Faceup journal. Painting Gael Seraph

Faceup journal. Painting Gael Seraph

My design brief for Gael Seraph was distant, removed, aloof - a character that was more cool than warm.  And a natural faceup: Switch milktea rose is such an exquisite resin colour, I wanted the painting to enhance it, instead of using it just as a canvas.  Vallant was my example of a "natural faceup" for a male: the unknown artist who painted him basically used variations on a single colour to good effect, and I wanted to do the same for Gael.

Gael has violet eyes - yellow/orange is the complement.

Colour scheme:
- Base: (cool) burnt umber 409 OR (warm) permanent red/red-brown 372
- Accent: not sure - also cool?  fuchsia 545 (or mixture of fuchsia/blue 505) OR orange 370 OR one of the pinks 331 or 371 Ended up using only mouse grey for 707 for eyelid accent and orange 370 for eyewells.
- Complement: ultramarine blue 505

- Eyebrows/lashes: brown (hull red), maybe cooled
- Lip lines: also brown (hull red), maybe warmed
- Eyeliner: dark purple (blue + red mix), plus blue & red in the very corners.

The palettes I used in the end.


Seal with MSC x 3 layers.

First pastel layer. Burnt umber 409 for everything - cheeks, temples, forehead, edges of ears, corner of jaw, chin, nose tip, nose sides, inner eye corners/hollow.  As usual, I followed the blushing layout from Akatsuki's faceup instruction book.

Used permanent red 372 to very lightly paint lips. This was the only different colour used on this layer.

Used large flat brush to paint most of it, with a bit of small round and my cut narrow brush for the smaller regions.

Seal with MSC.

Second pastel layer.  Permanent red to accent cheeks.  Did this very very lightly over the top of the darker cheek blushing, and blended it heavily.

Akatsuki's book recommends using grey to cool the temperature of tan skin.  I initially tried mouse grey 707 for eyelids, but wasn't confident and stopped.  Kept using burnt umber for eyelids, and also eyebags/outer edge of eyes, and to fix a scratch on the left ear.

Complement - ultramarine blue on lower cheeks, under lower lip hollow, inner eye corners, sides of nose, over brow ridge. Followed the cool region layout in Akatsuki's book.  The blue pastel disappears into the resin colour, but I think that's the point.  Don't overdo it!!

Seal with MSC.

Used watercolour pencil to draft in the eyebrow guide.

First paint layer.  Used 20/0 script brush for everything except where stated.

Eyebrows and lashes... Brown/hull red + yellow (to cool the temperature) + white (to lighten everything), into a rich chocolate that wasn't too red.  Painted eyebrows following the watercolour guide, and painted eyelashes while trying to vary the hair density across the whole bottom eye.  I really have to look at more photo references of real eyelashes.

Lip lines... Mixed the palette with white + red to make a very light, dusty red/brown colour similar to the lips' pastel colour (permanent red 372).  This time I did not paint lip lines over the entire mouth -- this was a mistake I made with Justinian's faceup, and have since learned is not what real human lips and mouths look like.  (Wow, Vega, you really don't look at yourself in the mirror all that much.)

I'd observed in the box opening that Seira's mouth is sculpted quite distinctly with a large coverage.  So I took care this time to shape the lips inside the mouth sculpting to suit Gael's character.

Mouth corners and eyelid creases... mixed a bit of this lip palette again with the eyebrow/lash palette.  I messed up a bit on one of the mouth corners and had to wipe off excess paint with a damp tissue.  I didn't clean it precisely, so if you look closely at Gael's photos, one of his lip corners is a bit messy.

Eye-liner... Mixed a new palette of red + blue to make dusty purple, and used round tip brush to paint eyeliner. Kept it subtle without a wing at the outer eye corner. I painted the right eye before left eye, and had to use more damp tissue to blot excess painting from the left eye.

All the while, I was practicing linework and testing colours on my practice head.  It already had a faceup but it'll be wiped later anyway.  Very handy, having a resin canvas to test on before I paint my actual dolls.

Waited 12+ hours for the acrylic paint to dry, and then erased eyebrow guide with a damp tissue.

For the past few faceups I've been adding pastels after painting and before sealing with MSC, so I can 'edit' the faceup as I go.  Acrylic paint doesn't wash off once dried, so if I use pastels strategically I can darken parts of the face before adding the white highlights (which I don't want to colour over), and also be more economical with MSC sealing.  But this can be risky and backfire, since it's impossible to lighten pastels if you apply too much.  So I have to think carefully whether to edit on-the-go, or wait until all the painting is finished to decide whether anything needs a last pass.

I used burnt umber to colour in the eyebrows.  Tried again to add grey to eyelids - used cut tip brush to apply gently, then small round to buff.  The pastel went on a bit patchy, but it worked out better than when I tried it earlier on the second pastel layer.  Grey seems to darken the tan skin in a complementary way.

I forgot to colour the inner eyewell before spraying MSC... Ideally I should've added pastel to the eyewells long ago, since I'll be painting highlights next and don't want the pastels to darken the white paint.

Seal with MSC.

Second paint layer.  Used script brush and flat white paint for all the highlights.  For eyebrows - painted them in at the start of the brow, but stopped before reaching the high arch and the outer eyebrow.  For eyelashes - painted more hairs was closer toward centre of eye and less/none at the outer edge.  Painted the under-eye highlight - the sculpt has really nice eyewells for this.  Highlights on the lips - more lines in the centre of lips and decreasing outwards.

Added a bit of flair to the end of the eye-liner - a bit of primary blue, then cleaned the brush and added a thin amount of primary red under it.  I didn't want to overdo it and ruin the natural face, so it's not too visible unless I'm looking up close.  If I ever repaint Gael's faceup in future, maybe I'll make it a bit more obvious.  But we'll see how his character develops.

Orange pastel for the eyewells.  A bit more grey and ultramarine blue on the eyelids, using cut small brush -- a bit unevenly done.

Seal with MSC.

I added a tiny amount of permanent red to the lips to shape them better, then forced myself to put down the brush.  He's finished.

Sealed with 2 more layers of MSC, then gloss - lips, eyelids, tear lines.

I'm very pleased with how Gael turned out!  I've finally gotten a handle on how to do a "natural" faceup for a male character, and achieved everything I wanted in my design brief.  Comparison between him and Vings' promo pic...

Source: Vings' Taobao store

Going forward

I'm improving my colour control.  I tend to be overenthusiastic with pastels (because they're fun to apply); now I realized that when I get the itch to "add just a bit more pastel" I should stop immediately and put down the brush, because everything is actually just right.  Any more colour is starting to over-edit -- which WILL ruin everything and I never like the outcome anyway.  I'm learning restraint!

By now I've achieved the paint stroke technique that I've aspired to since I began learning faceups.  Now it's time to refine that -- learn how to vary the paint stroke to get different hair shapes and sizes, and also how to arrange the overall shape and layout of the brows and lashes.  I've noticed that some outstanding artists vary the arrangement of highlight hairs, and even include different coloured hairs around the brows to add more subtlety to their faceups.
All this means finding photo references of real human faces, studying other faceup artists' portfolios, and maybe practicing things on paper.  Time to do a bit of research...

I think this is the last time I'll use watercolour pencil to draft in eyebrow shape.  In future I should draft the eyebrows using pastels and get a precise shape that I want, before sealing and then painting.  I'm using old brushes for painting pastels and the degraded bristles don't help with applying them precisely.  And yes, I've been saying for a while that I need to buy new ones.

I'm still on the fence about offering faceup commissions to my local community.  I love painting faceups and would like to try different styles on new sculpts, but painting other people's dolls is a whole other ballgame.  We'll see...

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