Sweetly Twisted’s Secrets for Stunning BJD Face-Ups (1/3)

Also see: Part 2, Part3

Miriam (irrimiri on flickr) of Sweetly Twisted

BJDmagazine: How did you become a face-up artist? Are you an artist by training?

Miriam: Yes, I started working on my own dolls at first. In fact I bought my first doll because I was so interested in the customizing part of the hobby. My first doll was a CP Miyu. She had a default face-up from Luts, which I kept for a little while, until I had more information about doing face-ups, and about ball jointed dolls in general. My first face-up was a big mess Smile. But after trying it again and again, I kind-of got the hang of things from experimenting with materials, brushes, pastels, and so on. After some time, friends started to ask me to do face-ups and even small modifications for their dolls.


BJDmagazine: You do a lot of face-ups for male dolls. Tell us more about painting male dolls.

Miriam: I often use a different color palette for male dolls. The colors are more brownish. They are pinker for a girl face-up. Lips on male dolls are often a bit lighter or browner, depending on what the customer wants, and I use less gloss. When I do male face-ups, I always paint their eyebrows somewhat rougher/wilder than on girl dolls. The blush on the cheeks is always a bit milder. Though, with my own doll, Finn, a Narin Charisma, I went a bit wild blushing his cheeks. People even asked me why he looked so hot/feverish.  I can’t help it, I think he is cute with rosy cheeks Smile. I don’t do that with male doll heads from customers, unless they ask for it.

BJDmagazine: How do you do a face-up for a boy versus for a man?

Miriam: Less pink blush on the cheeks make dolls look more adult. I also use darker toned blush to enhance cheekbones. Children often have pink cheeks for example. Another thing that matters is the position of the eyebrows. If you want a doll to be more masculine, give him firmer eyebrows. It is hard to explain, but I hope this gives you some idea. I give smaller dolls with childlike faces (e.g., Yo-SD dolls) sweeter, more peaceful, eyebrows. I often give adult dolls eyebrows that are a little bit sterner.


BJDmagazine: We noticed your faces have great, very researched eyebrows. Why do you think eyebrows are so important?

Miriam: Because they define the mood of the face. In real life, eyebrows are a very important facial feature. They show us emotions. When someone looks angry, their eyebrows lower a bit, casting a shadows on the eyes. It makes the eyes look darker and a bit more dangerous. When someone is happy, the eyebrows are a bit higher, letting more light shine on the eyes, and giving them a twinkle. With dolls and drawings, you can manipulate this effect. I am an illustrator by profession. When I was little, I invented a comic character and drew him a lot. I spent hours just drawing his face with all kinds of emotions. I always spent a lot of time detailing his eyebrows to evoke a precise emotion or feeling.

BJDmagazine: Can a male sculpt be transformed into a woman? What is the challenge in that? What does it involve?

Miriam: It’s possible. Most, but not all doll heads have androgynous features. They can be used for both male or female face-ups. I once had a Nanuri head from Cerberus Project. It’s a male sculpt with vampire fangs. The owner asked me to make it more feminine. At first I thought it would be an easy job. Just sanding some cheekbones and eyebrows and adding a face-up. But, it was a lot of work. When I changed one part of the face, I noticed I had to change other parts as well to keep it balanced. In the end, I sanded the whole face; cheeks, chin, nose, eyebrows, and most of the jawline. This was quite a project. But, I was happy with the end result. It was a whole new face.


BJDmagazine: Your work shows real range, from the most natural, innocent face-ups, to the most dramatic. How did you become so versatile?

Miriam: I think it’s because I’ve always been an observer. When I was a child, I observed all kinds of tiny ‘unimportant’ details that others wouldn’t notice. At some point in life, I was especially focused on observing people and their faces. I looked at my parents’ faces, the faces of my grandparents, and so on. I noticed that tiny changes in the position of an eyebrow or the corner of a mouth would completely alter the emotion. When I saw something interesting, I would try to capture the emotion by drawing it. This habit resulted in me drawing many faces. They weren’t pretty drawings most of the time, just quick sketches of faces with different expressions.

BJDmagazine: What is the most important point for a natural face-up to work?

Miriam: I think soft colors are the most important, and of course, no fluorescent tones, like blue or green or bright pink Winking smile. I always look around me to see what colors a human face has without make-up. There are different kinds of ‘natural face-ups’. The colors of a red-haired person are often different from those of a black-haired person. In both cases, I pick colors that match their skin tones. For example, with redheads I use brownish-red tones. With black-haired dolls, I choose browner/greyish tones.

BJDmagazine: What is the most important point for a fantastic or dramatic face-up to work?

Miriam: Eyebrows are the most important because they decide what kind of emotion you want to show. Of course the colors around the eyes are important too. Like in real life, people use make-up to enhance their eyes. You can do that with dolls, too. Smokey eyes are one example; bright make-up colors are another. I still think the eyebrows determine the general emotion I want to emphasize.


Also see: Part 2Part3

If you enjoyed this article, please link to it and share it with your friends!


About BJDmagazine

BJDmagazine is a free online magazine for the ball-jointed doll community. We feature DIYs articles and how-to's, interviews with prominent BJD artists, BJD photography, and product/doll company news.

3 thoughts on “Sweetly Twisted’s Secrets for Stunning BJD Face-Ups (1/3)

    1. Dear Miriam, Thank you for providing such an extensive and insightful interview. We enjoyed working with you and learned a lot about faceups. Your work is beautiful!

Leave a Reply