En's customs

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En's customs

Post by nattherat on Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:23 am

I hope it's okay for me to have like... a doll/toy (as in non-makie) customisation thread here? Whilst I wish I could customise lots of makies, I won't have the budget for another for who knows how long. XD In the meantime, after the good feedback I've gained on my makies, I've decided to try customising some other things - to hopefully build up to taking commissions/selling dolls, if I'm good enough. Unfortunately partly because I've only just started face-ups/customising for the first time, I don't know anybody IRL I can really share the process with! It'd be nice to have a thread here, with people who know I'm not just cruelly mutilating toys. Very Happy

Also, if anyone else decides to make a customs thread for themself too, that'd be super awesome. I really really love looking at custom work.

I'll start with my current project:

Twyla and Claudia Wolf from Monster High, both of whom have head molds I'm in love with. I thought Monster High would be a good place to start, because I've liked the brand from afar for some time, and with it being so popular there's plenty of experienced MH customisers around who impart useful advice/are friendly and open to questions.

I couldn't really resist playing with them a bit as they were first though!




I think Twyla is especially beautiful. I wasn't that taken with the stock image, I originally just figured I should have two to try out rather than one. When she arrived though, I was wowed by the factory paint job. It was hard to make myself strip it off to be honest!
It'd been some time since I handled an MH doll too, so I forgot how soft and lovely the hair feels (when it doesn't have gloopy styling glue in that is).

However... I had a singular purpose in buying them...!


I was sorry to see their factory paint go, they both look very expressive to me. But still! 

Today, I tackled Clawdia:

Carving eyeholes and testing the eyes, because apparently I don't start small and work up to bigger more challenging things. I jump right in at the deep end and decide I'm going to give them inset eyes. My funeral, I guess.

Time for face-up:





Plus some work on the arms:

(A bit patchy but... I think this might be the best I can get without an airbrush, and that's an investment I don't have money or space for)


And here she is currently:



The eyes were being annoying and I was running out of daylight, so I've set them aside to put in later. I meant to make her a little more fierce (me and fierce faces), but actually I'm enjoying how she looks a lot creepier without angry eyebrows. 
I'm going for something a bit more feral and wild. I'm sure she still writes scripts and stuff as it says in her bio, but now she's... creepier and furrier and I've got a tail partly made for her too. I was going to improvise the repaint into something else entirely, not previously knowing anything about the MH characters - but her diary in the box actually really inspired me and made me become pretty interested in her. So I'm thinking of these MH customs as... alternate-universe MH characters perhaps? An AU where everyone is a bit more monsterous, a bit less human, and Clawdia becomes well acquainted with her sister's friend Twyla through having to look after her.

More progress coming soon. I'm kind of attached to them already though, because of this whole story thing.  Laughing That doesn't bode so well when I was trying to become good enough to sell them!
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Re: En's customs

Post by jupiternames on Sun Jun 07, 2015 5:43 am

Uh oh. It sounds like you're getting attached! I too really fell in love with Twyla. I only have two MH, an Abby I picked up to try as a custom and a Twyla that I bought because I loved her face. I never did do anything with that Abby, likely because I started buying Makies.

It will be pretty interesting to see how these two end up. I've never seen a custom doll with inset eyes like that. It's pretty cool, but seems difficult.

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Re: En's customs

Post by nattherat on Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:37 pm

@jupiternames Haha yes! To Twyla especially I think, though I'm somewhat less in love how her factory paint is gone. There was just something about her wide-doe-eyed expression. She actually reminded me a lot of the actress who played Rogue in the X-Men movies, it was the lips and the eyebrows I think. I'm avoiding buying another to keep because I simply don't have the space for more than a few dolls at a time max, but I'm tempted.

Bratzillaz have inset eyes, which is what made me decide to go for it (I think they look significantly better than the painted-eye bratz, which I was never a fan of). I'm sort of tempted to pick up one of them to try repainting at some point, but 1) space/money, and 2) the level of detail in the sculpt is much lower than MH from what I can tell. I suppose I'm asking a lot for fashion dolls to have the same level of detail as makies or asian BJDs for example, but MH has set a fairly high bar. If MH had some more normal skin colours (I'm not as keen on the Ever After High rounder flatter faces), I'd probably end up with it as my exclusive go-to fashion doll.

