Thursday, January 13, 2011

† Tutorial: How to make a BJD Head†

Tutorial: How to Make a BJD Head in polymer clay


You will have to have a few things in order to complete the head (ONLY THE HEAD MIND YOU)
  • Super Sculpey Living Doll  (No, ordinary Super Sculpey won’t do. Trust me.)
  • Tools for sculpting (dentist tools, soft sculpting tools)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Paper tape
  • Baking paper to put your doll on while baking
  • Dremel  or other multitool (with sanding-, drilling , cutting tool)
  •   Different types of sanding paper
  •    Plastic Eyes for dummytesting your doll’s eyewells  (Or you can buy silicon eyes when you are done, they should fit well even without testing)
  •   Rolling-pin that is not used for foods
  • Thermometer for ovens. 

Make a Blueprint

No matter if you are going to make a whole doll or just the head, you should always use a blueprint.
First of all I suggest you to think it over what size your final head should be. You can look around at various sites selling dolls and on most of them you should find measurements which you can use as a base for your head.
As I am making a MSD I wanted his head to be 6-8” all around (I would suggest you to think that over, all wigs for dolls DO NOT come in all sizes).

There are a few ways on which you can get a blueprint:
Get a big paper and freehand draw your wanted doll in accurate size. Make one from the front and one from the left or right side of your doll. Also make the feet and the hands, as if they were foot- and handprints on the paper.


If you suck at drawing on free hand or if you’re a bit lazy like me you can get a free template for your doll from Aimi Doll
I picked a doll template that I found best for my MSD but you should really pick the one you like.

After that, I downloaded a trial version of Corel Draw. I can’t give you an exact guide on how I did the rest but if you take 15-20 minutes to get to know Corel Draw and read a few guides on the subject I think you can pull this off.
Anyhow, I used Corel Draw to get the doll in a correct size. You should use MATH for this.

Example on math you need to know:
You want the head to be 7”.
7”/Pi = diameter.
The resulting diameter is of course the head from ear to ear.

It might take some time to get this right but when you do it is really worth it. Don’t worry to get it PERFECT. Your doll won’t be -perfect- in that sense either.
You should do this with the rest of the head too, like the placement of the eyes, mouth etc.

When you are done, export your doll from Corel Draw. If your doll is going to be 40 cm, the final blueprint should be around 40 cm as well.

I downloaded a trial version of Poster7 and imported my blueprint. When I was asked what size I wanted the paper output to be I chose 45 cm, as that is the length of my blueprint. Poster7 then printed my blueprint on 4 pages which I had to tape together.

If you should have major difficulties with this step, feel free to contact me!

Make the head 
Now, put your blueprint on the table and crumple a piece of aluminum foil.

Tape it with paper tape (or masking tape). As long as the tape is made of PAPER you should be fine.

Roll a piece of your clay out so that is covers the whole area around the aluminum core.

Now start making the head! First I suggest you mark where you want the facial features to be, before you sculpt.

Look at plenty of picture of both faces and doll faces. I printed quite a few doll pictures so I had a reference.
Or if you do not want to waste paper, just use a mirror! :D

Does he/she look like a sweety now? If not, change the features you do not like. It is better to kill your darlings at this step than doing it later.
Pull out the clay in the eyesockets. They should be empty when you bake him/her.
Also, do not forget to apply ears!

Now, bake! Use the thermometer to get the correct temperature. I made the mistake of trusting the oven that 130 C really is 130 C. It turned out to be 180 C!
Keep the thermometer in the oven the whole time while baking.

If you do not have a splendid oven on which you trust your life I suggest you babysit the clay the entire time.
Put the head chin down in the oven to minimize deformation.

Is it done?

Let it cool until the temperature is the same as the room’s and enjoy the head you’ve made!

Pull out a pen and draw on the head so you know where to cut. Don’t be too generous or too shy on  this point, you are really making the headcap.

Put on your safety gear and your dremel with a cutting disc. Take a deep breath and cut along the side of the head.
When you can take them apart you are done. Don’t worry if the clay inside is not fully baked, you can bake that again later. It should be fairly baked though.

Pull out a few tools of your choice and start to pull the aluminum foil out along with the paper tape.
When you are done you should have a pretty little head on which you can sand, drill or anything you want.

Pull out your multitool and drill a hole in the bottom of the head where the neck shall be. If you accidentally drilled a hole that is too big or at the wrong place, fill the hole a bit with fresh clay and bake again. Be sure to pull the clay at the insides of the head before rebaking, so that the fresh clay sticks as good as possible.

 Sand him/her now. You should sand both inside and outside. Test the eyes, see if they fit in the eye sockets. If they do not, don’t worry. Just sand a bit more. If you can’t do that because the clay is too thin I suggest you should buy silicon / soft glass eyes as they fill out gaps better than acrylic or glass eyes.
Also, professional dollmakers makes mistakes that render their dolls unable to use glass eyes so you should not feel weak about that.

The head cap you can make in many different ways. One way is to build an inner lock mechanism like I try to do.
You can also buy magnets to make it fit better. Really, I can’t say exactly how to do this step so I leave it to you to figure it out.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful!



  1. Svar: nej har har aldrig varit på ett dockmöte men jag kommer gå på de när Hana kommit hem. så vi ses på något möte förmodligen då ^^

    tycker de e jättespännande o se hur din pojke blir!!! lycka till med honom! kram <3

  2. thank you so much for the tutorial

    i want to try to make a BJD i think is so difficult

  3. i'm sorry for spamming you but this is sooo awsome. :3 thank you for the tutorial!

  4. The person who drilled ear holes in my resin doll made them a tad too big? Am I stuck now with these? Can I fix them in any way? Thanks.

  5. Pat, I am not sure but I suppose there is a way to fix this.

    Be aware that I have not tested these methods, so I do not know if it works nor do I take any responsibility it if doesn't. Test these materials in the headcap first to see if it sticks or stains!

    Now, in case your doll has an african skintone you could probably use something called Kneadatite or brown stuff. It is a two component epoxy and should be able to fit that. It hardens after a time and leaves a dull chocolate colour.

    In case your doll has any other skin colour... hm. You could try milliput, which is another two component epoxy. It comes in yellow, terracotta and white, so if you have caucasian skintone you will probably have to mix two or three of them to get the right colour. According to their website, milliput is used to fix dolls.

    I strongly suggest you call or email these companies first to see if it will stain resin or not.

    If you are looking for a fast but not temporary solution you could test Super Sculpey Living Doll. It is not airdrying so it will be moist during all use but at the same time does not stain. You may already use it for your doll's eye putty.

    Hope I could help!

  6. Sorry, I meant that super sculpey living doll was temporary, not permanent! >_<''

  7. How did you make the chin area?
    It looks like with the taping and such the area above the mouth and such was the only one with the aluminum core.

  8. Hey!
    Thanks SOOOO much for the tutorial!
    I was just wondering, how long are suppossed to bake the head for?