Dolls will always be dolls and there really is no way around that. We can repaint their faces and add new hair and custom made, fitted clothes, but they will always be dolls. The dolls I make start out as toys and then I change them until they look less like dolls and are less like toys. Because that's all we can hope for. But what do we do to make the dolls look less like dolls? And what do I really mean by that?These first 2 dolls were made fairly recently. One in July and one last week. Both have padding added on their rear ends so they sit well, both have new hair and both have custom made clothes. However the doll on the right also has padding added to her waste. She still looks like a very thin lady but she also looks more human.
You can really see the difference from the back. The doll on the left has a sort of pinched waste and the doll on the right looks like a person. If you are not completely familiar with dolls you may even need to look twice to see that the doll on the right is in fact a doll. But the photos were taken in the same spot in my yard and from the same angles (lucky for me I always take certain angles). My newer dolls also have a few other standard body upgrades but they were discussed in a previous post. Changing the base doll takes time but the results I think are well worth it.
Now making dolls look more like real human beings is only part of what I meant by "making dolls look less like dolls". My best example of that is this group shot. Now a shot like this is actually very hard to get and takes a lot of time. But since I have used this as my website header, my blog header, on my business cards, gift certificates and so on, I thought it was worth the effort. It took hours to get this photo to look like this. With this many dolls there were so many opportunities for something to look like a doll. So I took bunches of photos, uploaded them, studies what needed to be fixed, fixed it, took more photos and so on. Hours. And then if the dolls in the back row fell over (which they did a few times, lol!) I had to start that section over again. The cowboy in red still looks sort of doll-like but most everyone else looks more like a person. The pink western doll on the far left is whispering something to the youth doll. The ladies in front are leaning in to cuddle with my "Travis" doll. Just a few things real people might be doing in a group photo.
After the photos were uploaded, and I could clearly see all the details, I would adjust the dolls to make them look less like dolls. If they had a shiny spot on their face I would move them so the flash wouldn't hit them in the same way. If they looked stiff and unnatural in their chairs I would bend them a bit more so they looked like they were actually sitting comfortably in the chairs. It took a lot of time but it was fun as well.
Then their is the "doll love" photo, also from the last post. Dolls don't really want to sit on picnic tables, even if the tables are in 1:9 scale. So I had to bend them and squish them to make them sit there. And then the cowboy was a bit reluctant to hold onto his sweetheart. He kept popping off the table! I didn't go inside to upload the photos to study them but did enlarge them on my camera display. When the dolls looked as if they were staring vacantly off into space I would adjust the angle of their heads or the angle I took the photo from. This photo was nice but...
...this was my favorite. I also noticed that the guy looked like he was hovering off the table so a little more cropping and voila! The dolls look less like dolls and more like a couple enjoying a romantic moment. And from the angle I took the photo it looks like the lady is looking into her man's eyes. In fact her head is turned very far to the left. It is physically possible (I tried it) but it's not comfortable. In the photo it looks natural and sweet.
Now setting up dolls in date scenes and group shots is probably totally pointless for most people but attention to details like how a doll is sitting and where your doll is looking can really help you in the show ring. If your doll is vaguely looking off in the opposite direction as your horse is moving, it will look like a doll. But if you have the doll focused on the same area the horse is headed, it will look less like a doll. Which is all we can hope for ☺.