But yeah, inset eyes are actually a little bit of a nightmare! I think it'll be worth it, but at the same time I think my next repaint after this I'll try flat painted eyes instead.
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Re: En's customs

Post by nattherat on Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:03 pm


Here's Clawdia as she is today, waiting for a lot of junk inside her head to cure and set still, so her hair has to remain an unholy mess in the meantime.

So I started on Twyla!
Twyla gets a bit more of a "generic" face-up from me here. By which I mostly mean 'pretty'. But also because... I'm really not sure what a 'boogyman' is supposed to look like anyway!




I'm just waiting on her eyelashes (had to order some new ones in), then I'll be glossing and adding in her eyes. That will smooth out the eye sockets a bit more too. I think other people maybe overcame the fact that squishy vinyl doesn't really take well to filing but just smothering the eye sockets with eyelashes, whereas I tend to prefer understated eyelashes. I'll practice painted eyes on my next dolls instead, and maybe save further inset eyes until I have an actual disposable income that lets me do some more risk-free experimentation.

Speaking of which, I er, already have a couple of new dolls arriving to do more work - I'm the worst. XD

P.S. These pictures are terrible. Not only because my phone camera isn't that great, but because it hasn't picked up any of Twyla's blushing at all. Sad
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Re: En's customs

Post by nattherat on Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:18 pm

I thought I'd update this thread!
I've finished the two Monster High customs, and almost finished a Bratzillaz custom.

Here's Twyla and Clawdia Wolf as they first arrived, in factory paint/clothes/hairstyles:


And here they are now:

They both have inset eyes, applied eyelashes, new faceups. Clawdia's hair has been cut and restyled, and she's had some body blushing done.

My favourite photo:


Tada! I'd still like to offer them up for sale, but I've worked so long and hard on them that I didn't think about the details of selling them quite so much. I'm not sure where is the best avenue, or at what price!

As for the Bratzillaz, it's a Meygana Broomstix, who started life like this:

Pictured next to Casta Fierce.

And here she is now, renamed Abigail:


I'm waiting on some new eyes for her because unfortunately an accident ruined the ones she came with (acetone, sigh). She has a scar on her lip from cleft palate/lip surgery, and the little bio I wrote for her goes; "Here's Abigail! She likes hiking, toasted sandwiches, and mythical creatures. Being dyspraxic means she sometimes has a bit of trouble with her walks, but Abby always keeps a first aid kit in her backpack, and a phone on her.".


She'll be up for sale at some point too, when I figure out... how to actually do that. I don't care for ebay, and I forgot that Etsy is a bit more than I can handle. Whoops.


But other than Abigail's eyes, there's my first play-doll-customs complete! It's been really cool, though actually a lot of work, and much more difficult than working on makies. I think, now I know what I'm doing and how different materials work, I'm fairly confident to work on other people's dolls should they want me to. Very Happy In the meantime, I have a couple more customs in the works (to personally keep, whoops). 


P.S. Once more: my camera's focus has been awful lately, maybe because of the overcast lighting. I hope I can actually get some decent non-blurry shots sometime soon, because this level of blurriness when trying to show artwork is unacceptable.  Sad
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Re: En's customs

Post by Kitty-kat on Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:11 pm

Wow! You really do a great job! I, however, fail at doing freckles alone, and I haven't dared start on things like eyelashes, but you are obviously way better

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Re: En's customs

Post by jupiternames on Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:00 pm

Abby looks great! Too bad about the eyes. Acetone's the worst.

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Re: En's customs

Post by JRyu on Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:42 pm

Wow, what a difference the inset eyes make, it gives them so much more life!

I love how Clawdia turned out, I'm seriously tempted to send you my little werewolf pack to customize, once you get your prices and everything worked out, and are ready. ^_^

I'm curious, you mentioned you were working on a tail for Clawdia, but I can't tell from any of the pictures if she has the tail. Did you get the tail finished, or are you still working on it? I'd love to see some pictures of the tail, even blurry "in progress" ones. Very Happy

That's the one thing that really disappointed me when I received my wolf pack siblings set, that they didn't have any tails!

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Re: En's customs

Post by Purple_Monkfish on Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:55 pm

wow bratzilla transformation! I have a bunch of them and given they have zero resale value, i'm tempted to play about with a few hehehe. I never opened my glowy one, i've seen some neat customs using that glowing skin as a base though hehehe.

How are you gonna get the new eyes in? Did you cut a hole in her head or something?

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Re: En's customs

Post by nattherat on Thu Jun 18, 2015 3:04 pm

Very Happy Thanks all!

