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How to Paint Reborn Dolls

Laurie Brenner

Don't buy the expensive kit the first time that you paint a reborn doll. Instead, purchase the doll parts and use inexpensive paints until you acquire skill.

Reborn vinyl dolls come in kits that you assemble and paint. The idea behind these dolls is to make a doll that looks as if it were real. Each kit should contain everything you need to assemble, craft and paint your doll:

  • Head
  • Torso
  • Limbs
  • Hair-like material
  • Paints and
  • Tools

The kits that contain everything can get expensive. If you want to make a more inexpensive reborn doll, purchase the doll parts and gather the supplies you'll need to paint it. As a beginning reborn artist, use glass or acrylic paint as you start out. As you become proficient mixing these paints, you can move to heat-set paints that are more expensive and require more skill.

  1. Strip the factory sealer or color from the doll by wiping it down with nail polish remover and a lint-free cloth. Wash the doll parts in soapy water and let them dry.

  2. Develop the undertone for the skin color of the doll. Choose a light red, blue or purple dye and mix according to the manufacturer's instructions. After you have mixed the dye, wash the interior of the doll's head, arms, legs and torso with the dye color. This sets a pink, light purple or blue undertone to the skin. Rinse with warm water and set the pieces to dry on a paper towel.

  3. Paint veining onto the doll using various tints and shades of reds and blues as they would appear on a real baby. Let dry. This layer goes beneath the skin-tone colors.

  4. Mix the skin colors after the vinyl parts have dried. You can either use flesh-tone paints in the right skin color for the doll or mix your own for the base coat. To make your own flesh-tone colors, mix equal amounts of red, yellow and blue to form a brown; lighten with white until you achieve the desired color. Cover the entire doll with the skin color in a light coat, using a sponge to dab it on. Apply several light coats in varying tints and shades to achieve a realistic look.

  5. Create lighter tints and darker shades of the flesh colors to use in areas such as the creases at the elbows and knees. Add a light-colored rose-colored blush to the entire doll to create realism; don't forget small imperfections such as milk spots or tiny pimples that newborn babies often have. Paint in these details.

  6. Add hair in the desired color, using multiple tints and shades to create tiny strands of hair on the doll's head. Use the thin-tipped paintbrush for these details. Paint the eyebrows.

  7. Apply lip color to the lips and nail polish to the fingers and toenails. The idea is to use a natural-looking color rather than a color that makes the nails look professionally done.

  8. Paint the iris color on the eyes, and add black for a pupil if the eyes are open. If the doll's eyes aren't open, use a fine eyeliner brush to add lashes. After all the paint has dried, apply a sealant clear coat and let dry. After the topcoat has dried, assemble the individual pieces and clothe the doll in a onesie or other suitable infant outfit.

  9. Tip

    When you first start out, it's all about experimentation to see what works and what looks real. As your skills improve, you may want to add mohair for a "real hair" look, which requires rooting the hair in the doll's head. You can also add small hairs for authentic-looking eyelashes.


    Verify that the paints work with vinyl before you apply them; not all paints that are suitable for rubber will work with rubber. Wear vinyl gloves to protect your hands while working.