How To Apply Matte Varnish To Reborn Doll? (Step by Step)

Are you a doll artist working on perfecting a reborn doll? Unlike other figurines, working on a reborn doll is much more time-consuming.

This is why many times, doll artists skip past a step – applying varnish to the doll. This step is imperative for giving the doll as realistic a look as possible. We recommend using matte instead of the traditional varnish.

For those of you wondering about how to apply matte varnish to reborn doll, the process is thorough but simple once you get the hang of it.

In short, all you have to do is get the right supplies, like paintbrushes and varnish, get your doll ready by painting it and finally apply and seal the matte varnish.

Sounds like a breeze, right? Let us now delve deeper to ensure that you don’t make any mistakes during the application.

How To Apply Matte Varnish To Reborn Doll

Applying Matte Varnish – Demystifying the Process

Since matte application varnish differs from traditional painting, it is easy to make a misstep. Here are the four core steps of how to apply matte varnish to reborn doll to avoid having any rough surfaces.

Get the required supplies

To get started, you need to first gather the required supplies.

This includes:

  • Matte Varnish
  • Medium-sized paintbrushes
  • Wedges
  • Paper Towels

Out of all the mentioned things, the only material that will take your time is the hero of the hour – matte varnish.

The chances are you already have paintbrushes and wedges lying around since a doll artist is always in need of these supplies, especially paper towels, considering how messy the process of varnishing the dolls is! You will easily find each of these items in a local store.

It is only the matte varnish with which you might have to spend time doing research about what type to buy and where to get it from.

So, how do you choose a matte varnish? We would suggest looking out for heat-activated varnishes. This ensures that the varnish would not get dried out when the lid is open.

This is one of the biggest issues with general matte varnishes and can be a source of a hassle considering how time-consuming the application process can get.

How To Apply Matte Varnish To Reborn Doll

Apart from this, a good idea would be to seek out user reviews about different matte varnishes before picking one.

While every brand will tell you that their product is the one that will beautify your doll to perfection, it is the fellow doll artists who would be truthful about which product works and which doesn’t.

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It’s time to prepare the doll!

Once you have your essentials ready, it is time to proceed to one of the most crucial steps of the reborning process – preparing your doll for varnish application. This is where mistakes can easily be made, which can lead to the formation of rough textures.

Let’s first understand the purpose of matte varnish.

Matte varnish is applied to balance off the glossy texture of reborn dolls so that they can look more life-like. After all, when was the last time you saw a baby with shiny skin? If you apply the varnish first and then paint over it, this purpose is defeated.

Hence, when prepping the doll, make sure to get the painting job done beforehand.

Here is how you can paint the doll before applying matte varnish to it:

  • De-assemble the doll into parts for an even layer in every section.
  • Apply multiple layers of painting, each of which builds on the previous one. This includes neutralizing, veining, blushing, shading, and mottling.
  • Bake each layer of paint in an oven. Once it is taken out and cooled down, add another layer of paint before baking it too. Repeat this process until the desired skin tone effect has been reached.
  • After skin tone, to further make the doll look real, you can add features like birthmarks, nail tips, and blemishes.
  • Paint the eyebrows and baby hairs on the forehead and face. Bake each of these layers as well.

Once the painting job is done, it is time to apply the matte varnish. Do not progress to this stage unless you are completely satisfied with the painting process.

Applying the Matte Varnish

Now, we get to the main part – applying the matte varnish. The process itself is not complicated at all. The only key thing you need to keep in mind is how careful and delicate you have to be. But, considering that you are a doll artist, we are sure you have already mastered the finesse of applying paints and varnishes.

To apply matte varnish, you must:

  • Dip your medium-sized paintbrush into the can of varnish. Brush off any excess by tapping softly on the side of the can.
  • Rub the surface of the doll very gently with the varnish-clad brush. Try to keep the layer of varnish as thin as possible. Don’t let blobs form since they will be very prominent once the coat dries.
  • Use wedges to even out the varnish.
  • For areas that are harder to reach, like around the nostrils and under the eyes, use a hard-bristle paintbrush.

While you are at it, remember to not overdo this step. You only require one coat for a smooth finish. Varnish is very thin and often is not visible. This is why it is easy to apply excess on a given spot. This will be much more visible once the varnish is heated, but by then, it will be too late to rectify the mistake.

Also, be very careful not to have any strands of hair, fabric, or specks of dust when applying the coat. This is because once the coat hardens, these items will be stuck in place. Keep old newspapers and paper towels handy during the process to avoid making a mess.

Heat it up

Reborning a doll requires a lot of oven time. Just like you did in the painting step, once you are done applying the matte varnish, you must heat the doll parts to bake them into place.

Also, make sure to never use your home oven for this task. The last thing you would want is to have toxins from the paint and varnish to linger in an oven where you and your family heat your meals.

Here is how you can heat up the doll after applying matte varnish:

  • Preheat the oven to 270 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spread out the doll parts at a distance from one another on a sheet. Place them in the oven.
  • Let one side bake for five minutes before taking the sheet out and flipping the parts over. Repeat the process.
  • Once done, remove the doll and cool it down.

After your doll has cooled down to normal temperature, all that is left is to reassemble it and observe how eerily accurate the skin now looks to that of an actual baby!

The Upside of using Matte Varnish

Are you, like many novice doll artists, wondering if you could skip this step? We would highly advise you not to.

Yes, it is surely very time-consuming. But, it will help you realize various benefits as well. This includes:

  • Curtailing the glossy texture of a reborn doll that is prevalent after the painting process. This glossy texture goes against the essence of the doll, whose purpose is to imitate a human baby as closely as possible.
  • Only varnish can add additional realistic textures to certain areas of the doll.
  • Varnish helps in sealing the paint, thereby improving the durability of the reborning procedure. It also helps protect the paint from getting damaged due to humidity in the air.
  • Adding a matte finish helps in achieving a skin tone akin to humans. Usually, dolls are very pale. The varnish helps avoid this glaring classification.

The Right Time to Apply Varnish to Your Reborn

Right at the end. The only right time to apply varnish is once you are done with painting the doll and before you attach the hair to its head.

This is because sticking the hair can be quite messy. And if you do it before applying the varnish, there is one more element you will have to be careful around, or else strands of hair will get stuck beneath the varnish layer!


Now that you know how to apply matte varnish to reborn doll make sure to never skip this step, regardless of how much the tired soul inside you tells you to!

We understand that working with a reborn doll is a very challenging task. The hours it takes and the precision it requires would make anyone want to take shortcuts. But, doing so will lead you to waste your effort in the long run.

After all, it is the varnish that seals the paint (and all your effort!) into place. The material gives a finish that helps distinguish a reborn doll from a normal one.

So, apply the matte varnish and revel your craft for a long time to come!

Sarah Collins

I’m the mother of two wonderful children. My oldest son John is 7 years old, and my daughter Jemma is a little seven-month-old girl. My kids are the main reason why I decided to start this website. Having been a mother for the last 7 years, I’d like to share some useful tips with anyone who might be interested.

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