How to paint a reborn

How to paint a reborn DEFAULT

How To Apply Base Paint On Your Reborn Doll

Not Reborn Doll Paint

Not Reborn Doll Paint

Painting is arguably the single most important step to reborning a doll. Unfortunately, beginners and even experienced reborners alike oftentimes have difficulty when it comes to this step. Using the wrong type or color of paint can shift the appearance of your doll to being more artificial. In addition, applying the paint incorrectly may cause it to smear, streak, drip or leave other noticeable imperfections. The bottom line is that you must use caution and pay extra attention when you're painting a reborn doll; otherwise, all of your hard work could be for nothing.

Base Painting Overview

The instructions on how to paint your reborn doll ultimately depends on what type of paint you choose to go with. Genesis heat-set or air-dry paints are the the best all-around choices for reborning. Some people may attempt to use traditional oil or acrylic-based paints, but these aren't recommended. Acrylic paints tend to dry too fast, oftentimes setting before you are able to finish the job. On the other hand, oil paints can take well over 12 hours to fully dry. Thankfully, this isn't a problem with Genesis heat-set paints because you are able to control exactly when you want to set it.

When choosing reborn doll paint, remember that you'll need several different shades to create the most realistic effect possible. A lot of beginners fail to realize this and instead only use a single color on their doll. While this is fine for traditional toy dolls, reborns require several different shades to create an authentic life-like appearance.

Genesis Heat-Set Paint

Genesis Heat-Set Paint

Why You Should Use Genesis Heat-Set Paint

One of my personal favorite types of paint (and a preferred choice by thousands of reborners) is Genesis heat-set. As the name suggests, this type of paint requires heating in order for it to set in properly. Unlike air-dry paints, you can leave a bottle of heat-set paint open for hours without it drying up; although we don't recommend leaving open bottles of paint around the house because it's essentially a disaster waiting to happen.

Genesis heat-set paint is a popular brand of paint used on reborn dolls because it's easy to apply, looks completely natural, and you can set it whenever you please. Most experienced doll artists will agree that Genesis paint is the way to go for creating a high-quality reborn. Be warned, though, you'll need access to a convection oven if you intend to use heat set paint offered by Genesis (we talk a little more about the potential dangers of heating vinyl here).

How To Use Genesis Heat-Set Paint

If you decide to use heat set paint, sit down at table where you can comfortably paint your reborn doll and lay out some old newspapers or magazines over the table to prevent accidental spills. Even with a steady hand and good eye, accidents are bound to happen. The good news is that Genesis heat-set paint tends to come out fairly easy (as long as it's not set yet), but it's something you should try to avoid getting on hardwood furniture.

Note: Before you start painting, go ahead and pre-heat your convection oven to 260 degrees Fahrenheit, as this will cut down on your waiting down in the future. Also, it's recommended that you purchase a separate oven dedicated to your reborn hobby and only use it for such. Baking food in an oven where vinyl and paint have been cooking can be toxic; therefore, never cook food in the same oven used for your reborn. Small convection ovens can be purchased for as little as $200 from most appliance stores. That may seem like a steep price, but you'll find it's well worth the initial investment once you gain some reborning experience under your belt.

Heat-Set Paint Reborn

Heat-Set Paint Reborn

Steps To Base Painting With Genesis Heat-Heat Set Painting:

  • Start by placing some of the base colors (AKA flesh colors) into an empty paint palette where you can easily access them.
  • Along with paint, you'll also want to lay out all of your paintbrushes with a couple cups of water and paper towels to clean them with. I recommend picking up a set of various-sized paintbrushes and a foam cosmetic wedges to use on your reborn. This will be your workstation for painting your reborn, so make sure it's comfortable and you can easily reach all of your paints, brushes and other supplies.
  • Apply some of the lighter paint to the surface of your cosmetic wedge and blot it across the surface of your doll's skin. It's easier to start with light colors and work your way up to darker shades just in case you make a mistake (it happens!).
  • Continue blotting the surface of your doll with base colors until it's consistent throughout.
  • Use paintbrushes to apply base paint in crevices and other hard-to-reach areas that cosmetic wedges can't reach.
  • When your doll has a nice and thorough base paint that's similar to a newborn's natural flesh tone, go ahead and place them in the oven to set the paint (assuming you are using heat-set paint).
color wheel

Color Wheel

Other Tips To Remember When Base Painting a Reborn Doll...

If you ask ten different doll artists what the best method to paint a reborn doll is, you'll probably get ten different answers. The bottom line is that it takes lots of practice combined with trial and error until you find out what works best for you. With that said, it's usually best to start by applying a base paint on your doll, focusing on the head first and then working your way down to the limbs. Use a medium-bristle brush to gently apply the paint throughout your doll.

Depending on how thick the paint is, you may need to apply up to 10 or more coats of base paint. I know this sounds excessive, but using multiple coats is important to keep your reborn looking realistic and life-like. When it's all said and done, it's not uncommon for artists to use over a dozen coats of paint in total.

