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Friendlily

(Painting Fine Lines) Should I switch from paints to inks?

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Friendlily

So recently, I've painted and wiped my 3rd faceup as seen here. You don't have to read the whole thing but the pictures might make for a useful reference.

I've been doing a technique where I thin down my paints and then paint in coats as I gradually darken the colours. My brush control is fairly decent so I can paint one light pass of the eyelashes in one go before the layer dries up, for example. But as I've been doing this, I realised that every time I paint another layer, the tail ends of my stokes such as those seen on the lashes and eyebrows widen or become less defined. It's kind of like photo copying the photo copy of an image over and over again. Unless I have the most precise brush strokes, such widening and slight blurring looks inevitable. I know some artists have motor skills that fine, but I've been drawing and painting my entire life and that kind of precision seems a little unfathomable for me.

pkVXAJc.jpg

Not the best example, but as you can see, the last two strokes look a lot more uniform and solid in pigmentation than my first stroke, but they've lost the fine taper and dynamics that my first stroke had(they look a little lighter because they were getting super shiny and were starting to reflect light, lol). If I want to preserve those edges, my only option is to use fewer coats. With lighter or translucent colours I might get away with this, but with darker colours that is not an option. I can't make my paints thicker either— any thicker than what I have used and they will start to pile and spread unevenly.

When I look at faceup artists on youtube, particularly when they are painting cartoonish or animesque faceups on Dollfie Dream, I see them paint down very dark colours in two coats or less(this video is a good example) I didn't know it then, but in hindsight, now that I've become more familiar with thinning my paints for faceups, I realised that they must be using inks or high flow acrylics—anything with a high concentration of pigments that can flow very well. Another artist whom I was having a conversation with mentioned a bottle of high flow acrylics as well.

So that makes me wonder, should I switch to inks? Any faceup artists out there who uses solely thinned paints able to maintain pretty eyelashes with a certain technique? What about the artists who do use inks—what are your experiences using them? What is their feel when you work with them? What brands have you used and which ones do you like the most (I'm particularly curious about liquitex inks because that's the brand I currently use for my paints, but do tell me more about other brands too!)? Sorry for the long questions. I might continually pester you too, because this is a new thing for me to consider.

 

Edit: I just got editing rights not too long ago, so I just want to clarify just in case anyone else ended up in the same predicament as I did. Although I used the word "ink", it was all due to my inexperience with different types of acrylic paint and their terminology. Don't use actual inks on your vinyl doll's faceup! Besides being too pigmented, they will also be water based, and sealants are not truly waterproof, so they will most definitely soak through 3+ layers of sealant and stain your doll! Luckily I was able to figure out the correct terminology. The people here are very kind and helpful, they taught me things that I didn't realise I was doing incorrectly, so read on to see how they helped me.

Edited by Friendlily

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OccultBeast

While I don't know about using inks instead of acrylics (personally I would be afraid that inks would stain much easier than paints), I can suggest to possibly try using airbrushing acrylic paint if you can't seem to mix a thin acrylic on your own.  I recently added this to my kit for customizing Nendoroids with my airbrush, and the paint is incredibly thin but retains all the opacity when applied via a brush.  It's thin, like ink, but is still just acrylic paint.

A more important question to ask would be: what kind of acrylics are you using?  Artist's acrylics are usually a little thicker and would need more thinning down, resulting in a more sheer paint.  Lower quality acrylics also tend to be more 'gritty' and thus may need more thinning to achieve a truly smooth consistency.  You could try thinning with something other than water as well, like a medium or even an airbrushing paint thinner.

What size brush are you using?  This could also contribute to the size of your stroke-tips building up, as you'll need a very fine brush to get small strokes (or have a light hand and be able to consistently paint with only the very tip of your brush), and each additional stroke on top of the first is going to increase the size of the first stroke.

Perhaps you're making the paint too thin, causing you to need to build it up more.  Are you thinning it so much just for consistency's sake?  I think that using the 'layers to build up colour' technique is most useful when using things like pastels or pencils, because you can only put down so much colour before it stops transferring, and you have to seal and add an additional layer for more colour.  For paints though that's not true, and as long as your paint is the consistency you prefer, you can lay down as much colour in one layer as you want.  Obviously your paint sets the tone here though, as some paints will never be fully opaque no matter how much you want it to be.

