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xuchilvith in go_monsterhigh

Monster High Customization Tutorial

Since some of you were interested, and i was doing this custom anyway, here's a vague and crappy tutorial for you!

Okie doke, so this is just how *I* do things, and is in no way the end-all be-all approach to this. I apologize, i know this isn't the most "normal" make-up job for a tutorial, but unfortunately for you, "normal" isn't really my thing. Anyway, this is a custom Ghoulia i did for my friend. I'll try my best to give details on what i'm doing i each stage, and i hope the pictures are at least a little helpful.

Here we have my victim, my friend's Ghoulia, and a sketch of what i'm doing to her for reference.

So first i get all my materials together. A pencil sharpener, colored pencils, gloss, paint brushes, an eraser, chalk pastels, a plate and some sand paper. Also, i have a bottle of Winsor & Newton brush cleaner, some cotton balls, and a clear matte spray sealant. I use Mr. Super Clear for the sealant, which must be bought online unless you live in Japan, but you can also use Testor's Dullcote or Model Master's clear matte, both of which can be found in the model car paint section of your local art supply/craft store.

The first thing i need to do is take off the stock face-up. This is the bottle of Winsor & Newton, and i've found that this is the best stuff for getting off MH faces. I'm assuming that any brush cleaner will do, as long as it isn't colored. You can find this in the "artist-grade" paint section of your local art supply/craft store. Tie the doll's hair back away from her face. Get some of this stuff on a cotton ball and start wiping the doll's face. The paint should start to come off immediately. Use a new cotton ball frequently so that you're not putting smudges of removed paint back onto the face. You can squish the doll's chin in to get to the paint that's in the center of the lips. Do your best not to get any brush cleaner on the doll's body, as it has a weird reaction to the hard plastic. If you do get some on it, you'll just need to do a lot of scrubbing with soap and make sure it's not sticky.
Once you've gotten all the paint off, wash the doll's face thoroughly with soap & water to get off any remaining brush cleaner. Once the face is dry, cover the hair with something [a paper towel is good], go outside and spray a light coating of your sealant on her face. Hold the doll's body in your hand so that the sealant doesn't get on it.

You should have something like this. Now i'm ready to start applying my own make-up.

I'm starting with the blush. I like to use pastel for this because it goes on smoother and blends better. Take whatever colors you want to use and rub the pastel on the sandpaper until you get a powder. It's a good idea to keep the paper on a plate so that the powder doesn't get everywhere. Now take your paintbrush and dip it in the powder. You can also blend colors if you need to.

Brush the color on your doll's cheek, putting it where you want the color the heaviest first, and blending the color out from there.

I've got blush! Also, on this first layer i've started adding white to the eyes with a white colored pencil. You'll see on the mold a rounded shape where the eyes are, use this as a guide for where to color. Now go spray the doll with another light layer of sealant.
It may take doing this several times to get the blush as dark as you want it.

Now that i've got the blush, i want to start on the lips. For softer, more natural lips i would use the pastel again, making the color darker towards the center of the lips, however for this doll i'm doing solid vertical stripes of pink on her lips. Always starting with lighter colors and going darker when working with colored pencils, i put some light pink lines on her lips. I've also added another layer of white to the eyes. Spray with sealant.

I've added another layer of pink to the lips, and another layer of white to the eyes.
Spray. I'm going to keep saying this because i want you to KEEP DOING IT. I really can't stress to you enough how important it is to keep sealing your work as you go.

Now i'm going to start on the eyebrows. Usually you want the eyebrows to match the doll's hair or be a little bit darker. For this doll i'm matching her eyebrows to the darker streaks of blue in her hair.

First i draw on a thin, faint line to show myself where the eyebrows will be. This will help you make sure they're even and the right shape.

Now that i've got them the way i want them, i start filling out and shaping the eyebrows. I usually like to make them arched, with the middle thicker and the outside thin. For this doll, my friend wanted one brow slightly raised. Also in this layer i added some darker pink to the inside of the lips stripes for some depth, and yet another layer of white on the eyes.

