This LDC® doll kit has a very nice creamy tone to it. I really do not need to change the color of the basic flesh of the doll, but I want to add some pigment textures so that I can begin creating a 3-D life-like look. Even though it is possible to achieve an intense tone with many details on the doll with these paints, I have opted, for the sake of teaching and not overwhelming the students, to keep this baby light in tone and details. I will show a picture of a doll that I intensely painted with the LDC® paints closer to the end of the tutorial.
With most of the dolls I paint, I apply a green “wash” as the first layer. It is called a wash although it is not rubbed/washed on the doll, it is pounced on with sponges. I will be using a fair amount of paint and water for this layer so I will blend the paints on a styrofoam plate to give a little bit more room to dip my sponge in. When using smaller amounts of paint, use a small paint palette.
Using popsicle sticks to take my paints from the jars, I have mixed up a plate of the LDC® Green mixed with Matte White, and some water. Use the eyedropper for applying water to the paint on you pallet and be sure to get that cold water from the bottle you have reserved to keep paint free. The mixed green paint is almost as thin as water and not opaque. The LDC® retarder helps to slow the drying process of the paints allowing you more time to work on details as you paint, so at this time I will mix the retarder in as well. You can use just about equal amounts of the paint and retarder and about half as much Base Matte. Of course, over time, you will be reusing the paint so you do not really keep track of how much retarder, Base Matte and paint you have in the stored jars. (Do not put your blended paints back into the LDC® jar of paint. Be sure to purchase or save other small jars and bottles to store mixed paint in). You will learn how thick the paint should be when mixed with the proper amount of retarder and matte base. These paints dry very quickly so be sure to use the retarder for the best results. The best test for the proper blend of you paints is to swish some paint onto the side of your plate or pallet. If it recedes very fast, it needs more retarder and paint. If it sticks, it needs more water. If it slowly recedes, it is perfect.
Test the paint on a small area on the back of the doll head using the method below. Check for consistency and color. The back of the head is a good place to test because you are going to put hair on the doll anyway. Cut your kitchen sponges into one inch squares. Dampen one of these squares in into the cold water. Squeeze any excess water from the sponge between layers of white paper towels. This sponge should be just damp. Dip a small section of the sponge into the edge of the green paint. Only let a dab of paint onto the sponge. The sponge should not be soppy at all but just damp with both water and paint. Apply the paint to the back of the head in a pouncing motion and quickly pounce it in with a dry make up wedge or sponge. The reason that I like the bumpy sponge and other porous sponges is because these sponges do not cover all of the vinyl of the doll. In order to build a 3-D effect, there must be some multi dimensions of color throughout the layers as a little bit of each layer shows through in different areas on the vinyl as you build layers.
If you like the consistency and color, continue with the head and then onto the limbs. If you don’t like the consistency or color, quickly remove the applied paint with a wet make up sponge or wedge and keep blending until you are satisfied. (This is the only time you will be able to remove the paint with water; just when it is first applied) You will just have to get to know how much water you want to put in your paints depending on the overall look you want to achieve on your doll. If you have the paint too thick, your doll will be pasty. If you have it too thin, you won’t get enough color tone and texture when you apply the paint. Just play around with it a little bit. You are not going to waste any paint by playing around. If it is too thin, then add more paint. If it is too thick, then add more water. Adjust the amount of retardant as you go. If you do not like the color, save it for another color that you will probably use later in the process.
You can acquire the different effects from the paints depending on how heavily you pounce, both putting the paint on and pouncing it in/off. That is a technique that you will learn over time as you work with paints to get the look that you desire. Note: One thing to be sure when you initially mix your paint for your color washes, make sure that you are going to have enough for all the vinyl pieces of the doll, because you do not want to make up a new batch halfway through the doll and risk having different colored limbs or the limbs a different color from the head. You want uniform, consistent color throughout the doll.
When applying the layers of paints, take extra special care of all the folds and creases of the sculpt and between the toes and fingers. Use a small paint brush to apply the paint between the fingers and toes, around the eyes, nose, ears and other small areas. Blend the paints quickly in with a dry paint brush or wedge to keep a uniform tone on all the pieces. Use toothpicks to remove paint in small creases when necessary. Remember to work in a 2 inch square area. Rinse the paintbrushes in the bowls of water and dry with a clean paper towel in between use. Turn the doll parts in all different ways to check for excess paint that needs blended or removed. I use the dowel rods from my rack to help me hold the limbs of the doll when I am applying color washes.
As I am working on this first color wash and all the pieces, I also mix up some different colors to use on the lips and nails. I use a variety of the colors for the lips and nails depending on the doll. For a basic guide, I like the old LDC brown/purple thinned down for the nail beds and a shade of the LDC burgundy for the first layers on the lips. I then build on the layers of the lips with red mixed with a bit of black for the second layer and then other various blended colors as I go. It’s important not to make a solid color on either the nails beds or lips for more life like appeal. (It looks as if I am using the green color wash on the lips and nails in the pictures below but I am not. The purple and burgundy colors are just out of sight of the picture and are being used for the lips and nails.) Use your imagination along with sponges and brushes to create lighter and darker areas on both the lips and nails. Build this up with many layers as you create the tone of the whole doll. I usually have 5 or 6 layers/details on the lips before I am finished with the doll.
You can paint more layers on almost immediately after a layer is applied. For light details there is no wait time between layers. For more wet and bold details, by the time you have painted each vinyl piece with the layer/color you are working on, you can immediately begin a new layer on the first vinyl piece you started with for the previous layer/color.
Again, I use the bumpy sponge for this layer. (When using kitchen sponges, you can rinse them out in between paintings and re-use them. This does not work well with the make up sponges and wedges.) Coat all the pieces as in the first color wash and continue to build up the lip and nail colors. As you can see in the second picture below, I have been mixing up more color shades for the lips and nails. The third picture shows the wet paint applied on with the bumpy sponge. The fourth picture below shows the face completed with the second color wash. The “skin” is very soft looking and pretty.
I use a small brush from a make up kit to apply the crease and fold color. Again, work in a small area such as around one eye at a time, around one ear at a time or one one side of the nose. Use a dry brush or wedge to blot and pounce the crease color in paying close attention to any areas of extra paint. Use a wet brush or wedge if the paint dries too fast and is excess.
I keep some paper towels in my lap and I also have the table covered with paper towels (or puppy training pads on the table) and if you need to clean the brush off of excess paint as you work. If the brush starts getting too much paint after several times of using it, you will need to wash it off in the water, rinse it, dry it off and let it dry a few minutes before you use it again. Keep your dry brush clean as well and really let it dry before using it again. Don’t let the paint dry onto your paintbrushes, keep them clean.
Continue the creases and folds on the face, I have done around the ears, front, back and on the inside of the eye sockets and a bit up the nostrils. Be sure to pounce that paint on to give it a lifelike look. I have done under the chin and under the lower lips and around the nose. After all the creases are done on the face, I cut a sponge cloth into one inch squares. Dampen the sponge in the water, blot on the paper towels and then use the crease color and lightly blush the cheeks, the chin, the bridge of the nose, up between the eyes and in various places on the head. Just very lightly, it does not need to be much. This is first layer of blushing. At this time, use a deeper red color on a tiny brush and put just a little bit in the inside corner of each eye. This is the building up of the tear ducts for the doll. Keep building the tear ducts with different shades of red and ivory as you continue to color the doll. This technique really adds a life-life look to your doll. By the time you do all these steps on the face/head of your doll, he or she is beginning to look very real.