Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ghoulia painting!

Not as many photos between each step this time and less commentary, but here's progress on a Ghoulia Yelps that I painted today!

Ugh I really wish the gloss that I ordered would come in the mail so that I could finish them up 100% and list a few in my Etsy shop!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Repainting Cleo Part 2

Part two, I start in on the eyes!  This is the part that takes me the most time, so I usually like to do it as soon as I can.

Paint in pupils, then some shadowing.

Adding some white and trying to blend.

More black, and more blending!

Catching up with the other eye, trying to make them even and shiny looking.

Fixing up the eyeliner and adding some white to make the eyes 'pop'.

Eyebrows and the two reflective points I forgot to add before in the eyes!

Eyelashes and lip lines, and we're ready to seal!

All done except for gloss!  I'm waiting on some vinyl safe gloss to arrive before I can call her face 100% finished unfortunately.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Repainting Cleo Part 1

Not really a tutorial, just step by step progress shots of me repainting a Monster High Cleo that I rerooted!

Wrapping up the hair so I don't ruin it when spraying!

I use my airbrush for any type of blushing, I started with an orange/red very close to the hair color.

Added some white highlights.  They look really blatant now, but the more painting I do the less noticeable they are.

A little black around the eyes, trying to make it look smoky and catlike.

Painting in white the outline of where the eyes go.  I do this in airbrush paint because it is thin so it will go on smooth, but also a very opaque white.  This is where you want to try and get the eyes even!

Black eyeliner, this is your last chance to get the eyes symmetrical (clearly I didn't, oh well).  Evenness is very important, but there's a difference between 'even' and 'symmetrical'.  As long as you look at the face head on and it doesn't look like one side is bigger than the other, or one side is drooping off the face it will probably be okay.

I decided on red eyes to match the hair.  Shading them next time!

Monday, May 28, 2012

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts

I went a little overboard at Target today buying Monster High dolls, I just got really excited.

So here's some of the create-a-monster heads without any face paint!  You can see how different all the head sculpts are (I really just love the sea monster one though).

From left to right: Vampire boy, cat girl, sea monster girl, witch girl, vampire girl and gargoyle boy.

The cat girl doesn't have human ears?  Oh well, I guess that just means she has to be a cat!  I only got about halfway through painting the face before I had to call it quits for the night.  The sea monster was a bit easier to paint since the eyes are so well defined and rounded.

Does anyone have any interest in seeing actual progress photos of me painting the dolls?  Like between steps?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Putting in the eyes

Almost finished with this one!  Putting in the eyes is one of the hardest parts unfortunately.  My first inclination was hot glue, but nothing likes to stick to the inside of these heads!  The soft vinyl is extremely repellent to just about anything.

My last solution was silicone ear plugs.  There are a lot of materials used to keep BJD eyes in, poster tac, plasticine or silicone ear plugs are the most common recommendations.  In my experience the silicone ear plugs are the most sticky, and will stick to even the most smooth surfaces.  You can buy it just about anywhere too, drug store, grocery store, target, walmart etc.

The technique I used is to make a kind of pancake shape out of the silicone, stick the eye right in the middle of it face side up, then maneuver it into the head and stick it into place.  Once the eye is close to the right position (check the front of the head to make sure you can see the iris) take the end of a paintbrush or pen and press the edges of the silicone against the inside of the head so that it's stuck all the way around the eye.  You just want to make sure that it's not going anywhere!  I also find it easiest to adjust the eye with the end of a paintbrush by pressing on the sides of the eyes to position it.  Really it's harder to explain that it is to do, and practice makes perfect!

With both eyes in!  Not the best photo, but you can see how I tried to center them.

Done!  Now just add hair and put her together aaand-


Friday, May 25, 2012

Step two, face up!

More on the monster high doll I'm customizing, she's a Vampire girl from one of the Create-a-Monster kits.  I already opened her eyes, but before I can put eyes in her it's face up time!

