Category Archives: Face-Ups

PlanetDoll Mini Riz BJD

Where to Start with BJDs? by Lea Mars (Part 2)

So, you’ve decided which BJD mold you want. A ‘mold‘ is the model of the doll. When you order your doll, you’ll probably get the option to choose the resin color, and whether you want the doll with face-up or not.  Some dolls come in only one resin color, but often companies give you different options. The most common colors are white, natural and tan. That being said, not all white, natural or tan resins have the exact same tone. They vary by company. For example my PlanetDoll Mini Riz is a white resin doll, and she is almost as white as paper. Yet, my eLuts Soony has a yellowish glow, even though she is also a white resin doll. Keep this in mind when you buy your doll. Again, look at pictures taken by owners. They usually give a more realistic view of the skin tone of your doll.

PlanetDoll Mini Riz BJD

As I said earlier, you can purchase your doll with or without face-up. A face-up is the ‘make-up’ a doll has on his/her face. When you order your doll with face-up, the doll company will do the face-up. This is often referred to as a standard face-up. Sometimes, the company will give you some say in what you want for a face-up, but you can’t get very specific. If you really want a specific face-up for your BJD, you can commission an artist. There are many face-up artists in the BJD world. Take a look at the interview with Sweetly Twisted or Viridian House. Of course you can also try to do it yourself.

PlanetDoll Mini Riz BJD

The basic things you will need for a face-up are a sealer like Mr. Super Clear, paints, chalk pastels and paint brushes. There are many tutorials and do’s and don’ts available. Do a lot of research before doing anything on your doll. Not all types of paint can be applied on a doll and not all paint removers are good for your doll! If you have a tanned doll you should be extra careful. Take a look at Den of Angels Painting, Customizing and Esthetics forum. Their Customizing Thread Index is a wonderful resource. Doing face-ups yourself is an amazing talent and if you get good at it you can even sell your services!

PlanetDoll Mini Riz BJD

Unless you ordered a limited edition doll, your doll will probably come nude. Some companies include eyes or a wig, but if they didn’t, you need to order them with your doll. Also, with wigs and eyes… you have unlimited choices! There are synthetic wigs, and natural fibers wigs, short and long haired wigs. Eyes range from nice, affordable acrylic eyes to glass eyes, to gorgeous urethane eyes. When there are hundreds companies that sell BJDs, there are even more companies that sell eyes and/or wigs. So look around, browse, explore. Maybe you have a certain look in mind for your doll? Search online shops, and if the shops don’t have that perfect wig you are looking for, you can also commission a wig from a wig artist like MyukiDollfie! I know… too many choices! Wigs and eyes come in different sizes. Each doll requires the correct size. The size information for your doll can be found on the company website and once again on Den of Angels.

Text: (c) 2011, Lea Mars



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.


  • 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


Interview with Esthy, French BJD Photographer (Part 3)

In the  third and last installment of our interview with Esthy, she tells us about naming her BJD girls and creating their face-ups.

BJDmagazine: How do you select names for you characters? Do you give a lot of importance to the name?

Esthy: Most of the time, I don’t select a name for them until their customization is finished. This way, I can stay much closer to their personality. With few exceptions, give them real first names. When I don’t, it is because the character is completely identified by her name. Belladone (deadly nightshade), for example,  is a poisoner; and Nini P’tit  Cœur (Nini Little Heart) is a circus artist.

My Lati dolls all have the names of cakes and sweets because they are in a world apart from the others. They are not even in the same glass case. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with Poudre and Chloé (in reference to Mylène Farmer’s song) even before they arrived.

Names are rather important because they more or less define the character.

Esthy Beautiful monster

BJDmagazine: Do you do the face-ups for your BJDs? What guides you in your choices?

Esthy: I just try to give a face to my doll that I will like and which will bring out the doll, that will make me love her. A doll without a face seems to me to be perfectly insipid and uninteresting. I like faces that have a lot of dimension and are very blushed. I’ve made a lot of progress since my first face-up five years ago. In order to evolve, I listened to and accepted critique. I learned to use different materials, I tried new methods to get better results. I try not to fall back on what I know. I try to constantly reinvent myself, to not always do the same face-ups. To make progress, I also relied on the precious advice of some of my talented friends.

Esthy 1920

BJDmagazine: In all your face-ups, the eyes are delicately made-up with iridescent powders, eye brows are barely visible.The mouths seem to attract attention, and become responsible for the emotion. Why? What is your secret for mouths that are so alive?

