In this section I'm not going to give you a step by step tutorial on how to do faceups like me. That would be silly. What I am going to do is give you supplies and technique advice to help you get a nicer result on your dolls the way you want them to look.
Why are you putting 50-cent craft paint on an $80 doll?
I wonder this. I wonder this over and over again when I see dolls that have chunky craft paint glopped on makeup that make me want to cry. When buying supplies to customize your doll, DO NOT buy the cheapest things available! You don't need to buy $8 per half ounce artist's acrylics either. Expect to pay somewhere between $10 and $20 for basic faceup supplies. You'd pay that much for an extra wig, or a nice outfit, right?
Paints: Paints are used for eyeliner, painted on eyelashes, eyebrows, and lipstick lips. You can thin basic acrylic paint. But thinning acrylic paint makes it less pigmented, so you may have to do multiple layers which results in chunky makeup. Also, most acrylic paints aren't made to go on dolls' faces. Shock, right? Acrylic paint can seep into Pullip plastic and bleed into the surrounding makeup or stain. What you want to look for is flat drying high pigmented acrylic paints for figures, models, etc. I prefer airbrush paints. A 2oz bottle of a good for-plastic airbrush paint costs about $3 and will last you a very long time.
But really, you want to use paints as little as possible. Paints are ok to do all the makeup on 1" high barbie heads, but you should not under any circumstances for example paint on eyeshadow (unless you're using an airbrush). Would you paint eyeshadow on your own face?
Pastels: Pastels are used for blush, eyeshadow, and doing natural toned glossy lips. You can buy a makeup set of pastels for Ball-Joint dolls Or, you can go to an art store and buy chalk (NOT oil) pastels individually in the colors you need. Don't cheap out on pastels. The difference between regular and artist grade pastels is the concentration of pigment. Pastels are pigment held together by matrix; you are going to be putting a very fine coat of them over a doll's face. A pastel with a higher pigment will work much better than a low-pigment one. Most good artist quality pastels are $1-2 ea depending on the brand and art store. You can mix colors.
Colored Pencils: Colored pencils are great for people who can't paint fine lines. You can use them to do 'hair' eyebrows, drawn on eyelashes, and if you have a light hand and a good blending technique, eyeshadow, blush, and lip details. If you don't know how do do those last few things, practice on paper before you try it on your doll. You can buy a basic set, or buy them individually for less than $1 ea
Watercolor Pencils: Watercolor pencils can be used for everything colored pencils can, and can be easily blended with a damp paintbrush. Keep in mind the type of sealant you are using if you decide to use watercolor pencils. I use a brush on sealant, so watercolor pencils are usually a no-no. If you use a spray sealant, you should be OK, BUT keep in mind that spray sealants are rarely waterproof, so you may still have 'accidents'. They are the same or slightly more expensive than colored pencils.
Makeup: Human makeup like eyeshadow should be OK to use on your doll like you would pastels, just make sure to check that it is not oil based. Oil based makeup can stain or cause damage to the plastic. It's not a risk worth taking.
Sealant: There are two kinds of sealant; brush on sealant and spray sealant. Spray sealant is easy to use, but is not as reliable as brush on sealant. Brush on sealant can be tricky to use, but is very reliable; a custom of mine was in toxic water in New Orleans during the floods for several weeks and all she needed was a sponge-off to restore her face. I suggest that if you use both. Brush on sealant for areas that have been painted, and spray sealant over that to lock in the trickier areas that have been penciled/pastelled. A can of spray can go for around $6+, a bottle of sealant goes for $2-3. Make sure that both are approved for plastics.
Paintbrushes: These are a personal preference as to how soft a bristle, etc. But you only really need 1 brush, in a size 0 or somewhere thereabouts. You aren't filling in vast areas. You're doing lips, eyelashes, and eyebrows. A nice sable brush will cost about $3. If you take care of it and keep it clean (both during and in between colors) it will last you years.
