Book of Life Nesting Dolls

Group picture of all of my nesting doll sets so far together. Read more about all my nesting doll sets here.

 I started painting this set of nesting dolls last summer but only just finished them this week! The characters are from Jorge R. Gutierrez's amazing film 'The Book of Life', I adore everything about this film - it's well worth a watch if you haven't seen it.
The set took around 2 weeks of actual painting time to make - all the dolls except the largest were finished last summer, however when I went back to university they ended up sitting on a shelf for several months whilst I focused on Alphabet Patch.

The design process was greatly helped by The Book of Life art book which is incredibly detailed and contains so many designs (again, it's well worth getting!).

 From here I created some designs and figured out how they would wrap around the doll shape. For fatter dolls it can be worth creating four designs for each doll as opposed to just a front and back. I really enjoy the challenge of working out how the design will look good from any angle and how the front and back will fit together seamlessly.
The following designs were done in a sketchbook and then coloured digitally.

Before I can start painting the dolls need to be sanded (I buy blank dolls for this, although one day I hope to learn how to make my own). I then sketch out the design roughly and then start painting! I use acrylic paints for this.
The six smallest dolls and about half of the largest were painted within about 2 weeks. I paint the top and bottom parts separately so that they don't get stuck together. I also tend to start with the face and make sure I am happy with that before painting the rest.

With the largest doll La Muerte, I finished painting everything except the flowers, candles, decorative skulls and hat before stopping. The flowers were the most difficult and frustrating part to paint as they were very detailed and also the yellow paint was very translucent and required multiple coats. The longer I left it the more daunting the process seemed.

Above: how La Muerte stayed for most of the year - lacking flowers and decorative details. I also repainted her facial details in yellow later as I felt the black was too stark. When I finally finished painting the dolls this week I then varnished them with 3 coats which took around 2 days including drying time, and volia! Here are some more pictures of the complete set (click to view larger):

And most excitingly, another set of blank nesting dolls arrived yesterday so the process begins all over! Still deciding what designs to do, but hopefully this next set will be completed a lot quicker than The Book of Life ones.


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