Esthy: I also have dolls where the accent is placed on the gaze, it depends on how the sculpt inspires me. But it is true that I love pastel colors, soft, which can create a big contrast for example between large dark circles under the eyes and a well worked mouth. I like BJDs when they have beautiful mouths that are well defined. Plump mouths are even better. For me, the most beautiful lips are those of the unoa Lusis.

The fuller the mouth is, the more details one can paint and the more one can work on the volume. The final touch, gloss, is absolutely indispensable. The brilliance gives the pout, the smile, a more intense expression to the doll. I like dolls with beautiful mouths and nice cheeks!

Esthy Laces

BJDmagazine: You like freckles. How do you make them so delicate?

Esthy: I adore freckles, they can give so much personality to certain dolls! I make them with very diluted acrylic paint to keep a transparent effect, which I think is very important. I dilute the paint more or less, according to the effect I desire. I then try to place them in the most appropriate locations for the doll and the expression I want to give her.

BJDmagazine: What are your inspirations for face-ups?

Esthy: Like everyone, I have favorite BJD makeup artists. Even though I adopt techniques used by multiple face-up artists, I don’t inspire myself from any one artist in particular. I attempt to do something that seems more or less realistic, even if the sculpt of the doll isn’t at all [realistic]. I love the transparency of the faces and the soft colors of the magnificent paintings of Mark Ryden, but I also love the the delicacy of the features of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. I like the faces of some artists’ dolls, like the dolls of Julien Martinez, Lillycat, Nicole Marschollek and Anne Mitrani. I like many things, but I always try to be original and to only dig into my imagination.  Even so, I know very well we are always influenced by someone else, whether we want it or not.

Esthy Alice and the bunnies

BJDmagazine: You do face-ups on commission. Is it very different for you to paint one of your dolls or to paint for a commission?

Esthy: It depends on what I am asked to do. I don’t accept commissions for work that is completely different from what I normally do. I try to redirect people towards artists that can better match their desires. For my work to succeed, I have to like the doll and the face-up concept. It is always a delicate thing to do a face-up for another person, especially if you don’t know them personally. You can’t always be certain that they will like the result, and the photos sent are not always faithful renditions of the final result. My biggest fear is to let down the person who put their confidence in me. But doing face-ups on BJDs is a real pleasure for me, I love doing it. I like discovering new sculpts, and nothing is more gratifying than when a person is happy with the face-up I did for their BJD.

Esthy Not so wise

BJDmagazine: “Poudre”. Could it be you, playing with flowers, jewels, and make-up?

Esthy: Poudre is a little doll that is a little bit of a mascot for me, she incarnates my vision of femininity. I like to wear makeup and put flowers in my hair but I could certainly find bits of myself in each of my BJDs. They are the incarnations of what I love,  admire and even fear. I think I have a rather whimsical and dreamy personality. I am fascinated by many things, I love to be filled with marvel and to make discoveries. I hope that I will stay like this for the rest of my life. I hope that I will find many things that will inspire me and that I will like and will allow me to improve. I cannot conceive of this passion without evolution. I think that I would have gotten bored had it not been such a great source of creativity.

BJDmagazine: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Esthy: I would just like to say that if you want to do things that you have never tried to do before, do it! Don’t be afraid of having to try again and again, of searching, of not having the right techniques…because you can learn all of that on your own. Have fun, that’s all that counts!


You can find Esthy on:

Her Blog:



We want to thank Alexandra Dlugy-Hegwer for her translation.
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Interview avec Esthy, Photographe Française de BJDs (French Version) (3/3)

Dans cette dernière partie de notre interview avec Esthy, Esthy nous parle du choix des noms de ses BJDs, et de ses face-ups.

BJDmagazine: Comment choisissez-vous les noms de vos personnages? Attachez-vous beaucoup d’importance au nom?

Esthy: La plupart du temps je ne choisis un nom que lorsque leur customisation est terminée, afin de coller à l’image qu’elles dégagent.  Je choisi souvent un véritable prénom sauf quelques exceptions. Dans ces cas là c‘est parce que le personnage est totalement identifié par son nom comme par exemple Belladone qui est une empoisonneuse ou Nini P‘tit Cœur qui est une artiste de cirque.
Mes Lati doll  ont toutes des noms de  gâteaux et sucreries car elles sont dans un monde à part des autres, elles ne sont d’ailleurs pas dans la même vitrine.
Poudre ou Chloé (en rapport avec la chanson de Mylène Farmer) sont des poupées avec lesquelles je savais exactement ce que je voulais faire et donc elles ont eu leur nom avant même d’arriver.
Le nom est assez important car il défini plus ou moins le personnage.

