Three Wise Men “Paint like a Saint” tutorial


By Jen Brooke

Materials Needed:

  • Peg dolls 3.5″
  • variety acrylic craft paint
  • variety small, good quality paint brushes
  • your design (templates provided)
  • water, paper towels, a styrofoam plate for your palette, newspaper or plastoic to cover your surface to work
  • a water based clear coat like Minwax

Approximate time to finish 2-3 dolls 4-6 hours




You will need a cup with water to keep your brushes in a paper towel to wipe them off and a palette for your paint. You will want a small palette with 2-3 base colors of your saint probably skin color, hair color and predominant clothing color.   Only put a small amount of paint on your plate (the size of a dime) you can always add more and you can add a little water if it dries. You won’t use very much paint.

It’s easy to paint 3 Saints at one time. You should paint at least two coats of each color and you need time in between to let each coat dry, so it works well to paint your first piece, then the second and third and fourth and then come back around 1-4 for the 2nd coat.

You will also want to paint the doll in layers as you would get dressed, so we start with basic under coats and add layers and details as we go always using 2-3 coats for good coverage.

ALWAYS PAINT THE bottom first, usually your main clothing color, two coats, let them dry, then the dolls can stand for the rest of the painting.

After you paint the bottom, you can move to the head.  Paint the entire head the skin tone color, two coats.  Then you can add the hair.

After the Bottom and head are finished you can move the main portion or body section. following your template paint the entire body 1-2 coats of the clothing color. (Your entire peg doll should be covered now.

And it’s time to move to details.  **My only advice here is to keep your details fairly simple.  This is the most time consuming part and difficult to complete if you don’t have any previous formal painting experience. For example if your Saint is holding something you may just want a small flesh colored oval or circle rather than trying to paint a detailed hand.

It will depend on your design  you’ll want to consider the layers and perspective of your image you want to create whether you will paint clothing details first (like a belt, a robe or trim on a gown) or other details like hands, objects being held, a cross a flower etc.

The face and small outlines or hair highlights are the very last thing you will finish.  It’s really up to you how detailed you would like these to be.  If you look online- you will see hundreds of options for painting styles from very simple faces to very detailed.  Make sure your doll is dry between each step. You’ll always need to be holding the doll with one hand and painting with the other. And you’ll get frustrated if you smudge your work.  Be patient.

Optional last step: The very last step is to cover the entire doll with a clear coat.  once your Saint is completely dry, using a larger brush and a water based clear coat, give your new icon 2 good coats on all sides.  (You’ll need a drying rack of some sort for this step.  And finally with a sharpie or paint pen, write the Saint’s name and feast date on the bottom (write very small).


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