Face in realistic style

Today the story will be about the doll I’ve been working for quite a long time. She will be a fully costumed doll, with a unique face – in short, one of a kind.

The work is going on in the scale a little bit larger than 1/6. I’ll make removable little clothes & boots for her, she’ll be able to change dress, please one’s eyes & pose for photoshoots – all that I love the doll world for. The costume & image will be the main topic of the next story, and now I’ll tell more about her face peculiarities.

Mock-up for "à la russe"

I’ll begin with that the prototype for this doll is a famous Soviet & Russian actress – Elina Bystritskaya. She is an extremely beautiful woman with special dignity, she has a noble face, charming smile & sparkling eyes. A well-informed reader will probably guess that the doll’s name is Aksinya, and I’ll clear this out that one of the most significant roles of Elina is a role of a Cossack woman, Aksinya Astakhova in a 1958 screen adaptation “And Quiet Flows the Don” of the same-titled novel. For this role she was approved by Mikhail Sholokhov – the author of the novel himself.

For a better understanding of the face’s features, I tried not to be in a hurry & have spent some time for research of available film & photo materials, as well as pencil sketches.


Bystritskaya’s mysterious & calm smile became a special hard-to-catch enigma for me. It reflects her strong & forceful character, and by its modesty it highlights the actress’ dignity – as if she knows & keeps something inside that only a few knows.

To embody a real alive face in miniature, I decided to come away from habitual doll-like image and to work in realistic style. To succeed in this effort, one need to observe certain conditions.

First of all, the sculpture of a porcelain cast should found the base, that is together with a special painting technique will give a desirable photographic effect of a real face. It needs to thoroughly work on & sculpt all the volumes, peculiarities of face features & outlines. To pay special attention to proportions of face parts, to keep in mind their visual perception from different view points.
Besides, it’s important to keep & transmit anatomical peculiarities that are often omitted in artistic representations (for example, nasolabial folds or lacrimal grooves), but which are present in humans. Also, we may recall that a human face is not ideally symmetrical, and while standing at the mirror you’ll see different expressions if you close alternately right and left sides of your face with your hand.

To understand and embody features, I was basing on photographs that, in my mind, reflect unique face characteristics better.

Ready face sculpture collage

My Aksinya’s face represents a collective image of Elina Bystritskaya’s unique features as I see them myself. The collage shows the finished porcelain face before the firing:

Porcelain face sculpture collage

To achieve hyperrealistic texture I used multi-tone, multi-layer painting technique: here I draw pores, imitate uneven coloring of human skin & highlight its imperfections. The following macro photo captures the fragment of the face that is about 16 mm (5/8″) in height.

Super macro face texture

To bring the forethought vision to life it took me 8 painting layers. The process is slowing significantly due to the need in firing many additional test pieces – to control tints & to check the colours & synergy of mixed paints after firing. But the result really pays off.

With each layer the face is slowly coming to life, gathering details, beginning to show its character. And then at some point not you, but your doll begins to gaze at you. This process inspires & captivates me sky high each time I work with paints & brushes.

Realistic make-up layer by layer

Realism of sculpture & the porcelain’s special texture, completed by the uneven painting with subtle transparent layers allow to achieve resemblance of macro photographs of the doll face with photographs of a real human. But the only difference is that this human is just 33 cm (13”) tall.

Skin texture collage

The doll’s eyes are a very significant element to me – I was craving to embody a profound and penetrant gaze looking into the soul.

Super macro eyes

They say the eyes are the window to the soul. Given that one embodies eye-balls in sculpture correctly & precisely, magic with painting will work out, and then the eyes will spark & the face will come to life.

Penetrant gaze

Realistic technique in small scale demands precise rendering in painting thinnest single hairs of eyebrows & lashes, lip wrinkles. When my eyes are not sufficient, I use optics to ease my work. The eye iris diameter is just 2 mm, shown in the photo below.

Super macro eye

I’ve owned some samples of fur for a long time & they were left unused until recently when I decided to apply them while making the New Year greeting card. This experiment has grown into a small photo-session in “à la russe” style.

"à la russe"

Now when Aksinya’s face is finished, I’m setting off on a captivating journey with fabrics, laces & beads! Here are some samples of materials I’m going to use for the costume.

Materials for Aksinya

More photos in good quality can be seen in my gallery at Flickr.