Esthy Beautiful monster

BJDmagazine: Vous faites les face-ups pour vos BJDs? Qu’est-ce qui vous guide dans vos choix?

Esthy: Je veux juste donner un visage à ma poupée qui me plaira et qui saura révéler la poupée, qui me la fera aimer ,car souvent la poupée sans visage me parait parfaitement insipide et inintéressante.  J’ai affiné mes goûts et je n’ai cessé de tenter d’avoir le rendu que je désirais avec mes poupées, à travers leurs maquillages. J’aime les visages qui ont du relief et qui sont très blushés.
Je me suis beaucoup améliorée depuis mon tout premier maquillage il y a cinq ans, j’ai écouté et accepté la critique pour évoluer, appris à utiliser des matériaux différents, essayé de nouvelles méthodes afin d’avoir un meilleur rendu et je tente de ne pas me reposer sur mes acquis pour avoir la possibilité de toujours me renouveler, de ne pas faire toujours les même maquillages. J’ai aussi pu compter sur les conseils précieux de certains de mes amis talentueux pour progresser.

Esthy 1920

BJDmagazine:Dans tous vos face-ups, les yeux sont légèrement fardés avec des poudres irisées, les sourcils a peine visibles. Les bouches semblent attirer l’attention, et deviennent responsables de l’émotion. Pourquoi? Quel est votre secret pour des bouches si vivantes?

Esthy: J’ai aussi des poupées où l’accent est mis sur le regard, cela dépend de ce que le moule m’inspire mais il est vrai que j’aime les couleurs pastels, douces, qui peuvent créer un grand contraste avec de grandes cernes par exemple ou une bouche très travaillée. J’aime les BJD qui ont de belles bouches bien dessinées, si elles sont charnues c’est encore mieux. Les plus belles lèvres pour moi ce sont celles des unoa lusis.
Plus la bouche est pleine plus on peut faire de détails et travailler sur les volumes. La touche finale, le gloss est pour moi tout à fait indispensable, la brillance rend la moue, le sourire, l’expression de la poupée plus intense. J’aime les poupées avec de belles bouches et de bonnes joues!

Esthy Laces

BJDmagazine: Vous aimez les tâches de rousseur. Comment les rendez-vous si délicates?

Esthy: J’adore les tâches de rousseurs, ça peut donner tellement de personnalité à certaines poupées! Je les fais à la peinture acrylique très diluée pour garder un effet transparent qui me parait important. Je dilue plus ou moins la peinture selon l’effet désiré. Je tente ensuite de les placer aux endroits qui me semblent les plus opportuns suivant la poupée et l’expression qu’on souhaite lui donner.

BJDmagazine: Quelles sont vos inspirations pour les face-ups?

Esthy: Je pense que comme tout le monde j’ai des artistes en maquillage de BJD préféré, cependant  il ne me semble pas m’inspirer de qui que ce soit bien que je reprenne des techniques utilisées par plusieurs maquilleurs. Je tente juste de faire quelque chose qui me semble plus ou moins réaliste même si le moule de la poupée ne l’est pas du tout. J’aime la transparence des visages et les couleurs douces sur les magnifiques peintures de Mark Ryden mais j’aime aussi la délicatesse des traits des  peintures préraphaélites. J’aime les visages des personnages d’artistes en poupées comme Julien Martinez, Lillycat, Nicole Marschollek ou Anne Mitrani.
J’aime beaucoup de choses mais je tente de toujours être originale et de ne puiser que dans mon imagination même si je sais bien qu’on est toujours influencé par quelqu’un qu’on le veuille ou non.

Esthy Alice and the bunnies

BJDmagazine: Vous faites des face-ups sur commission. Est-ce très différent pour vous de peindre une de vos poupées ou de peindre pour une commission?

Esthy: Cela dépends de ce que l’on me demande de faire. Je n’accepte pas les commissions lorsqu’on me demande quelque chose qui ne ressemble en rien à ce que j’ai l’habitude de faire. Je tente de rediriger les gens vers les artistes qui correspondront le mieux à leurs désirs.
Il faut que je prennes du plaisir, que j’ai envie de faire ce maquillage pour qu’il soit réussit et si il est trop éloigné de mes goûts personnels ce ne sera pas possible.
C’est toujours délicat de maquiller pour une autre personne, surtout si on ne la connais pas personnellement, on ne peut jamais être sur que le résultat va lui plaire et les photos envoyées ne sont pas toujours fidèles au rendu réel. Ma plus grande crainte et de décevoir la personne qui m’a fait confiance.
Mais maquiller les BJD est pour moi un vrai bonheur, j’y prends beaucoup de plaisir. J’aime découvrir de nouveaux moules, et rien n’est plus gratifiant qu’une personne qui est heureuse du maquillage que j’ai fait sur sa BJD.

