How do you find sculpts for shelling?

Mar 16, 2020

    1. Hello everyone!

      I know there are some people out there who shell a specific character. I was wondering how they do it.
      Let me explain first: I am (most likely) a bit face blind. That means I'm very bad at remembering faces. Sometimes I forget faces of people I have seen only two times and can't even tell how old they are from memory (like "Was he 30 or 50 years old?").
      I think it's similar with dolls. When I see a doll with finished face-up and styling, I can easily tell which character it is. Because there's the wig, clothes, maybe scars or special eyes... But when I see the blank doll, I'd never be able to see a similarity.
      So what I'm asking: Can you actually see if a blank sculpt is the character you want? Or do you compare two photos like "The chin looks similar. The eyes' form is the same"?
       
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    2. I have the same problem, I don't really have an extra nerve cell for remembering people... I do remember, people's aura, and tried to match it with people I know... "Oh that person was kinda like you." But when they meet they look nothing alike... Lol

      But I had reshelled three dolls. For me I care more on their size and how they will blend with the crew. The face is the least of my worries. The important point for me is, they will have the same aura as the character I am trying to reshell. And sometimes I reshell because the doll did not met the aura requirement. Like this sculpt is too alpha or too soft for what I intended.

      I had a marchenwaltz sculpt at some point, she is gorgeous and hard to get... She is perfect for the Character, however, she was supposed to be for big SD baby dolls, her head were as big as my 70-75cm boys but her body is 58cm... Next to my girls whose girth of heads were 7 inches to 9 inches... She stood up like a sore thumb... It was heartbreaking but I can't keep her. I reshelled her to dollzone doll who have a little bit more soft Aura and smaller head girth. I kept the clothes, eyes and wig from the previous doll. And I would say it is the same character for me
       
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    3. I've studied faces most of my life, as an amateur portrait artist [hence, all the portrait photos of my dolls], so it's quite simple for me. I envision my own OCs in my head, sometimes finding reference pictures of models/actors for assistance. And, I see the potential really easily in sculpts, painted and blank. But, it's not always 100% if they come home. I prefer seeing blank versions, if possible, from owners of the sculpt. Because company photos don't always match the version you receive. I saw the potential in MYOU Ben, but he fell short when he got home. Thankfully, none of my other sculpts that I've brought home have ended up like that. But, it's something to be aware of.

      I have a doll based on Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil [he's an off-topic sculpt, so I'm not mentioning it or linking to a photo]. He's far from finished, with RE-style costumes and a few props, but there are points that - in the company photos - stood out to me. They almost screamed that he'd be perfect. I didn't go looking elsewhere, and I haven't seen a sculpt that I think would work better [but neither have I looked - I've no reason to]. Just a little styling and it's not hard to tell who he's trying to be. I say 'based on' and 'trying' because I've decided he's not going to be an exact copy. He's referred to as Leon, but he's not going to be a replica of Capcom's Leon. He's sort of my interpretation; it gives me a little more creative licence with styling and outfits! Same with my Dante. I saw the potential in two sculpts for him, but one just beat out the other. With the right styling, they're both going to look amazing [I hope]. It shouldn't be too difficult to tell who they're supposed to be. Sometimes, currently, Leon looks pretty close. Just with eyes and a decent wig.
      Not to toot my own horn... :whee:

      As for anyone struggling, I would suggest having a reference photo. If it's a TV/Movie character or you can find an actor/model that resembles what you're looking for. Just search faces on Google and stick that somewhere visible while browsing sculpts. Either open on the computer, or on a separate device. Or print it out if you can and keep it nearby. Refer back to it and see if the nose is strong enough or the jaw soft enough. The curve of the eye. Etc.
       
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    4. Most of my characters have some very specific traits, like Cian needs a round face and large eyes, Harriet needs to be a plus size girl, Stan needs pouty lips, Lily needs to look really unique and not necessarily "pretty". I usually just decide what is the distinguishing feature and look for sculpts that have it, and go from there. Sometimes, I'll look at hundreds of companies before finding The One.

      Sometimes, it's really hard. I've been searching for months for the right doll to shell Cooper, but no luck yet. Very few are thin enough, and the few that are either have too feminine or slender faces, too small eyes or the height is wrong. I'll keep searching for him!
       
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    5. I’m always on the lookout and I really enjoy doing research in this hobby, so I often have at least a vague notion of where to start looking when it comes to finding a new character. Once I see one of interest, I will google that sculpt and click on images to see all sorts of photos, including blank and owner photos. That way I can see a broad spectrum of what the possibilities for that sculpt can be.
       
    6. First, I need to find a character that I really love. Then I start searching for a sculpt that gives me approximately the same "vibe" as a neutral expression of the character would have. However, it is mostly really difficult to find e.g. a Marvel movie character with a neutral face.

      When I have found a face that I think "yes, I get that vibe from him or her", I search online for different faceups on that sculpt. As I tend to like rather "exotic" sculpts, this is also a bit difficult. So it is also essential to learn to "look behind the faceup". It is really useful if companies have pics of their blank sculpts.