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Friendlily

@OccultBeast

Thanks so much for the reply! I've been thinning it down so that the paint lays evenly or flat as possible, is that what consistency's sake means? Sorry if it went over my head, I'm a little confused with that. 

Recently, I did get some airbrush medium (liquitex), so my last faceup and examples were being thinned with those, too. I used liquitex basics as the paint that I thinned down. I guess I didn't clarify that my paints were all in the same sealant layer—I wait for the paint coats to dry and then paint over like so. As for my brush size, I'm using an 00 and 000 (whatever that means, darn the lack of industry standards), and while I do have the motor skills to make a thinner line, it's just so transparent I don't really know what to do with that.

Also, literally minutes ago I discovered @engelinvitro's blog of faceups, and they listed liquitex soft body acrylics as one of their supplies. So now I know that exists—before I was just looking at Liquitex acrylic inks.

Is it okay if I ask what brand of paints you're using?

 

Edit: I forgot to mention that my endgoal in faceups is more cartoony, so I'm not too focused on making ultra delicate lines. I just want to preserve the taper:(

Edited by Friendlily

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OccultBeast
6 minutes ago, Friendlily said:

I've been thinning it down so that the paint lays evenly or flat as possible, is that what consistency's sake means?

Yeah, that's what I meant by that; thinning it so it's smooth and spreadable vs how most painting acrylic normally wants to be, which is to stay in place where you put it and not 'run' or self-level at all.  From your examples, it looks like you're thinning to an almost watercolour consistency, which may be contributing to the ends of your strokes 'spreading' when layered; the paint may be settling/spreading more as it dries.

I've used Liquitex before (their Heavy Body line was my go-to as a teen who liked doing acrylic paintings) and I use their Matte medium as a sealant sometimes, so they're definitely not bad quality stuff.  The Soft Body paints might be a better way to go, though I don't have experience with them personally.  I guess my next suggestion would be to try thinning your paint much less, keeping it thick enough that it's still opaque, but only loading a little on your brush at a time (wipe on a paper towel or your hand before doing your actual strokes on the paper/DD head) and practicing using the paint that way, instead of so thin.  Since you say you're able to make a thin line, you may just need to practice using the paint and getting the feel for how to best put it down effectively.

My airbrushing paints are Vallejo, for what it's worth, but they're honestly hard to find in some countries (including the US unfortunately) and only some model shops seem to stock some of the colours, unless you want to buy an entire set.  I'll insert a photo of using the Vallejo paints undiluted; the red sections on the top of my poor practice head are done with the tiniest brush I have, which I cut almost all of the hairs from lmao (I don't recommend it but I needed this for something specific).  The red paint isn't the most opaque, but I think two layers would probably be all I'd need to get an even coverage if I used it in faceups, for example.  This paint dries matte still, but doesn't have that almost sandy texture that most craft acrylics dry down to.  The bottles are dropper-style, because the paint is so thin.  The white isn't very opaque (is it ever?) but the other colours I have were surprisingly good for one layer via brush.
 

Spoiler

paint-1.jpg.14fa2287ac54956921f53c0476de6e81.jpg

 

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BeyondTime

One interesting thing I saw in a demo put on by Volks is that their lead face-up artist uses a very thin Q-Tip called Mr Hobby Cotton Swab No. 2 to do part of the work. I’m pretty sure it’s how she painted the eyebrows and it gave them that feathery look. She was painting a resin head though, so she was going for a softer more natural look. 

I think inks might be an issue on vinyl, because of the way vinyl draws dyes into itself and distributes them. That’s why stains usually have softly defined edges. That effect would probably apply to really watery acrylics too. 


The difference between Dollfie Dreams and Heroin? Heroin is illegal, Dollfie Dreams probably should be.

