pastels.
      http://www.dickblick.com/categories/pastels/

      The pricier a medium is, the better. This is because of the pigment content used to create the medium, which is what you want. The more the pigment, the better the color. Prisma, Faber Castell and Derwent are popular brands that you can’t go wrong with for pencils and pastels while Liquitex and Golden are favorites among professional artists for fluid/liquid paints.

  13. hi, this was very helpful info, but I have one question, how and with what do you remove the original-paint from the faces, so you have an empty face to start your own painting on … thanks for your great help !! Beate

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