      I know that in cosplays you can do wonders to completely transform a face if you know how to apply colours to lengthen or shorten parts of the face. Problem is: I still do not really know what I am doing. I want to take lessons at a studied airbrusher. She told me I should bring one or two heads, and I will get training from her.
       
    7. Is it weird that there are so many people that can't remember faces in the same hobby? I also have trouble remembering faces, but only human ones for some strange reason. I can remember my cats faces no problem, even their markings and can easily tell them apart from other similar cats. I can also tell people if I've known them for a while, but if I met the person for only a day or less, I can't remember that persons face. Even stranger, I can tell dolls, animated characters and other toys apart even when blank so I don't have any problems with dolls and blank faces, it's only with real life humans. DX

      Before DIM introduced their Minimee service, I usually just went with whichever doll I liked, even if they didn't look like the character they were based on. When DIM came with their MNM service, I joined the group orders for the particular characters I wanted. I don't mind that the dolls based on OCs don't match too well the characters they are based on, but I do mind if characters from well known franchises don't look like the character they represent. (:
       
    8. I remember faces fairly well im just crap at tacking a name to them. Or I might remember the name but blank on the face. I can never recall both.
      For me when I was choosing scuplts for my dolls I was very methodical. I had a picture of the character I wanted up in another tab while window shopping dolls. I focused mostly on matching shape of face, the eyes and the mouth.
      I was pretty lenient about things like noses and ears because they are the easiest bits to mod.
       
    9. I usually have a pretty good idea of what my characters look like before I start looking for a shell for them. A few of them, the moment I saw the sculpt, I knew it was them! So I guess in response to your question, yes, I can see the character from the blank sculpt. It doesn't have to match exactly because the face-up can accent some features and diminish others if need be, but it needs to be close.

      I used to be bad with faces. I don't know what happened, but I'm better at remembering people now (but I don't always remember where I met them!)
       
    10. "How do you find sculpts for shelling?" With extreme difficulty, haha.

      While I don't have OCs I want to shell, there are certain pre-existing characters that I'm extremely interested in shelling one day, and I think that the thing I search for when looking at different sculpts is the expression. That tends to be the tipping point of whether a sculpt looks like it'll "work" for my interpretation of the character or not. Everything else can be modded to my specifications! >v<

      Above, ivorysand seems like they've given the best possible advice on this too, which is to have a photo or drawing at the ready to do comparisons against the sculpt, and try to match certain facial characteristics to see if it will match your mental image. It's tough, make no mistake! Especially if there are no pictures of the blank sculpt! So do expect to go through lots and lots and lots of companies for a potential candidate.
       
    11. My OCs are all pre-existing and I've been drawing them for years, so I'm very familiar with their features. Even so I do still like to have a drawing on hand. It starts with a lot of window shopping, then I look at the shape of the eyes, nose, and cheek bones. Both with a faceup and blank. That alone helps to narrow down the field a lot. After I get a couple candidates I look at their chins and roundness of the cheeks. I do my best to pick a head or two with what matches up with the drawing and in my head. I sometimes will take a picture of a blank head into something like photoshop and start to rough out a faceup to see how good of a match it is.
       
    12. It takes great patience and months of searching for sculpts and blanks thereof. I find searching to be part of the enjoyment, so it doesn't bother me.

      That said, one or two of my character dolls came as happy accidents, when I noticed a picture and my brain went click.
       
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    13. From the very beginning, I wanted my dolls to be on the realistic side. At that time, the choices just started to get wider. Iplehouse was at its beginnings of realism, Granado just emerged, and there some more realistic sculpts here and there.

      Mainly I wanted my guys to be clearly recognizable as such even without a faceup. And that was very difficult. I did not totally succeed with my first boy - Leekeworld Lionel. He has a bit of a feminine touch to him (not that this is a bad thing, I just do not like it for my dolls). When I found his character, it was indeed very fitting, as he is Loki from the Marvel Avengers.

      Then Impldoll came out with their fantastic FGB Idol body, and from then on, it just went downhill. I totally got into Avengers, after some time with some other characters here and there. Basically, I see a character in a movie, and if I continue thinking about him half a year or even a year later, I start searching for a sculpt that "has the vibe". It is never a perfect match, but that is fine with me.

      It got more and more for me to source sculpts. Therefore, I really have to be careful with who I choose to live with me. E.g. I really liked the Aquaman movie. I even found a well-matching sculpt. But it was not enough to really feel the urge to bring the doll home. Different to Lucifer. He really spoke to me (maybe I like the concept of complicated men?). I tried to convince me "come on, a guy in a suit, that's so boring." But he continued staying in my mind. Well, of course I gave in in the end.

      So this is how it mostly goes.
       
    14. What I've been doing lately is creating what I like to call "mood boards" for my characters - basically I just grab a bunch of pictures of dolls that have similar "vibes" to my character and throw them all together so I can get a sense of what I'm actually looking for.

      Like, one of my character boards right now is all "ladies with subtle mysterious smiles", another is "grumpy/smug round-faced guy", another is "elvish with a sort of creepy/otherworldly beauty", etc. It helps me look for other sculpts that might work, and it's also nice to compare some of them directly to each other to narrow them down.