I’m Iza of Iza’s Face Ups and I’ve been a face up artist for 6 years. I’ve worked on many sculpts in all sizes and themes! This face up tutorial covers my method of working and is not the only method. This is just meant as a starting point to discovering your own style and way of working!
Before we begin, I wanted to cover the materials I use for painting dolls in no particular order:
- Chalk pastels (Schminke, Daler Rowney, Winsor & Newton, and Rembrandt)
- Shimmer powders (Jacquard Pearl Ex Pigments)
- Watercolor tube paints (Koi)
- Synthetic soft bristle brushes (Various brands including make up brushes, sizes range from 30/0 to 12)
- Kneaded eraser
- Cotton balls
- Cotton swabs
- Spray sealant (Mr. Super Clear UV-Cut Flat or Citadel Purity Seal)
- Acrylic gloss (Liquitex Gloss Medium or Model Color Varnish)
- White glue (PVA or Elmers, just needs to be water soluble)
- Cotton glove
- Respirator (Needs to be have at least an N95 vapor filter on it!)
Now let’s begin!
This is how I set up my work space. I’m right handed, so my palette of pastels goes to the right, and my brushes to the left. I keep my palette of watercolor paint above for easy access. I put a sheet of clean white paper towels under the head to keep the desk clean and to clean my brushes on as I go along and switch between colors. I grind up the pastels on a sheet of paper so I can reuse the palette at anytime!
This head is a Dollzone Minas in normal skin pink. At this point I’ve already sealed her with 2-3 layers of Citadel Purity Seal. Be sure to let each layer fully dry before you begin with painting!
I like to put cotton balls into the eye sockets of the doll to keep the inside of the head clean as I work. I also wear only one glove on my non-dominant hand while working. It’s to prevent fingerprints in the color from the hand I’m holding the head with.
Important tip: Whenever you seal take the cotton out! Or it’ll stick and make a horrible thready mess! Learned that one from experience.
Rough Eyebrow Base
I like to do eyebrows as the very first step in face ups because that’s how I had learned. I use a flat angle brush for this step. Personally I like to make the brows darker towards the nose and lighter towards the ends. Anyway, don’t worry about getting them perfect in this stage, you just want the color on the brow bone. We will clean up the shape in the next steps.
Eyebrow Clean Up
Here is where you need the kneaded eraser. Squish one end into a flat shape to sculpt the brows with. I always like to do one eyebrow first and then the second.
Here the eyebrow on the right is shaped as I want it, while the one on the left isn’t yet. Don’t be scared of taking too much pastel off, you can always add it back on with the brush and try again!
Here both eyebrows are shaped how I want them. I like to put a little arch into the brows as they taper to a point at the ends. In the clean up stage one of the important tips is that eyebrows aren’t twins, but siblings! So it’s okay if they aren’t perfect, it gives more personality.
Once the brows are to my satisfaction, I seal them with a light layer of sealant. Let the head fully dry before continuing onto the blushing layer!
For general blushing I like to use a fat fluffy makeup brush.
Always start with your lightest color first and build up your darks on top of that. It’s also important to blend the pastels onto the head with a cotton ball or swab, that’s how you get a smooth gradation.
I like to contour around the eyes, a little around the nostrils, under the lips, and the sides of the forehead. Then I add blushing on the cheeks and the forehead in a pinker tone than the rest of the blushing.
The lips on girls I like to make darker and more red than the rest of the blushing, just to make them pop. I like to blend dark to light from the inside to the outside of the lips. It creates a more lively look. Don’t worry about the teeth yet since the blush is still being built up.
Here the blushing is as deep as it’s going to get on this layer. Once you find yourself not being able to build up anymore color, stop, seal, let it dry, and then blush some more.
Now we’re onto detailing! For the lip lines I like to use one of my finest brushes, a 30/0 from Micromark. This one had developed some fly aways, so I trimmed those off.
To paint the lip lines I dipped my small long bristle brush in water and then wet the pastel dust to paint it on. Don’t worry about how scary it looks here. In the next step it will look better!
Here I blended the pastel lip lines with a cotton swab to soften them. It looks much more natural now. Next step will be the teeth.
To paint the teeth in I used white paint and a small short bristled brush.
Before we get into the eye details, I wanted to go over something with my materials. Since I don’t use acrylic but instead watercolor paint from the tube, preventing beading can be tricky. What I do to control it is to lay down a layer of pastels and blend them in where I want to paint separate from the blushing layer. That means the blushing layer is already done and sealed in. The pastel dust gives the paint something to grip onto.
This is how I start off the eyeliner on my face ups. I hold the brush at an angle and fill in the inner lid with paint with the side of the brush, not the tip. Once I get that all covered I switch to the tip of the brush to paint the along the eyelid.
Here’s the finished eyeliner. I had to clean up a few messes here and there as I have unsteady hands. The beauty of using watercolor rather than acrylic paint is that you can wipe away your mistakes with a wet cotton swab. It makes things a lot easier!
Once I get the eyeliner done I like to work on the eyebrows. I used the same brush as I did for the lip lines, but this time with watered down watercolor paint. I always test my brush on paper before touching it with paint to the resin, just to make sure the opacity is good and the paint flows nicely.
Once one eyebrow is done, do the second one too. With watercolor you don’t have to be afraid of messing up or painting out of the base too bad, because you can just wipe it away with water, as I mentioned before!
Once I get both brows painted, I like to add a blending layer of pastels over the paint, just to soften the brush strokes a bit. The details will pop more once you seal. At this point I do seal again and let the head dry before I tackle the eyelashes, just in case I mess up and have to redo them. That way I don’t accidentally wipe away the eyeliner too!
Do the same thing as before with blending some pastels where you want to paint details. I like to make the eyelashes on the outside longer and thicker than the ones toward the nose.
As the next step I add some darker blushing, usually a similar color to the eyebrows, under the eyelashes to soften and blend them in better. It looks nicer in my opinion than just the paint. I added a little bit of shimmer to the eyes and lips. Now that all the blushing and painting is done, seal with 1-2 layers again and let the head dry fully.
Now for the finishing touches! I like to gloss the lips and a small bit of the upper eyelid and the inside of the lower eyelid. Some people don’t like applied eyelashes, so we could be done in that case. I on the other hand love applied eyelashes.
I don’t particularly enjoy attaching eyelashes, but I love the look of them. I can go over in another tutorial on how to apply eyelashes to a head. It’s not that difficult, but it can be a pain.
This is how I do my face ups. I hope it’s helpful, I had fun putting the tutorial together! Thanks for looking!
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