Finally got eyes right for once!

Is there some secret to eyes? This is literally the first model that looks right that I’ve ever done.


In the words of Dallas Kemp: Patience, Practice and Perseverance.

The thing many people get “wrong” when trying to paint eyes is their focus on getting the whites done, and the result is huge blobs of white on the face. But considering the distance from which models are usually looked at on the tabletop, the whites of the eyes are not the thing that would, or should, be visible - but the shadow around them and below the eyebrows.

Most people’s eyes are naturally sunken in the head, so when seen from a distance (so people look very small in our eye, just like a miniature seen from two feet away) we see their eyes as dark, not as white. So it’s better to leave a model’s eye all black rather than all white. If you want a little more detail and life, a glint of (off-)white in the corner works wonders.

Only if you want the model to look good from up close should you bother with more detailed eyes. At that level my usual recipe is to paint the whole eye black or dark brown, then paint dots of off-white on the sides of the pupil, and finally touch up on the pupil with black if I messed up with the white. That’s the best I can do with 30 mm scale miniatures.

Your Reinholdt’s eyes look great, by the way. I think you nailed the expression.

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Those are very neat, nice work! The only “secret” I’ve found to doing eyes is to use strong light, magnification (reading glasses or even a loupe), a small brush with paint that is thin enough to flow easily (but not so thin that it runs), and being prepared to go back and forth many times to try to get it right. I will sometimes mix in a little drying retarder since very delicate work with a very small brush can take so long that the paint dries on the brush otherwise.

Oh, and I generally prefer to use a very dark version of the skin colour for the outline, then a very light cream rather than pure white for the whites. You can use a fineliner for the black dots in the middle.

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Thank you! I’ll give that a try. Never thought about the off white.

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A common guideline: when painting white, don’t use white paint. Sound counterintuitive? Maybe, but very few things in nature are pure white. White always reflects its surroundings at least a little, so leave using pure white color to extreme highlights, and paint everything else with off-white that either reflects its close surroundings (if you intend for a “pure white” look), or an earthier, more organic tone (e.g. eyeballs tend towards a slightly greenish hue, so e.g. P3 Sickly Skin is perfect for eyeballs).