Painting the smallest faces can be one of the biggest challenges. But with patience and an understanding of our perceptions of scale, we can create teensy friends that have as much presence as our 6-inch Hittys, 12-inch fashion dolls, or even our 18-inch bisque or vinyl companions. For those of us who find ourselves increasingly crowded living with our dolls, this is a wonderful way to scale back our doll footprint without scaling back our “doll dreams.” These days we can create a ‘real’ doll world at a much smaller scale!
Since we’re working in three dimensions, the space savings is even greater than it sounds. 1:24-inch scale (half scale) models actually takes up 1/8 of the space as 1:12-inch scale, which is traditional dollhouse size.
Our current “Baby Bee Too” model, at 2.5 inches tall, is true half-scale. By this I mean she fits just right into 1:24-inch scale houses and furniture.
I haven’t yet photographed her being painted, so this tutorial will show the painting of our Original Baby Bee, who is 2.75 inches tall and was a Hitty Girls souvenir model, now retired. Many people still have these to paint, and this tutorial will work well for any tiny doll face. I will share photos for painting Hitty Bee Too in the future.
Step 1 : Paint the Whites of the Eyes (sclera) if you want them. Round is best.
On larger dolls, I sometimes add the whites of the eyes later because they are softer that way, and build the shape of the eye around the iris.
But it’s not worth it on a tiny doll to try to add this detail later on. It’s tricky and there’s little advantage.
As always, it’s a good idea to pencil two dots in the center of where the eyes will be. Consider painting the left, and then the right. (If you’re right-handed. The opposite if you’re left-handed.)
Paint two white circles over your pencil dots.
You can skip the whites of the eyes altogether if you wish, or you can paint the whites in more of an eye-shape if you’re more confident in your painting.
But a round white of the eye will give an appealing appearance at this scale, and is simpler than the lemons or half-moons that we might try on a larger doll.
If you study the picture of my ‘sclera’ above, you’ll see they don’t have to be identical, just match ‘more or less.’
Step 2 : Paint the Iris
The trick to teensy eyes is concentric circles. Choose your iris color, and paint two more circles (or ovals) just inside the whites, toward the top. Have fun with her colors! Eyes can be blue, brown, grey, green, violet, or any color you desire. A brighter color will stand out nicely on a tiny face.
Step 3 : Paint the Pupil
Now it’s time to paint the pupil in black, inside and toward the top of the iris. Try to let the iris color show, but don’t make the pupils so tiny they look like pinpricks.
If you are nervous about painting the pupils, (or any other painting step) you might want to do a layer of varnish over your sclera and irises first. If you’re using Hitty Bee’s Paints and Supplies, or any type of acrylic paints, you can protect lower layers of paint with varnish, and give yourself time to wipe away mistakes with a bit of water on a paper towel, q-tip, or cotton paintrag. (I like old t-shirts.)
A little varnish between steps can give you a lot of do-overs, and will have only positive effects on the final appearance and strength of your paint job.
Step 4 : Think Pink! Tint Hittys Lips and Cheeks
Now we’ll move away from the eyes, and give Baby Bee’s face some color. Think ‘tint’ here. Choose a pink, peach, or coral color that you like, and dilute until it’s a little transparent for the lips. Dilute it a bit more for the cheeks.
Step 5 : Details and Shadows
Now it’s time to add some details and some shadows. I use diluted brown to create a shadow under the lower lip, and in the nostrils if needed. The same brown, a little darker, adds definition to the corners of the lips, and across the lipline.
This Baby Bee has brown eyelines curved over the top of her eyes, and very delicate eyebrows. I added a little darker brown right over the center of her eyes to create a bit of depth.
If your doll will have black hair, you might want to add black to her eyebrows. Otherwise a soft brown looks quite natural with brown, red, or blond hair.
Step 6 : A tiny face can really come alive when you add a teensy, mischievous glint. Place it toward the top to create a wide-eyed look. Don’t forget to use varnish to protect your work!