The cookie settings on this website are set to 'allow all cookies' to give you the very best experience. Please click Accept Cookies to continue to use the site.

FREE Tutorial: Using Art & Magic WaterBorne © Air Dry Paints

USING "ART & MAGIC OF REBORNING WATER BORNE ©" Air Dry Paints (updated Jan 2018)

Thank you for buying WaterBorne Paints ©, developed at HunnyBuns Dolls & Reborn Supply by Master Artist Stephanie (Sullivan) Tackett.  If you are new to these paints, please read the following instructions carefully.  They now come in a handy dropper bottle, which should help keep the paints usable much longer than the open top jars.

NOTE:  If you want to use the hyperlinks to products mentioned in this tutorial, open it on your computer.  Here’s the URL:

Debbie Henshaw of They Never Grow Up Nursery was a big help in developing these paints. The results can be seen on her blog:

April Yap has helped me with ongoing research and development of WaterBorne products.  A huge shout out to her!  She also has an E-Book available to teach you how to use the paints.

FIRST:  Wash all doll parts in hot water and dish detergent, then dry thoroughly.  YOU MUST PREP the vinyl (and baked polymer clay sculpts) BEFORE PAINTING! 
Critical first not skip it.  Without a proper prep coat on bare, clean vinyl, failure is likely.  No amount of “sealing” the paint will work if the paint isn’t sticking to the vinyl in the first place.  Angie Jones of Lil’ Dumplins Nursery wrote an article about prepping vinyl:  Folk Art Glass and Tile Medium (which I stock) is a good product to use as a matte finish either under or on top of the paints:

I've prepped bare vinyl with Genesis Matte Varnish, and another with Folk Art Glass & Tile Medium and a third with WB © Clear Base Coat and Surface Prep.  I prefer the Clear Base Coat to Genesis Matte, because Matte creates more texture on bare vinyl (feels a bit sandpapery), plus the WaterBorne paints "grab" that surface very quickly and are difficult to get off if you make a mistake.   I sell all three of these products in small containers, so you can decide for yourself.  On a positive note, the Genesis Matte prevented multiple layers of WaterBorne paint from getting any shine.  But then you’re back to baking the vinyl, which a lot of artists want to avoid.  Folk Art Glass & Tile Medium will also do a great job of removing excess shine when used as a final topcoat.  Sponge it on very lightly with a smooth cosmetic sponge (do not pounce!!) anywhere you want it to look less shiny.   If you properly sealed the vinyl before painting and allowed your layers to dry for at least a couple days before sealing, nothing should take off any of the paint.  If you have that happen, chances are the paint was too diluted (too much water or SloDri fluid) or the vinyl was not properly prepped to begin with.  

Vinyl is an oil based product.  WaterBorne paints are waterbased product.  Oil and water do not mix.  You MUST properly and thoroughly prep the vinyl!

Art & Magic of Reborning Water Borne © Paints” sold by the set or in individual bottles. 
WaterBorne Clear Base Coat & Surface Prep (works best applied with a smooth cosmetic sponge.  NEVER pounce, you’ll get a gritty feel that you do not want).  Be aware that the Base Coat might look shiny as it dries and may feel a little sticky.  This is NORMAL.  Both will disappear as you add paint layers.

  • WaterBorne Slo-Dri Medium slows down evaporation of the paint ON the doll as well as in the palette. You can add 10-50% SloDri to the paint to increase transparency and work time.  Add too much and your paint will not likely stay put.  
  • Ultra Matte Gel can be used to mix in small amounts with your final WaterBorne layers to create a softer, velvety finish.  It makes the paint thicker and easier to control.  I like it.
  • Any type of dish or well palette (plastic is fine)
  • Distilled water
  • Sponges:  cosmetic wedges and natural sea sponges or cellulose sponges torn into small pieces about 2 inches across.  My honeycomb sponges are awesome! 

First, the Good News :-)  No heat needed. Generally, the layers dry within a few minutes and you may proceed.  (Debbie Henshaw adds:  "I made it a habit NOT to put layer upon layer at the same moment.")  As with Genesis painting, apply one small area of paint at a time and try not to over-paint it immediately in order not to muddy up your color layers.  It takes 24-48 hours for your kit to fully cure or dry depending on humidity.  Many use a heatgun to lightly dry layers and that's fine as long as it's set on LOW and you are careful.  

