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Blog of the Week: Live Dolls by Noel Cruz

A Philippine artist paints dolls faces to make them look like miniature Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, Michael Jackson, princess Diana, Johnny Depp and other celebrities.


A Philippine Noel Cruz makes new faces for mass produced dolls. He has become famous because of the striking likeness of his dolls to the celebrities they represent. The artist’s Instagram blog has over 43,000 subscribers, his Facebook page has been followed 124,000 times.

Noel started to draw and paint as a child. By 16 he was already making a living with his artistic talent. When his wife started collecting Barbie dolls, a new field of work opened for Cruz.

The transformation process begins with the hair. “Hairstyling is a very arduous process. Depending on the style, it may be cut first, then small curlers are set into the hair,” Noel writes on his website. After that the artist removes all factory paint with acetone. Then Cruz starts to repaint the doll, using photographs of the celebrity being painted. The most important thing about repainting a celebrity doll is its shape. “If the shape of the face, eye placement and nose, jaw-line are as close or a match to the celebrity being repainted, then the odds are in your favour.” Noel explains on his website.


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It takes three days to a few weeks to do one personage. Every doll is unique, there are no two dolls that are alike. The figurines have an average hight of 12 to 16 inches (ca. 30 and 40 cm) and are highly in demand on eBay. At Noel’s website the starting auction price is $1250 per figurine. The Katniss Everdeen doll, The Hunger Games protagonist played by Jennifer Lawrence, sold for $2500, and in 2008 an unknown buyer paid over $3000 for the Angelina Jolie doll.

The artist shares his experience with those who would like to learn how to paint as well as he does. “First, you have to really understand the musculoskeletal structure of the human anatomy. You need to really study lights, darks, and how the subtle nuance of a slight shade can create a jawline, a smile, a smirk or a fine line.” Cruz is convinced that a lot of practice is the only way to success, “never adopt the ‘good enough’ attitude,” he recommends.


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