Introduction: How To: Custom Doll/toy Out of Art Manequin.

About: I like turtles.
Nothing special.. but it is what it is.
I make these lil dudes for stopmotion animating. (very useful)

You could make them for your kids or grandkids as little dress up dolls or things kids like to play with.
Its a heck of a lot cheaper than buying Barbies every so often.

Or... you could use them for what they actually are, you know, get them all dressed up, then draw them.. i suppose it could help teach shadows in clothing and how clothes fit on the body.

Everything is up to you.

The wooden Art Manequins are about $6 at Wal-Mart. You can get them at Michaels too, or most other craft stores.
Like i said... beats the $30 Barbie dolls if you're planning on having your granddaughter over or trying to entertain your own.

Step 1: Materials

This is just a basic list of the stuff you could use to do this type of project.

1 wooden art manequin.
All Purpose Tacky glue
Acrylic paints
Various Fabrics
Metal fastening loops
a Sharpie
AirDry Clay
metal wire
knitting string

Step 2: Remove the Stand

Okay so these little guys come on stands so that artists can pose them in many embarassing poses and never let them live it down.
We can't have that.

What youre going to wanna do is grab it by the metal rod, not by the base, and pull. If it doesnt move at all try wiggling it a bit and eventually it should slip out of the manequins rear end.
Now your manequin is all free spirited and ready to venture the world.

Note: pulling by the base is bad because you could end up pulling the rod out of the base, then it would get stuck in the manequin and the base would be all wobbly later on.

Step 3: Painting Skin and Details

Now the characters im making have stitches going down the center of their bodies and thats about it.
If youre looking to make toys for children (or for yourself, i wont judge) feel free to paint on faces, abs, pecs... etc.

What i use is acrylic Antique White paint.
Then i go over the paint and do the stitches with a black Sharpie.
Note: Using markers on the bare wooden minis is not reccomended, the marker ink will bleed out and spread causing it to look very bad. So paint is the best way to color your manequins.

Be sure, if you do paint a different skin color, that you get all areas on the ball joints. In the pictures below you'll see that when you bend the manequins back backwards the "stomach" ball has an area not yet touched by the paint. These areas can be found on the shoulders, elbows, neck, stomach, wrists, ankles, knees, and umm... the butt joints.

Step 4: Making Hair

What i use to make hair on these guys is knitting string.
Its thinner and easier to manage than full on yarn, but thicker and easier to keep track of than sewing string.

What i do is cut out a bunch of pieces about 3 inches long in the color of the hair my character has.
Then i use multi-purpose tacky glue to put it on the manequins head.

If the character's hair goes down (like most peoples hair) then i start glueing the layer on the very bottom of the back of the head.
However with this particular character, his hair stands up and goes back all anime like.
So i start glueing pretty much on the top of the head and work my way around in a ring pretty much, ensuring all of the ends point towards the same direction.

No matter how your characters hair ends up being styled, it is best that which ever layer of hair you decide will be on the bottom... gets glued on first. It just makes things easier.

Once you get all the individual hairs glued on, it should look HORRIBLE! i mean.. all hairs are about 3 inches long, its a disaster. Simply take your scissors and cut it to any style you want! If you mess up, just pull the hair out, peel away the glue (soap and water helps loosen it if its stuck) and start over.
My guy had hair that resembles the fellows from DragonBall Z. So i cut at an inward angle from all directions until it made a point in the upper back.

If im not making sence to you, please just tell me in a comment and i'll try to explain more to help you individually.

Step 5: Goggles and Accessories

Note: These steps do not have to be followed in order as i list them, its just simply how i created this guy.

My lil guy has goggles on his forehead.
To make the goggles i got some little fastening rings that are generally used for linking necklace chains together in the back.
(can find them in craft stores with chains and beads)

Take 2 of them and glue them to the forehead area with some tacky glue.
Then, with the glue, draw what you think the shape of goggles should be on the forehead and going back into the hair.
Fill the two rings with the glue and let dry. (it dries clear, so lets pretend the glue there is just the lenses)

When the glue around the 2 rings dries completely, take either a black marker or paint and go over the glue, and presto chango!
The glue is now stylish goggles.