Esthy Not so wise

BJDmagazine: “Poudre”. Est-ce un peu vous, jouant avec des fleurs, des bijoux, et du maquillage?

Esthy: Poudre est une petite poupée qui est un peu comme une mascotte pour moi, elle incarne ma vision de la féminité. J’aime me maquiller et mettre des fleurs dans mes cheveux mais je pourrais sûrement trouver une part de moi en chacune de mes BJD, elles sont les incarnations de ce que j’aime, ce dont j‘ai peur ou ce que j‘admire.
Je crois que j’ai une personnalité assez fantasque et rêveuse, je suis fascinée par beaucoup de chose, j’aime être émerveillée et faire des découvertes. J’espère que je le resterais toute ma vie et que je trouverais encore un tas de choses qui m’inspireront et me plairont, que je m’améliorerais encore aussi . Je ne peux pas concevoir cette passion sans évolution, je crois que je me serais lassée très vite si ce n‘était pas une aussi grande source de créativité.

BJDmagazine: Y-a-t’il autre chose que vous aimeriez partager avec nos lecteurs?

Esthy: Je dirais juste que si vous avez envie de faire des choses que vous n’avez jamais essayé, lancez-vous!  N’ayez pas peur de devoir recommencer encore et encore, de tâtonner , de ne pas avoir les bonnes techniques… car tout cela vous pouvez le développer vous-même. Éclatez-vous, c’est tout ce qui compte!


Vous trouverez  Esthy sur:




Nous remercions Alexandra Dlugy-Hegwer pour sa belle traduction.
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Delf El BJD with faceup by Caroline Seales of Viridian House

Caroline Seales, renowned BJD face-up artist behind Viridian House (part 2)

This is the second of a two-part interview with Caroline Seales, the renowned BJD face-up artist behind Viridian House, in which she talks about  modifying ball-jointed dolls, and the art of  beautifully blended face-ups.

BJDmagazine: You are a wonderful photographer and illustrator. How does this influence your face-ups?

Caroline: Oh they both definitely influence my faceups! I used to paint the faces quite pale with few colours, and then after taking the photos the colour would always be washed out and quite bland. So I began to layer more colours with the intention to make them show up better on camera, which actually turned out to be a real learning curve. Also, I think painting all these dolls has actually influenced my illustration! Learning about which colours work best on which part of the doll has improved how I draw portraits :)

BJDmagazine: When you paint a face, do you see more than just a face?

Caroline: When I look at an unpainted doll, I see a blank canvas and I just can’t wait to get stuck in! For customer’s dolls, I try to think about what the character is like if they’ve  described it, and what kind of expression it has. When painting my own dolls, I’m happy to just paint how I like and then see what kind of personality has emerged in the end!

Modified FairyLand miniFee Shushu

BJDmagazine: You are not afraid to modify a doll. Can you tell us about your experiences with modifications? (We are thinking of your sleeping face Shushu.)

Caroline: Well for the first time I was actually very afraid! The sleeping Shushu was originally meant to be a practice, since I knew that if I messed up it would be easy and fairly cheap to get another one. It’s actually much easier than I thought it would be, I started by just opening the eyes but now both my Shushu heads have had other modifications! My favourite kind to do is in the lips and nose – I like to make the face softer and rounder.

BJDmagazine: The blending is perfect on your face-ups? How do you achieve this?

Caroline: At first I would try to get a strong colour by just choosing a darker colour – for me this just ended up a mess! I prefer to choose a normal colour, but the key to building up the colours without making them patchy is to do it in layers – making sure to spray the MSC in between. I also like to use a large soft brush and lots and lots of cotton buds! The cotton buds are perfect for blending in small areas like just under the eye and the lips.

BJDmagazine: Would you say your work is more like a watercolor, than an oil painting?

Caroline: It’s quite hard to say really, watercolors are more subtle and delicate whereas an oil painting has a richer colour, so I’d like to think my work is somewhere in the middle!

BJDmagazine: How does the music of Akino Arai relate to your work?

