Are there any tutorials for newborn skin for air dry?

Hi there everybody! I was wondering if there are any tutorials out there for mottled newborn skin tones using air dry paints like Golden Acrylic etc?

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Sue Ellen’s Patreon has lots of video tutorials, and i know she has a “just born” set she recently finished.


She is an excellent resource for painting but doesn’t she only use Ultimate Fusion paints? Golden Acrylics are somewhat different in their application.

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Yes, I think she does the ultimate fusion paints. The reason I’m interested in using Golden is because I’ve been able to find it at Michael’s and on Bountiful baby’s website.

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Golden Fluid Paints are my favorite artist brand paints. I have found my tutorials for the RebornFX paints work fine with the Golden. I mix them very similarly. If you would like to join my group I have info in the files and there are other air dry artists there who can help you as well.

If you go to the video section there are some archived live FB videos where I play around with mixing different brands of paints to give you an idea of how they perform. The biggest difference with the Golden Fluid paints or Liquitex Acrylic Gouache paints I have used is that both brands are MUCH more pigmented than the Ultimate Fusion paints and you must add your own mediums to them to thin them. Whatever brand acrylic paint you end up using, you do not want to thin them with only distilled water. You will need to use a medium of some sort to keep the binders from breaking down leading to pigment fading down the road.

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So, @anjsmiles, are you saying there is a difference in the Golden Fluid and the regular Golden paints?

Fluid paints are thinner consistency than paints in the tubes but not any less in pigment.

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What about the heavy body Golden paints? Are they ok to use?

This is the first I’ve heard of this :thinking: what is recommended? Like regular Gamsol or Mona Lisa?

No, you must use acrylic mediums with acrylic paints. Those products are for oil paints.

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I have not tried them but I think others have used them. Basically, the heavier the paint the longer it may take to cure. Since we thin it down on dolls that speeds up curing time more so than painting on canvas. However, there is still cure time involved as it takes days to weeks for the polymers in the paints to fully bond to the vinyl. Just like when you paint a wall, you will notice fresh paint will scratch off from being bumped more easily than 2-4 weeks out once it has cured.

Thank you!




First to tell you a little about myself, I started making reborn reborn dolls in 2004. I am a self taught artist who has learned by trial and error. I have not received any formal training in art, special effects, or film industry. That does not mean I do not know what I am talking about. I am a master at researching products and testing them for myself. Over the years I have tried many things some of which were failures and some which were great successes. I can assure you that anything I pass along to others is born out of a lot of time spent on the phone with manufacturers, money spent trying products, and scouring files for information on the products I use. That does not mean that I will not occasionally make a mistake or find a product has issues down the road. I am very upfront and honest about that if I do. For these reasons, I do consider myself somewhat of an expert on air dry paints and products that can be used on vinyl dolls.

So over the years I have been asked lots of questions and called upon to help problem solve for many issues. Over and over again the number one thing I am still being asked is “What do I need to get started as new beginner artist?” I have repeated myself so many times on chat boards and painting groups that I figured it was time I put as much of this information I can into one write up. So here goes…

Let me begin by saying do not expect to start out with cheap products just to “try” this art before investing money and time into it. It does not work that way. If you want to learn to do this then learn to do it correctly. Do not think you can just to go to the craft shelf and buy a bunch of dollar bottles of craft paints and cheap mediums and produce an heirloom doll that will last the test of time. Also, if you are planning to sell the dolls it is an offense to the world of reborn doll artists and customers alike to produce inferior dolls that will be chipping, peeling and fading down the road.

Before you do anything, wash your kit in hot soapy water with Dawn dish detergent. I always submerge my kits in buckets of hot soapy water for at least an hour to clean them inside and out. Submerging them removes oils from the inside that can seep through the vinyl over time. For really oily feeling kits I put them in the washing machine on gentle cycle with detergent and wash.

Craft Paints: When using acrylic paints on dolls I recommend to use an artist grade acrylics, not craft grade. Craft grade paints contain a high ratio of fillers in them and a lower pigment load thus leading to a higher chance of fading over time. The added fillers can also lead to cracking/peeling paint if applied too thickly or in too many layers on the doll.

Artist Grade Acrylics: Examples of good paint choices from the art stores are Artist Grade Fluid Acrylic such as the Golden Fluid acrylics, or Soft Body paints such as Liquitex, or Jo Sonjas artist grade Gouache acrylic paints. There are others out there but those 3 I know are good quality. I do not recommend heavy body paints as they are very thick and take longer to cure. If purchasing a ready made reborn doll paint system I use and recommend RebornFX paints from MacPhereson’s Arts and Crafts. In my personal paint supplies I keep and use 3 brands of paint. The RebornFX, Golden and Jo Sonjas.