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Friendlily
19 minutes ago, OccultBeast said:

My airbrushing paints are Vallejo, for what it's worth, but they're honestly hard to find in some countries (including the US unfortunately) and only some model shops seem to stock some of the colours, unless you want to buy an entire set.  I'll insert a photo of using the Vallejo paints undiluted; the red sections on the top of my poor practice head are done with the tiniest brush I have, which I cut almost all of the hairs from lmao (I don't recommend it but I needed this for something specific).  The red paint isn't the most opaque, but I think two layers would probably be all I'd need to get an even coverage if I used it in faceups, for example.  This paint dries matte still, but doesn't have that almost sandy texture that most craft acrylics dry down to.  The bottles are dropper-style, because the paint is so thin.  The white isn't very opaque (is it ever?) but the other colours I have were surprisingly good for one layer via brush.

Good lordy, one layer of paint? I just did a quick peruse on Amazon. The sets aren't that bad, they're a lot cheaper than liquitex for sure, but that means I'd have to give up some liquitex compatibility... hmmm... That being said, I just remembered that I had a bottle of calligrapher's ink lying around, so I decided to see how thin I could really go and here's the result!

b2f2SFx.jpg

Right next to the penny, you can see the strokes I made with calligrapher's ink and an ultra translucent stroke above it. The more I think about this and the more I discuss it, it really does seem like soft body acrylics or pre-thinned paints are the answer. Imagine going over those tiny lines twice!

That being said, I may or may not have ruined my favorite detail brush, because black ink is still coming out of it. Aha. ha.

Oh, well. SCIENCE!

33 minutes ago, BeyondTime said:

One interesting thing I saw in a demo put on by Volks is that their lead face-up artist uses a very thin Q-Tip called Mr Hobby Cotton Swab No. 2 to do part of the work. I’m pretty sure it’s how she painted the eyebrows and it gave them that feathery look. She was painting a resin head though, so she was going for a softer more natural look. 

I think inks might be an issue on vinyl, because of the way vinyl draws dyes into itself and distributes them. That’s why stains usually have softly defined edges. That effect would probably apply to really watery acrylics too. 

Ah, Volks U.S.A has those. I think I will save that technique for later, so thanks for letting me in on that. And yeah, on the inks. I think I've just been using the wrong terminology, now that I know a little more. I think pre-thinned paints might be a better term.

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OccultBeast
10 minutes ago, Friendlily said:

I just did a quick peruse on Amazon. The sets aren't that bad, they're a lot cheaper than liquitex for sure, but that means I'd have to give up some liquitex compatibility... hmmm...

You can usually mix things between different brands without issue for the most part, or at least that's what I've experienced.  Plus if you're just using them independently (for example, using a Vallejo paint over a Liquitex layer), there's no worry.  The Vallejo paints are small bottles, only about a half oz, so be sure to consider that in your price comparisons.  Vallejo sells a paint thinner that I've used with basic Apple Barrel craft acrylics without issue so far (thinned to go through my airbrush as effectively as possible), that you could experiment mixing with other paints, too.

I would definitely consider trying a pre-thinned paint, or again, just thinning your paint much less to start.  Practice thin strokes on paper and then add a little more water each time to see what the minimum thinness is for your liking, while remaining opaque.

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BeyondTime
1 hour ago, Friendlily said:

Good lordy, one layer of paint? I just did a quick peruse on Amazon. The sets aren't that bad, they're a lot cheaper than liquitex for sure, but that means I'd have to give up some liquitex compatibility... hmmm...

Have you tried the Volks paints? They seem to thin nicely, and their colors are meant for face-ups. 
 

I’ll be upfront, while I do a bit of airbrushing for modeling, it’s not a major thing for me. That said, forgive me if you already know this. Have you tried straining the paints through a fine nylon mesh? Doing that might help you get cleaner coats without having to thin the paint as much. 

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The difference between Dollfie Dreams and Heroin? Heroin is illegal, Dollfie Dreams probably should be.

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OccultBeast
56 minutes ago, BeyondTime said:

Have you tried straining the paints through a fine nylon mesh? Doing that might help you get cleaner coats without having to thin the paint as much. 

I know this wasn't aimed at me but heck why didn't I think of this?  Would have saved me from breaking down my airbrush twice...  It's definitely a great idea though, as it would remove the #1 problem when trying to thin paints.

