French artist Marie of YouplaDolls combines her love of BJDs with her love of 3D printing to create beautiful dolls and doll heads that enchant her collectors.
Q: Could you tell me a little about yourself?
A: I am French, 28 years old, and it is now 2 years since I launched YouplaDolls.
I did graphic design studies (2D only) and on leaving school I was hired in a video game company.
It is in this company that I learned 3D modeling. I immediately loved it, especially the modeling of characters!
Unfortunately the company has closed, and I resumed more standard graphic design.
Two years ago, with the arrival of the home 3D printer, I wanted to try to make a doll completely. I already started taking make-up commissions. A little later I resigned my job to devote myself to YouplaDolls.
Q: How did you discover BJDs?
A: I discovered them when looking for information on Disney dolls.
I always liked dolls; I had boxes full of Barbie and others when I was little (that I still have!). Looking for more information, I came across a picture of a BJD (a Fairyland). It interested me right away: a whole world that I didn’t know.
I think that the first thing that attracted me the most is the possibility of painting the face: I immediately wanted to try!
Q: When did you first start making dolls?
A: After two years of collecting and doing makeup, I really wanted to try to make a whole doll. I love 3D modeling; I can spend the day without seeing it pass. I asked about the price of 3D printers, and I thought it was doable. I bought everything and started! The 3D printer is magic!
Q: Did you take commissions to paint other people’s dolls then? If so, do you still also take face-painting jobs?
A: Yes! I painted make-up from the beginning. First on mine (fortunately because it wasn’t wonderful) and then by commission. I love painting a lot, but it takes a lot of time and I can’t take commissions today in addition to YouplaDolls.
On the other hand I always paint make-up on my dolls for conventions.
Q: What was the first doll that you created?
A: The first doll I realized is Zopa, a little boy of 35cm. I wanted to make a little Tibetan monk! I always liked male dolls and couldn’t find what I wanted in this size.Today Zopa is discontinued but he is always special for me as he was the first.
Q: Can you list your dolls from first release to last? How tall are they?
A: In order, this is what came out: Zopa: full boy (35cm); Zenji: SD boy head; Ziya: full girl (38cm); Mei & Emi: Anime SD heads ; Vàna: full girl (38cm).
Q: Do your dolls fit into any standard size BJD clothing? What size wigs and shoes do they wear?
It was not necessarily easy to dress up Zopa, and I was careful in creating the MSD girl body so that it was compatible with a lot of clothes.
For shoes, the low boots and boots in Minifee size go well.
On the other hand for heeled shoes, I created resin shoes that were available during preorders.
Q: What is your general process in designing your dolls? Do you have an idea first or do you play around until you make something you like?
A: I usually save photos of people who inspire me. I have a big folder with lots of photos. When I start a new doll, I have in mind the character that it’s going to have, and I search in my file for photos that correspond to what I have in mind.
Of course I don’t copy someone’s face, but I try to take the feature that I like (the shape of the eyes, the shape of the nose, the mouth). In the end the face can be very different from my references. From time to time I model a face without any reference, just desires, but it’s rather rare.
Q: You are currently working on a new BJD? If so, can you tell me more about the doll you are designing? Is it a boy or girl?
A: I just finished an MSD boy of 45cm, who will be the companion or big brother of Ziya / Vàna. It exists with an Elven head: Vaeron and a human head: Vlad.
I worked a lot on his joints because it’s very important for me that a BJD boy poses well.
I also finished an SD of 56cm height. I have completely rebuilt the body in more mature proportions (and more muscular!).
Q: Will you be attending any upcoming Doll events or conventions in the near future?
A: The next convention where I’ll be present is the Paris Dolls Rendez-vous on December 3rd. I hope to show my two new dolls and make full-sets for sale. The preorders for these two dolls will arrive next year!
Photos above from top: Zopa, resin heels for 1/4 girls