Caroline: Oh it seems like I long time since I last listened to her music! Music is important to me when doing any kind of art, I think most artists feel this way! Right now I’m drawing inspiration from a Scottish band, Cocteau Twins. Music certainly creates all kinds of images and colours in my mind so this band is definitely my favourite for that!

Alchemic Lab Unoa Faceplates

BJDmagazine: You paint mostly female sculpts. Why? Would you like to paint more male sculpts?

Caroline: I’m very happy to paint either, though I think I do slightly prefer female sculpts! This is mainly because I like to paint pretty, rosy colours so that just suits girls more. Saying that, I do love to paint more natural styled boys – getting to paint hairier eyebrows is quite fun! I’ve had a few commissions where I was given photos of male models as reference and I was very happy with the results :)

BJDmagazine: You choice of eye lashes is always perfect. Do you have a recommendation for our readers on how to chose the best eye lashes for their dolls?

Caroline: It’s quite hard for me to get hold of good eyelashes, so my customers usually send some along for me to attach. I would recommend joining a group order if you just need one or two pairs, but sometimes human lashes can be used if you’re desperate. I’ve seen some really lovely styles on the 4D website ( which I’m dying to try out! The best kind of lashes to look out for are the kind that taper off at the end, so that they have that fine feathery effect.

BJDmagazine: Why do you say YO-SD Nana is one of your favorite paints?

Caroline: Oh this doll is just so cute! The ‘four sisters’ sculpt is one of my all time favorites, such a classic by Volks! And the Yo-SD one is just a miniature version so to me she is just so completely adorable – I would never get tired of painting either the SD or Yo versions!

Volks YoSD Nana

BJDmagazine: Which sculpt would you dream of painting?

Caroline: Over the course of the past two years I’ve painted a few of my ‘dream dolls’! I used to always want to paint an Alice by AIL, Supia Rosy, and a Volks Williams. I’ve managed to paint these (in fact I’m painting a Williams right now!) so I guess my next dream commission would be a female School Head A & C… and a Michele. Oh and I’d love to be able to modify a Volks Nana – especially the mouth area to exaggerate that cute pout! There’s just too many to name!

BJDmagazine: What is your work process? How do you approach a commission?

Caroline: I ask for written instructions or pictures as an example from my commissioners, so I’ll start by looking over these first, and then comparing them to the actual doll, for example, working out how a particular expression will fit on the doll. I’ll paint really faint guidelines for the brows, and then start to build up all the hairs, and the lashes too. After I’ve painted the ‘base’ details I’ll begin to start working on the blushing and colours – and then continue to layer up more paint and more pastels. I think it’s easier to work with more broad terms rather then specific instructions on each part of the face, so I stopped using a questionnaire and now I just ask my customer to describe in their own words.

Lati Faceplate BJD faceup

BJDmagazine: How often do you open commissions?

Caroline: I open up whenever I can, but it can sometimes take a long time! Rather than to strict ‘monthly’ slots, I just take on commissions whenever I have the time. It’s not so easy to get hold of some of the materials, so sometimes I have to wait till I’ve got enough stocked up.

BJDmagazine: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Caroline: First I would just like to thank those who have read what I had to say! And second, to thank all my customers who have trusted me with their dolls in the past :) I’m still amazed that people want to send them all the way to Scotland just to get painted! I hope I can continue to improve my work and I look forward to what comes in 2011.

FairyLand modified miniFee ShuShu face-up

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BJD Faceups by Caroline Seales of Viridian House (part 1)

This is the first of a two-part interview with Caroline Seales, the renowned BJD face-up artist behind Viridian House, in which she talks about her passion for ball-jointed dolls and creating romantic face-ups.

BJDmagazine: How did you enter the world of BJDs?

Caroline: Well, it was about 5 or 6 years ago now, so it’s a little hard to remember exactly! I think the first time I saw a BJD was when I was on DeviantArt – it was a Delf El. I looked up the Luts website and fell completely in love!

El by Viridian House

BJDmagazine: Are you an artist by training?

Caroline: I wouldn’t say I’ve been ‘trained’. I’ve always enjoyed art at school, so I took Art at GCSE, A Level and then Illustration at University. For me it just seemed a natural progression.

BJDmagazine: Why did you decide to do face-ups?

Caroline: I used to love browsing the customizers’ section on Den of Angels so it wasn’t my plan at first to paint my own! I’d bought an El head just to kind of practice on, see what it’s like – the result was not so great! Then I got my “dream doll”, which at the time was a Delf Woosoo, and I tried to choose who to send it to… the problem was that I was too afraid to risk sending away something so precious! I ended up painting it myself a few times, and every doll I got after that, till I started to get a little better.