Once again, you'll normally want to use pastels for the eyeshadow, with it darker above the inner corner of the eye, and around the outside corner. You could also use a little bit of colored pencil to darken some areas up as well. But for this doll i'm doing solid diagonal stripes from black to pink to blue, with some of the blue trailing from her hairline down to her cheek. I just draw these on with colored pencils. I've also added another layer of blue to the eyebrows to darken them and more white to the eyes.

Now i start on the eyes. First i add a flat circle of color to each eye for the iris. This should be the lightest color in the iris. Make sure the irises are the same size and that the doll doesn't look funny or cross-eyed. I also added darker colors to the bottom of the stripes near the eye and the top of the two outside most stripes near the hairline.

Now i add some depth to the eyes. Take a darker shade and apply it to the top half of the iris, outline both sides with it, and i like to add a darker circle in the middle where the pupil will go. I've also outlined the eyes in black very thinly.

Now i add black circles to the center of the irises for pupils, again making sure they're even and the doll doesn't look funny. I also add another layer of eyeliner, leaving the inside corners thinner and making the outside corners thicker, and add eyelashes. I don't like to do upper eyelashes much, so i just bring the outside corners of the eyes to a point and add small, thin parallel lines on the lower eye line to about half way. You want the eyelashes near the outer corner to be a little longer, and have the lashes get shorter as you go in. Make sure your pencil is AS SHARP AS POSSIBLE for this. Eyelashes are very hard to do, but don't get discouraged, it just takes practice.

Add another layer of black to the pupils, and draw a thin black line around the irises to really make them pop. I also like to add a little bit of black shading to the top of the iris. I went over the lashes again with black.

I add about 2 layers of brush-on acrylic gloss to th eyes and lips.
And ta-da! You've got your very own bitchin' one-of-a-kind custom Monster High doll! :D

I hope this was helpful to you guys that want to get into customizing. I know that once i started i fell in love and haven't been able to stop since. And now i'm making money off of it! :D Enjoy!


I still can't believe you can get such great results from colored pencils; somehow it just does not compute. XD Awesome job.

Any idea if it fades over time better/worse than paint?
Well, i don't really have anything to compare it to, but my oldest faceup still looks good. Which has been probably a year now?
So much awesome!
Oh, wow. The next time I do a custom face, I'll try this. It looks a lot easier than acrylic paint.
What kind of colored pencils are these...? Water color, or regular oil-based ones?
Colored pencils are oil-based? >.> Oops...

They're Prismacolor, not not water color kind.
I think Prismacolor are a different type of pencil, so you SHOULD be okay to use them. ^^

I know that Crayola brand pencils really effed up one of my dolls, so I just wanted to double check.

I tried using my water colored pencils on my custom, but no matter how many times I went over the color, the white wouldn't show up. It is terribly confusing. x_x,
Yeah, the watercolor pencils tend to be pretty weak in my experience. I've had good luck with the Prismas though.
I haven't had any problems, generally, with using my watercolors before... The only color I've had issues with has been white. ^^,

I should get my hands on prismas. I've only heard good things about them.
SO AMAZING IT DESERVES CAPSLOCK! <3 gorgeous (and informative)
Woah, that looks amazing. I should add this to my memories for later. :) I love how you can do this with just colored pencils, which makes me happy as I wouldn't need to spend more money on paint. :D Will you ever do a hair reroot tutorial? (That's what I'm most scared of doing, haha.)
Thank you! :]

I might, if i ever do another reroot. >_> I didn't enjoy it, i'll tell you that. And some of the dolls are factory rooted really thickly in places, so that it rips the scalp when you pull the hair out. That's what happened to Nicki, and it's pretty much irreparable.
Hi, I love this tutorial! She turned out great.

I do have one question. I'm currently working on a Clawdeen doll but I'm having issues with the whites of her eyes. I have Prismacolor pencils but they do not seem to be working with her. Do you have any suggestions?
Ooh, i dunno. :/ What are you sealing with? I recently found that the pencil just wouldn't stick if i sealed with Testors Dullcote, and had to order more MSC. It's like the Testors makes a solid, smooth coating on the doll, while MSC gives it a little more texture for the pencil to stick to.
The girl that works at Hobby Lobby told me to use Krylon Workable Fixatif. It's actually made for pencil, pastels, and chalk. At first, I thought I might had put too much on her so I took it all off and tried again but I kept getting the same results. I did try acrylic paint and it worked good for the white of her eyes. I did the color of her eyes with pencils and it worked. But, I have to get the acrylic on smoothly or else it just messes up. =\

This is my first custom ever. So I just wasn't sure if I was doing something wrong.
Wow, i've never even thought of using workable fixatif. Not sure what to tell you on that one.

