Ayaka's Overly Wordy Super Dollfie Faceup Walkthrough

An introduction: This little photo-diary follows . . . okay, I'm not sure how many faceups I've done. This is roughly number five, though I have had a number of intermediate steps (a lot of lip repaints in the course of "one" faceup, etc). I am not claiming to be an expert in the least. But, when I took on my first faceup, I wanted to read every scrap of everyone's experiences! I found all of that very helpful, and I still continue to learn a lot of things the hard way. So if I can smooth anybody else's way, that's great. Don't take anything at face value, do your homework, and don't be afraid to experiment! Here goes! This is a work in progress, so I will be adding pictures the next time I do a faceup.

This is just to show Akio's previous faceup. It's okay, but I wasn't happy with his eyebrows and I didn't think I could change them without stripping everything. He also had some damage to the MSC from an accident (long story), so basically the only thing to do was go back to a blank head.

Note that faceup time can be upsetting to your other BJDs, so be sure to give them some love and attention and let them know things will be back to normal soon.

Naoya: Don't look, Mal . . .

Malcolm: Look at what?

Okay, so you have a disembodied head and you're ready to remove the paint. There are a number of things you CAN use .

Volks makeup remover - Very powerful and you know it's safe for your head, but it comes in a small container that will only last you about two removals (one if it's tough to get off).

Nail polish remover - I have never used this, so if you'd like recommendations about what kind (acetone or non, etc), I'd recommend checking the Den of Angels forums.

Which brings us to Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner (at left). This is the only type of brush cleaner I know of that will work. I did not find it easy to buy as some places do not carry it (including art stores), but it's worth seeking out.

Unlike the Volks remover or nail polish remover (probably both very chemically similar), Winsor & Newton does not seem to soften the resin. I don't recommend leaving it on the head for longer than you need to, but it is non-toxic and only slightly drying to your hands. I'd estimate a bottle is enough to remove 10 faceups (probably more).


So you have a remover - how do you apply it to the head? I start by removing large areas by using a cotton ball and moving in circles. At first it will seem like it isn't doing anything - but soon you'll start to see it easily removing the paint. I couldn't take pictures of this because it gets all over your hands. (Don't worry, it won't hurt you.)

To remove paint from difficult smaller areas, a cotton q-tip is a big help. I have a doll with an open mouth, so I also have some of these Microbrush things to help with getting paint out of there. If you still cannot remove every single speck of paint, don't worry! You'll probably be covering it up with more paint anyway.

Two warnings about the Winsor and Newton specifically.

~ It EATS acrylic. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That means you have to be careful about getting it on tools made of certain kinds of plastic. I had a toothbrush almost literally explode in my hands (a small crack appeared suddenly, which turned into a BIG crack, and then the whole head of the brush fell apart). The plastic of the q-tip will get sticky feeling if you get too much of it on the shaft, as well.

~ You must remove ALL the coating from your head. That means even in areas where there is not paint. It can be difficult to tell if you have done so, but the Winsor and Newton makes it pretty clear - partially dissolved Mr. Super Clear becomes sticky, and you may notice that bits of cotton ball will stick to the head. Make sure that you give the entire head - including the opening at the neck - a thorough rubbing to get all the coating off. After you rinse the head, if any areas still feel tacky, you haven't gotten it all off.

Give your head a very thorough rinsing under the tap with lukewarm or cool water. Personally, I put a small amount of Ivory liquid dishwashing soap in my hand and use that as well. I used to soak the head in soapy water, but I had too much trouble removing the soap. So now I just rub a bit of the soap on the head after I've given it a good rinsing, and put it in a plastic container of plain water. It's still being soaked in soapy water, but it hasn't got QUITE as much soap in it.

This step may not be necessary, but I do it just to be on the safe side to help ensure that all the brush cleaner has been removed from the head. A thoroughly clean surface is the best thing for the Mr. Super Clear.

Leave the head to soak for as long as you want (I usually go off and start getting out my other supplies). Then, take it out and rinse it REALLY good. You want to make sure there is no soap residue on the head, which will leave funny white marks which the Mr. Super Clear will not cover. I run the faucet as hard as it will go. Be especially meticulous about indented areas like the nostrils and ears, and along the edge of the head at the top where the headcap meets it. When I've had to keep re-rinsing the head because after it dried I spotted some soap residue, these are the spots I most often found it.

Set your head on a clean, lint-free, soft towel to dry. It's best for it to air dry as much as possible, but I usually get the puddles in the inside of the head with the towel. Areas like the inside of a mouth or the deepest part of the ear may be slow to air dry; blowing gently forces the water out of crevices.

Now you have a clean, dry blank head. Time to coat it with Mr. Super Clear.

There is a lot of discussion about substitutes for Mr. Super Clear. As a cosplayer, I've used a lot of coatings - I have never met another sealant that is as genuinely matte as Mr. Super Clear. In my opinion it is absolutely worth the extra effort and cost to get and would never use anything else on my dolls. Some things are a standard for a reason.

Rant over. :3 Here is a picture of the Mighty Can in case you have not seen one.

When you're working with MSC, WEAR A MASK and do it outside.(This is my garage but note that I'm right by the door.) The warnings on the can are a bit vague, but this is NOT stuff you want to breathe in - apparently it can coat the inside of your lungs and cause serious damage.

Note that some people never expose their dolls to direct sunlight if they can avoid it. I'm not condoning sitting your dolls in the sunlight, but I like to be able to see what I'm doing.

This is my little spraying arrangement. We happened to have a very silly little hat on this stand which was some kind of Christmas decoration from some party. I took the hat off and found it made quite a good stand for spraying doll heads. I would assume you could just stick a dowel in a block of wood (or maybe florist foam if you're not handy with wood?). After you have your head on a stand, make sure that it's completely free of dust and fuzz. Blow it off or brush it off with a brush - not your fingers, as finger oil + bare resin is something you want to avoid as much as possible.

Mr. Super Clear does create quite a mist cloud - make sure you pay attention to which way the wind is blowing and DON'T stand downwind of your spraying.

Personally, I spray about 6-8 inches from the head and go in a circular spray motion. You want to spray from several angles to make sure every area gets coated. MSC dries quite fast, so you can do coats several minutes apart. I let the final coat dry for a good 15 minutes or so before I handle the head just to be safe. People vary in the number of coats they like to do; I usually consider one "coat" to be a light coat from three separate angles (in quick succession), and do two to three of them in this first step. You will see that your head - which probably appeared slightly shiny, more in some spots than others, and with some variations in color, will become matte and even.

Now you have yourself a lovely blank canvas with a nice coating on it, all ready to be painted.

Note: I am handling the head bare handed. At this point, it is coated, and I have not really had problems . . . some people are more paranoid, I can't tell you if they're validated in that or not, but wearing gloves during this whole process is something to consider. I have very small hands, even surgical gloves fit somewhat loosely; so I don't like having loose glove material when I'm doing small things.

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