1. Home

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Most Emailed Articles

Modular and Manufactured Homes

This content created by Sarah Locker

Customizing 101: The eyes have it!

(and the lips too!)

Dateline: 07/10/98

Here is your "supply list" that you will need for this "lesson":


  • One doll, with a face. (for this lesson, it is pretty important! )
  • A clean absorbent towel.
  • Paint brush (0000 or size of your choice. You can also use a toothpick, or even a straight pin!)
  • Acrylic or fabric paints (I use the tubes, but any kind should be OK) (grownups only!)
  • Water (for brush cleaning, and correcting boo-boos)
  • Patience!


  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Lighted magnifier

Once again, this lesson is not for the faint-hearted, or children under the age of 16. Pick a doll (a cheap pink box special, or a thrift-store find) to practice on, before you try this on another doll... Maybe your doll from the last lesson?

OK. First of all we are going to "enhance" our dolls eyes, not completely repaint them, so don't run screaming out of the room just yet!

Pick your paint -- and for this lesson, pick based on the outfit you will dress your newly "eye-enhanced" doll in.

What we are going to do is follow the lead that Mattel gave us from the factory -- so settle in, and let's go! Look closely at your doll. Is she blue-eyed? What color are the "highlights" in her eyes? Usually (not always) Barbie® has two colors of highlights painted into the iris. In my case, I'm going to be re-dressing a Bead Blast in Evening Sophisticate, so I'm going to use soft shades of a minty green and pale pink for highlights. I've already painted the irises a lovely chocolate brown, and will use the green twice as often as the pink. I carefully paint over exsisting highlights, either by alternating colors, or shades of colors. For example, to create stunning green eyes, either start with a green-eyed doll, or carefully paint the iris, leaving the factory-applied highlights intact. Then paint in your highlights in two shades of the same color, or in coordinating colors.

If you make a mistake... wipe it off and start over! Water will do the trick until the paint begins to dry and set. Otherwise, you'll need rubbing alcohol to remove the paint.

One of my favorite "tricks" is to use the "glitter" fabric paint for the "catchlight" in Barbie's® eyes. Don't overdo it, but simply use it for the white speck usually found in her eyes.

You can also paint over eyebrows in a similar fashion, by following the exsisting example. Do a little at a time, since it is easier to add more, than to take it all off and start over.

Always clean your brush between colors!

For lips, the technique is basically the same; pick your preferred color and begin! Thin the paint a bit with water so that it goes on smoothly. Again it is better to build up several light coats over time than to try to apply one heavy thick coat. If your doll has an open-mouth smile (the Superstar face mold) then you will have a bit of an additional challenge to keep the lip color from bleeding onto the white paint of the teeth. Or, you can simply repaint the teeth after you are done. This is where the very fine (0000) brush really shines!

Cotton swabs come in handy for swiping off mistakes -- buy the big box!

Have fun, and remember that practice makes perfect!

Check back soon for the next installment of "Summer School!" when we do manicures & pedicures!

Have a comment or suggestion? Please let me know!

Previous Features


©2015 About.com. All rights reserved.