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?

9 Responses to “How To Apply Base Paint On Your Reborn Doll”

  1. Rosalyn Simpson says:

    I am new to doing Reborn Dolls I watch videos and they start out with saying I just Primed my doll that’s a bummer because I don’t know how to do it I have the no odor paint thinner and paint cleaner do I mix that with my paint it shows it very thin on the video and a dab it on with a sponge in many layers but I just miss that part when they do it .I have the dolls I have washed them now what do I do thank you I have Genesis heat paint

  2. Anne Henderson says:

    Can a toaster oven be used to bake the parts?

  3. Casey says:

    It mentions that you place the doll in the oven twice. Do you place the doll in the oven after each coat or do you do several coats and then place it in the oven. Or is it like when you ‘pre bake’ polymer clay things? Like you bake it for a little, and then you officially bake it. And if so, how long and how hot do I bake it on each go?

  4. Karen here says:

    Will a heat gun do as well as in a conventional oven and should you buy a special type of heat gun ?

  5. Alice Avery says:

    please can someone tell me what do i mix with the base paint’s ? im new to all this and haven’t a clue i have my kit and air dry paints but im stuck at the first post..

  6. katherine says:

    Hi my Camden kit from donna lee is here and i want to start painting it already but I dont have a heat gun for the genesis paints . Can i just bake it in a regular oven instead of buying a heat gun?

    • April says:

      You can bake the doll in a regular oven, but it is recommended that you use a different oven for baking dolls than for cooking food.

  7. richelle says:

    hi how do i put them in the oven? do i need some sort of rack or do i just lay them down? just concerned if i dont put them in the oven properly that it might leave marks? im very new at this.. also what do people use prism pencils for when reborning? any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. thanks! Richelle

    • Shannon says:

      The prism pencils have proven to be of little help to me. They don’t glide on the vinyl like the paint does and I decided I personally hate them (unless I’m using them w/ paper) and I suggest, strongly, that you either get an electric oven specifically for reborning doll parts or line a glass baking dish with a towel and bake the parts very spaced out. Never set them directly on an oven rack or in a dish. The polyfill can even be used to line the dish, I believe, but don’t quote me. Good luck!!

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