Intro: Children of the Forest Custom Doll
I make a few custom OOAK dolls for two years, after watching several tutorial on youtube. i write a graphic novel and told myself it would be cool to have my own characters made into dolls. so i made them, and when they were done, i started to think "what else could i do??" the possibilities are endless. Monster High dolls are so versatile that your imagination is the only limit. but let's focus.
i like elves, faeries, and Game of Thrones' children of the forest (tv series version, i haven't read the books)
so i made a quick search to see if someone has already thought of making a children of the forest inspired doll. spoiler : someone has. i looked at that doll, then looked for some reference pictures of the actual GoT characters, and studied them. let's start!
Step 1: Material
obviously, you need a doll ^^
i work on second hand Monster High dolls, you can easily find some for cheap, and i don't want to spend too much money on those projects. actually, i barely buy new stuff to make them.
i used a Rochelle Goyle doll, she has a grey skin tone, and strong archs of the eyebrows, wich are perfect for the character i want to make.
other materials :
-yarn of matching colors : (dark and light gray, moss green, brown, beige)
-a small piece of grey fabric
-some dried lichen
-glue (hot glue, and cyanoacrylate glue)
the tools : scissors, a needle with a big eye (big enough for yarn), hot glue gun, a very thin brush, a hot air gun, a pair of nose plier, an eraser pen.
Step 2: Prepping the Doll
basic instructions : remove clothes, hair, and factory paint (with acetone, be careful to not pour some on the body or it'l melt the vynil !).
cut the hair as close as possible to the skull. then remove the leftovers with a nose plier (to do this you can first remove the head from the body, of cut a hole in the back of the skull)
remove the factory paint on the face and skull. now you have a blank doll's head.
FEET : Monster High Dolls are on tiptoes. i don't like it. plus, Children of the forest don't wear stillettos.
so i flattened the feet with a hot air gun. warning : work preferably outside or in a ventilated room, and with a mask, to avoid the inevitable fumes that would happen when you'll heat up the vynil body.
the flattening process is delicate. and a bit time consuming. vynil is eager to melt more than expected.
so heat up at a reasonnable distance, successively : the ankles,the heels, the toes, the middle part and when the surface looks shiny, try to bend them by forcing them on a non adhesive, cold surface (a tile floor will do the trick).
i recommend to do both feet at once, if you want an even result.
repeat the process several times until desired position is reached.
because i heated up the feet to hard, i ruined the toes. it doesn't matter, because i covered 'em later definately. i flattened the feet of another doll after that, and the toes are LESS damaged. you can't avoid it. well if you find a better solution, let me know, i'll be pleased to know :D
as it is possible to cut and sand the vynil body, i guees it would be possible to reduce/erase the damages. maybe with a dremel tool.
TRUNK : as i'm "frankensteining" the poor girl, i noticed that when the feet are flat, the trunk pose looks too arched, and too foreward. you can straighten it out.
take the hot air gun again and heat up the waiste, then bend it gently to the front. work slowly and gently, because this body is made of two part and they could separate if you're brutal.
as you can see on the pictures, the waiste is damaged ("damaged" is my second name). again, it's meant to be covered definately, so i don't care. in case you do, consider not doing it, or prepare to fix this with apoxy sculpt or by any other means.
NECK : a last effort : you'll now have to straighten the neck.
UNLESS its foreward position could be interesting for your character. if you haven't removed the head before, you'll have to do it this time. then, as said before, work slowly and gently bend the neck in the desired position.
after all those efforts, she can even stand on her feet!!!! (not for long though, the weight of the future hair will break the balance)
the doll is now ready for the next step.
Step 3: Rerooting the Head
i usually do wigs, but this time i wanted to try a reroot.
there are several methods, depending on the material you use (yarn or doll hair).
i chose the most simple method, wich requires no glue.
the process :
-cut strands of yarn of the desired colors, thread the needle with each one, and poke threw the skull through the original hair holes.
-pull the needle through the neck hole, remove the needle.
-tie a knot at the end of strand, pull it back out off the skull, and it's done.
-then repeat process. again, again, and again, until desired hair covering.
a few warnings:
-one strand per hole will be WAY MORE THAN ENOUGH, even with a thin yarn. sometimes, you'll even have to skip some holes. i didn't listen this advice and ended up with an untamable mass of hair bigger than the whole doll itself... that i had to cut several times to lower the volume. but IF it's precisely what you desire, i'm fine with it.
