How To Mottle a Reborn Doll

Mottling is the process of creating blotchy, uneven spots of multiple colors or shading. If you've ever seen a newborn baby before (which you probably have), then you probably noticed how they have patches of different coloring on their cheeks, arms, legs, chest and throughout other parts of their body. Known as mottle, this is common in most newborns and tends to go away on its own as they grow older. While mottling a reborn doll isn't necessary to create a high-quality doll, it does add another level of depth and realism that most people find attractive. If you're interested in learning more, keep reading and we'll take a closer look at the steps to mottle a reborn doll.

Plastic Paint Pallete

Plastic Paint Palette

The reason why newborn babies have mottled skin is simply because their circulatory systems haven''t fully developed yet. As a result, there may be blotches and areas where different colors shown on their skin. Some parents may automatically assume that something serious is wrong with their baby when they notice discolored skin, but nine out of ten times it's the result of mottle. In any case, you should still consult address any concerns to their pediatrician, as they will be able to take a closer look at their condition to determine if there's a more serious underlying issue at hand.

Gathering Your Supplies For Reborn Mottling

Before you start, you'll first need to acquire some basic supplies. While you may already have some of these laying around the house, chances are there are others that will require a special trip to the craft and hobby store. Also, this is by no means the only way to successfully mottle a doll. If you ask ten different experienced reborners what the best way to mottle is, you'll probably get ten different answers. The method listed here, though, is arguably one of the easiest and most effective, which is why I use it when creating my reborns.

Here's What You'll Need To Mottle a Reborn:

  • Plastic paint palette
  • Small, medium-bristle paintbrush
  • 3-6 cosmetic wedges (most stores sell them in packs)
  • Bag of cotton balls
  • Multiple colors of heat-set paint (preferably Genesis brand). Depending on the exact shade and tone of mottle you want, it's usually best to stick with red, pink and similar colors. Don't worry, as you can mix them together to form more colors later.
  • Odorless paint thinner
  • Convection oven (necessary for heat-set paint).
Reborn Paintbrush

Reborn Paintbrush

Step #1 - Preparing The Paint

With your plastic paint palette laid out in front of you, start preparing the colors to mottle on your reborn. Some artists may prefer a thick paste-like consistency to use on their reborns, but it's usually easier and more effective to use a thinner paint for mottling. Thin paint will naturally go on and spread more easily; therefore, it leads to a more realistic appearance. So, how are you supposed to accomplish this? Take the paint thinner and fill up about 4-6 of the empty paint holders half way full in your palette. Now go ahead and add the desired paint colors to the palette filled with the paint thinner and thoroughly mix them with a paintbrush.

If you've never mottled a reborn doll before, you might be on the fence about using certain colors. For beginners, it's usually best to stick with a couple different tones of red and pink, as you really can't go wrong with these colors. When filling up your palette with paint, try to start with the darkest red on one side and then working your way to lighter colors as you move to the other side. Doing so will make it easier for you to create realistic mottle shades that doesn't have that artificial look.

Step #2 - Mottling Techniques

Now that you have your paint laid out in front of you, it's time to get to work and start mottling your reborn. If you're using heat-set paint (recommended), you'll need to disassemble your doll so you can place the pieces in a convection oven later to heat. While some people may simply place their entire doll in the oven after mottling it, this generally isn't the best idea. Instead, take the time to disassemble the reborn before mottling it, as this will make the process easier and quicker.

The trick to successfully mottling a reborn is to use the brighter red colors first and then work your way up to the lighter pinks. Dab one of your cosmetic wedges in red paint and gently blot it several times on their cheeks. Next, take another cosmetic wedge, dip in it a lighter color and blot it back over the red paint on their cheeks and then move on to other parts of their body. Many beginners assume mottling is only for the cheeks, but it should actually be done all over their body. With that said, mottle on other parts of their body should be lighter than their cheeks, as this is what a typical newborn baby looks like. Continue mottling your reborn until the color looks natural and not too cartoonish.

Mottled Reborn Doll

Mottled Reborn Doll

Step #3 - Heating The Doll Parts

After your reborn doll has been mottled, you'll need to place the parts and limbs in the oven to heat. It's important to note that you should NEVER place doll parts in a traditional kitchen oven simply because it may leave behind toxic chemicals that can transfer over to any foods you cook in it. Instead, you should invest in a special convection oven and use it only for your reborning hobby. You can find convection ovens on sale for as little as a couple hundred dollars, which is a small price to pay for the ability to use heat-set paint.

You'll want to read the instructions of your heat-set paint carefully to determine what temperature you need to heat it at. Typically, though, you can expect to heat your painted reborn doll parts at 270 degrees Fahrenheit for roughly 6-7 minutes. Just remember to take them out promptly to prevent them from drying out and damaging the vinyl.

Step #4 - Finalizing The Mottle

Once you've placed your mottled reborn doll parts in the oven and have given them ample time to set, take them out and let them dry for at least 24 hours. This will give the paint time to permanently harden and become a part of your doll. Re-assemble the parts once a solid day has passed and you should be left with a realistic-looking reborn with an authentic mottled appearance.


2 Responses to “How To Mottle a Reborn Doll”

  1. rachael says:

    Mottling is one of the areas that have the most problems with. no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to get a natural tone. It just comes out looking like a deep red, but I’ll try the advice you gave here on the next doll I decide to reborn and see how it works.

    • Karen Long says:

      Don’t stress out about mottling. It’s definitely one of the harder steps to making a reborn doll. If you can’t seem to get it, try practicing on some extra dolls that you don’t mind messing up.

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