Notes: I'm an amateur faceup artist. I don't claim to know everything about doing faceups, but I've made this page in the hopes that it will be of use to other people trying to figure out how to paint their own dolls. Take everything with a grain of salt; painting a doll is an art, not a science. There is no one right way to do it and a lot of it will come down to your personal style. Never be afraid to try, it's not permanent!
The head in the photos belongs to Gideon, my Volks SD16 Yukinojo Sawaragi. He has been modded slightly in the upper lip area. (The nose piercing is stick-on, and yes, he has mismatched eyes. :P)
For your reference, Gideon's previous faceup. I was in a hurry doing it and wasn't happy with how his eyebrows were especially; the curve is too . . . curvy (feminine) and the color came out overly red for the type of wigs I usually put him in. I didn't hate it, but he had it for a while (his second after I removed his default) and it was time to try again. You sort of have to just feel you're ready for a change and go for it when you do.
Detail shots, again for reference. This was my first time doing heavy eyeshadow. I also did the lip line all the way across, and felt it didn't look right (especially since I accidentally got too much gloss on - it's better to keep it away from the lip line).
|+| PREPARING THE HEAD |+|
NEW: There are 640x480 larger versions of the images; click on them to view.
|Before you remove your doll's current faceup, you need to remove the eyelashes. If you're careful, you can usually preserve them to re-use. I set lashes with white glue (Elmer's); I'm not sure what Volks uses, but I have used the same technique to remove those as well.
It's easiest to do this near a sink or with a cup of water. Take a q-tip and get it good and wet; rub this (gently) against the area at the top of the lashes where they're glued. You want to get it as wet as possible; this will loosen the glue's grip. The lashes are attached to a plastic strip at the top (very thin, like fishing line); you want to grab this, not the lashes themselves. Take a pair of tweezers, and starting at one of the ends, try to get underneath the strip and lift upwards. You need to do this in small sections; pull some up, then move the tweezers further down the base of the lash; DON'T pull from the very end, as you'll just wind up pulling off a section.
If you plan to re-use the lashes, set them aside somewhere safe; there should be enough glue on them that you can even press them lightly onto a piece of paper (you may want to mark "left" and "right").
|Here is the full setup for removing any protective MSC coating on your doll's faceup and the paint itself. This is a commitment - there is really no way to remove just PART of the faceup. It's all or nothing.
There are other things you can use to remove faceups, but I highly recommend Winsor & Newton brush cleaner (for ACRYLICS, not oils!). It is very aggressive stuff but will not harm or soften the resin (unlike nail polish removers). It will eat through some plastics, though (think "acrylic" paint), so keep it away from plastic brush handles etc. I put my head on a clean paper towel. I start by wiping the whole head with a cottonball with the brush cleaner in it. It won't seem to be doing anything at first, but give it a little time, and the majority of the paint should start wiping off. The q-tips and tissue are good for getting into hard-to-reach spots like the inner eye corners and the crease of the lips. Sometimes I also use a fine paintbrush on deep lip creases, to get the remover down in there, then fold the tissue to wipe the paint out.
Make sure that you give a good wipe to the ENTIRE head - not just areas where there is visible paint or blushing. You need to remove the coating from the head as well, which can even get up inside the neck opening. (You will see why a little further down.)
|Afterwards, give your head a thorough rinse with water (under the tap is fine). You may also want to use a gentle soap on it; hand soaps that don't contain lotions, or mild dish soap like Ivory, are both fine; make sure you rinse it well to remove any residue. Alternatively, you can also use the Volks cleaning sponge. I sometimes do both for good measure.
You shouldn't dry your head with a towel because of the risk of fine scratches. Air drying is best. You can tap gently with a lint-free, soft towel if you need to remove larger pools of water. For areas that just don't want to dry, like inside the ears and mouth, blow sharply to push the water out.
|You may notice something odd when you think your head has dried - strange white areas. I've also pointed to an area that's lighter from sanding - that's normal. The area by the nose, however, is residue from the coating. You may have noticed in the removal stage that the remover became sort of sticky in some areas - that is apparently a reaction with the MSC. If you don't get it all off, you will get these funny white areas. You must get them all off - paint, blushing, and coating will not cover them. If you find a spot, usually a good rubbing with the q-tip will do the trick, then just rinse your head again.