Glad you got it fixed, though. I don't use acrylics very much because i'm not very good at them, but if you can do it, more power to ya.

If you're going to be customizing a lot, though, i highly recommend springing for some Mr. Super Clear. It's really the best thing out there, and it works on any kind of doll.

It doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong, though. You probably just need better supplies. The kind of pencil you use could be affecting it, too, since not all pencils go on as smooth as Prismacolors.
Wow, amazing tutorial. Forgive this random stranger, but I'm researching for a good sealant, when I found this article. Mr Super Clear sounds like what I'm after, and I can get it from the Junky Spot online (I live in England, lol)

Can I just ask, does MSC dry properly on these dolls with the soft vinyl heads? It sounds like you've had great results with it, but most spray sealants I've tried leave the face feeling sticky and never seem to dry :( Please help with that piece of advice?
Yes, it dries perfectly fine. I use it all the time for MH customs. The only time you'll have a problem with it is if it's raining out, then it will dry sort of shiny and smooth and not look good as well as make the pencils not work.
Thanks so much for the helpful reply, and again for such a great tutorial. It sounds ideal and I've ordered some to play with.

Can't wait for my first two MH gals to arrive now :D Happy New Year!
ok i know its wierd ,i could not find the comment box so i decided to do this.im not meaning to talk to the person im replying to.
REAL MESSAGE:so i was wondering if it is possible that when you are making a custom you could leave the eyes? because i am not a artist and i want to make my first custom.OR is there an easier way to make the eyes?
Sure, all you have to do with avoid the eye area when you're wiping the original makeup. Probably use a Q-tip, and just be very, very careful.

some time later...

Hello again. you've already been helpful so I hope you don't mind me asking more? I bought some MSC and I'm attempting my first Monster High repaint, can I just ask how long should I leave the MSC to dry before I start using my prismacolours and the pastels on top of it?

Do I need to leave it overnight?

(Also, that winsor and newton brush cleaner is epic!)

I've started with pastels and prismacolour, and am leaving the MSC to dry, but there's a copy of the image on my Dreamwidth blog if you did want to see.

I'll do the eyes, and finish the lips in acrylics, after I'm happy with the shaded parts.

Re: some time later...

She looks great so far!

The MSC should only take a few minutes at the most to dry. Make sure you're not spraying too much, you just want a very light coating. And i suggest spraying very often while you're working, that way if you mess up you don't have to wipe the whole thing to fix it.

Re: some time later...

Thanks :) I've improved it a bit, and would post an picture on my DW journal, but my digital camera seems to have broked.

I left it overnight until I got your reply, lol. But thanks for that info, I'll keep practising.

Re: some time later...

Sorry for the late reply. Have you sealed the layer you're wanting to get rid of yet? If you have, unfortunately you'll probably have to wipe the whole thing. If you haven't sealed it yet, and you're using colored pencils, i generally just erase whatever i messed up on. If it's acrylics, you can just wash the face in water. For tough stuff, you can rub it off gently with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Be VERY CAREFUL, though, since a magic eraser CAN take off the sealed layer underneath if you rub too hard.

Edited at 2012-06-22 10:05 pm (UTC)

Re: some time later...

Very helpful. I haven't actually sealed anything yet. I've just been sewing dresses and such til I work up the nerve to start on the face.

Also, if you don't mind another question.. can I use this to seal it? Not sure if it's the right stuff.
If this one goes well I'll order MSC for the next.

Re: some time later...

I've tried it but i can't remember if it's good or not. :/ You definitely CAN use it, i'm just unsure of the quality.

Re: some time later...

Close enough. :) This first one is probably going to be all trial and error.
Do you ever have issues with staining? Even though I'll put on sealant but whether it's chalk pastels or watercolour pencils, they end up staining :(