Luts Woosoo by Viridian House

BJDmagazine: How did you chose the name Viridian House?

There was a music album that I liked to listen to while painting/illustrating – it was more background music, and quite relaxing! It was called Viridian House, by Akino Arai. Having music on actually helps the process I think, having a ‘beat’ to paint to is quite helpful!

BJDmagazine: You live in Bowden, Scotland, a land of myths and legends. How does living there influence your work?

Caroline: Living in Scotland certainly has it’s advantages – in my opinion it is a beautiful country, and I’m lucky enough to live in a peaceful rural setting where I can easily go for walks to find inspiration. The downside however, is that occasionally it can feel ‘too’ secluded, so it would be nice to have a local artist community where I could discuss work with friends!

BJDmagazine: When looking at your face-ups, the words that come to mind are soft, subtle, and feminine, to name only a few. Can you expand on that?

Caroline: Painting a doll for me is about trying to achieve a semi-realistic look. Real faces don’t have hard lines or bright colours. Warm flesh colours, reds and pinks are my favourite for faceups, and those are very feminine colours – and my favourite process is blending all the pastel colours together which creates that softness.

Domuya Fin by Viridian House

BJDmagazine: All your faceups share the same ethereal quality, and at the same time each is unique. How do you decide which tones and brush strokes will best capture the spirit of the doll?

Caroline: This actually relates to the colour of the resin and the actual sculpt. If the resin is peachy coloured, then the tones need to be a warm reddish/pink to compliment that, or if it’s white coloured then the tones need to be slightly more peach/orange – pink tends to look harsh on white.The brush strokes depend on how the doll has been sculpted. It can seem like a small detail, but for eyelashes, the way the lower lid is sculpted determines exactly how the lashes can be painted! For example, if it has a ridge or if it is smooth. Gender also plays a role, for example for female dolls, I like to make the lashes less uniform and cross over each other. For male dolls I try to make them much neater and close together.

BJDmagazine: What is it that makes your face-ups look so romantic?

Caroline: Perhaps because I am a romantic at heart!

MNF Shushu by Viridian House

BJDmagazine: What materials do you work with?

Caroline: I use acrylic paints for all the main details, such as the eyebrows, lashes, lip details and freckles. Along with paint I mix a thinner to improve the flow of the lines. These lines are blended with chalk pastels, and the overall shading/blushing is with the pastels too. In between applying the paints/pastels I spray Mr. Super Clear to seal each layer. The final touch is to paint gloss on the lips and eyes, sometimes I mix a little pearl powder to this which adds a little sparkle.

BJDmagazine: The mouths you paint look like they are about to smile. How do you give them such life?

Caroline: I try to emphasize certain aspects of the mouth – I paint darker lines in the middle/edge, and use darker tones inside the lips. If you look at a person’s face, you’ll see a prominent shadow underneath the lower lip – I like to add a dark peach/red under the dolls lips in that place just to emphasize that depth. The gloss shine and pearl powder also add a little sparkle :)

MNF Woosoo by Viridian House

BJDmagazine: With your face-ups, the doll’s eyes seem to have even more depth, at times reminding us of Marie Laurencin’s doe-eyed girls. How do you achieve this?

Caroline: Like with the lips, to give that feeling of depth or life you need to add shine! A human eye is bright and shiny, so adding a little gloss to the doll will give the illusion of that ‘life’. It’s the same principle as photography almost – the highlights in/around the eyes are so important.

Unoa by Viridian House

BJDmagazine: Your painted faces are like the delicate flowers of an imaginary garden. What is your favorite flower?

Caroline: I like wild flowers best, especially in the evening when the sun is setting – the colours and light of a meadow full of flowers is so beautiful. I really love taking photos of them too. Luckily, I live in a very rural area, so whenever I go for a walk, I get to see plenty!

Please CLICK HERE for part 2 of this interview.

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

Also see: Part1Part2

Miriam (irrimiri on flickr) of Sweetly Twisted

BJDmagazine: We have been admiring the tattoos and body art you did on some dolls. How do you design a tattoo? Tell us more about the leopard body art.