Distilled Water: It is also important that the water you use be distilled water, not boiled, bottled or tap water. Distilled water is made from boiling the water and catching the steam off the water that is the pure water with no mineral contents in it. The other types of water listed above have minerals that can affect the paint pigments.

Mediums: Never thin your paints with all water. In addition to using distilled water, add in a medium such as a fluid matte medium or a matte gel. This is to aid in paint adhesion, matting and reducing the pigment intensity when making washes. When using all water you will have issues with the paints beading up on the vinyl, rubbing off the more layers you apply and fading down the road. Choices of mediums you can use can be a fluid matte medium, a matte gel, or a glazing liquid. If using RebornFX paints their medium is called Paint Emulsion.

In the past I had used and recommended the Folk Art Glass and Tile medium for priming and painting. Since then I have found that while it can be an okay medium to use, it is not as rich in binders as the artist grade products. Though I had no issues using it, others have said they did experience some peeling issues. Not sure if that was due to the paint they mixed with it or application techniques or the product itself. Regardless, I now feel it is just better to use one of the artist grade products mentioned above.

Primer: To prime or not to prime? Many have told me that they do not prime their bare vinyls before painting. Is it necessary? Yes and no. In the past there were times when I have successfully painted on bare vinyl without laying down a layer of primer of some sort. However, I was adding a lot of fluid matte medium or glazing liquid to my first layer of paint to ensure that it stuck well. So essentially I was priming the vinyl.

When you do not have some sort of primer barrier down as your first layer on the vinyl, you run the risk of your paint not adhering well as you build more layers. Primer ensures the surface has a slight “tooth” to hold the paint and also seals off any slick spots in the vinyl that may be there.

What can be used as a primer? I currently have been using the RebornFX primer. It is my favorite so far. I add a couple drops of distilled water to it to thin it a bit so I can lay down a thinner layer. My 2nd favorite thing to use, and my go to when I am out of RebornFX Primer, is to use Golden Fluid Matte Medium. This product states that it can be used as a translucent ground. It works very well. Pretty much any brand fluid matte medium that says it can be used as a translucent ground will work for you. I am told by others that Liquitex brand works as well for them but some have said to me the Liquitex brand leaves more of a tacky finish. This tacky feel will go away when you matte seal your pieces at the end but can be annoying when it comes to dust particles sticking to it while you work. For this reason, I would say use the Golden brand if you can find it.

The key is to primer apply it thinly and use a very dense wedge. Do not use one of the more porous wedges like the Swispers Wedges to apply it. The porous wedges will leave tiny air bubbles in the application that you may not see when applying but once you start painting over them will show up as uneven places on the surface of you vinyl

Retarder or Slow Dry: Everyone should keep a retarder or slow dry product in your supplies list. While fluid mediums, gels or glazes will add a little extra drying time to your paints, it may not be enough for you to blend your paint as thinly as you want to before it starts to dry to the touch. Especially if you are a beginner learning to get a feel for the paints. If adding a retarder or slow dry to your mix also keep in mind that these products do not contain binders and will have the same effects on pigment strength as water so be sure to still add in a medium as well. I also recommend that you keep a hair dryer on hand and force dry each layer you apply, especially when adding in retarder or slow dry.

Isolation coat: What is this? I quote the Golden products definition as it explains it best:

“An Isolation coat is a clear, non-removable coating that serves to physically separate the paint surface from the removable varnish. The isolation coat serves two purposes:

  1. To protect the painting if/or when the varnish is removed by separating the pigmented area of the painting from the solvents used in removal.
  2. To seal any absorbent areas in order to create an even surface on which to apply the varnish.”

The solvent that is usually used to remove varnish that is removable is Ammonia. I have indeed tried doing this and it does work and the Isolation coat did protect my paint underneath.

For those just learning, the easiest Isolation coat to use the the RebornFX Sealer. You just shake it up to mix the matting agents well and then pounce it on with a dense wedge. It does add a little sheen but that can be matted down at the end.

For those branching out more, you can make your own Isolation coat. There are several formulas on the internet for this but the one I like best and use is my own mix. I take approximately 2 part (I use a plastic picnic spoon) Golden Polymer Matte Varnish and to that add 1 part Liquitex Ultra Matte Gel and mix well. To that add 5-10 drops distilled water to make it lightly fluid. The Liquitex Ultra Matte gel is a permanent product and thus mixing it into the varnish makes the varnish permanent as well. I have verified this with the company. Pounce this product on and let dry overnight before final varnishing. You can apply 2 layers if you feel it needs it to matte your pieces well. I like using the Golden Polymer varnish in this step because it has the UVL protection. Thus, if I want to varnish at the end with a varnish like Soft Touch that does not have the UVL protection, it is already taken care of with this sealer.