To make other nifty things-
Say you wanna make cool horns or bodily growths or armor... you could still use the glue idea for little things, however...
If youll look at the last picture down there, youll see a man with cat ears... i made those with Crayola AirDry Clay. I chose AirDry because oven-baking doesnt end well with little wooden people...
For moveable parts such as tails or what-have-you, i reccomend using wires and strings.

Step 6: The Top (shirt)

I actually give my guys clothing.
Most toys and action figures come with clothes made in with the plastic.
Most dolls come with removeable and changeable clothes.

So if you're looking to make a doll, here is some average joe help.

When it comes to making clothing i usually use old T-Shirts or baby onesies for the material.
For the Manequins shirts it is easiest to place the manequin on a large piece of your material of choice and trace around the manequins torso, be sure to make your traced manequin's torso size much larger than the actual manequin.
Due to the fact that the manequin is a 3Dimensional figure, it has depth, something your traced top does not have, so to make up for the lack of depth, your traced torso's width should be about an inch wider than the actual manequin.

Draw 2 torsos, one for the front and one for the back.
Cut a small V on the top of the front one so you can tell where the neck will go.

Then sew the 2 pieces together, inside out. (to hide stitches)
(kind-of obvious, but DO NOT sew the neck hole, arm holes, or bottom hole shut... they need to be open.)
Upon finishing sewing, turn the garment back to right side out, and slide it on the little guy (or gal).

Extra-  The shirt used to make this Tank Top, is the shirt i used in my last project (Big Sister helmet) to wipe away all the black paint.

Step 7: Gloves and Shoes!

I guess this can go back with the second step. (painting skin and details)
But i did it later.

For the gloves i generally just draw them on with Sharpie.
I gave this guy fingerless style gloves, so i just left the tip uncolored and a rectangle at the top of the hands to represent the strap.

For shoes i also generally just draw them on with Sharpie.
However, if you're wanting to make claws or boots or whatnot...
I reccomend fashioning some from the AirDry clay and then painting over them with acrylic.

As you can see in the third picture below, the girl has white painted on knee high boots with Sharpie finepoint detailing, and white painted mittens with Sharpie finepoint detailing.

Note: Actually making shoes instead of just drawing them on becomes restricting for the ankles.
So if you're wanting to do what i do and use them for stop motion animation, making actual shoes is not the way to go.

Step 8: Bottoms

Lets hide those sexy legs..
Pants, shorts, dress, skirt, you name it... just make it your own!

For making pants and shorts, you can use the same ummm... technique? that i used in making the shirt.

With a skirt.. make a rectangle with a length of your choosing and about a width of 3 inches.
Wrap it around the manequins hips and stitch or glue the ends together.

My guy is wearing a flippin dress thing.... i modeled it after the thing Pyramid Head wears in Silent Hill 2.

To make it, i took a black T shirt and cut out a rectangle that was around a foot in width and half a foot in length.
Wrap it around those lil hips at an angle starting at its left side.
Fold the top outward, as to make a lip,
At that angle, the dress should make a point at the bottom..
Fold over the end and glue the ends all together.
Then cut off all the extra fabric that hangs below the feet. The garment should go out to one side, making it look as if its constantly in the wind.
Take a decent length piece of white sewing string and wrap it around the top of the dress like a belt, under the little "lip".
Tie it off and let it hang.
(Poor instructions, i know, im sorry... hopefully the pictures should help.)

Step 9: Alas! Miniature Is Complete!

Now its all done...
Pose it, draw it, play with it, re dress it, name it, gift it.
Make a whole army.

Be sure to send me pics or a links so i can see how awesome yours turned out. (assuming you cared enough to make one... forced lolz.)