Previous Entries in This Series

Part 1

So far I was happy with working on the cover of my book (which was formerly a board book edition of Dr. Seuss’ classic Hop on Pop). I had little trouble with working on it and I expected the rest of the project to be a piece of cake.

But then I watched the next tutorial video and I realized a few things. The book I selected had more pages than the book in the original video tutorials. On top of it, the artist, Ady Almanza, had only used one page at a time to do her artwork. If I was to follow her example, I would be working on that book for much longer because my book had more pages. She didn’t specify how many pages the board book had to include so I naturally assumed that any board book would do.

The video mentioned that the next doll would be a mermaid yet the final picture shows just a close-up of her face. While her skin is colored blue, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s a mermaid. Any onlooker would assume that she’s an extra-terrestrial creature or maybe an extra from the movie Avatar. (LOL!)

Then there was the requirement in the video that we paint the background with matte acrylic paint. Here’s the problem: I don’t have any acrylic paint marked “matte.” I tried Jo-Ann’s, Michael’s, A.C. Moore’s and none of them have any acrylic paint that’s marked “matte.” (I later found out that they can be ordered online through the stores’ websites. They just aren’t sold on the store shelves in real life.)

The biggest surprise was finding out that, while the background would be painted with matte acrylic paint (which I couldn’t find in any store), the female in the foreground would be colored in with colored pencils. Whoa! I’ve never tried mixing colored pencils with acrylic paint before but I figured that there was a first time for everything. Here’s the video tutorial I followed.

So it was time for me to create the mermaid drawing. I decided to do a full page spread with a full mermaid body because, let’s face it, the fish tail is the only way the average person knows whether the person is a mermaid (or merman) or not. (Besides, I would use up more pages that way.) I decided to use a real-life doll as my muse once again and my Volks Dollfie Dream would spend another week serving as the model. In addition, I happened to have a mermaid tail that fits her that I purchased at an Asian Ball-Jointed Doll meet-up a few years ago (back when I was involved in that fandom until I witnessed some creepy behavior both online and in real life that caused me to leave it because, without getting into a lot of details, there are a bunch of borderline crazy people in that fandom). The mermaid tail was handsewn by another doll fan who was trying her hand at selling handmade doll clothes for a while. I paired it with a doll-sized tribal-looking necklace that I won in a raffle at an Asian Ball-Jointed Doll meet-up a few years ago. (I don’t remember if I won it in the same meet-up as when I purchased the mermaid’s tail or if I got both at separate events.) I positioned her long hair to obscure her breasts in order to not have to deal with the issue of whether to portray the mermaid as bare-breasted or wearing a bra.


I initially did the drawing in ink using a black waterproof marker. I not only decided to draw the mermaid’s full body but I decided to add a dolphin in the background as a way of showing that, yes, the mermaid is swimming in the ocean. When it was time for me to do the underpainting, I still had to deal with the issue of not having any matte acrylic paints on hand. I began reading on line that watering down acrylic paint could create a matte effect. So I decided to add a lot of water to the paint so it would create a watercolor effect (which is appropriate since I was working on an underwater scene).

But then it came time to start using the colored pencils. While most of the areas were okay, there was one or two areas where I literally could not color at all. In fact, the more I colored in those areas, the more I inadvertently wiped away the watered-down acrylic paint until I somehow managed to wear it all the way down to the gesso layer. It was frustrating to say the least because I had most of the area colored except for those two white bald patches that were large enough to be noticeable by anyone.

So then I came up with the idea of spraying a fixative on top then continue to work on it. There are two types of fixatives: One is a final fixative, which is used as the final layer and is meant to seal the work in permanently. It’s meant for when you’re absolutely positively sure that you’re finished with working on your piece because it’s hard to work over it once you spray it. The other is known as a workable fixative, which is meant to seal the work that has been finished to date but one can continue to work on top of that layer. That one is meant for people who are taking a layer approach to creating art where you draw or paint lightly, spray a layer of the workable fixative, then add another layer on top of it, then spray another layer of workable fixative, and so on. I looked around my art supplies but I found that I only had the final fixative, which meant that I had to go to a store to buy a workable fixative. Fortunately I had a 40% off coupon so I didn’t have to pay too much for the workable fixative.

Once I sprayed the workable fixative and let the piece dry, I found that I could cover up the bare white part on the dolphin but there was still a bare white part on one of the mermaid’s arm. So I sprayed another layer of the workable fixative, let it dry, then tried again. It was still no use. I just could not get that colored pencil to cover that bare white area. I became so frustrated that I switched to acrylic paint, painted a light purple skin over the mermaid (which matched her purple tail and purple hair) That worked like a charm so I let everything dried then embellished the mermaid’s tail and hair with glitter glue. Once I let it dry I sprayed a few layers of the final fixative and considered it done.

So here are the pages before I worked on the project.


Here are the pages after I finished.


I learned a few things, like if I can’t find matte paint, I’ll have to do other things (mix acrylic paint with either water or matte medium and use workable fixative spray). That’s the only way I can add a layer of colored pencil over a layer of acrylic paint.

I’m hoping that there won’t be any more obstacles like what I faced because it’s supposed to be a fun project for me and not a source of more stress.

Subsequent Entries in This Series

Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12