Posted in New dolls, Work in progress, Костюмированные куклы | Leave a comment

From Russia with love

Dear friends, happy winter holidays to you!
From Russia with love ♥

From Russia with love

Posted in Без рубрики | Leave a comment

Video: Changing doll feet with Primavera

Dear watchers!
I’m presenting a video-manual to you on changing feet for Dea Vivente dolls, where I’m showing the process step by step in detail with commentaries. The model in the clip is Primavera the doll.
Happy viewing!

Posted in Video | Leave a comment

Happy Holidays!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, dear friends!!! ♥
I wish you happiness, luck and more smiles in the upcoming 2016! Let all the intended and desirable things come true!

Happy Holidays!

Posted in Без рубрики | Leave a comment


Today I’d like to tell about a very special girl whose spirit and character touched deeply personal sides in my soul. Several months of hard but insanely exciting work have been embodied into a photo-painting “Nascita di Primavera” – “Birth of Primavera”, this is how the doll is called, but let me tell step by step.

Nascita di Primavera

I have the most devoted feelings for Sandro Botticelli’s paintings and maidens pictured in them. Their images hold so much depth, dignity, tranquility and wisdom, so that sometimes it’s impossible to tear myself away from their faces and I can contemplate them for hours.

There was no limits for my joy when I got to know that my client’s favourite painter was exactly Botticelli, and she dreamt of having a doll that embodied characters from his paintings, and an especially intimate one for her as well as for me was the character from “Nascita di Venere” (1482—1486) “Birth of Venus”. The client’s offer to bring a similar character to life encouraged me, it was incredibly pleasant to work on this doll and she inspired me like never before.
As you might guess, the doll’s name gives a hint to another well-known painting of Botticelli’s – “Allegory of Spring” (“Primavera”).

I used a light tone of porcelain for Primavera – pale, almost white skin gave her the particular tenderness and elegance incident to classical images.

Enchanting sea of hair

Facial features of Botticelli’s Venus are very different from the face mold “Taiga”, thus to get more similarity with Venus the decision was made to deeply modify the face sculpture right on a porcelain cast. Modifications affected all the areas: eyes, eyebrow ridges, nose, lips, cheeks and cheekbones, chin. Primavera captivated me to the core, and the strong emotional rise from contemplating Venus’s painting was helping me to embody the beautiful goddess’s facial features in a porcelain face.
One may judge the difference between “Taiga” (on the left) and Primavera’s (on the right) faces in the following photos.

Face modifications

To imitate pictorial art, I’ve chosen warm colour gamma while painting Primavera and have made very soft and delicate tone transitions. Due to multilayered painting of the doll’s eyes, they look alive and deep. What’s interesting, depending on the view angle Primavera’s look appear to be a bit estranged and reflective as Venus’s one, or piercing and even a bit sly, for example as in this portrait.


Botticelli’s Venus has an utterly exceptional hairdo: short wavy locks at the front near the face gradually turning into gorgeous thick locks coming down to the knees. I tried to realize this romantic image by imitating a similar hairdo with gradual change of length for it to look natural and realistic. One can see the result in the following photograph:


Primavera’s second wig represents a Renaissance era hairdress. It was inspired by one of Botticelli’s canvases as well, depicting the artist’s eternal muse Simonetta Vespucci. I’ve incorporated certain changes into this hairdress to my taste, and some of them were dictated by the wig’s small scale. For this work beside hair I used some other kinds of materials: coral beads, glass beads, silk ribbons, feathers, accessories.

Renaissance hairdress

At some moment while reflecting on authenticity of the character I was creating and wholeness of its representation, I decided to paint a background with brushes that corresponded to the doll’s spirit and represented the atmosphere of “Birth of Venus”. For the sake of similarity with tempera painting I used artists’ acrylic paints.

Painting background

This canvas was used for the doll’s photo-session and making a photo-painting as well.

Photoshooting backstage

Primavera has already left me and now she is in caring hands of her new owner (to whom I want to say a special thanks for a chance to touch the sublime and to do the least thing I can to pay my tribute to one of the greatest and best-loved artists in the history of painting).

This was a long and interesting work, and Primavera means much to me in the artistic way as well as in the technical one – while working I tried new techniques and materials, and this experience being so priceless for me will be used in future.

In conclusion, I present two art photographs of Primavera to you under a common title “Sensual renaissance” – as an expression of flaming sensuality and eroticism of the Renaissance era.

"Sensual renaissance"

"Sensual renaissance"

You can look at other photos of Primavera in her gallery.

Posted in Art photography, Dea Vivente Familia, New dolls, Обнаженные куклы | 4 Comments