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BeyondTime
1 minute ago, OccultBeast said:

It's definitely a great idea though, as it would remove the #1 problem when trying to thin paints.

I use an Iwata Custom Micron, which is meant for very fine lines, and straining paints is a requirement as a part of thinning. It's really the only reason I know about that aspect of it at all.


The difference between Dollfie Dreams and Heroin? Heroin is illegal, Dollfie Dreams probably should be.

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OccultBeast
Just now, BeyondTime said:

I use an Iwata Custom Micron, which is meant for very fine lines, and straining paints is a requirement as a part of thinning. It's really the only reason I know about that aspect of it at all.

Yeesh, I looked up the tip size and it's like half the size of mine, so I can only imagine how thin paints need to be for it.  Still, now that you've pointed out that you can strain the paint, I'm definitely having that kind of 'duh' moment over it!  😂

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Friendlily
27 minutes ago, BeyondTime said:

Have you tried the Volks paints? They seem to thin nicely, and their colors are meant for face-ups. 
 

I’ll be upfront, while I do a bit of airbrushing for modeling, it’s not a major thing for me. That said, forgive me if you already know this. Have you tried straining the paints through a fine nylon mesh? Doing that might help you get cleaner coats without having to thin the paint as much. 

I think you might have a point. The burnt umber is particularly chunky, so I do have to thin it down a little bit more than usual. In fact, I believe the cadmium red from the same liquitex basic set was a lot silkier. So I did a few more tests to compare.

 

oOxmVDr.jpgBXZN2OL.jpg

You can see the texture of the original paint. Both are very thick overall. I ended up thinning both of them to the same ratio of paint and thinner.

oUJKjJa.jpg

Starting from the bottom to the top, 1:2 paint/thinner ratio, then 1:3, then finally the original viscosity. In my previous examples my burnt umber was thinned to 1:4 in order to get flowing as nicely as the red paint. So if I were to strain my umber, it should theoretically become closer to the red paint at those same ratios. But even with a ratio of just 1:2 on the red paint, I'm still not a huge fan of those tiny brush marks...Darn... I feel like this is all important info that I should've included in my first post.

@BeyondTime, when you thin your paints do they start out as thick as the ones I've got here? Or are they thinner?

Sorry for being a total noob with acrylics, I'll admit I was more of an oil person before I got into this hobby.

 

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OccultBeast
5 minutes ago, Friendlily said:

But even with a ratio of just 1:2 on the red paint, I'm still not a huge fan of those tiny brush marks...

You're seeing those brush strokes because of the opacity of the paint being so thinned, I think, and not because the paint is still 'too thick'.  Acrylic has body to it, and used straight from the tube will retain all of your brush strokes, which is one of the draws of it, but I don't think that's what's happening here for you.  For what you want, you only want to thin it enough so that in one small stroke, like for eyelashes, you don't see any raised paint sections, which I feel usually show around the edges or in little clumps of paint that come off of your brush as you do your stroke.  You want the paint to lay down smoothly, but it doesn't need to be watery for this.  I would definitely suggest trying to thin your paint to more of a 2:1 ratio of paint to thinner; you need less than you think.  And wiping your brush off a little before doing each stroke can remove any extra that might come off mid-stroke.

Also, make sure you're thoroughly mixing the thinning agent into your paint; you don't want to see any 'globs' or chunks of paint in it and it should be entirely smooth.  This should ensure that you've got the smoothest mixture of pigments to liquid possible, so you don't get those chunks like in the burnt umber.  In your second paint tray photo, the burnt umber paint doesn't look completely mixed, you want to mix it until you think you've mixed it too much, basically.  Use a larger brush and really make sure you've incorporated the original paint into the thinner.

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BeyondTime
18 minutes ago, Friendlily said:

You can see the texture of the original paint.

Those are both much thicker than the Volks paint for face ups, which come in bottles with a built in dropper. They intend you to put a few drops of paint onto a mixing palette and then to add a bit of thinner. 
 

The paints I generally use for modeling are liquid paints, and they normally still need thinning / straining for use in an airbrush; even with my old Paasche airbrush, which did not have a fine tip.


