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Repaint FAQ: Using Watercolor Pencils

My name is stine and I am working on becoming a better repainter. I have been researching on online tutorials for AGES, and I work and work on trying to get things come together. Here’s my problem.

Whenever I work with my Faber Castell Watercolour pencils on my Monster High doll heads, it’s like the colour never really want to “Stick” to the doll. Unlike others, the colours just doesn’t get sharp looking at it, and it doesn’t get that wonderful flow to it. When I then try to paint more pencil colours on top of others, The colour that was already there, starts to dissappear, because it gets like; “rubbed off”. I have tried everything to get that sharp colourful look, but it just won’t work. I don’t know if it has something to do with the coatning beforehand. I just use matte varnish mixed with a little water before I paint on the doll.

Please, I really hope you can help me. I provided a link underneath, to show you an example of how it usually ends up looking like (It doesn’t get that strong colourful look like yours).

I truly hope you want to help a fellow hobbist out. I so want to become better but I don’t know how!



Believe it or not, this is a common problem among beginners and professional repainters. The problem lies in how the primer / sealant layer has been applied.

If you have not checked out my articles on the repainting process, this is a good time to read them!

Doll repaints are divided into three (3) main layers:

  1. Primed layer
    Do not skip this.
  1. Repaint layer
    All your work which may require 3-4 layers of sealant.
  1. Protective finish
    One final coat of sealant to finish it all off. Add gloss or satin finish for detail work.

repaint-anatomyOnce the factory paint has been stripped from your doll, the very first and important step is to prime the doll for repaint. Priming is simply the process of applying a base coat that protects the surface you’re about to work on below and allow your materials to stick properly on to surface that you’re about to paint on. This is a very important step. If you skip it, you’ll run into problems like the paint bleeding into the vinyl or your materials not adhering to the surface at all and more.

Whatever you use as a sealant/primer, a primed surface should be matte, feel like a 500-1000 grit sandpaper and fully dry. The most common sealant most repaint artists use is Mr. Super Clear Flat. Whether you use an airbrush to apply your primer/sealant or any other type of aerosol product similar to Mr. Super Clear Flat, the important factor is that the surface feels like a 500-1000 grit sandpaper. For comparison, it’s like feeling a surface dusted with talcum powder but without any powder sticking to your skin. Once you have achieved this consistency, pigment from watercolor pencils will stick to the primed surface better.

Achieving the ideal primer/sealant consistency relies on knowing how to use your sealant of choice, its quirks and a lot of experimentation to get it right. It’s best to have a spare doll or a piece of vinyl to practice on before trying it out on what you’re going to work on first to make sure that the sealant is going to behave exactly the way you expect it to.

Hope that helps and thanks for writing in! =)

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Hi! i’m having the exact same problem. no matter what i do the pencil only seems to scratch the layer and only a tiny bit of color stays there. should i remove a bit with aceone andadd more layers of msc? on the layers below tho there are the pastels and i don’t want to remove it. is it ok if i add more layers of msc like that even if it’s in the repaint layers? jope i was clear enough and thanks in advance ^^”

    1. Hi! I’m starting to learn about repaint and recently I bought water color pencils from eBay from the strokes brand and I tried testing it on an un-primed doll and I saw it doesn’t even color it. I don’t know if the primer will help or if the color pencils are bad OR do I actually have to use water ? I’m very new at art and don’t know much about supplies pls any help will be useful 🙂

      1. Please re-read the tutorials found on this website if you would like to try doll repainting. The articles cover why you need to use a primer and why specific materials such as watercolor pencils are used. They’re covered in great detail.

  2. Hey ! I had the exact problem as she had, i also use fabercastell watercolor pencil and it won’t stick to the doll surface, i do the exact same things as you do but i think it’s not about the sealant maybe it’s more about the watercolor pencil. i didn’t use professional fabercastell watercolor pencil, maybe the quality of your watercolor pencil is the problem. i haven’t tried to change my watercolor pencil yet, but i think people who still have this problem should try change their watercolor pencil too. Im not a professional so i don’t know it’s wrong or right, also i’m sorry if my english is bad cause’ it’s not my first language

    1. You really ought to consider exploring to make sure that your primer layer has the proper grit to ensure that there is something for your pastels or Watercolor pencils to hold on to. If this isn’t happening, it wouldn’t matter how high the quality of the pencils you use, it will always fail. It takes a lot of practice to get the ideal prime layer. I only mention this since many artists do in fact use Artist Grade FaberCastell Watercolor pencils for repainting.

      There are some cases where it could just be a matter of finding a brand that works for you, but I highly suggest you look into making sure you’re getting the primer layer right first. Use a spare doll to do a lot of experiments.

  3. I don’t know if anyone would respond because this is an old thread, but I wanted to know what materials I need for the doll I want to fix. I’m not removing any of the face, I just wanted to add things such as the making the eyebrows bushier and adding blush. What are the best options for me?

    1. The same basic principle of repainting applies. You need something for your medium to hold on to so you still need to apply a layer of MSC for your pastels / acrylics / water color to hold on to, then another layer to seal it. The only difference would be is that you wouldn’t erase the existing face.

  4. Hi , need some help. Why is my sealant sticky on the doll’s face ? (Has been dried overnight) And when I draw the doll’s face using derwent watercolour pencil… it doesnt stick at all and it scratch off the sealant from the doll’s face

  5. HI, I have the problem you said. I’m repainting a MonsterHigh, and I use MSC. I cleaned and sprayed the first layer, like 30cm and like 2 seconds making circles. I wait like 10 minutes after paint, but my watercolour pencils are not painting 🙁 what I’m doing wrong? I have to spray more seconds? or I have to wait more time after I can paint it? I google it, but nobody say it TT_TT I’m afraid for spray more time because I don’t want to make a fat layer of sealant… don’t know, can you help me?
    Thank you for your tuts, it’s so usefull!

    1. You’ll have to experiment and see how long of a duration you need and how many coats you have to do to get the desired result. Try to use a test doll for this. That’s really the only way.

  6. Thanks so much. This is just exactly a tutorial that I needed to continue my own repaints. I had the exact same problem as she had! Thank you so much for making this blog! Thanks!!! <3

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