First face up anxiety

Sep 28, 2020

    1. So... I am still waiting for my first ever doll to arrive and with every day I get closer to him I ask myself more and more... what was I thinking, doing his face up all by myself?! TT^TT

      I am not completely inexperienced I would say. I started customizing and repainting fashion dolls back in 2016? I guess? But I usually have quite a cartoon-ish simplified style ald less so a realistic one. I might have painted two or three rather realistic face ups but still... painting on a teeny tiny barbie head is quite the difference to a much bigger BJD head which fits entirely more detail and I won't get away with just winging it and hoping for the viewers eye to fill in the blanks (or rather messy detail).

      I am just looking at so many incredible face ups lately and I just can't imagine to be able to do such a thing with my low level of experience and practice. Also I am very prone to messing something up every goddarn time. I don't want to ruin my baby, not just because he was so expensive but also because he is my first.

      Has anyone any experience to share on their face up journey? How did you start out? How did you mess up and how did you fix it (maybe)?

      Also pictures of your (even factory) face ups in great detail would really help me figure out how things are usually drawn. I would love close up pictures of certain parts like eyes, eyebrows, lips, etc.
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    2. As long as you are careful when coosing your materials and methods, you can redo the faceup over and over with no loss at all except for a little bit of time and materials. You won't ruin your doll.

      It's not relistic to expect your first couple af attempts to be the same level as the faceups done by experienced artists. But it's ok that they are not. There is no shame in inexperience.

      Learning a new craft is never about completely avoiding messing up. It is about finding the motivation to try again when things go wrong. ;)
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    3. So long as you seal the head well before you start it'll wipe off nice and clean so you can try again and again.
      Resin doesn't stain as easily as vinyl does so there's a little more margin for error. Having started out painting fashion dolls and then moving to resin and back wow.. it's like night and day. Resin is SO MUCH more pleasant to work with as you don't have those "oh no! scrub scrub scrub!" moments when you mess up some lines.
      It usually just wipes off.

      Seal well and seal often is the best advice I can give.

      The only way to get better is to keep doing it. I've still got a way to go myself before i'm at the level of many people around here but I enjoy the process.

      in terms of how things are usually drawn there's a lot of variation in how people do eyebrows and lips and stuff. I tend toward a more high end fashion doll look for eyebrows where they're multiple lines travelling in the same sort of direction but other people go for really realistic or do more like a gradiated blushed on eyebrow. It's all down to individual preference. I'd suggest looking at instagram and seeing which style you like best.
      same with lips. Some people do a subtle blush, some do a more intense lipstick look and some do the teensy lines. Again, it's down to preference.
      there's no right or wrong style to use on a doll, there's only right and wrong materials.
      and as you've already been working on fashion dolls i'm sure you understand the difference between cheap materials and good quality ones and already have a plastic safe sealant right?

      Watercolour pencils can be useful but not everyone uses them. Likewise a teensy tiny brush and acrylic is helpful. Soft pastels are great for blush work and I use them for just about everything lol.

      Oh and you might want to look into a guide about inserting lashes because while it's not "hard" to glue eyelashes in as such, it's bloody frustrating and fiddly. But it definitely adds a "finished" look to a doll to have them.
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    4. Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement!

      First off I allways use Mr. Super Clear (UV cut flat) for my repaints and unless anyone tells me that it's not optimal for resin dolls, I will probably keep using it. I've already seen some face up artists on youtube use it so it should do I guess?

      My materials are not that high quality I'm afraid. Most of them are still from my beginnings as a repainter and I just used what I had on hand or was easy to get. Not dollar-store cheap but also not high end quality.
      I have about two packets of water color pencils here (Herlitz and koh-i-noor), as well as chalk pastells from koh-i-noor and I am even to much of a noob to tell if they are good quality or not! XD
      I figured I might invest in some sets I often see artists recommend (like mungyo soft pastells) but I also feel bad for buying new things when the old ones are almost untouched.