The difference between Dollfie Dreams and Heroin? Heroin is illegal, Dollfie Dreams probably should be.

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OccultBeast
11 minutes ago, BeyondTime said:

Those are both much thicker than the Volks paint for face ups, which come in bottles with a built in dropper. They intend you to put a few drops of paint onto a mixing palette and then to add a bit of thinner.

Sounds about the same as the Vallejo paints then, so either would be a good choice.  The Volks paints are probably cheaper/easier to get a hold of, and in more application-specific colours.

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Friendlily
19 minutes ago, OccultBeast said:

You're seeing those brush strokes because of the opacity of the paint being so thinned, I think, and not because the paint is still 'too thick'.  Acrylic has body to it, and used straight from the tube will retain all of your brush strokes, which is one of the draws of it, but I don't think that's what's happening here for you.  For what you want, you only want to thin it enough so that in one small stroke, like for eyelashes, you don't see any raised paint sections, which I feel usually show around the edges or in little clumps of paint that come off of your brush as you do your stroke.  You want the paint to lay down smoothly, but it doesn't need to be watery for this.  I would definitely suggest trying to thin your paint to more of a 2:1 ratio of paint to thinner; you need less than you think.  And wiping your brush off a little before doing each stroke can remove any extra that might come off mid-stroke.

Also, make sure you're thoroughly mixing the thinning agent into your paint; you don't want to see any 'globs' or chunks of paint in it and it should be entirely smooth.  This should ensure that you've got the smoothest mixture of pigments to liquid possible, so you don't get those chunks like in the burnt umber.  In your second paint tray photo, the burnt umber paint doesn't look completely mixed, you want to mix it until you think you've mixed it too much, basically.  Use a larger brush and really make sure you've incorporated the original paint into the thinner.

So I did what you said and I beat the devil out of the umber. And I used a 1/2 fraction or 1:1 ratio instead, because 2:1 ended up being too dry for my tiny strokes. It's not bad at all for tiny strokes like you said, maybe even really good, but the main "body" of those lashes won't look good with those tiny tracks running through them.

12 minutes ago, BeyondTime said:

Those are both much thicker than the Volks paint for face ups, which come in bottles with a built in dropper. They intend you to put a few drops of paint onto a mixing palette and then to add a bit of thinner. 
 

The paints I generally use for modeling are liquid paints, and they normally still need thinning / straining for use in an airbrush; even with my old Paasche airbrush, which did not have a fine tip.

I see, that's the kind of thing that I really wasn't sure about. It confirms a lot.

So I guess this is my final consensus: I think I'll get single bottles of browns that are a little thinner, such as soft body acrylics or Volks, and I'll keep all of my basic acrylics for drawing creases and accents and the like. Saves me a little bit more money that way.

Thanks a lot, especially for toughing out an entire discussion with a noob like me! Both of you guys were incredibly patient, and because of that I learned a lot today. I feel pretty prepared for my next face up, because these are the very things I wish people went over in all of those faceup tutorials out there. I can't wait to share when my next faceup is complete—you guys will be the first people I mention for your help!

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OccultBeast
12 minutes ago, Friendlily said:

So I did what you said and I beat the devil out of the umber. And I used a 1/2 fraction or 1:1 ratio instead, because 2:1 ended up being too dry for my tiny strokes. It's not bad at all for tiny strokes like you said, maybe even really good, but the main "body" of those lashes won't look good with those tiny tracks running through them.

The only other thing I can suggest is to of course practicing using the paint at this thickness and try to use less pressure with your brush, you may be able to almost 'float' the brush above the surface and more gently apply the paint, leaving less of the noticeable brushstrokes or tracks as you do.

But no worries!  A lot of skills, like painting faceups, do come mainly with practice of course, but advice and help from others helps cut out the long chunks of time otherwise spent trying to figure little things out on your own.  We all start somewhere and we've all still got plenty to learn~  I'm glad you could figure out a solution, even if it does mean adding some more to your faceup kit!  Looking forward to seeing your next faceup now that you're armed with new things to try!

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BeyondTime
34 minutes ago, OccultBeast said:

The Volks paints are probably cheaper/easier to get a hold of, and in more application-specific colours.