If you've been keeping track, you'll notice that a couple of pastels, pencils, paints, brush, and sealant really will only cost you $10-20. If you do another doll, you will only need to add on maybe a bottle of paint or a pastel or two if there is a huge color difference in the face. It is really not that expensive to use good quality materials. You will get a much better result, and it will cause you much less grief in the long run.
A general note about face design
All pullips have the same face. You may carve out the eye a bit, or open the mouth, but it's still the same face. Because of this, it is mostly left to makeup to create the personality. The best thing you can do to prepare for this is to go to a bookstore or library and browse through professional makeup books. They will give you great examples of how a simple thing like lip shape or eyebrow shape can influence the entire face; that's what the majority of those books are about. I'm not writing a book, so I'll only cover it lightly in each category.
I like to do eyes first. Eyes are the windows to the soul after all, and nothing will make your doll come alive more than the eyes. These are also the trickiest part. All of the eyes above are the same shape, and yet with paint they do not look the same shape. And each shape also suggests a bit of personality to you, doesn't it?
You can carve the eyes. But you rarely need to. There are two parts to the shape of an eye, they eyeliner, and the painted lashes. The eyeliner is the solid line around the eye in she shape you want. After that, eye eyelashes are incidental. They will pretty up the eye, but have little effect on the shape. You can't do the eyeliner in anything but paint. The lashes can be done with paint or pencil. If you do the eyelashes in pencil, you should do them first and apply any eyeliner over that. If you paint the lashes, do eyeliner first.
If you mess up a lot, do the eyeshadow after you set up the eye, as it is very difficult to erase lashes without taking eyeshadow with it.
Eyeshadow (and blush) is applied with a soft round tipped brush or a Q Tip. Shave a little bit of the pastel onto a piece of paper with a razor or a scissor. Take your Q tip or brush and dip the tip lightly into the powder. When doing an eye, apply first in the area you want darkest (still lightly!) and softly spread the powder outward in wider and wider arcs. When doing a cheek, you will apply a loose 'O' shape where you want the blush to be and do light overlapping circles around the general area to spread the blush evenly.
Thicker eyebrows give a more natural look, thinner eyebrows are more dainty and made-up. After that, the shape should explain itself. Which eyebrows are naughty? Which ones seem sad? Which ones are the most friendly? For each of these questions, at least 90% of you will have the same answer.
A good technique for sketching eyebrows is first to do reference points with a colored pencil in a lighter color than you are going to do the brow. Draw a point above the inside of each eye where you want the brow to start. Draw a point above the outside of each eye where you want the brow to end. Draw a point where you want the brow to be at it's highest. Once you have these points symmetrical , draw a light line connecting each lines to make a 'ghost eyebrow'. If it still looks symmetrical, either start painting or filling out the shape with pencil strokes. Pencils tend to do better with the natural look and paint with the made-up look I've found.
Pullips have a natural lip shape, just like you and me. If you've read your makeup books like I suggested, you know that that is really more like a guideline. Lips don't influence personality as much as the eyebrows, but you want to make sure they don't clash. For example, would you give a friendly looking girl with round eyes and natural eyebrows the lips on the right? Probably not. It would make the face look disjointed.
A solid paint color works like lipstick. If you want to make the lips appear fuller, don't extend them out in each side as much, use a lighter color, and blend in a slightly lighter shade on the inside of the bottom lip. If you want to make the lips look more natural you can use pastels to tint the area and cover that with gloss varnish. (tip: if you have trouble getting the lips symmetrical with a Q tip or brush, just cover the area with a solid blush of pastel. Paint the shape of the lip with the varnish. After it dries, use Mr Clean magic eraser to get rid of the unwanted pastel outside of the varnished area). Experiment with effects by layering darker and lighter shades in different areas and painting highlights. Even if you are using a super pigmented paint, do not paint over the lips more than 2 or 3 times maximum before you sand all the paint off and start over to keep from making the lips chunky and keeping the paint from scratching off easily (the more layers, the poorer the adhesion).