Miriam: Thank you very much. Well, I often make a design first by producing a couple of sketches. It’s the second time I’ve done the leopard tattoo and face-up on that same doll. My friend had a little accident with the first face-up and it was slightly damaged. She asked me to do the face-up with the leopard tattoo again. This second time, she also wanted a tattoo of a leopard on the back of the doll. I suggested having the tattoo continue from the face to her neck and down part of her back. She liked that idea very much. I made some sketches before actually working on the tattoo. The same is true for the ‘hot girl in red’ tattoo on the arm of the same doll. The girl in red represents another friend’s doll. I knew what the doll looked like, and sketched the hot girl in red before finally drawing and painting it on the arm. It was extremely tiny and detailed.


BJDmagazine: What was your biggest face-up challenge ever?

Miriam: I had to think about this question for a second, but then I remembered the black resin dolls I worked on a little while ago. They were Ophelia Licorice anthro dolls (pigs) from Charles Creatures Cabinet. For my coatings, I use Mr. Super Clear. People who work with this material know that a coating of the matte version makes a surface look a little bit lighter. This effect is clearly visible on tanned resins, especially on licorice black resin. The Ophelia heads I worked on, even though I tried to coat them very carefully, were slightly lighter than their bodies. I couldn’t really prevent it from happening. It’s a challenge to make the heads look good without the body looking much darker. Of course it’s possible to coat the bodies as well to reduce the difference.

BJDmagazine: What care would you recommend to preserve a face-up?

Miriam: When traveling, always put a little bit of bubble wrap around the doll’s face and then add a face mask. Of course, you can also just put a face mask on their head, but those masks have plastic edges that can leave little marks on the face of your doll. Another tip: When you put a wig on your doll, avoid touching the cheeks, nose, or chin because, after a while, the face-up rubs off. I have seen a lot of dolls with shiny noses caused by this. Smile


BJDmagazine: Yellowing is often a problem with resin dolls. What would you recommend, and can it be fixed?

Miriam: I think you should just settle with the idea that resin will yellow anyway. I once heard from a company that works with resin, that the discoloring of the resin is a slow chemical process within the material that just keeps processing until it’s done. You can say that a new doll is not done with processing/coloring yet. The process is too slow to be observed. The yellowing will happen even if you keep your doll in a box. Sunlight will speed the process. Keeping it out of direct sunlight will slow the process. In the end the doll will change colors slightly anyway. I have a CP Miyu in white skin that is now quite creamy. Last year, I sanded her body with a very soft sanding pad, to make her a bit lighter again. It worked for a while, but a year later she has the same kind of creamy color again. In the end it doesn’t really matter. I just like her the way she is. All my dolls have yellowed a bit. I don’t keep them in boxes. I have them displayed in a special made up  corner of our living room. They never get direct sunlight there, but they aren’t kept in a dark room either. My fiancé and I love watching them, so a bit of yellowing is a small price to pay. I’d rather enjoy watching my dolls than keep them in their boxes or in a dark closet.

BJDmagazine: Sometimes a doll falls during a photo shoot and gets chipped. Can chips be fixed and what does that involve?

Miriam: Hmm… It really depends on the kind of damage. In some cases, I would probably use glue and sanding. In other cases, I would just use sandpaper to remove minor damage. I prefer not to use glue, because it can show up after a while. Or at least it did when I glued a broken finger back onto one of my dolls. I sanded the finger a little so it would look smooth. In the beginning, it wasn’t showing. After some time, a tiny line appeared where the finger was broken. The scope of the repairs always depends on the kind of damage.


BJDmagazine: What is your work process? How long does a face-up take?

Miriam: It usually takes two days, sometimes more, depending on how much time I have. My freelance illustration job is my main income. The face-ups are something I do on the side. I squeeze a few hours for face-ups in between my work on illustration commissions. And then, of course, sometimes I re-do work because I don’t like the way it looks. And then it takes longer.

BJDmagazine: You have a waiting list. How often do you open slots for commissions?

Miriam: It’s totally random depending on how busy I am. At the moment I am closed again. Too many commissions to work on Smile.  I will probably open again in January, depending on circumstances. I never know exactly when I will be able to take commissions again or not.


Also see: Part1, Part2

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Sweetly Twisted’s Secrets for Stunning BJD Face-Ups (2/3)

Also see: Part1Part3

Miriam (irrimiri on flickr) of Sweetly Twisted

BJDmagazine: How do you decide on a face-up when you work on your own dolls, and when you work on a commission?

