How to Paint the Face on a Cloth Doll

Updated April 17, 2017

Painting faces on a doll can seem like a daunting task. Faces are delicate with a lot of depth and detail. A small line can make the expression look weird. The best way to learn how to create the perfect face is to practice beforehand. Draw out sketches of faces on a separate paper and experiment with expressions. Test out colours on scrap pieces of fabric. Planning and patience are the best ways to make your doll's face exactly how you want it.

Sketch your doll's face on a piece of paper until it looks the way you want. Trace over the face with tracing paper and transfer the face to the doll.

Blend a small amount of powered make-up or pastel on a palate to be used for shadows and blush. Red, pink and peach are appropriate blush colours. Brown, grey and blue give contour and definition to the face.

Test the colours on spare fabric that is the same as the doll's face. This allows you to see how the colours look on the doll and if any adjustments need to be made.

Shade the sides of your doll's nose and underneath the eyebrows for contour and definition. Shade your doll's cheeks with the blush colour. Rub the shading in with a cotton swab to blend the colour permanently into the fabric.

Paint the doll's eyeballs using a small brush and white acrylic paint and let dry. Paint a thin line of brownish black or dark grey eyeliner on the top lid of the doll's eyes and let dry.

Paint the irises of the doll's eyes in a light or medium colour of your choice and let dry. Make the iris a semicircle with the top of the circle underneath the eyelid. A full circle creates a shocked look on your doll's face.

Outline the iris with a darker shade of the first colour used. Outline the inside of the darker shade halfway around the iris with a shade lighter than the first colour and let dry. This creates depth in the eye.

Paint the pupil in the centre of the eye connected to the top eyelid and let dry. Paint a tiny white dot in the pupil to create the look of light in the eyes.

Use the thin brush and brown or grey paint for the eyebrows. Paint the eyebrows lightly with tiny strokes for each eyebrow hair. Use the same tiny brush to paint thin dark brown or black lashes on the top and bottom eyelids. Make the top lashes longer than the bottom.

Mix the acrylic paints to create a lip colour for your doll. Pinks, reds, mauve, violet and white create fitting lip colours. Black and brown can tone down brighter reds and pinks. The amounts of each depend on if you want the doll's lips to look natural or with lipstick.

Outline your doll's mouth with a pencil or dark lip liner to create the shape you want.

Fill in the doll's lips with the colour. Cover any pencil lines with paint and let dry. Use a clear gloss over the dried paint to make shiny lips.

Things You'll Need

  • Sketchbook
  • Tracing paper
  • Pencil
  • Powdered make-up or pastels
  • Palate
  • Powder brush smaller than your doll's cheek
  • Cotton swab
  • Acrylic paints
  • Acrylic paint brush able to paint thin lines
  • Lipliner pencil
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About the Author

Jen Oda has been writing since 1999. Her stories and poetry have been published in Fordham University's newspaper "The Observer" and in "My Sister's Voices," a collection by Iris Jacob. Oda holds a Bachlor of Arts in theater performance from Fordham University.