Spend any time at all in fashion doll circles, and you’ll notice a severe shortage of mature looking characters. And while this isn’t a huge issue for most collectors, it certainly makes for a less interesting doll world. In the action figure realm, there is a wide variety of ethnicity and age. Seems a bit to me like a no-brainer. And yet, the fashion doll world is more than a wee bit behind in this department.
From a creative standpoint, it’s always a thrill to be handed the challenge of bringing a more mature doll/figure to life. I recently completed a commission for just such a male figure. He began as a Fashion Royalty Tete a Tete Pierre DeVries Homme. My client provided me with several very clear headshots of the man in whose likeness the doll was to be fashioned. Always a good start. Tete a Tete Pierre was chosen as my victim because of his tanned skin tone and facial structure. When you are creating a “lookalike”, nothing else really matters. The underlying canvas dictates the success or failure of the project. Of course, the goal was not to create an exact duplicate of the human in doll form but to create a figure that would represent the human and approximate his looks. The client always has the final say on the this type of project. If the client is happy, OSS is happy. 🙂
Tete a Tete Pierre has a full head of dark hair. That had to go. Out came the scissors, off went the hair, and then poor Pierre lost his head. Literally. Once the head was removed, the tedious process of tweezing out all the hair stubble from the inside of the scalp began. For this project, it was necessary for every last bit of factory hair to be removed. Once that was accomplished, the factory face paint was removed, the head and face were thoroughly washed and dried, and the head was placed back on the body. This particular figure required a receding hairline, so some of the hairplug holes would need filling. This, in and of itself, isn’t difficult. The hard part is smoothing the filler into the existing vinyl. I used multiple coats of Gesso to fill the holes, allowing the material to dry between coats and over-filling the holes just ever so slightly. Once the Gesso was completely cured, the sanding began. This is the most time consuming step. The Gesso/vinyl “meet” might feel smooth. It might look smooth. But until you actually apply a layer of paint, you can’t really tell if there is a seamless meet. So, the process then turns into: sand, paint, sand again, paint again, sand further, paint yet again, etc. It’s time consuming. Very time consuming. I do not do these types of commissions unless the client understands that an inordinate amount of time is involved and that my time is valuable.
Once the Gesso flows seamlessly into the existing head vinyl, the job of perfectly matching the skin tone begins. Gesso is white. Tete a Tete is tan. It takes multiple coats of paint to cover stark white. Once that feat is accomplished, I then begin the multiple layers of skin “texturing” to add realism to the vinyl. The goal is not to add texture in a tactile sense but in a visible sense. Human skin is not, in most cases and especially not in mature adults, pristine and smooth. It has color variations. It has pits, wrinkles, freckles, moles…well, you get the idea. These textures are added to the vinyl in thin washes. I don’t want anything to LOOK applied. I want them to look natural. All this takes, you guessed it, more time.
Long story, short… Okay, not short. Long story requiring wrapping up: After the face was painted and flocking applied to the scalp to simulate a buzz cut with scalp showing through, this mature male figure was finished. And here is the result: