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Saturday, January 14, 2012


How to professionally paint silicones & full materials list!

Postby w-m-dickisondolldesigns » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:32 pm
***HUGE UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!! A wonderful person had just let me know that you CAN use Genesis Heat set oils. This is huge. I have not personally used them yet and we don't know long term if they are the same but I don't see the difference as the only difference is the method of curing the oils. If you want to use them, I would use them the exact same way as the regular artist oils only setting them with the oven remembering to keep both oil paint types super thin. Yayyyyyyy!!!***

Hi guys, I thought that I would share my knowledge as a sculptor and silicone doll artist that has taken me and my mother, Cindy Musgrove (Another doll artist :D ), over 5 years to gather and put together as well as test it all out. The doll world is so secretive and hard to find any information on how to make them and the exact brands and products that are used in every media. I will show you how to do it professionally and de-mythify the products that we use. You can ask us questions about painting here and you can ask me or Cindy (mom) and we will help you.

First things first. You have to learn a little bit about silicones first and everything else is nearly as easy as a vinyl reborn only curing the silicone layers takes a bit longer is the only difference really. My information is from internet research from prosthetics artists, special effects artists, a Smooth-On silicone seminar that I personally attended at a college, those along the way that did share, as well as plenty of trial and error. This tutorial is for anyone that wanted to paint silicones but could not find out how or those who have been too scared to try. I honestly wanted to only make the best of the best with the highest quality of products and have learned that you can have high quality but not pay high prices for the exact same thing. Please also share what you learn from this tutorial so that everyone can have a shot at silicone painting. The only thing that I am asking is if you use my tutorial & pics on a site, please contact me and I would be more than happy. Here goes!!!!

1. Silicone dolls and pieces can be baked in an oven to speed up the 4 hour long curing process by about 75%. Silicone bake wear is the exact same material so you can put it in an oven here too. In fact- Platinum cure silicone can withstand heat up to 500 degrees f. I recommend only up to 170 degrees f. but I have accidentally set the oven to 275 and left it in for hours and did not notice anything and was told this information from Smooth-On. You can also leave a silicone in the oven for lengthy periods.

2. Silicone will and can cure even under water as long as the temperature is room temperature or hotter meaning that if your baby has a sealing coat over the paint and is still a bit tacky to touch, you can run it under the tap water with no ill effects and can help in the painting and matting process by cleaning off matting powder. Silicone Is oil based. It's not picky stuff so don't be fooled into thinking you can't work with it.

Likewise, we accidentally left some silicone in the freezer to slow down the curing process of some left over dragon skin from sealing and came back 4 days later and were still able to use it and it cured up perfectly!!!!!! Cold=slowwwwwwwww curing by up to days. Hot= reducing curing by up to 3.5 hours.

3. You can buy "special silicone paints" from all the manufacturers and they sell it to you because you don't know that all you have to do is paint with oil paints........ I can and have made the exact equivalent of factory intrinsic silicone paints by adding dry pigments to silicone oil (one of the key ingredients in silicone) and that is what they are selling you in their bottles only for upwards of over $30.00 for a HALF of an ounce. The paints are just in an oil body and oil paints are very similar. Some silicone doll artists and certainly special effects artists use oil paints. My set of 18 oil-paint colors only cost me $12.99 at Michaels and my first batch of "special silicone intrinsic paints" cost me over $300.00 for very few paints and a small palette of coloring. Don't let your inexperience cost you as it did me for so many years. My newest babies coming out I have used this new coloring as I have just learned of it and tested it. You CANNOT tell the difference and it mixes in with the silicone without changing it's properties. I have since learned that there are tried and true silicone doll artists that have been making them from the start have always used oils and the results are the same. In fact- you get a more detailed baby with oils because of the range of colors and the endless possibilities. However-----I do use the expensive factory silicone colors for the actual silicone pouring of the sculpt baby in silicone ONLY. Not to paint.

4. You can paint two ways:

*Option 1: Oil paints straight out of the tube, light layers on top of the silicone- then seal and mattify.

*Option 2: Oil paints mixed in with the silicone, painted on in layers, then seal to mattify.
These two ways are both done in layers the identical way you do with vinyl reborns allowing the paints to dry or fully cure between layers. (That's where the oven comes in handy) Remember, always let the layers dry or cure and do not touch the tacky surface until cured.

5. We seal babies and mattify with two options also:

*Option 1: Silicone that the baby is poured with. Dragon skin, eco flex etc. a.k.a. Smooth-On's Psycho Paint which I have discovered is really a smaller container for their Dragon Skin silicone that alot of artists babies are poured in. Another manuever factories use to raise the costs for those that do not wish to buy the large 1 Gallon size Dragon skin that is nearly $200.00. You can cover any Platinum cure silicone or paint with Dragon skin on ANY Smooth-On silicone product e.g. Eco-flex etc. If you cannot find any Dragon skin a.k.a. Psycho Paint (smaller packaging) or anyone to sell you a portion of theirs and you don't want to buy the Psycho paint that's where option 2 comes in...........

*Option2: You can use any clear silicone sealant from stores to seal or paint on a baby. I had once heard some say that they didn't like locktite because of the texture and I once thought that it might be cheap looking. It's not. That is only because of the method of application if you do it thickly. It is an "Acytoxy Sealant" and Acetoxy Silicone Sealant is what they sell you at Factor II and you will get the same results. It truly is just a matter of painting in thin layers. Same rules as painting reborns- don't go too thick. AGAIN- only labeling differs and the cure time. You can use Locktite and the layer is far better at sealing and staying on your sculpt. Only use a super thin layer over baby and you will have beautiful pieces.

Another product option to seal and repair with is Sil-Poxy from Smooth-On. It is an Acetoxy silicone sealant that works the same as Locktite. I Prefer using Dragon skin to cover all of my babies. I also like Locktite for it's superior bondability as well for silicone repairs. Here is a chart that I have made below to help you.

Silicone lingo: Shorehardness is actually softness and they messure it and label it to show you how soft your silicone is supposed to be. Shorehardness 00/30 shown below is the feel of a shoe gel sole insert. Shorehardness 10 is just softer than a rubberband and shorehardness 40 is like a pencil eraser just for reference.

6. Matting the finished surface of your baby. One super HUGE HUGE myth and find that I have made is that the special matting powder that costs an arm and a leg from manufacturers is actually POWDERED SUGAR!!!!!! Here again we have two options of Mattifying your tacky silicone sealant:

*Option 1: Powdered sugar.

*Option 2: Cabosil (can be found at Smooth-On) and is actually a silica powder a.k.a powdered glass.

There is a difference in these two materials as the first, powdered sugar, is non toxic and leaves the finished baby just a tad lighter after sealing but much much safer and WAY easier to use. The Cabosil is trickier to apply and toxic as it is finely powdered glass and easily inhaled and stays in the air for awhile. The only benefits to Cabosil is that it leaves your pieces not quite as light and the tone is ever so slightly blue tinted and a bit easier to get a thin coat of matting powder. The draw back is that it takes FOREVER- no joke- to rinse the pieces clean of the Cabosil and it also is very much more difficult to apply than powdered sugar. It takes quite a bit of force and quite a few washings to get that Cabosil powder off of the cured pieces. Very slight difference in both products but I prefer Cabosil but do use powdered sugar a.k.a. factory matting powder.

7. The only thing that you cannot afford to try alternatives on is a super high quality makeup blush brush used to dust the matting powder on the wet silicone pieces. CANNOT stress this enough. If you do not use a high quality blush brush you will- I repeat :heart: - will- get small hairs in the silicone and you wont see it until the pieces are cured and can't change it. You will have to sand off the entire paint job. Very very bad. In my personal experience, I have never found a quality brush that had black hairs only golden. I prefer Ecotools but any high quality brush that you can tug on with fury and not get any hairs that come out or break off and you are good.

8. There are only two kinds of silicone here, platinum cure and tin cure. For the most part, I don't know of a single person that still pours in Tin cure. You do need to know what type of silicone you are working on though. Any Ashton drake dolls I'm pretty sure are tin cure but you still can use Locktite for both Tin and Platinum and this tutorial to paint them with. You just can't use Platinum cure products (Smooth-On's Dragon Skin, Eco-flex, Psycho Paint).

9. Silicone can only stick to silicone & clean glass. Remember that silicone is made up of mostly glass (silica). Like wise, do NOT use glass containers or palettes for surfaces that touch your silicone. That is why I use paper plates for everything.

10. Final rule: Do not use latex rubber gloves on the baby or wet silicone only Nitrile. Rubber gloves make the silicone not cure. 

           *****That all out of way, now let's start*****

Here is baby Addison a micro mini that I poured in Smooth-On's Ecoflex 00/30 (a very soft soft silicone) and my silicone painting supplies that I am using.

Here is a list of the supplies that you need for painting:

* Paper plates
*An angled brush for applying the sealant/silicone. Golden Taklon works best.
*An arsenal of painting brushes for the oils
*Oil paint thinner (used for cleaning off brushes for silicone and even thinning the silicone)
*Oil paints
*dish soap to clean your pieces
*Acetone (only used for prepping/cleaning silicone pieces-NOT for painting with)
*220 grit sand paper (for prepping pieces and touch ups)
*paper towels
*craft/popsicle sticks
*Makeup Sponges if desired for applying oil paints
*paper cups (can use plastic cups only for oil paint thinner- NOT for acetone )
*Locktite silicone sealant -or- Smooth-On's Dragon skin platinum cure silicone a.k.a. Psycho Paint
*Powdered sugar -or- Cabosil for matting
*Baking dish or Pan for oven covered with a paper towel
*Nitrile gloves (if desired to cut down on a sticky mess)

Always start by cleaning and prepping your pieces. If they have not been prepped for you, the artist will tell you and if they have not told you- assume that you have to prep with sanding and acetone. You need to lightly sand the surface with 220 grit sand paper. Just a slight sanding will do. Next, use acetone on a paper towel very quickly to clean and prep your silicone. Next, run the pieces under the tap water with some dish soap to get off any oils and sanding residue. Blow off the water off of your pieces -or- put them in the 170 deg. oven -or- just plain old let them air dry.

Lay out your oil color palette.

Paint in thin layers in one of the two methods mentioned above: 1.Mix the oils in the silicone in layers allowing to cure between each and apply matte when finished or 2. Plain old oils just painted right on top of the silicone and seal/matte after your done. I've used both ways and both are great, just a preference. I'm using the plain old oil paints on top method for Addison. I've taken several days for this process and again that's just my style. To speed up the drying process of the oils, I also put the pieces in the oven but for the most part you wont have a thick layer to worry about. You should only paint in super thin thin almost TINT layers. Remember that you can mix the wet oils in the wet silicone so there is no harm in not having fully dried plain old oil paint layers before you add the silicone sealant for option 1. The only reason I have found that it is helpful to fully dry the plain oil paints on top for every layer is so that the paint does not lift back off from being wet.

If you use option 2, mixing the oil paints in with the silicone to make a silicone based paint, you absolutely must fully cure each layer of paint.

After painting the undertones, I have started to blush her. The layers are very very thinly painted and allowed to dry fully in between. Because the parts will have white matting powder used to mattify in the sealing process, you have to paint darker because the matting layer will lighten the paints.

To dilute the plain oils for transparency, use the oil paint thinner. Likewise, to thin the silicone with oil added to it method, use some oil paint thinner as well to thin the silicone.

 I have finished painting the toes and nails so now I am ready to start sealing the parts. Again, you have the two options listed above.

1. Use Locktite and brush on and dust the wet silicone with matting powder.

2. Use Smooth-On's Dragon Skin/Psycho paint (Platinum cure- 2 part silicone) to seal and dust wet silicone with matting powder. You will have two equal parts called part A and part B. Just dip out equal amounts, e.g. for small jobs use the popsicles sticks dipped equally and for bigger jobs use a teaspoon of each mixing thoroughly.

Put out a small amount of the silicone onto a paper plate. You can use this straight out of the tube for tubed silicone or if you want to have the silicone not as thick to work with, thin it with some oil paint thinner for both kinds. Using the angled brush or any Golden Taklon brush, pounce the silicone onto the plate several times to make sure you are applying an even thin coat over your paint job. It is normal to have a tiny bit of paint come onto the brush but it shouldn't really show on your painted pieces because you are applying the silicone lightly and not pressing very hard.

I then let this cure in the 170 degree oven without matting it leaving it shiny but cured. I do this so that I can repeat the sealant and put on another coat so that it is twice as thick without putting too much silicone on at one time. If you don't do it in thin sealing steps the matting powder will get white globs in the thick silicone. Just remember that if it is put on just barely enough to be shiny, you have it thin enough. For bigger pieces than what I am showing. You will do small 3 inch areas at a time and allow each area to cure before working on the next area. Always use a new paper plate after your sealant has cured because if you put new silicone on top of your plates, you will pull up little bits of cured silicone in the fresh stuff and get little boogers (all I could think to describe) in the sealant on the pieces.
After you have covered your pieces for the second layer, while wet, you need to pounce your blush brush into the matting powder and lightly very lightly dust/touch the powder over top being careful not push in the silicone very hard. It is far better to have a few shiny spots and have to touch up than to have to sand and paint over the piece again.

Now, put your piece onto the baking dish or pan covered with a paper towel. Matting and curing in 3 inch sections also prevents sticking to the paper towel as you will set the piece with the wet stuff and matting powder facing up. Pop it into the 170 deg. oven for about 30 min. +. You can't leave it in for too long!

After each matting layer cures, I take it out of the oven and put it straight into tap water to rinse off the powder and to see what you did.

To finish the piece and get glossy lips and nails, you can now go over those areas with plain sealant after you have matted to gloss them up. It is okay to cover everything and then go back and gloss them up. Tip: To get lips not as glossy, just use a very very super nearly non existant application of silicone. If it is still too glossy while wet, take your finger or a makeup sponge and lift some of it back off until it is semi glossy. Do not use any other glossing products unless they are silicone based.

For gloss in/on eyes or, only use the silicone on silicone parts or you CAN use silicone on any glass eyes. That is because silicone is made up of mostly glass (silica) and that lets them adhere if cleaned from residues (soap and water should do the trick here). Silicone can only stick permanently to silicone or clean glass. So if your eyes are plastic, you cannot gloss them, they will delaminate. You can use silicone eyes also. If you are not glossing your eyes, you can certainly use plastic.

You are done with a beautiful silicone baby now!!!!!!!!!!!!

****** If it didn't turn out as you had hoped, there is hope*******
Potential problems 411 and just Questions and Answers:

Q. Your matting job is too thick and textured.
A. You can always lightly sand the bad spot, recolor, then reseal the spot. If you end up sanding the whole piece, start over with painting and the other steps but make your sealant layers thinner and make sure you just barely tap on your matting powder.

Q. You ended up with some shiny spots.
A. No need to sand, just redab with silicone and dust on the powder.

Q. Your pieces paint is lighter than you had wanted.
A. Just go back on top of the matted surface with paint and reseal.

Q. The sealant pealed up.
A. This probably means that you didn't get the piece prepped enough and also possibly that the coats of sealant are too few. Sand the bad spots with the 220 grit paper until you aren't getting any pealed spots. This will take you quite a bit of time. Next, take the acetone and rub the pealed area very good. Rewash the spot with dish soap and water. Recolor your piece. Make sure to do more than one layer of unmatted silicone for sealing remembering to keep each layer super thin. On the
final layer do the matting process again.

Q. How do you remove paint from an already painted silicone?
A. You have to carefully sand off all of the existing paint very patiently with 220 gritt sandpaper. Be sure to use a flexible piece of paper so that you don't damage the silicone keeping the paper as flat and smooth as possible. Use a drag and lift motion going in one direction never rubbing back and forth. One good tip is to do a stroke and look over it to see that it didn't damage the baby. Also, to get into creases, you can bend the paper keeping it without a sharp edge so as not to slice the silicone.

Q. I have accidentally pealed/sliced the silicone, now what?
A. This is where if it is clean, you seal it back up with Locktite or a silicone adhesive, press it back into place, wipe it fully clean, let it cure, and paint over top again. This is also how you repair a silicone when you are not painting.

Q. I am adding paint over top of shiny silicone and the paint wont stick.
A. You need to lightly sand over top of the shiny surface to texturize it a bit. This usually always does the trick. If not, you probably have residue on your piece and you need to re-clean and prep your pieces.

Q. Is it possible to add blush to an silicone baby without sanding off the existing paint?
A. Yes, you can just reblush over top of the paint after lightly sanding to make the surfaces bond, using acetone to clean, and washing with soap and water and finish the steps of sealing and matting.


  1. Thank you soooo much for this!! I just wanted to add that for my initial silicone pours (i.e. my intrinsic color), I have been using liquid foundation!! It has worked like a charm when I am trying to reproduce ethnic hues that I just can't seem to mix with paint. I use gel 10 for my pours and MAC foundation works so well that it's my "go to" now. It's not cheap, but you end up using such a small amount, that it lasts forever!! I bet that foundations from Walgreens would work just as well.

    Happy painting!!

    1. i didnt write the article, the persons name is given in the authors area of this post. im sure shed like to kn ow youve found a perfect way to paint with silicone. :) glad the article worked for you!!


  2. When do you do the veining on the silicone doll? Or do you just make the blush darker in corner of eyes nancy

    1. since i didnt write this article, (names given) im not sure. i have this up for ppl who want to know as a resource as well as information for all you other ppl and myself.

      id expect , as with any reborn painting, youd do veins when YOU feel its appropriate, some do them as a first step, and others as a last. theres no CORRECT way to do any of this doll painting, YOU own your, to me, its when ever YOU feel it would look best.

      see which way works best for the beginning..or the end..:)

  3. Do you know how I could contact this person? Or anyone who knows how to paint a silicone, please? It's very important. Please can you email me or call/text me (which i'd prefer). 832.290.8591

  4. Help me! I have a solid silicon baby how broke lips in The corner of moun. I am from Sweden and bay this doll from Spain by Ebay. I need Help. What to bay material and fix this sicknes in The dolls face. This illnes in her face grow bigger every week. Thanks for answer. Inger

  5. will this work on a very floppy soft silicone from China? Do I just paint each side one at a time?

  6. I am really impressed to this post its all information is really very nice and helpful for me and other users.

    life like doll


  8. Hi,Thanks for the information about this Really nice Post

    Cheap Silicone doll