Titania

Original doll: Ashlynn Ella (Ever After High)
Repaint,  earrings and flowers on a headband by me.
Clothes and idea by Mum.
NOW FOR SALE ON ETSY 🙂

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Symmetry

By no means am I an expert on the subject of repainting dolls. But there are some things I think I know rather well (not that knowing always means actually DOING, but hey, a free advice! :P), and thought I could share them with anyone interested.

Painting eyes on dolls is a rather difficult task, since it involves creating something that needs to be symmetrical on a surface that is uneven. There is a big difference between painting on a flat piece of paper, and on a sculpted face with some already existing features. Not only our hands might slip easily, but our eyes might deceive us just as well. Recognising small differences of depth on such a small item is no easy task, especially since a lot of us, used to computer monitors, have astigmatism (I know I do), and are not always aware of that fact. Astigmatism interferes with our perception of depth, but it’s not the only thing that causes mistakes. Some of us are just a bit better with symmetry than others. Luckily, it can be trained. Apart from training, there are a few tricks that can really help us along.

I picked them up not while repainting dolls, but working as a make-up artist. You can often see make-up artists seating their clients in front of a mirror. It’s perfectly normal for a hairdresser, since they have to see the head from every possible side, but why a make-up artist? Well, because checking things in the mirror immediately reveals any asymmetry. It happens because of two things. As we look at something for a longer time, especially while creating it, we get used to it so much, we stop seeing asymmetrical details. Sudden horizontal flip of the view makes us see every problem very clearly (often it’s quite shocking and feels completely out of place), because our brain suddenly sees the exact opposite of what it was already used to. The second reason is the mirror’s flatness, and the fact that it limits our field of view – just like a screen. So if you’re not sure if the doll you’re painting is symmetrical (especially irises and pupils) – place her in front of a mirror and you’ll see.

Another easy trick is to take a lot of photos during work. Photos are even better, because they really translate the whole thing into two dimensions. You can then horizontally flip the photo back and forth, to see if it’s okay, and believe me, it will be crystal clear. A word of advice, though: do not try and make everything perfect. It doesn’t have to be. In fact, in real life things are not symmetrical, and perfect symmetry feels really unnatural. Just see if your doll is not cross-eyed or wall-eyed, if the eyebrows, or both halves of her upper lip are even (unless, of course, you want them like that), and that’s it. Keep it reasonable and don’t be too harsh on yourself.

It’s also good to keep in mind that the rounder the surface, the harder it is to paint. For example, Cleo de Nile (Monster High) has rather flat eyes, rather easy to paint. Lagoona and Spectra on the other hand have bulging eyeballs, so just be careful there. To be completely honest, Lagoona’s eyes are so prominent, that even the original face paint makes her look like she was trying to see both corners of the room at the same time. 🙂

Happy painting!

Gladiator/warrior set – finished armour and boots.

Armour (jacket and skirt) and boots for the warrior girl are finished. I used water and black paint to make the suede look older and more used, and also to give it an illusion of a life-sized item. It’s impossible with something that small and thick at the same time, but still, some shading makes it look a wee bit less chunky. Inspired by turqoises on the ancient Nord armour from Skyrim (female version) I suggested adding some beads, and Mum liked the idea.

The doll I had repainted especially to wear this armour was sold separately, so we currently have no doll for this project. I still haven’t finished the sword. I’m trying to work with polymer clay, but I’m not quite happy with the results, so we put the warrior girl on hold for a while.

And here’s our armour:

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Teresa – repaint in steps

I bought Teresa cheaply from a collector (no, not one of THEM), who was making more room on her shelves.  I’m not into Barbie dolls much, but this one had such a lovely hair, and besides, I was curious if I was able to paint on that small face, as I’d never tried it before. I was, it turned out, but we live an we learn, and now I know I’m gonna have to use more paints and thin, thin brushes rather than watercolour pencils. They simply don’t allow enough detail, which is especially visible on close-up photos. In real life it’s not so bad.

Original face:

original

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Creepy…

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Slightly less creepy.

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Finally, something that looks like a face 🙂

4. End result (no flash, daylight)

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I used: Derwent watercolour pencils, acrylic paints (black and white, Fevicryl), Koh-I-Noor dry chalks for shading, many coats of Mr Super Clear flat with UV filter and Tamiya clear gloss for eyes and lips.

Making clothes – gladiator/warrior girl 2

BOOTS

After some head-scratching, I decided to try and make wedge sandals, so that our warrior lady could “tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under her sandaled feet”. First, I made some basic soles to match the said feet. Then I filed them, and built the wedges on tem, or rather under them. I used polymer clay. There was much filing, sanding and cursing.

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Shoemaker’s workshop.
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Sole and lacing – first test.

However almost as soon as Mum saw the soles, she decided to try and make boots. I had some trouble imagining it, but her brain was just getting warmed up. So she designed and created open toe boots to match the outfit.

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“Mum-boutins” 😛

BODYSUIT

Since the Unreasonable Bra slipped off and moved around quite easily, and doll’s thin upper body peeking from under the clothes looked rather disturbing, we came to the conclusion that a bodysuit is absolutely necessary. Mum experimented with hand sewing, but it didn’t turn out that well and took forever to make. But she wasn’t sure if a sewing machine would be good for something so tiny and flimsy. She gave it a go anyway and the result was satisfactory.

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Sewing the tiniest bodysuit ever. Monster High dolls’ waist circumference is only 2 inches (about 5 cm).
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Bodysuit and bra sewn together.

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Making clothes – gladiator/warrior girl 1

I’ve always been miserably bad at sewing. But at the same time I’m quite good at working with small things. So as long as it does not involve miles of fabric, and life-sized patterns, I should probably be able to handle it. However, I am also horrible at planning and designing, so I figured I needed help. And help came in the person of my ever-creative Mother. Just sitting together, sharing ideas over a cup of coffee was a lot of fun. We made a lengthy list of outfits, and decided on the seemingly easiest one to start things off. We chose the warrior/gladiator set, which we wanted to make from a piece of old, brown suede. My Mum once used it to make a jacked, skirt and boots for my Barbie when I was in grade school, so she kinda knew the pains of turning it into small clothing items. I guess she didn’t quite remember just how hard it was…

The suede turned out to be thicker than I remembered. But it didn’t stop my Mother. She designed, cut and stitched it all by hand.

JACKET AND SKIRT

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Waxed cord (and a lot of strength) was used to make a stylized stitch on the right side of the skirt.

Meanwhile I occupied myself with decorating the “armoured jacket”.

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Fun with the jacket. First stage.

Mum decorated the skirt.

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Still a lot to do.

UNREASONABLE BRA

I really wanted the outfit to include some kind of metal bra, worn by stereotypical warrior girls. Since the whole idea wasn’t supposed to be realistic, I created this:

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This contraption worn by a real woman would prevent her from doing anything more complicated than standing. Bending forward could prove lethal.
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Jacket with added chains, skirt now with a press stud. And the Unreasonable Bra. Still far from finished.