Thursday, August 18, 2011

Painting eyes - do you or don't you?

I agree painting eyes can be difficult and a little time consuming but if done well can really bring a model to life and make it 'pop'.

It is perhaps more suited to some of the more 'heroic scaled' 28mm figs, that have a decent amount of facial features sculpted in.

It does take practice and steady hand and a fine tip brush.

Here's a pic of what i do, its a bit crude but you get the idea:

1. block paint base flesh colour
2. give a wash of brown colour, this will define nose and eyes
3. paint a white line across eye, this is usually the easy bit. If you make it too wide, let if dry and brush over with a slightly darker tone to base flesh tone you used (to match the base flesh tone plus wash)
4. Now do a vertical black line through the middle of the eye, starting by resting brush tip on middle of eye brow, and drag downwards. I find this far easier than trying to stab a black dot in the centre of the white line with a brush tip that will deform as you do so. It also helps your aim and focus and fines out the brush tip as you drag downwards.
5. Now reduce the excess black line carefully brushing over with a slightly darker tone to base flesh tone you used.
6. Add highlights to face to finish.

I will agree, this can be hard depending on posture of figure, and other things getting in the way; bushy beards and eyebrows, hats and helmets, especially helmets with face guards... but its still possible...

Another trick I have heard about though not tried is dotting in the pupil using a cocktail stick

Educational resource:
Online art classes are available for people who love art.


  1. Since I'm almost always painting troops for massed armies, I never paint eyes.

    While I agree that they can make an individual figure look great, it is a detail that is lost in a mass of figures at three or four feet.

    If I was painting single figures, I might try it . . . and I certainly admire those who do paint eyes . . . but it is not for my type of gaming.

    -- Jeff

  2. Eyes!? For mass figs..I´ll do the "clown effect, for single figs then the eyes are the thing that makes it alive. I think..and it´s only a suggestion, that you will find that basing the face with middle brown then using white with a bit of yellow mixed for the eyes is better than pure white. Also...if you have based the fig with black to start with...a paint as you have shown...but don´t do the black line for the pupils....wait. When the face is finished...take a pin or a needle, then take a deep breath,,,concentrate and with the tip of the pin push through to the black undercoat....this way you can put the pupils exactly where you want them...;-D

  3. I used to paint eyes all the time, but I've realized that even at 28mm when painting large amount of troops it is complete waste of time. It's fine for leaders/characters or small groups of models, but not more IMHO.
    The thing with eyes is that if you don't do it perfect on each and everyone model it can ruin what would otherwise be a good paint job, while if you don't do them at all it will largely go unnoticed.;-)
    Nice examples btw.


  4. Like the others, I don't bother with eyes for mass troops. In fact, if you look at some of the eyes painted on some models, they are totally our of proportion with the head. At that scale, you wouldn't be able to see the whites unless it was a model of... Marty Feldman!

    Having said all that, I do think the eyes add a nice touch and I try to do so for "set piece" models. I've seen some eyes done so well, I wonder how such detail can be applied at such a scale.

    I liked your tutorial, and will give it a shot myself.

  5. Great tutorial, I'm going to test it on my 'Dunedain of the North' miniatures...


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