Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Tutorial: Creating a BJD Head and Face with Linda Macario

In this tutorial, Linda Macario, the Italian BJD doll-maker, shows us how to sculpt a BJD head and apply a face-up.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Click any image to see it in full size.

Materials

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Box cutter
  • Fine sand paper
  • Sculpting tools
  • Paint Brushes (Larger for coating, 00 for fine lines)
  • Makeup sponge
  • Polystyrene
  • LaDoll or DAS (air-drying paper clay)
  • Modeling paste (e.g., by LaDoll)
  • Chalk powder (or chalk sticks which you can grind into a powder)
  • Acrylic paints
  • Glass eyes
  • Thick wire (stiff enough to hold its shape under elastic tension)
  • Eye protection, protective gloves.
  • Dremmel tool with spherical grinding attachment (see picture in tutorial)

Draw the face and Create the Core

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Draw the front and side view of doll’s head in full scale (1:1).

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

On a separate sheet of paper, draw outlines of the front and side views, but 5mm smaller than the original drawings. Then cut them out.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Cut a cube of polystyrene and trace the head shapes on it. Then cut the excess polystyrene and refine the block to obtain the head core.

Sculpt the Face

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Cover the polystyrene core with a layer of Ladoll clay (5mm thick). Let the covered core dry. Once dry, draw a center vertical line and a horizontal eye line.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Sketch the facial features on the head, following the original design.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Add clay for the eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth and cheeks.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Remember to look at your head from all view points while you are sculpting. It’s very important for the final result.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Add details to the face, shaping the eyes, nostrils and lips. The eyeballs are recessed relative to the eyelids.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Sculpt the eyelids and refine the nose and mouth.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Model all particulars with care, preserving balance and proportions.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Add clay where you need it (here I’ve added some to the forehead.) Remove any excess. Let the clay dry.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Draw the ears in the correct position on the dry clay. The ears should be positioned between the corner of the eye and the corner of the mouth.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Create a small ear with clay.

sLinda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Wet the clay on the head where the ear will go. Then place the ear on the head.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Add the external ear fold.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Add the inner ear fold, like a small letter C. Then create the deepest points by pushing them in with a sculpting tool. The ear is done. (Making ears requires a lot of practice. Don’t get discouraged if it’s not good on the first try.)

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Repeat for the other ear. Be sure to position the ears at the same height.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Once again, inspect the head from different angles and check details. Let the head dry fully.

Create the Eye Openings

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Trace a line around the top of the head, right behind the ears. Draw an arrow at the top center point of the head.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Cut the head along the line.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Make holes through the center of the eyes. When you look inside the head, you can see the location of the eyes.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Follow the safety precautions for using the Dremel, such as wearing eye-protection and protective gloves.

Using the Dremel inside the head, carefully grind out the eye sockets.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

These are the eye sockets.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Flatten two similar balls of clay and squeeze them into the eye sockets. Then press in the eyes into the clay.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

From the front, use a sculpting tool to remove the excess clay. Then position the eyes as you want them.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Here is the face after the eyes have been positioned.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Secure the eyes in place by adding  some clay over the eyes inside the head.

Create the Head Articulation

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Cut a round hole where the head connects to the neck.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Add some clay to the hole.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Gently press the neck ball into the clay to create the head joint socket.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Rejoin the front and back of the head with some clay. Then let it air-dry completely.

Coat the Head

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

With fine sand paper, smooth the head. Then wipe the surface with a damp cloth.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Mix the colored paints and add some water to obtain a skin tone coating.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Add modeling paste and chalk base to get the coating to a creamy consistency.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Paint the head with 4 layers of coating.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Clean the eyes. Your head is ready to paint.

Create the Elastic Hook

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Create a hole for the elastic bands in the head joint socket.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Make two holes and a groove on the top center of the head.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Create a hook with a wire.

Insert the hook through the head joint socket so it comes out the front hole.

sLinda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Bend the long part of the hook  so it sits in the groove and goes back down the other hole.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Adjust the bends so you can still see the hook like this.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Cover with a little clay.

Paint the Head

sLinda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Prepare a certain color to paint the head.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Use very diluted acrylic paints and apply them to the makeup sponge.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Apply a light coat of paint to the circled areas. (Do not draw these lines on the face.)

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

With a pencil, draw two lines for the eyebrows.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

Add color to the lips.

Linda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

With a 00 brush, paint the eyelashes, eyebrows, and fine lines on the lips.

stLinda Macario BJD Face-sculpting Tutorial

55 thoughts on “Tutorial: Creating a BJD Head and Face with Linda Macario

  1. This was a very insightful article. I have been wondering how the artists sculpt the actual faces of the dolls. Thank you.

  2. I really love this tutorial! I am wondering though, how did you get the clay so smooth and flat when wrapping the first layer over the styrofoam? I've been massaging my ball for hours now and it still looks wrinkly, uneven and torn. Any suggestions? :)

    1. When I make dolls, first make sure you’re using a good quality clay, because I used das and creative paper clay is sooooo much better, because das gave me that torn look. also you could wet your fingers when sculpting to smooth things out, but mainly when its dry sand it down with sand paper starting with 80 grit and going up to finish with 220 grit or higher

      Hope this helps

    1. We hope you do. The only way to learn is to make a first version and then improve with each subsequent version. Enjoy the process and give yourself pats on the back for completing each one. Send your inner critic on a long vacation. :-)

  3. Hi! This is a fantastic tutorial, but I'm still uncertain about a surface to put the head on while it is drying. A flat surface doesn't seem like it would work, because the clay on the bottom would become flat–right? I thought about setting the head on something soft like poly-fil, but wouldn't that stick to the clay? I'd love to know! Thanks! :)

    1. That's a very good question. We recommend creating and using a mount like the one shown in images 5 – 13. The easiest way to create a mount is to drill a narrow hole in a board, and then glue a metal or bamboo kebab into it.

  4. Do you have a recommendation on which dremel bits are most useful? Do you use a dremel to cut the head? to sand?I am about to buy my first dremel and am a little overwhelmed by what's available! (I mostly work with creative paperclay.) Thank you for the very useful tutorial!

  5. I live in Chile and here do not get Creative Paper Clay, here, pasta Das is sold, I want to know if both are more or less the same

  6. I've finally undertaken the chore of creating my own BJD, and stumbling upon Miss Linda's beautiful and easy-to-understand tutorial was a wonderful blessing to take some of the fear out of my heart. I have a Dremel, but I don't know where I could possibly find a Dremel tip like that! I've looked in my local hardware and hobby shops, and I've tried googling it, but I just can't seem to find it anywhere! Is there a specific name for it I could look for on eBay, or a specific store that sells them? Please, thank you, and once again, this tutorial is such a huge help, it's making this so much less stressful and scary for me!

  7. Dear Linda;
    IF this doll is to be cast in resin, Is this surface smooth enough? or , Do you need to make a wax model and smooth the surface out as well as redefine the features ect. in the wax prototype stage?
    Dolly~Hugs Patti

  8. Where can I find BJD or ABJD making artists for linking with me and my new business that I want to commence in order to flourish their Art as well as my business?

  9. Muchas gracias por tanta amabilidad. Es un tutorial magnífico. Muy inspirador y muy fácil de seguir.
    Muchas gracias.

  10. Hi there! You got a nice tutorial. I just want to ask, I’m thinking of doing my own ball joints using air drying clay. Is it okay if I carve a hole in it already before letting it dry so that I won’t have to drill it or use a chisel to make hole? Thanks :)

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