      When it comes to paint, I am horribly fed up with acrylics. They dry faster than I can even move to get a whipe and then they are just stuck forever. I just ordered guache paints for the first time because I have seen many artists use them. Having a paint that is still water dissolvabale after drying could really safe me. Also I ordered some nail art brushes (yet again) for details in the hopes of them not being stubborn, bend and bushy like a broom like my last set. And maybe I'll go hunt for some make up brushes today as well.

      Not having to worry much about staining though is great! Thats my biggest fear since it has ruined me so much effort with vinyl doll heads, especially that stupid red that just seeps into the plastic in seconds and stays for eternity! >:U
      I will probably seal my boy quatrouple times in advance just to make sure. I have to prep the resin before sealing it? Like wash it or something? I have seen garage kit modellers wash their resin figurines before priming and painting.
    5. You do want to work on a completely oil/dirt free, very clean surface when applying MSC as a fixative, because MSC will adhere better if there is a completely clean surface. That's why most people wear gloves while painting, because you don't want oils from your hands getting in the way of a clean are for the spray to get a nice coverage.

      I love using acrylics and always have for art, rather than repaints, although I also use them for repaints since if first got my first blank doll quite a few years ago (not a bjd but 15+ years ago). If you use slow-drying mediums and other blending agents, it helps to get the paint to a consistency where you can easily wipe your mistakes with just a dampen piece of a melamine sponge, cotton swab, toothpick or paper towel. Sometimes, I even use my more beat up brushes dunked in the blending mediums (when I'm being lazy). I like wasting less fixative however, and layered pencil would take multiple more layers than just the single acrylic ones to do the same (or even more saturated) job (at least experience, but I suck).

      Learning from your mistakes is what is so great about doing your own face ups. I've been a traditionally trained artist all my life, so when I discovered I couldn't do a decent job painting on miniature 3D canvases, it did hurt my pride a little, but then I kept trying. I'm nowhere near where I want to be painting and modding my own dolls, but I still enjoy trying every time I do it. Don't be discouraged when your first face up on a BJD isn't what you expected it to be, or hoped for, just keep trying. It's really fun and you really do learn after a while, and it helps bond with the doll as well! (:
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    6. Mr. Super Clear works great. It is proabably one of the most commonly used sealers within this hobby. There are other options as well and all have their pros and cons, so if you should find that the MSC isn't working for you, there are alternatives out there. There is plenty of information on materials and techniques in the Workshop section of this forum.

      I'd say do a couple of tries with what you've got and are allready used to. It can't hurt and it may help you nail down exactly what you want in in future and keep you from accidentaly buy a lot of stuff that you may not have much use for.
    7. I use acrylics (Liquitex and Zoukei-mura), oil-free pastels (Fabre Castelle, but I would like to switch to Pan Pastels), and sometimes watercolor pencils. However, I have found that doing details like eyebrows and eyelashes is easier to do with paint than the pencils for me. I use UV-cut MSC because it's all I currently have access to.

      I have only done four faceups so far, and I know it can be easy to get discouraged! When you see so many artists out there, know that they did not get to the level of skill they are at without lots and lots of trial and error. It will take time to discover what techniques and materials will work best for you! I agree with the above comment, it's best to buy a small amount of supplies first and then go out and get what you realize you want or need later.

      With each faceup I do, I can see improvement in myself. If you're able to, I would encourage you to take lots of photos of your work, and even put it side by side when you can. You can see yourself grow and easily identify the next areas that you want to improve in!

      For example, the one on the left here was my 3rd attempt at a faceup, where I had used paint to do the brow hairs and eyelashes for the first time. When I completed it, I was so proud of myself, because it turned out better than I expected. Comically, I finished my 4th attempt and was absolutely blown away when I put them side by side. When I look at the 3rd attempt now, I chuckle at the thought that I was ever pleased with it. But that's not a bad thing; it's good to celebrate every time you have accomplished a new skill! I'm sure I'll feel the same way when I look at the 5th compared to the 4th, and so on and so on.

      Even in one iteration, I saw a huge improvement.


      Don't be discouraged, and keep at it!
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    8. As others have said, you can wipe and redo over and over until you're pleased with the results. However, if you feel uncomfortable learning on your new 'baby', you can always buy a practice head off of ebay or even Alice's. It's unnecessary, but a way to work on some of the more difficult aspects, such as eyebrows, without feeling like your first doll is a guinea pig for your learning journey.
    9. My advice would be go for it, as others said as long as you pre seal, resin is incredibly resilient and it's no harm done if you mess up and start over. It's part of the fun of BJD, the ability to customize to the max, but also be like, nah now I want something totally different. Just wipe it clean and go again!

      If you are feeling TOO much anxiety over it you can also consider ordering a practice head. Some companies make them, like Doll Family - H / - A. Others give away event heads in mass, which you can usually snag cheap on markerboard just to get a feel for the material and handling.

      Try not to be too spooked but still do what feels most comfortable for you as you start out :3nodding:
    10. As someone who just did their first ever faceup, I can say that what everyone else said is true. As long as you seal well before using colours, you don’t have to worry about ruining your new baby. I was intimidated by the blank canvas, but once I started, I realized it’s not as scary as I thought! And no one is perfect right off, but that’s the fun part- you get to see yourself improve.
    11. Thank you all so much for your nice words and advise!
      I think there really is nothing to be afraid of, if starting over and trying again is so easy.
      I'll keep you all updated on my progress, when he arrives.

      Until then, I would really love to see your attempts and progress you have made! ^^
    12. It’s easy to worry yourself waiting in my experience... for my most recent doll, I chalked her first face up off as a loss and mentally prepared myself to redo it at least once (probably more than that)! You’re gonna be careful and getting to know your doll’s face is something that just takes time. As best you can, try not to overthink it. I’m really good at overthinking things and working myself into anxiety when objectively, there’s only so much that can go wrong. Like others have said, as long as you seal your doll properly you can always try try again.
    13. I did my first faceup on my first doll, had no clue what I was doing and made a mess of him. But it didn’t matter because I loved him so much and he was truly mine. Be sure to do plenty of research on proper materials and protection. As long as you use resin safe materials, you can wipe and repaint as many times as you like. I’ve probably repainted my guy 20 times or more and he’s never been damaged. Learning to do faceups takes a lot of practice and learning from mistakes, but if you’re interested in learning, it’s very worth it. Good luck!
    14. Wanted to wish you good luck! May your first face up go well and teach you a bunch of things!

      I ended up paying for the company faceup for mine but do want to try it at some point.
    15. Be brave! It's fun. I am preparing for my 3rd bjd face up, and still nervous about it. It will go away, when you start it I promise. And as others told you above: you can always wipe it, and start over. Once I just failed a few times with one eyebrow and I painted all the doll head red, yeah I was a bit nervous, but it came of pretty easily. So go for it! Belive me the smaller faces are harder to paint. I never costumized fashion dolls, but I did face up to my mom's tiny. Before that for an Iplehouse EID. Now working on my avatar doll, and he is much nicer and easier to blush. (He is an 8 inch SD sized head)
      #15 Triexiz, Sep 30, 2020
      Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
    16. It's definitely a big task to get started on the first face up! After waiting ages and ages I'm hoping to do mine soon once I'm all moved and settled :) As others have said, as long as you're using resin-safe materials, which it sounds like you have, you can practice and re-do it as many times as you want!

      I also wanted to add, it's also fine to wait and take your time! The nice thing about this hobby is once you have a doll, there's no set time limit for when and how you enjoy them. As long as you're enjoying it!
    17. Totally understand!
      I was all ready to paint my blank head, got her sealed, got my art supplies ready,... and then started working on blushing hands to psych myself up hahaha. This is my second face-up but its been so long since the first it feels brand new. I'm also a bit intimidated by having to decide colors and feeling like I need to achieve a specific look :sweat

      The great thing I noticed while the blushing the hands is that my skill level at using my pastels has already gone up after doing one hand. Art is cool sometimes like that. The most important is to take your time and have fun with it!

      This is my first face-up (the one on the left). I was copying the head on the right (which was done by an artist) so that my doll would have a "sleeping" head. It turned out pretty good I think but the eyebrows, eyelashes, and lips could use work xD The eyelashes look ok in photos but its really feathery and a bit splotchy in person haha :sweat

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