@kitty-kat Thank you! The only way to get into it I think is to just try. About a month ago I applied eyelashes to a doll for a first time, and with Abby that marked my fifth time. It can be a bit fiddly, I think I could definitely improve on how I'm currently doing it, but already Abby's look better than my earlier attempts.
If you use tacky glue, then you can always remove the eyelashes if they go wrong! Here's a little secret of mine: At the moment it takes me about five attempts to actually apply eyelashes to just one eye. It's fiddly and I'm not fantastic at it, I have to redo it several times usually. So I say don't be discouraged if it doesn't go right first time!

@jupiternames Thanks! The acetone was totally my fault, I wasn't thinking straight at all. I'm so used to working with glass eyes now that I forgot for a second that the eyes the Bratzillaz come with are a hard plastic. I wasn't careful and I melted them. My fault, and I'm super regretful because her factory eyes really are very beautiful. But these things happen and I'll be more alert next time!

@JRyu Thanks! Very Happy I do like the inset eyes a lot, I've never been a fan of flat painted eyes in all honesty. However doing the inset eyes is definitely very very hard, I think I would need some more specialist equipment to really do the best possible job.

Clawdia does have the tail! Honestly I considered doing a lot more with her, like giving her digitigrade legs, but I was a little bit chicken, considering the cost of everything (as in I didn't want to have to pick up another Clawdia, plus potentially more apoxie).

It's not as impressive as I would like, the way I figured there were two options: 1) To sculpt the tail out of apoxie and paint it the right colour and attach it somehow, or 2) Colour match/use her waste hair to create a tail. I decided, in the end, to go with option 2. I felt like a sculpted tail would look too much like a tail-shaped solid lump no matter how I coloured it, compared to using fibres to give her a tail. That means that in the end her tail kind of looks a bit more like a horse tail rather than a wolf tail to be honest but it felt like the better option to me. I'll definitely think a bit more about how to do a soft furry wolf tail if I do another in future though (even though these are no longer suitable for really playing with much, I like to try and keep them as playable with as I can).

@Purple_Monkfish Very Happy Thanks! I quite like them a lot actually. Even though they're definitely not up to Monster High level of quality, the face shape/sculpting is actually kind of interesting once the factory make-up is taken off (not being too harsh there, I did think Meygana's factory make-up was very nice actually!). That's how I got the idea to give her a cleft palate surgery scar - the sculpting of the top lip/underneath the nose instantly suggested it to me. Honestly I'm tempted to pick up another Bratzillaz (a darker skinned one I think - I'm happy with Meygana but her pale-ness also made her a nightmare) to customise. I'd also like to try a glowy one too maybe! Plus they can be picked up very very cheap for some reason haha.

The new eyes are the same kind of thing. Bratzillaz don't have standard eyes as such, but they have clooossseeee eennoouuuuggghh to standard eyes that they should fit. Oval flat eyes are very common in certain kinds of dolls, and that's the kind Bratzillaz have. In theory, all I'll need to do is warm up her head a little bit (just to soften it) and slot her new eyes in no problem. I mean, we'll see if it's actually that easy once they arrive, but that's the theory.

Here's a picture of them now the light levels aren't causing my phone to be incapable of focusing! (from instagram, so a bit grainy and low quality)
 

And here's Clawdia's photoshoot (which shows the tail) for her potential etsy listing! (directly from camera, so full quality!)
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Re: En's customs

Post by Purple_Monkfish on Thu Jun 18, 2015 4:49 pm

They look great! I agree about the Zillaz, I always liked them because they had potential but MGA are excellent at squandering potential. Like the Moxie Teenz, who are BEAUTIFUL dolls but had a stupidly limited wardrobe and rubbish articulation. but they're so pretty like omg.
Zillaz had that same rubbish articulation but it's better than nothing and really interesting eyes and hair colours. A shame the fibre quality was so awful, first wave meyganna particularly. Wowza.
But for cheap on clearance? well worth picking up to play about with heh. I have a load of them, but i've not tried repainting any yet. You have me inspired to have a go.

I like how you've done Clawdia's hair. The choppy part around her face really suits her and yay for a tail! I always wished the werewolves had a tail, I mean, the werecats do!

Twyla looks gorgeous, I think she's my fave.

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Re: En's customs

Post by nattherat on Thu Jun 18, 2015 6:59 pm

Abby is first wave Meygana, and I totally understand now why various doll reviews said it was so bad! I trimmed all her hair to shoulder length and it's made it much better, but it's still not the lovely soft hair of Monster High dolls. Everything below shoulder-length was a yucky scratchy mess.
If I can afford her, I'd maybe want to try out Illiana Honesty. Lovely vinyl colour.

