Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Face-Up for U-noa Sist

Now that U-noa Sist is all assembled, it is time to give her a face-up. 

But before I can do that, I have to remove the thin film of resin that covers her eyeholes.  For this delicate operation, I use a craft knife and proceed with care.  The last thing I want to do is cut into the faceplate itself.

Much as I love the look of air-brushed face-ups, I don't own the equipment so that is not an option for me.  As a sometime artist, I have other materials on hand; it was simply a matter of trying different media until I found one that works for me.

I start by preparing my work surface, which includes protecting my table with a large sheet of paper.  I lay out all the materials I will need, so that I won't have to hunt for things when my fingers are full of chalk dust.  The materials I am using are:  SuperNail professional pure acetone, Holbein artist pastels, Mr. Super Clear, a craft knife, Derwent watercolor pencils, a kneaded eraser, 3D Crystal Lacquer, Aleene's Tacky Glue, and a variety of cotton balls, swabs, foam applicators and mini paint brushes.  I wear an artist's apron to protect my clothes, and for spraying Mr. Super Clear I also wear disposable vinyl gloves and face mask.

Because Sist is brand new, there is no old face-up to remove.  Even so, I wipe the resin with acetone, using both a cotton ball and a cotton swab to get into the crevices, to remove any residue from the molding / unmolding process.  It's a good idea to wash the resin in warm soapy water to remove any acetone.  Rinse and towel dry.

At this point I put on my vinyl gloves and face mask, pick up the faceplate and the can of Mr. Super Clear, and head outdoors.  MSC gives the resin a nice matte finish with a bit of "tooth" so that the colors adhere better.  I can always tell when I have missed a spot, because the pastel slides right off.  I will be applying MSC again later, to keep from disturbing my pastels when I switch to watercolor pencils.

While Sist's faceplate is drying, I take my craft knife and scrape each pastel that I plan to use into a plastic tray.  I want it the consistency of powder.  Then, taking a small foam applicator, I blush the cheeks with a medium shade of pink.  I like to follow the applicator with a clean cotton ball to make sure the color is well blended.  The last thing I want to see is a line where the color ends.  I apply a bit of the same shade of pink inside the ears, using a small brush.  Still using the brush, I go into a darker color (burnt sienna) and apply pastel to the crease on either side of the nose and the dimple above the lip.

U-noas have their eyebrows scuplted on, which removes any guesswork about where the brows should go.  Some artists choose to sand these down to paint the doll's brows with a different expression.  I am happy to leave the brows where Gentaro Araki has put them.  I begin to color them with a light tan pastel.  This makes them stand out from the resin so that I can see better where they are.  It also gives the color some depth when I go over the brows again with a darker brown.

The sienna pastel goes into the crease above the eyelid, even though it may not be visible once I apply eyeshadow.  For the shadow today I am using shades of pink with a bit of violet.  It's like applying makeup.  I add a white highlight under the arch of the brow and in the inside corner.  I also like to add a bit of shadow under the eyes where I will be drawing lower lashes. 

I experimented with Jacquard Pearl Ex powdered pigments on my U-noa Chibi Lilin, hoping that the metallic effects would give the final face-up a bit of shimmer.  The results disappointed me.  After I had sprayed the faceplate with MSC, I found the shimmer had disappeared.  I did not use them on this project.

The last thing that I color with pastel is the lips.  I begin by applying a dark color, either sienna or dark umber, with a small, thin brush into the line between upper and lower lips.  I extend the line into the corners of the mouth.  For the actual lip color I am using two shades of coral pink, a lighter tone on the lower lip and a darker tone on the upper lip.  I then add a bit of white to the lower lip for a highlight.

When I am satisfied that all my colors are as I want them, I go outside and spray again with MSC.  This sets the colors for the next application, which is watercolor pencil.  When I first started doing faceups, I experimented with acrylic paints.  I like the fluid look of a liquid eyeliner.  I like it even better when I can keep a steady hand as I work.  That was not to be, so I switched to pencil.  This, I am happy to report, I am able to control.

(A word about colored pencils:  be sure to use a watercolor pencil, not a wax-based pencil.  I tried using Prismacolor pencils once.  I might as well have used a crayon.  It took only a few strokes before I reached for the acetone and removed it.)

After I have lined the eyes with black pencil, I dip a small, thin brush in water and gently go over my line.  If, as sometimes happens, there is too much water on the brush and I get a blob, I quickly wipe it away with a tissue and smooth out any leftover color with a kneaded eraser.  (I'll bet you wondered when I was going to use that eraser, didn't you?  It's also useful for removing pastel that has strayed where you don't want it.  Just remember to erase before spraying with MSC.)  I repair the line with pencil and re-apply water.  I may repeat this process two or three times to get the look I want.

I finish the eyes with a dot of pink pencil in the corners of the eyes (tear ducts).  I will be gluing eyelashes to the upper eyelids.  For the lower eyelids I draw lashes with a few short strokes of a dark brown pencil.  At this point I may highlight the eyebrows with a few strokes of pencil in a different color than the eyebrows themselves.  When I am happy with the overall look, I go outside to spray a final time with MSC.

I wait until the MSC has dried, and then I apply a small amount of 3D Crystal Lacquer to give the lips some shine.  I also add a tiny drop to the tear ducts.  Despite its name, this product will not give you a 3D effect unless you add several thicknesses of it.  Some artists use an acrylic gloss varnish.  I started using the Lacquer because I was out of varnish.  It worked just as well and without the toxicity, so I have continued using it.

My faceup is done.  All I have left to do is to add the eyelashes.  This is my least favorite part of the process.  The lashes are never the right size for the doll; they must be cut to size.  They are glued to the inside of the package, and the glue must be removed because it is on the wrong side for use with the doll.  I have not found an easy way to do this.  Thank goodness the eyelashes are not as fragile as they look, because I usually manage to manhandle them.  This time I tried using Goo Gone, which worked better than other methods I have tried.  Then a bit of glue to the inside of the eye socket and pop the eyelash in.  Theoretically, that is.  I never get them in straight on the first try.  Tweezers help; sometimes I use a toothpick; I have even used a clay sculpting tool.  The trick is to make the eyelashes stick to the doll's eye socket rather than to the tool I am using.  When I finally get them in place, I secure them with an extra drop or two of glue.

She's done.  I only need to insert her eyes.  For this the glue must be completely dry, or the eyes will stick to the eye socket.  I gave her soft acrylic eyes from Eyeco.  Unlike glass eyes or hard acrylic eyes they have a flat back, which I prefer.  It is not as critical in U-noa dolls as it is in a Soul Doll or in my Goodreau Innuendo.  They need flat eyes because the mechanism that attaches their heads to their bodies takes up a lot of room in their head cavities.  There is nothing more disconcerting than turning a doll's head, only to watch her go cross-eyed because the stem on a round eye bumped against the big S-hook inside her head.  Again, this is not a problem for U-noas.  I just happen to like the look of the Eyeco eyes.

I will probably replace her eyelashes.  I didn't have black lashes on hand so I used brown; they don't show up as well as I woud like.

Here she is with her eyes inserted (using a silicone putty), wigged and dressed.  The wig is Pretty Girl in brownblack/blonde by Monique Gold.  The dress pattern is Kimono Lolita for SD and MSD, published in Haute Doll, February 2007.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I had no idea that there was so much work involved. It looks amazing. I wouldn't have known that it wasn't professionally done.