Then the “Bad News”  -_-   You’ll need brushes not used for Genesis Heatset Paints (or any type of oil paint)
in the past – or make sure you’ve washed yours very thoroughly with dish detergent so that no synthetic oil residue remains in the brush.

  • To avoid paint drying out inside the bottle, after you get the amount of paint you need to use, re-cap quickly.
  • Since these are AIR DRY paints, you won't be able to leave them on your palette, but will have to store the leftover thinned paints in airtight jars or simply rinse your palette after each use.  You can purchase several sizes of jars from HunnyBuns Reborn Supply.

    Other Notes:  If you’ve been using Genesis ® Heatset Paints, you’ll find that mixing the colors is similar.  I designed the Pre-Blended Doll color range to approximate the colors we are used to in GHSP.  Application is also similar.  For experienced artists who prefer to blend their own palette, I offer Basic Colors and Tinting Colors sold individually.

    Flesh Tones:  To get Asian Flesh Color, add a couple drops of Creamy Warm Tint to Light Flesh.  Add a touch of Basic Brown or Brown Brow and Hair color to the Dark Flesh to darken further.  Brown Brow and Hair Color makes a good dark Ethnic Skin color base. 
  • o       To get a Medium Flesh tone, mix the Light and Dark Flesh together.
  • o       If you have too-pink vinyl to begin with, a wash of Red Eliminating color will help.  If you over-blush a doll, you can also neutralize the           redness with this color.  Some use it as an intermediate wash of color to add depth.
  • o       If you get a doll too purplish looking, make a thin wash of the Creamy Warm tint and go over the doll with it to cut the purple tint.
  • o       To achieve a very realistic baby-skin mottle, use a thinned down wash of Blush/Lip/Nail color on a honeycomb sponge and dab lightly             all over.   
  • o       Any WaterBorne color can easily be mixed with others to achieve the most creative and natural results.
  • o       Familiarize yourself with an artist’s color wheel to understand how to mix and blend colors.

 TECHNIQUESWaterBorne paints are concentrated (except the Wash colors) and intended to be thinned with pure water and/or Slo-Dri. 

You may begin painting the doll after the Base Coat and Surface Prep coat has dried to the touch. 

Diluting WB colors:  I usually use 2-4 drops of water/SloDri to each drop of the Flesh colors for a transparent layer of paint.   YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY!    Each artist will develop their own dilution technique as they get a feel for using WaterBorne paints.
Blushing:  I recommend starting with 1 drop of color to about 4-6 drops of water.  If you use SloDri, only use 1 drop to 2 or more drops of paint.
Veins: 1 drop color to 6 drops of water. 
Undertone color washes and color correction (mint green), increase the water to 8-10 drops of water to each drop of color, maybe more.  Test it before applying to vinyl. 
Nailtip/Milia: use straight from the bottle.
Creases & Capillaries:  2-3 drops of water per drop of paint.  
Brown Brow & Ethnic Skintone:  use straight from bottle if painting hair, or dilute to get slightly lighter color.  If using for all over skintone, dilute the color until it gives you the depth of color you need on the vinyl.  Test it on an inconspicuous part of the bare vinyl).  More thin layers work better than a couple dark ones.

  • I apply all colors with a torn cosmetic sponge, honeycomb sponge or brush.
  • WB paints dry fast, so if you need to wipe them off or rework any layer, work quickly with a wet brush, sponge or swab, it will come off.  After it sits for a little while it seems to be permanent.  If you add some WaterBorne Slo-Dri medium, it helps extend the wet time of the paints.
  • If you really mess up, Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner (nontoxic, biodegradable, no fumes) will remove all layers of WB paint down to bare vinyl.
  • These paints were developed from a line of high quality art paints specifically designed to adhere to vinyl surfaces and dry to a matte finish.  That said, some find on certain doll kits, that after a few layers, a little shine can develop.  Try my newest product, WaterBorne Ultra-Matte Sealer.
  • No final sealant is needed, but you CAN apply a final top coat to your dolls if it makes you feel better.  Use WaterBorne Ultra-Matte Sealer.  This ensures a velvety matte finish on your doll.   Thanks to April Yap for this tip!

That’s all for now.  I can’t wait to get your honest feedback!   Email me at   ~Stephanie
This tutorial can be downloaded from my Homepage at