The artist begins by selecting a doll that he or she will use as their base. Most commonly used that I have seen is the barbie doll or barbie-like doll. Although Volks dolls are becoming more popular, even though they are much more expensive. However if your looking to make an anime style doll, then Volks is it! Of course when being creative, an artist may use any base doll they choose. I have seen OOAK's in which only the face was repainted, or the face was repainted and the hair restyled. As well the doll might be wearing clothes completely unique and hand sewn by the artist. A face repaint is very popular, but takes special patience, as once the old paint is removed from the face, bringing your idea to life with a tiny paintbrush isn't the easiest thing to do. I for one am always having trouble finding a brush thin enough for tiny eyelashes. I've seen artists who can re-lash a doll, inserting fake eyelashes. I haven't the patience or skill for that. It takes a lot of experimentation and a bit of know-how to get your individual creation just right.
If I am only doing a hairstyle and/or facial repaint, then I will begin by styling the hair. It's up to you as to which you find easiest, but I find that styling the hair afterwards is risking botching up your paint job. I'm not going to get into hairstyling or cutting hair on a tiny barbie dolls head, that is an art all unto itself.Sometimes I will come across a doll in which the original hair has been completely taken out, and completely new hair rerooted in. Not easy, time consuming, and if you make a mistake, you could have a ruined doll head on your hands.
I find that the best way to create a one of a kind, is to have an idea of what I want the end result to be. If it is a faerie, a furry, or a glamorous star. Wings, tails, muzzles, modified limbs, hair, clothing, fur, etc. It all must be taken into account before hand. I have an entire table full of scraps of fur, glitter, glue, tiny pieces for handmade doll jewelry and clothes..tons of craft stuff.
Myself, I enjoy experimenting with creating anthropomorphic dolls and fantasy creations. I go for the big changes, rather than small subtle ones. Style is up to the individual. I've only touched upon what could fill pages and pages, but I'm not doing a tutorial. Perhaps I've only made you curious or interested, then I've done what I intended to do. :)
DarkSilver's Den and artwork © S.Despres