Getting started with your first OOAK doll repaint: Supplies

Getting started with your first OOAK doll repaint: Supplies

Learning how to repaint one-of-a-kind dolls starts with learning the right materials to use.

Most fashion dolls are made of vinyl, so choosing the right materials is key to creating a beautiful repaint that will last for many years to come.

Some  paints are not recommended for use on vinyl. For example, oil paints will bleed into the vinyl and spread — transforming your amazing doll repaint into an impressionist canvas.

Most doll repaint artists use acrylic paints for both their durability and their ease of use. But not all acrylic paints are created alike. While a gifted repaint artist may be able to use any paint with success — created with a whole lot of patience and skill — some of us need to start with a quality paint.

Golden paints are the brand that many repaint artists use, and they are the paints that I use.

Golden paints are quality fluid acrylic paints that spread on beautifully without the use of thinners and extenders. While you can use these products with Golden paints, it is often not necessary.

The brushes you use are up to you. I haven’t noticed a difference in any of the brands that I’ve used. Most brushes tend to be the 10/0 size, but I’ve used others that are 3/0 and 5/0.

You will find that you will need different brushes for different uses: Small, fine-tipped brushes for details like eyeliner and lashes, and broader, flat brushes for eye shadow or blush. Experiment until you find what works for you.

Of course, there are many other color tools besides paint that can help you create beautiful effects, such as shading and blending. Here are a few that I and other artists have used:

  • Chalk pastels
  • Watercolor pencils
  • Watercolor paints
  • Graphic dyes

The key to using these tools properly is to avoid any products that contain oil-based ingredients, and then to set them with a quality sealer.

Like paints, sealers should be chosen according to your preferences. Inexpensive craft sealers can be used with success. However, not all are the same quality. I have used sealers that were tacky to the touch days after application, as well as sealers that dried with a sheen.

The Liquid brand Gloss sealer and medium is the gloss sealer that I use. It creates nice glossy, smooth finish. One important tip: Only apply the sealer to the areas you want to shine, such as the eyes and the lips. When I started repainting, I used the sealer on the whole face and just couldn’t understand why my doll was so shiny:)

A great matte sealer that most artists use is the Winsor Newton matt varnish. It is oil-based, but it won’t cause your paint to run and won’t harm the vinyl.

Other dolls may require different types of sealers, based on the material of the doll and the types of paint you use. For example, Mister Super Clear is the sealer of choice when doing face-ups on ball-jointed dolls.

These are the paint supplies that I use when I repaint my OOAK dolls, and they are the supplies that many other repaint artists use. However, when  you get started repainting,  you will soon learn what works best for your individual process. The key is to experiment and to try new things until you find what gives you the best results.

Have you started repainting your own dolls, or are you a seasoned pro? What brands of paints, sealers, brushes, and other supplies do you use? Tell us your picks in the comments!

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10 Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips!
    I had no idea a liquid sealer is used. I thought it has to be spray to avoid smudging stuff like pastels. In fact I bought a very expensive spray sealer that promised ultimate matte results, but I tried it on a doll foot and it shines 🙁 I can’t use it on dolls. Another matte sealer that I have is liquid, but it kinda shines too, I used it to create a transparent gradient around the eyes and it looks like tears or sweat. For now I’ve decided to apply sealer, the glossy kind, just on the eyeballs and mouth and let the rest be. I used pastels for blush and it smudges and fades, but I don’t know what to seal it with. Not to mention that I can’t purchase good stuff online from my country.

  2. I had a hard time finding a truly matte sealer for a long time. Even though it is liquid, I have never had a problem with the Winsor Newton sealer smudging or smearing chalks or powders. I think it will just require some trial and error to figure out what works best for you. Good luck!:)

    • Thank you very much for the quick answer!
      I noticed you put a picture of the W&N varnish for oils, but when I looked at their product range I discovered they have an acrylic varnish as well. Wouldn’t that be the right thing to use? I always looked for stuff that goes on acrylics since this is what I paint with.
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  4. I’m willing to give this hobby a try I just finished a fashion design and technology course and reason why I wanted to start was to create my own doll I might get my older sister to help since she would do her ball joint dolls make up.

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  7. I live in the UK and would love to get into this hobby but i’m unsure where to start and i would appreciate it if someone could offer me some helpful advice like… Where would be the best place to get the chalk pastels for face ups in the UK? What type of watercolour pencils would work best? I would appreciate any other advice someone may have to offer. Many thanks in advance 🙂 x

  8. I have a porcelain fox doll I need to repaint but I don’t want to refire it. It’s finish is not really smooth do you think chalk paint could be used instead of china paints?

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