How to Paint Nesting Dolls

(Image: Lindsey Crafter)

Paint your own nesting dolls to give as gifts or to add whimsical friends to a bookshelf! Let your creativity run wild - try non-traditional characters and patterns to customize these classic toys to suit the owner. For this tutorial I created "friendly robots" by adding dials, grates, gizmos and gadgets, but you can easily add classically sweet doll faces and flowers by following the same steps below.

Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic Paint in Various Colors 
  • Small Paint Brushes 
  • Fine Tip Permanent Markers 
  • Thin Masking Tape 
  • Water & Paper Towels 
  • Unfinished Wood Nesting Dolls 
  • Pencil 
  • Gloss Sealer 
  • Cotton Swabs

Step 1: Sketch & Prep Your Details

Using a pencil, sketch out a face, arms and any other details you want to include on your dolls. Creating a guide will make painting easier and pencil won't show through the layers of paint.

(Image: Lindsey Crafter)


  • You can add polka dots or stripes easily with a few household items: Use cotton swabs for painting polka dots and thin masking tape for straight stripes!

(Image: Lindsey Crafter)

Step 2: Paint

Using small paintbrushes, fill in the details you've sketched out with several thin layers of paint. Let paint dry between layers for bolder colors.

(Image: Lindsey Crafter)

Step 3: Detail With a Marker

When your painted dolls are completely dry use a fine-tipped permanent marker to add fine details and outline shapes.

Adding gauges, screws and buttons with a fine-tipped marker.
Adding gauges, screws and buttons with a fine-tipped marker. (Image: Lindsey Crafter)

Step 4: Seal , Dry & Stack

Give your dolls a high-gloss finish with a layer of clear sealer. This will prevent details from chipping or scratching off. Allow to dry overnight before stacking!

(Image: Lindsey Crafter)

Leave questions or ideas for us to try in the comments below-- happy crafting!

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