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FREE Tutorial: Using Art & Magic WaterBorne © Air Dry Paints April 2020 UPDATED!

USING "Art & Magic WaterBorne © Air Dry Paints

Thank you for buying WaterBorne Paints ©, developed at HunnyBuns Dolls & Reborn Supply by Master Artist Stephanie (Sullivan) Tackett. It’s easy to see that WaterBorne Air Dry Paints are taking the Reborn World by storm! From Beginners to Master Artists, WaterBorne is the most economical and easiest to use of any air dry systems! And I am here to help every step of the way.

-Nontoxic, non-fading, flexible colors & mediums created from premium art grade pigments & ingredients.
-Beautifully translucent colors! All products come in several affordable sizes for your convenience and to suit your budget.
-Full support from Master Artist Stephanie S. Tackett (email:
Join us on Facebook! Ask to join The Art & Magic of Reborning page.

Debbie Henshaw (They Never Grow Up Nursery) was a big help in developing these paints. The results can be seen on her blog: Please note that WB paints, mediums, and the techniques have evolved a bit since she wrote her blog about them. Stay up to date here as I update this page as needed.

April Yap helped with ongoing research and development which is much appreciated. She also has an E-Book Class available to teach you how to use the paints.

FIRST: Wash all doll parts in hot water and dish detergent, & 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, the paint will bead up and won’t stick permanently. No amount of “sealing” the paint will work if the paint isn’t sticking to the vinyl in the first place.

WaterBorne © Clear Base Primer: Because vinyl is a petroleum product, and WaterBorne© is a water-based product, and oil and water don’t mix, we need to ensure full adhesion of the paint to the surface. WB Clear Base Coat Primer does this. At this time I do not recommend other primer coats, but you are welcome to try others and let me know how they work for you.  If you have problems with Clear Base Primer beading up at first, you CAN add a tiny pinch of cornstarch to the mix, blend well and see if it works for you. 


1. “WaterBorne © Air Dry Paints - sold by the set or individual open stock bottles in various sizes.

2. WaterBorne Clear Base Primer - Apply straight from bottle with a smooth cosmetic sponge. IF it gets too thick in time you can thin slightly with distilled water. It will look a bit shiny as it dries and may feel a little sticky. This is NORMAL. Both will disappear as you add paint layers.

3. WaterBorne © SloDri slows down evaporation of the paint on the doll as well as in the palette. You can add up to 50% of this medium to the paint to increase transparency and work time.

4.  NEW!  Flow Medium has recently been added to product line.  Adding too much water will break the bond between pigment and the binders that keep the paint vibrant and ON the vinyl surface.  Adding a few drops of this medium instead of more water will give your paint mix more fluidity, transparency without affecting the adhesion of the paint to the vinyl.  Flow Medium is now included in all Sets.

5.  NEW!  Adhesion Medium:  If for any reason you're having trouble getting WaterBorne paints to stick AFTER priming, you can add this medium at a 1:1 ratio of paint to medium to increase the adhesion properties of the paint blend.  This medium is sold separately.  

5. 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. (it is sold separately on my site)

First, the Good News: No heat needed. Paints dry within a few minutes.  (Debbie Henshaw adds:  "I made it a habit NOT to put layer upon layer at the same moment.")  I allow about 5 minutes between layers. Apply one layer 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 a fully painted doll to dry, depending on humidity.    Sealing & rooting can take place after this.

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 dishwashing 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, 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. I also sell an inexpensive covered palette.

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 similar.  For experienced artists who prefer to blend their own palette, I offer BASIC and TINTING (as well as alternative effects) colors sold individually.

Find GHSP to WB transitional color charts here:


* Blending 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. Brow, Hair & Dk Ethnic Skin Color makes a good dark Ethnic Skin color base.

* Medium Flesh tone, mix the Light and Dark Flesh together.

* 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.

* If you get a doll too purplish or blueish looking, make a thin wash of the Creamy Warm tint and go over the doll with it to cut the purple or blue tint.

* To achieve a very realistic baby-skin mottle, use a thinned down wash of Blush/Lip/Nail color on a honeycomb sponge and dab (pounce) lightly all over.

* Any WaterBorne color can easily be mixed with others to achieve the most creative and natural results. Familiarize yourself with an artist’s color wheel to understand how to mix and blend colors.

TECHNIQUES: WaterBorne paints are concentrated and intended to be thinned with pure water and/or Slo-Dri. Begin painting the doll after the Base Coat and Surface Prep coat has dried to the touch.

Diluting WB colors: Use as many drops of water/SloDri and Flow Medium to each drop of the Flesh colors as you need to achieve a transparent layer of paint. However, you do not want to ever use more than 30% WATER to PAINT.  

HERE is a good explanation why: 

"Paint consists of two components: Pigment and binder. "Medium" and "binder" are the same thing. Pigment is the colour in a paint. 

Thinning means you are spreading out the pigment. If you do that by adding more binder then you can spread it out a lot -thin- it a lot. If you use water to thin you'll quickly break the pigment from the binder and create paint soup."

Each artist will develop their own dilution technique as they get a feel for using WaterBorne paints. 

Blushing: Start with 1 drop of color to about 3 drops of water/SloDri and 1-2 drops of Flow Medium. Adjust as needed.

Veins: 1 drop color to 4-6 drops of water/SloDri and Flow Medium.

Undertone color washes and color correction (mint green): increase the water to 8 drops of water plus Flow Medium to each drop of color, maybe more. Test it before applying to vinyl.

Nailtip/Milia: use straight from the bottle (also can lighten other colors)

Creases & Capillaries: 4-6 drops of water/SloDri/Flow Medium 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).

Apply all colors with a torn cosmetic sponge, honeycomb sponge or brush depending on the effect you want.

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 short while, it becomes permanent. Add WaterBorne Slo-Dri medium to extend the wet time of the paint.  Flow Medium also adds "open" time to the wetness of the paint.

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 (no cheap craft acrylics here!) 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.  To seal the paint, and provide a more matte finish, use WaterBorne © Ultra Matte Sealer after the paint has dried for at least 24 hrs. Also, Ultra Matte Sealer makes a fine base coat, if you run out of primer.

Want more information and step by step guidance? Use coupon code AAM3 at checkout to get a 10% discount on purchase of my book "The Art & Magic of Reborning with Air Dry Paints".