Thank you! The heat started frizzing up their hair quite quickly so it's not as neatly arranged as it had been, but yeah it kind of sweeps back in a feathered way. I don't really understand why they don't have tails either!

As for Twyla, here's some pictures: Very Happy

She's my favourite too. As happens when you get into something for the first time, you generally get a little bit better with each new time you attempt a task. Doing Twyla second meant that some of the things definitely came out a bit better. Plus her head wasn't as filled with gluey gunk as Clawdia's so she was easiest to work with.

Admittedly, the little-sister bodytype for MH has immediately become my favourite too. Clawdia is cool, but I think I liked her promo shots/idea of her more than the factory doll, because I didn't realise just how leggy she'd be. Twyla though seems absolutely perfectly proportioned. She's still slim and fashion doll thin/shaped, but without starting to look hugely alien. I really wish it was easier to get a hold of the smaller dolls like Twyla and Howleen, and that there were more than them.

If you do anything with your Bratzillaz, I hope you show them off in a thread! Very Happy I want to see!

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Re: En's customs

Post by JRyu on Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:22 pm

I think you are correct in that a sculpted tail wouldn't work. Mostly, I believe, because the doll's you are customizing are made of a plastic or vinyl material that is softer, or more softer looking, than a sculpted apoxy tail. So even the most beautifully sculpted apoxy tail would look stiff and rather unnatural to the rest of the doll.

Another reason, besides the obvious, that using the doll's discarded hair trimmings, or using similar synthetic hair, creates a tail with a horse like look, is because it is the same in texture and appearance as the doll's head hair. It creates that "mane and tail" look that an anthro horse would have.

I think a better direction to go in would be to try and match the tail more to the facial and body "fur" as it were. My suggestion would be to try making the tail out of Marabou feather trim, and match your painted facial fur to the color of the Marabou trim, rather than the hair on the head. I think this might better give you the look you are trying to achieve. ^_^

Marabou trim will create a suitably "fluffy" wolf tail that is in proportion to the MH doll's slenderness as well. I've seen it used very successfully to create fox and wolf tails for anime phone charms and key chains.

Here is an example: In this picture Fen is modeling a Marabou "fox" tail that he borrowed from one of my anime cell phone charms.

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Re: En's customs

Post by nattherat on Thu Jun 18, 2015 8:29 pm

Ah, thanks for the suggestion, but I'm really not happy to use animal products in my work! ^^; Or at the very least, not animal products that I cannot find an ethical cruelty-free source for, and even then no thanks - too risky! (not to mention that down and stuff is a common allergy)

Personally, I'm thinking of making a tail pattern to sew, if I ever do another doll with a tail.
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Re: En's customs

Post by nattherat on Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:44 pm

Some pictures of Abby and her new eyes!




That completes her!

I'm more and more in love with the Bratzillaz dolls as time goes on. Even though the sculpting isn't as good as Monster High (and neither is the articulation), there's something about them that makes it easier to make up a whole new character for the doll in comparison. I found Clawdia and Twyla impossible to imagine as anyone other than themselves, but Meygana became Abby very quickly.

However, I really really wish they were made out of better plastic. They're a very hard/resistant vinyl compared to MH, and customising was a bit of a nightmare. They cannot take heat or a bit of bending anywhere near MH dolls (or even my makies), meaning that the face-up is way more fragile than usual.

I definitely want to try at least one more because gosh I like them. I think it's the more natural poses they can do, with less exaggerated busts/swayback/figures. I'm a bit under the weather at the moment, but tomorrow or maybe the day after, I'm going to see if I can get myself over to ToysRus and see if and what dolls they have on clearance. Customising is addictive!

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Re: En's customs

Post by DollYay on Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:05 pm

Wow! She has so much more personality with the eyes! They turned out great!Smile

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Re: En's customs

Post by nattherat on Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:02 pm

Whoops, I haven't updated the thread because I've been busy!

here's another custom I finished, Venus!



Here's a Draculaura I started:


And here's the finished MH gang hanging out:



The two currently in progress, when I someday actually have time to start up again:

VAMPIRES.

It's all a lot of fun, and I'm a lot more confident doing it now. Very Happy

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Re: En's customs

Post by jupiternames on Sat Jul 18, 2015 11:29 pm

Wow, these are great! I love them all. I really love the expression you gave Draculaura.

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