Yes, the Volks paints aren't too pricey and they sell them in sets meant for doll colors.

Createx paints might work as well. I have a few of those coming in because I wanted to try their paints and thinners with my airbrush. I planned to test them out on a spare vinyl part too just to see what the effect is.

Of course, the regulator on my CO2 tank had to pick this weekend to blow a gasket, so now I'm off to the local welding supply company for an expensive repair / replacement XD


The difference between Dollfie Dreams and Heroin? Heroin is illegal, Dollfie Dreams probably should be.

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OccultBeast
Just now, BeyondTime said:

Createx paints might work as well. I have a few of those coming in because I wanted to try their paints and thinners with my airbrush. I planned to test them out on a spare vinyl part too just to see what the effect is.

Ooh I almost went with Createx (they have some beautiful flourescent colours) but I ended up going with Vallejo because I've heard more about them, but I hope they end up being pretty good for you, cause they have an amazing colour range!

Just now, BeyondTime said:

Of course, the regulator on my CO2 tank had to pick this weekend to blow a gasket, so now I'm off to the local welding supply company for an expensive repair / replacement XD

yIkEs, rip mr. regulator (and rip your wallet, too!).   Not gonna lie, I kind of have a huge fear of my compressor tank just... exploding lmao so if something on mine broke, I would absolutely just replace the entire thing out of fear 😂

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BeyondTime
9 minutes ago, OccultBeast said:

Not gonna lie, I kind of have a huge fear of my compressor tank just... exploding lmao so if something on mine broke, I would absolutely just replace the entire thing out of fear 😂

Yeah I had a compressor, but I got a noise complain from my apartment manager the first time I ran it. Now I use 20 pound CO2 cans meant for welding applications, and those are under enormous pressure. No noise except the air hissing, but you need a really long air hose because the gas is super cold out right out of the tank. 
 

The regulator gives me fine pressure adjustment too, which is a nice bonus. 


The difference between Dollfie Dreams and Heroin? Heroin is illegal, Dollfie Dreams probably should be.

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ButtonsMcGee

I just wanna say thank you to the person who posted this in the first place. I didn't even realize till I read through this thread that Volks sold paint. So thank you ;w;

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Friendlily
6 minutes ago, ButtonsMcGee said:

I just wanna say thank you to the person who posted this in the first place. I didn't even realize till I read through this thread that Volks sold paint. So thank you ;w;

No problem! Like I said before, loads of the things discussed are what I wished people put in the tutorials I find on other parts of the web. I think in the future I'm going to pull together a master tutorial with all of the itty bitty but important details to return the favor to the community here, everyone helped me a lot!

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BeyondTime
18 minutes ago, ButtonsMcGee said:

 

I just wanna say thank you to the person who posted this in the first place. I didn't even realize till I read through this thread that Volks sold paint. So thank you ;w;

 

Volks sells all sorts of hobby and painting supplies, but in the DD/SD sections of their website there are specific sections for face-up supplies. 

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The difference between Dollfie Dreams and Heroin? Heroin is illegal, Dollfie Dreams probably should be.

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OccultBeast
2 hours ago, BeyondTime said:

Yeah I had a compressor, but I got a noise complain from my apartment manager the first time I ran it. Now I use 20 pound CO2 cans meant for welding applications, and those are under enormous pressure. No noise except the air hissing, but you need a really long air hose because the gas is super cold out right out of the tank. 
 

The regulator gives me fine pressure adjustment too, which is a nice bonus. 

Oh that sucks, at least you were able to find a work-around.  My compressor has a tank attached so it doesn't need to run constantly, but when it does it's certainly loud, so I can see that.

 

1 hour ago, Friendlily said:

No problem! Like I said before, loads of the things discussed are what I wished people put in the tutorials I find on other parts of the web. I think in the future I'm going to pull together a master tutorial with all of the itty bitty but important details to return the favor to the community here, everyone helped me a lot!

I love reading tutorials and 'tips & tricks' from other artists so I think this would definitely be nice for other faceup artists, too!  Especially any of us coming over from the BJD side, since doing faceups on vinyl is definitely a little different.

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