I already cut the head open at this point to remove some of the excess vinyl from the inside of the eyes.  I have to cut a 'head cap' out of the head so that I will be able to insert the eyes later, unfortunately there's no other way, but you have to make sacrifices to gain!  You want to make sure that you're finished cutting the vinyl before you start painting, otherwise you might ruin the face up and have to start all over.

I'm using the same techniques I would for a BJD, just on a smaller head and Vinyl!  The first step is to do some natural blushing.  Monster High dolls come in all sorts of weird skin tones, but you can be creative with what blushing colors you want!  I went with a fuchsia for this doll, but you could do anything from violet to red and have it look nice and natural enough.  I blush areas like lips, chin, ears, below the cheekbones, underneath and around the nose and the inner corners of the eyes.  Again though, just do what you feel like!  Sometimes simple is better.

I added some white highlights between this and the last photo but didn't end up taking a photo before I went ahead with the black paint.  I didn't do the white so that it's very noticeable, but to create some contrast.  Sometimes with strange skin tones I find it really makes the face pop if you add white to areas like the bridge of the nose, above the cheekbones, above the eyebrow ridge and just where the chin juts out.

With a little extra blushing and hair details like eyebrows and eyelashes!  Now it's ready for sealing and adding eyes! :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I don't know what happened

Sorry I stopped updating for a while!  My basement flooded and has not only needed my attention desperately for the last while, but it's also where I work so I haven't been able to work down there!

My latest sort of project has been Monster High dolls.  I've like them ever since they first came out but couldn't convince myself to get any, but when I was at Target and my mother offered so I went ahead and got a few!  I saw one custom where they had cut the head open and put eyes in so I wanted to try that too.

I'd like to start by saying that it's not the easiest thing, and if you've never opened a doll's eyes before you may end up ruining the first one you work on.  Maybe start with one of the Create-a-Monster kits where you can get two dolls for $20, so you won't feel bad about ruining anything, that's what I did!

I got a set with a Vampire girl and a Sea Monster girl.

First you have to remove the face paint that they come with, but it's a cinch with some q-tips and 100% acetone!  Next you draw out where you want the eyes and the shape.  I wanted a 'dreaming' sort of look.  There is some leeway with how large or small you can make the eye holes, but I tried to keep it within the confines of the already sculpted sockets.  All of the Monster High girls have different head sculpts so you will have more leeway with the ones that have less defined eye sockets.

Make sure to use a brand new x-acto blade, you want it sharp!  The first cut is the easiest to mess up, and also looks terrible.  I try to cut a hole just inside the outlines of the eyes that I want to cut, so I can work outwards to get the right size hole.  My only other suggestion is to do this like you're moving in slow motion.  The vinyl the heads are made of is VERY soft, and while it's going to seem kind of thick and tough at first it gives very quickly.  So you may be getting nowhere one second and suddenly you've cut halfway through the head!  Try to use careful even pressure so as not to suddenly lose control of the blade.

I already had the eyes ready that I wanted to use.  Stupidly these eyes are worth almost 5x as much as the doll!  Since I already have the eyes I cut the holes according to the size.  Depending on how large the eyes are cut these dolls can take anywhere from 8-12mm eyes.  I think the ones I'm using are 12mm.

Now with both eyes cut open!  I try to get them as perfectly smooth as I can, but it's difficult since soft vinyl like this does not take sanding well.  So I just have to spend a lot of time taking of extremely small curls of vinyl.  It still didn't end up completely smooth, but pretty good!

More on this tomorrow!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wax Castings

So here's the horns all cast!

You can see where they pulled a little bit of plaster out of the inside of the mold, so that means I didn't put enough mold release in before I poured them, but that should come off without much problem!  I also will need to clean up the parting line, since the texture gets interrupted.

I think I got the thickness about right!  I wanted them thick enough that they weren't going to fall apart, but thin enough that they were still very translucent.

