Painting Eyes in a miniature model

On every new model I start I like to try and push my skills up a little. On my last model I wanted to push my eye details further than I had before on a <1mm eyeball. On my earliest models it was a challenge just to get the pupil in the right area so the character didn’t look like it had been shot in the eye or had cross-eyes. As I kept practicing I started trying to put a bit of colour behind the pupil to indicate eye colour, then I added a blackline before the whites so that they stood out. Then I started neatening up the transition in the layers so that each layer was the shape I intended, not just the shape I got when I quickly stabbed the eye with a random amount of paint on it. Gradually over the years I increased my brush control until an eye could become a very intentional result, not a happy accident.

With this latest model:

I went even further with more layers than ever before and I can say I’m really pleased with the result. The process for these eyes was as follows:

  1. Simple skin tone all over the face
  2. A shadowy skin tone in the recesses of the eye socket
  3. A black oval filling the entire eye
  4. A white oval covering that and only leaving the thinnest black line around the edges from the previous step
  5. Another black circle, placed slightly towards the centre of the eye, overlapping the top eyelid, only just touching the bottom one.
  6. The first layer of my iris colour (army green) in a smaller circle over the last black circle leaving only a thin black line as outline for the iris
  7. The second layer of a contrasting light green/yellow to give the iris some depth
  8. A smaller black circle in the top middle of the iris for a pupil
  9. A few choice flecks of white to indicate reflections of the surrounding light.

The resulting eye reads clearly whether up close or far away, is not so detailed as to look ‘real’ but detailed enough to not look cartoony either. I think the next thing to try on eyes would be to add more interest and depth to the whites of the eyes, as the plain white is a bit unrealistic and it could look more natural with a slightly yellowed white and a red tinge to the sides. Overall very happy with this version.