Varnish: The last layer you will want to apply to your pieces is a varnish. TECHNICALLY you do not have to varnish acrylic paints. They are permanent once they are fully cured but they are not fully cured to the vinyl for a month. Using a matte varnish helps to lock everything down even more so to speak. Realistically, if you want your paints to hold up to a lot of handling and play you SHOULD seal them. Sealing the paints gives them an extra barrier against rub off, scratches, and absorption of stains. This is true of all types of paints including Genesis heat set paints. I know some people do not seal their Genesis heat set paints either and I have seen down the road the dolls are very shiny and paint rubbing off. So IMO it is a must to varnish every paint job with something at the end.

You can use Genesis heat set products to varnish your air dry painted pieces if you wish. Most of the artist grade acrylic paints will withstand being heat set after 2 weeks cure time. If you have not allowed enough cure time you may get some yellow or orangish tinge to your paint finish when heat setting it. If this happens giving the pieces a lavender wash usually takes care of that but it can be upsetting to see. LDC brand paints are the worst ones to go orange when heat set.

For air dry varnishes, I have shared in the past my preferences are now to use Golden Polymer Matte Varnish or DecoArt or Americana Soft touch varnish and mix the varnish with corn starch (and diatomaceous earth if you have it but not necessary). My formula is: I use the Dash spoons which are 1/8 tsp. Mix 1 dash corn starch and 1 dash diatomaceous earth melted in 20 drops of distilled water. To this add one plastic picnic spoon full of varnish. Mix all well and you may need to add a few more drops of distilled water to get the consistency you prefer. I ended up adding 10 more drops of distilled water to my mix.

If you are just using the Corn starch use this formula: 20 drops distilled water, 2 level Dash Spoons (or 1/4 tsp.) Corn Starch + 1 level disposable plastic picnic spoon of varnish. Melt Corn Starch in water first then add the spoon of Varnish to it.

I am sure there are still lots of questions but between this document and one of my free tutorials guides here on the site you should be able to get off to a good start.

Here is a basic list of what you need to get started:


Artist Grade Fluid Acrylic such as the Golden Fluid acrylics, or Soft Body paints such as Liquitex, or Jo Sonjas artist grade Gouache acrylic paints. Other brands of similarity can be chosen as long as they are artist grade.

Primer: RebornFX Primer or Golden Fluid Matte Medium

Mediums choose 1 for painting:

Golden Fluid Matte Medium, Liquitex Fluid matte medium (may be a bit more tacky), Liquitex Ultra Matte Gel (I like this one a lot for mixing into paints to add in binders and make them more matte), Liquitex Matte Gel, Golden Super Matte Medium. Can also use RebornFX Emulsion instead if you have that paint system.

Extra Mediums:

Retarder- Both Golden brand and Jo Sonjas brand are excellent and I have used both. Can also use Open Time from RebornFX instead if you have that paint system.

Jo Sonjas Flow Medium- useful in creating lines like when hair painting. You do not have to use this but might find it helpful. I like to use it. You just add a few drops into your paint mix with your other mediums already added.

Isolation coat:

Choose either RebornFX Sealer or purchase some Liquitex Ultra Matte Gel OR Golden Super Matte Medium to mix with Golden Polymer Matte Varnish to make your own.


Your choice of either Genesis varnishes or Air dry brand of your choice such as Golden Polymer Matte Varnish or DecoArt/Americana Soft Touch Varnish


Yes, she is amazing in how much knowledge she has and is willing to share for pretty much free. Just a $10/month Patreon fee. It is so worth it just to gain from one who has so much education and experience. Some are not willing to share what they have worked so hard to attain. What a generous lady. She does use Ultimate Fusion but also tells how to do the same steps with heat set paints. Just wanted to throw that in there. :slight_smile:

She is a great resource for sure! I have learned a lot from her posts over the years. I have always assisted those to reach out to me for free and helped them as much as I can as well as running a free Facebook group. It is good to glean things from as many sources as you can as each artists learns/develops their own methods along the way. I myself have even changed up my methods as I grow as an artist and am always testing products and finding new things that work well for me.

I’ve never seen acrylic mediums lol I guess because I don’t use acrylic for anything other than crafts

I explain it a little in the article I posted above

Is this a good set of Golden Acrylic Heavy Body? Are these any of the colors I need? I’ve seen this set at my local Michael’s:

I would rather see you start with fluid acrylics if you can find them. I started with this set and you can mix any color from these.