-my doll had ears on the top of skull : i cut the ears and poked new holes where the ears used to be, to fill up those parts.
-the nose plier will be handy to pull the needle through the skull.
-if you want to tame the hair with a hair straightener, be sure to use only 100% ACRYLIC yarn, as other yarn won't allow it, and/or would damage your tool.
after the head is covered enough (i left empty the center part, wich proved to be not a good idea afterward), you can untangle the yarn thread with a comb. you'll lose some of the length and the thickness in the process. i alternated comb and scissors until i ended up with the correct amount of hair to deal with.
Step 4: Hair Dressing
i'm not a pro. i did my best. my poor best.
i twisted locks after locks, starting from the neckto the forehead and secured them with hot glue.
i'm not totally satisfied with it.
i think that taking several colors of yarn was a mistake. a light grey would have been enough.
and wayyyy too much yarn rerooted.
and the center part left bald = not enough volume at the right place.
and i shouldn't have reroot the two first rows above the forehead.
it looks like a half rotten marie-antoinette weirdo hairdo.
oh well. X)
learn from my mistakes, guys!
if i have the courage (and the time) maybe i'll redo her hair with a wig cap. i'll just have to cut blank all the present hair.
Step 5: Body Dressing
Children of the forest's clothes look like they're half-merged part of their bodies.
(at least the second version, because in her first apprearance, Leaf used to wear a cloack made of moss, lichen, and whatever vegetal fibers you could think of)
their skin looks like stone, moss, and bark at some places.
it reminds me of how Ents are portrayed in "Lord of the rings" (the book, this time!)
i decided to take some liberties with the original model.
i took a piece of thin old grey t-shirt and glue small randomely cut pieces on the body, using reference pics all along.
to leave the joints free to move (at least if you want the doll to be posable), i work around them. the mitten gloves are in two parts, i glue one on the hand, and another around the wrist.
to decorate the dress, i glued lichen on it.
there was some brushed yarn leftover from the head. i used them to wrap around the neck and waiste.
about the arms and legs : acrylic paint doesn't stick very well on vynil bodies. and i was in a hurry to finish it after a long pause (several months). so i used yarn instead of paint. it was quick and dirty, but i really like the effect!
Step 6: Painting the Face
some doll customisers use pastels and watercolor pencils. i tried, it was dull. i rather use acrylic paint.
the colors i used : back, white, and bamboo green.
following ref pics, i started with the eyes, the forehead zone and the lips, the cheeks. i came back several times here and there, adding shadows where the paint has dried.
use the thinest brush you have, a MH doll's face is a small surface to paint and it can get messy very easily.
BUT you can use an eraser pen to correct minor defects with precision : https://www.amazon.fr/Faber-Castell-185812-Perfect...
the eyes i painted are way smaller than the face's sculpt. it's funny to see how smaller eyes make those doll's faces look more reallistic.
after i put the head back on the body, i added some touch up, smearing the hands and the dress with a mix of white and black paint.
Step 7: DONE!! (almost...)
i haven't painted the feet yet. i glued no fabric under, because i want to make pedestal, and it'll be easier to fasten the doll on it.
it was fun to make this doll, a good occasion for several experiments :)
Step 8: Really Done!
Some touch ups : i repainted the eyes, so as she doesn't have anymore this empty look on her face! X)
i erased a bit of the white paint on the forehead and cheeks, it was not good. i should have used a sponge, maybe. i added some paint on the feet too.
I removed the first row of head above the forehead and repainted it, hiding the hair holes with the paint.
Her knee joints are scealed with cyanoacrylate glue, so as she can stand up straight. but the rest of her body is still posable.
I found her a pedestal, in my garage. actually, it's a wood cube from... a pallet. i stained it with a blue-ish gray-ish tint, and i think it matches with the colors on the doll.
To attach her on the cube i drilled a hole in each feet. as she now has flat feet, it was easier to drill into the heels. i used the thinest drill bit i had. something like 1mm large.
Then i took two thin nails, hammered them into the cube then removed them, half shoved them in the holes in the heels, cut the nails' heads and put them back into the cube. i securized the whole thing with cyanoacrylate glue again.
as it was snowing the morning after i finished, it was the best occasion to make a photoshoot outside!
"Winter is coming"
(Ok, actually it's leaving, but at least i have some nice pics of my doll in the snow)