How to Paint Nesting Dolls

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.

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.


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!


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.

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.

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!

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

About the Author

Lindsey Crafter is your go-to crafting and styling guru. She graduated from the Fashion Institute in New York City, but left the industry to pursue crafting and sewing instruction. In her free time, she enjoys creating alternative jewelry, haggling at flea markets,and pushing the limits of renovating her rental apartment.