Both pairs!  They still need cleaning up, and I haven't cut off the pour holes yet so they'll be shorter than this, but they're shaping up!  I'm trying to decide how to paint them so that they keep their translucency?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Casting in Wax

Well, the mold is finally done!  It would have been better if I had been able to do it without and leaks or problems, but whatever!

I decided to do a cast in wax first, since it's very easy and very quick.  Also, when casting in wax I've heard it's better to have a wet mold, and since the mold was still all wet from being made what better time!  To cast in porcelain you need to have a dry mold, so it would be silly for me to wait for it to dry, cast in porcelain, then wet it and cast in wax?  Not to mention getting molds wet again and again is what causes them to degrade faster.

For the wax I just grabbed a bunch of old candles, I'm sure there's some kind of better wax I could order online that would be more sturdy (or something?).  But this was just a little thing, so candle wax works!

I used a double boiler to melt the wax, since wax can be flammable, so you want to be a little careful, and not leave it alone on the stove! 

I use these large rubber bands to hold my molds together, since I usually work with small molds they don't need a whole lot of tension to keep them closed.  One day I'll invest in some real mold straps.

Once the wax is melted though all you have to do is pour it in the mold, super easy!

I wanted hollow horns, since they would be more translucent, and less heavy.  So all I had to do was keep an eye on the molds until a thick enough shell had hardened around the edges, pour out the excess wax that was still liquid in the middle, and wait for it to cool!

Pictures tomorrow of the horns coming out of the mold!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It's all okay

Well, despite the problems with the first half of the mold that I had, it ended up okay anyways!  The thing about plaster is that if you've done it on a smooth surface, it's much much easier to clean up if you wait for it to set up, and can just chip it up in large chunks.

Pretty easy!

I was so glad that the texture came out just fine in the plaster!  I was a little bit worried about it, since in some spots the texture was a little deeper.  Since plaster isn't flexible at all you have to be careful about very small thin details.

I took the horns out of this half of the mold, cleaned them up and put them back in.  I also had to put a little more plasticine to keep the pour hole open!  This time I had to put vaseline over the horns AND the plaster, since otherwise if I pour more plaster on top it would seal the two halves together, and the whole mold would be useless!

Boxed back up!  This time I made absolutely 100% certain that there were NO GAPS.  Thankfully this time there was no leaking problem, so the mold will be finished soon!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Plaster ruins everything

When I last left off it was the last step in mold making before getting into plaster.  Plaster is notoriously messy, but easy to work with.  It's just two ingredients, water and powder, and you don't have to do anything but mix them and wait.

You always want to use cold water, since it will extend the length of time you have to work with it before it sets up.  I usually work with a 2:1 plaster to water ratio, maybe a little bit more plaster to thicken it up.  The thicker the mix is the harder the plaster will set up, which is something you want, but you can't be working with pudding or there will be too many bubbles to worry about.

So here's the inside of the box!  You can see there are gaps where the clay doesn't meet the sides perfectly.  Those all need to be filled very carefully!  You do not want leaks!

At this point I thought that everything was sealed up.  It looks sealed up, right?  Well, apparently it wasn't, because when I poured the plaster...

There is a limited number of options when this happens.  If it's a slow leak, and your plaster is setting up fast (if it's fresh and you used warmer water it will go faster) you can hope for the best.  I was not so lucky, my plaster is a bit old and I had two fast leaks.

From that standpoint I had two options.  One, just let it go, come back later when it's all set up, and take it all apart and start all over with the mold making process.  Or two, try to plug up the holes where you see them with clay and either mix more plaster to pour in or try to scoop up what leaked out and pour it back in.  I did the latter, and it worked out?  This was just a silly little mold for fun, so I wasn't too concerned about it having problems.

I managed to get enough plaster back into there that it was thick enough, sure was a mess though.

My poor shoes, they were not so lucky :(