Once you're sure that you have got your head cleaned, put the Winsor and Newton AWAY and throw away any materials that made contact with it. You don't want to accidentally mess up your new work!
|Once your head is fully dry, you're ready to spray. I have a makeshift head stand from an old Christmas decoration that I use, and I cover the surface with plastic drop cloth. This happens to be my garage, very near the door (not outside because we have very sudden wind gusts here). I NEVER spray indoors - no spray products are truly safe to use inside. Always wear a NIOSH mask or a respirator when spraying sealant; if it doesn't say NIOSH approved, it's just for dusting. :P MSC coats surfaces - including the ones inside your lungs, which is NOT good for your health.
I won't get into the MSC versus other sealants debate; if you can get it, use it, it is better than the alternatives. I recommend spraying at about 8-12" from the head; for the first coating I do 2-3 light coats. Don't start working with your head until the MSC is fully set; it will appear and may even feel dry but it will stay "soft" and can be easily dented if you don't wait long enough. 15-20 minutes seems best for around 70 degrees F. MSC doesn't like cold or high humidity; over 60 degrees with less than 60% humidity seems best.
|+| SETUP AND SUPPLIES |+|
I've made up a separate page with the setup I used for this faceup, plus details on all the supplies I used.
|+| EYEBROWS |+|
| The first element of the faceup I start with is the eyebrows, because I think they define the personality the most - their angle, shape, and thickness make a huge difference in the character your head has. Because of this, I like to temporarily re-set the eyes in the head; it helps me see how it might look finished. The Volks pen is a great way to help figure out how you want to do eyebrows. It looks super goofy when you're drawing them on, but the great thing is - the pen is water-soluble. You can leave the lines for as long as you need them, then remove them with water without damaging any paint lines. Before you paint, you can play around with as many different kinds of eyebrows as you want.
Before I had the Volks pen, I used a flesh-toned watercolor pencil to help mark where I wanted eyebrows. This also works but you will have to paint over it, though tapping with an eraser lightens it very significantly.
|For this faceup I wanted quite a dark color; Gideon always wears black wigs. I use the headcap to test the color on, to make sure it's the tone and translucency I want. The headcap isn't sealed but as long as you don't leave really dark paint on it for a long time, it should be easily removable with brush cleaner or a Volks sponge.|
|At first the color was a bit too thin so I added a little more paint. If you need to clean your brush at any point while you're working, make sure you have a paper towel handy to dry it off on afterwards - the brush cleaner will make your lines fainter and that can be a problem while you're doing brows or lashes, if the lines are suddenly more transparent than you expected.
Note that when you go back over an area, you get a darker color - for example, while you're doing lashes, you do a long, paler line first, and then go back over it at the base.
|After I have the initial lines in and I'm sure they're dry, I use a damp q-tip to remove the pen so I can see better what I'm doing. If you do make a mistake while you're doing the brows, a q-tip dipped in brush cleaner will take it off - so long as it's still not fully dry. It will also take off the pen lines but you can always re-draw them.
The technique I mentioned above is what I'm going to do here, also; I do some primary lines first, and then I'll go back and fill in wherever it's needed, and darken some of the lines at the base. The variety makes it look more natural. You can actually use more than one color, if you like; I have done that sometimes, but you can get the same look even with just one color by layering it carefully.
NOTE: There is an alternate method that some of the Volks artists do, where you do a "block" of very pale color as a base for the brows instead of starting right out with the lines. You can see where I used this method for Stellan (who has much paler coloring than I use for Dee). I've done it both ways and I think it comes down to what result you want. If you're going to be doing fairly heavy blushing, you can "fill in" that way, which is my current preference (applying a brown tone just over the brows and some around the lashes).