Photos are in the works.
- Polymer clay in the color you want the (whites of the eye) to be. You can use fimo, premo, etc. anything but original sculpey. Alternatively you can use round glass or stone beads.
- Acrylic paints
- Clear acrylic gloss, good quality clear nailpolish can also be used but some brands can change color when heated (I lost several nice eyes when the nailpolish I used turned orangey).
- Toothpicks or tapered round clay shaper
- Fine point round or liner paintbrush for the iris (size 3/0 round is what I’m using)
- Larger round or flat brush for the gloss (I’m using a size 5 round)
- Reference photos of eyes.
First of all you need to pick what type of eyes you are creating, is it human? feline? dragon? creature from the black lagoon?. I’m going to be doing two sets of eyes as examples, one human using polymer clay balls and one dragon using glass beads.
Next I gather my reference material. For humans it’s easy, there’s a wealth of photos out there showing human eyes. I simply pick the color eye I would like to do and find examples. For a creature such as a dragon it’s a little harder but more fun, I find pictures of different animals which have interesting eyes that I might want to include ideas from, these could be cats, lizards, snakes, birds, since I’m doing a mythical creature the possibilities are endless. Here are links to a few helpful websites.
<few example photos>
Now you need to decide what size the eye should be. I wrote up a chart showing eye sizes and at common scales. For imaginary creatures you can choose an animal similar in size or work out for yourself what size you think it should be. If you are using beads simply get two the right size, bead stores always list the size in milimeters of beads which makes picking the right size nice and easy.
If you are making polymer clay balls you need to roll out two balls, this is sort of trial and error. I’ve yet to figure out a reliable way of estimating exactly the amount of clay needed for a certain sized ball, if anyone does please send me an email so I can add it to this tutorial. I use a compass to draw a circle the size that I need on a pice of paper and match the balls up to it, a set of circle templates in milimeter sizes would probaby work even better but I don’t happen to have one.
<pics of beads and clay balls>
Adding a wire to each eye helps to make it both easier to set into a sculpt and also gives you something to hold onto while painting. For beads the best thing is to use a wire gauge the same size as the hole and bring it up flush to the front of the bead. Of you don’t have wire the exact size glue in a smaller wire and use a little epoxy or clay to fill the hole in the front of the bead. For clay balls just pop a little wire in the back of each one before baking. This wire also make bakign them a little easier poke the other end into a piece of scrap clay so they stand upright while baking, no wories of one side flattening in the oven.
Now for the fun part. Get your reference pictures and paint supplies together. First carefully paint the shape of the iris, for both of my eyes today they’ll be round but not every animal has a round iris, goats for example have a slightly oval iris. This is a little easier if you use a stencil such as a circle template or paper with the right sized hole cut in it or you can do it freehand whcih is what I do.
Next is shading the eye. Using a very light touch add small strokes of color matching the iris pattern of your reference (or your imagination). Most eyes will have a variety of shades, at least 3 other than the base color. I like adding a little irridescent or mettalic paint to creature eyes, gives them even more added depth.
If you are doing an eye with round or oval pupils you can use a clay shaper or toothpick to add the pupil. If the pupil has sharper points like a cat’s eye you’ll probably need to use a brush.
Once the paint has dried put a drop of gloss on the eye just covering the iris. If you are using a glass bead you are done. If you are using clay balls wait for that drop to dry then add a coat of gloss over the entire ball. The reason for adding the drop is to simulate the lens of the eye, if you only glossed the whole eye without the added drop over the iris it would lack some of the depth of a real eye.
<pics of finished eyes>
The more practice you have the quicker making these become. For human eyes I make them in batches at the scales I use the most in a variety of colors.