After you're done applying the base paint over your reborn, you'll need to set it by placing the parts in the oven. Yep, you actually heat the parts of your reborn doll along with the paint. Just place them in a convection oven at 260 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8-9 minutes. Take the parts out, allow 30-45 minutes to cool, and then you can continue to work on your doll. The paint should now feel solid and secure without any running off. As stated earlier, you should only use this oven for heating the paint on your reborn dolls and not for cooking food.

Congratulations! You've just completed the base paint on your reborn doll. See, that wasn't too hard, was it?


How to Paint Reborn Doll Hair-Hair Painting Tutorial

Step 1: Pour some colored paint in a small bowl and mix well to get the desired color you seek.

Step 2: Make sure you have the reborn doll head ready and as a guide (optional), you can use a removable marker to indicate where you’d want the paint to end. Remember, you do not want the paint extending towards the doll’s face.

Step 3: Ensure you have all of your desired painting brushes ready. Remember you do not want to keep taking breaks just to get a particular brush during this time.

Step 4: Begin the painting process. Start by using some specially designed brushes to draw some fine intricate lines (flowing hairs) around the baby dolls’ forehead, ears areas, and back head to mimic that on real babies.

Step 5: Apply some code of paint on the reborn’s head to act as the base for more painting and desired designs (black or thick brown colors). Ensure this code of paint takes the form of a question mark, from the center of the head flowing towards the ear section, without going towards the face and ears.

Step 6: Still with the brush and paint, keep drawing more lines to mimic the question mark sigh you began with. This goes a long way to demonstrate the hairline on a real baby’s head. At this stage, the idea becomes more and more realistic.

Step 7: After coating the reborn’s head with the brown or black colors, the next step is adding the third color (cream white).

NB: If you are trying to recreate reborns of African descent, the dark and brown color combinations work just fine. However, if you are recreating a Caucasian reborn then you may need to paint the reborn with a few stripes of cream-colored paint.

Step 8: Once you’ve added the creamed colored paint on the reborns head, ensure to add a little more of the thick brown color paint. This will give a serene and realistic look to a natural baby. Which of course is what you need after so much work and effort.

Step 9: Step 9 is the most vital piece of the whole puzzle. This step entails adding the 3D texture medium to either the brown or the black paints used on the reborn’s head. After that, continue with the painting process. Do this until you get a realistic hairdo on your reborn. It should be noted that if you cannot lay hands on the 3D medium color, do not get yourself worked up. Make do with what you have.

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How to Paint Reborn Dolls

  • Strip the factory sealer or color from the doll by wiping it down with nail polish remover and a lint-free cloth. Wash the doll parts in soapy water and let them dry.

  • Develop the undertone for the skin color of the doll. Choose a light red, blue or purple dye and mix according to the manufacturer's instructions. After you have mixed the dye, wash the interior of the doll's head, arms, legs and torso with the dye color. This sets a pink, light purple or blue undertone to the skin. Rinse with warm water and set the pieces to dry on a paper towel.

  • Paint veining onto the doll using various tints and shades of reds and blues as they would appear on a real baby. Let dry. This layer goes beneath the skin-tone colors.

  • Mix the skin colors after the vinyl parts have dried. You can either use flesh-tone paints in the right skin color for the doll or mix your own for the base coat. To make your own flesh-tone colors, mix equal amounts of red, yellow and blue to form a brown; lighten with white until you achieve the desired color. Cover the entire doll with the skin color in a light coat, using a sponge to dab it on. Apply several light coats in varying tints and shades to achieve a realistic look.

  • Create lighter tints and darker shades of the flesh colors to use in areas such as the creases at the elbows and knees. Add a light-colored rose-colored blush to the entire doll to create realism; don't forget small imperfections such as milk spots or tiny pimples that newborn babies often have. Paint in these details.

  • Add hair in the desired color, using multiple tints and shades to create tiny strands of hair on the doll's head. Use the thin-tipped paintbrush for these details. Paint the eyebrows.

  • Apply lip color to the lips and nail polish to the fingers and toenails. The idea is to use a natural-looking color rather than a color that makes the nails look professionally done.

  • Paint the iris color on the eyes, and add black for a pupil if the eyes are open. If the doll's eyes aren't open, use a fine eyeliner brush to add lashes. After all the paint has dried, apply a sealant clear coat and let dry. After the topcoat has dried, assemble the individual pieces and clothe the doll in a onesie or other suitable infant outfit.

  • Tip

    When you first start out, it's all about experimentation to see what works and what looks real. As your skills improve, you may want to add mohair for a "real hair" look, which requires rooting the hair in the doll's head. You can also add small hairs for authentic-looking eyelashes.


    Verify that the paints work with vinyl before you apply them; not all paints that are suitable for rubber will work with rubber. Wear vinyl gloves to protect your hands while working.

    Painting a Reborn Baby for the First Time - How to Paint Reborns

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