Miriam: On my own dolls, I am way more relaxed. It’s funny, because I often know just what I want for them. Though, with my pukiFee, I was experimenting, not knowing what she was going to look like. I love doing my own dolls most of all, because every doll has his or her own character. I just know how to work on them. When working for customers, you have to understand what they want. I created a face-up questionnaire for that purpose. It’s a simple list with questions about the general mood, the shape, and colors of eyebrows, eyelashes, mouth, and so on. I ask customers to provide photos as examples, if they have them. I would never copy a face-up from another doll owner, especially not on a similar sculpt. Though, I don’t mind copying a default company face-up. The difference is that every doll owner creates their own unique doll character (unless it’s a limited full set of course), and I don’t want to simply copy a doll from someone else, unless I know that this face-up doesn’t exist anymore.


BJDmagazine: What advice would you give to collectors wanting to commission a custom face-up from you?

Miriam: Think about what you want for your doll. What kind of character you would like your doll to express. What colors you would like me to use.

BJDmagazine: You paint beautiful sleeping faces. Tell us more about the choices you make when painting them.

Miriam: I work on them the same way I work on normal faceplates, even though sleeping faces have more neutral/peaceful eyebrows. When I do sleeping faces, I try to give the face a calm expression, as if the doll was really sleeping.

BJDmagazine: How different is it to paint an SD, as opposed to an MSD, Yo-SD, or a tiny doll?

Miriam: Sometimes it’s a relief to work on SD heads. At the moment, I have two huge SD heads from customers. I am very glad to have this change of size once in a while because bigger heads are always easier to work on. The smaller they are, the harder it is to paint tiny sharp eyelashes and eyebrows. I get a lot of requests to work on MSDs and Yo-SDs, so I am happy when I receive bigger heads. The shade work can be more interesting and it is even a bit more relaxing.


BJDmagazine: You paint wonderful freckled faces. What is your approach to making them look so natural?

Miriam: Haha! I’ve been asked about this a lot. My tip is to thin the paint with water. Make the paint very translucent, but just dense enough to leave marks when you apply it. And, of course, you need a tiny airbrush and lots of patience. Painting freckles is slow and time-consuming.

BJDmagazine: What materials do you work with? Do you prefer pastels or paints? And why?

Miriam: I work with different brands of acrylics (Lascaux, Amsterdam, Jo Sonja’s, and Americana’s), and with one brand of pastels (Rembrandt). I use different brands of acrylics because every brand has its own colors that I prefer. Some paints, like Lascaux and Jo Sonja’s, have strong pigments, which is handy when you want to work a bit darker. Americana and Amsterdam have a thinner texture, which makes it easier to produce lighter shades. Rembrandt pastels are my favorite soft pastels. They provide me with the right colors. Sometimes I also make use of my airbrush when I need to work with other colors, like purple and blue color tones. It’s hard to make blue and purple look bright and saturated with pastels, especially on normal or darker skin tones.


BJDmagazine: Are some molds harder to work with than others? Tell us why. Do you enjoy the challenge?

Miriam: Yes there definitely is a difference in sculpts. Companies like Fairyland and Soom have sculpts that are very easy to work with. Their faces are smooth and don’t have too many details, like very deep set eyes, heavy eyebrows or frowny faces. They leave lots of possibilities open for face-ups. But heads from companies like Souldoll, Doll in Mind, or cheaper Chinese companies such as Dollfamily, are harder. Some of the head sculpts from Souldoll and Doll in Mind have very deep set eyes and often deeply sculpted eye creases. This makes it harder to get an ‘even’ effect when blushing.

Another challenge is asymmetric faces. Faces from cheaper BJD companies often have this characteristic. When it’s not too obvious, there is no real problem. It can even add a touch of realism to a face, since no human face is perfectly balanced. But once, I had to work on a doll that had one eye that was a lot wider than the other. It was the first thing I noticed when I looked at it. It was really obvious. Also, the eyes were not at the same height. Even the elven ears were uneven. One ear was obviously bigger than the other. It was hard to give the face a somewhat balanced face-up. Those dolls are not fun to work on. It takes a lot of effort to get it ‘right’, and in the end, I often don’t even like the results. I guess I am too ‘precise’ with these things. I keep seeing the fact that the face is unbalanced, and it bothers me.

BJDmagazine: Do you fall in love with some molds?

Miriam: Oh yes! Definitely. I once did a face-up on a doll that was to be sold by Triskel Fantasy Shop. It was a MiniFee Seorin. In the end, I decided to buy him and he never left me SmileSmile. He still has that face-up. I love him very much, even though I am now capable of better quality face-ups than back then.


Also see: Part1Part3

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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

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