Hobby: Painting Miniatures Eyes

Be sure to also check out the links to other resources after reading the below guide.

More Generic Tutorials/Links (while we’re at it 🙂 )

  • Dr. Faust’s Painting Clinic is another popular destination for miniature painting advice. Most of the tutorials seem geared toward specific problem areas, such as painting eyes, gemstones, and flesh tones. The tutorial on removing old paint from miniatures is one of the most useful on the Web.
  • The appropriately-named How-to-Paint-Miniatures.com site provides a long list of tutorials that covers the basics of miniature painting especially well.
  • Hot Lead is the Internet home of Painter Laszlo Jakusovszky, the creative force behind the recently-released “How to Paint a Better Miniature” DVD series. His site provides beginning and advanced photo tutorials.
  • The Jenova Project offers well-done photo tutorials on many of the hobby’s more advanced techniques, such as blending and non-metallic metal. The tutorial called, “Painting a Pseudo-Tartan” is especially interesting.
  • Necrotales Miniatures has some brilliantly-painted tutorials, although most of the offerings are for more advanced techniques.
  • Many consider the CoolMiniOrNot Web site to be the flagship of miniature painting sites. The “Articles” section offers a range of tutorials, mostly to achieve highly specific effects, and each is ranked according to the difficulty of the technique.
  • The Painting Mum Web site features a broad range of highly informative photo tutorials and a stunning gallery.
  • You will find several tutorials for eyes painting on the TutoFig website.
  • The Reaper Miniatures page has a section titled, “The Craft,” which contains photo tutorials of several unusual techniques. It is rarely updated, but the information presented is useful.
  • Blackmoor has a handful of tricks and tutorials; its handling of non-metallic metal for different colored metals is quite useful.


Like many others, I started painting my mini’s from boardgames (not TableTop) about 2 years ago. At that time and still today, I have a hard time to handle the painting of “eyes” of my figures. Since I’m so bad about it myself, I did some digging on the web and found multiple guides explaining you how to do it like a pro.

Before we go ahead though, one advice I’ve found back all over the web: Paint the most difficult areas first. Some painters struggle with painting hair or skin on a figure; others have trouble with gems and jewels; still more have difficulty with freehand detail; for me it’s trouble with eyes. Any aspect of a figure that troubles a painter should be done first; this way, an entire figure doesn’t need to be redone because, for example, the face didn’t look right when the painter finally summoned the courage to paint it.

I will share only a few images of Rob Jedi explanations who really helped me out improving my painting, which is especially helpful for Cool Mini Or Not miniatures.












So this was great help for me, but then it just came down to starting painting other figures (such as Imperial Assault, Talisman, XCOM, etc.) and there I got stuck. I had to go back to my study bench to understand how to paint the eyes of thoses miniatures, since the technique of Rob Jedi couldn’t be applied there (smaller size mini’s and the “cartoon” style wouldn’t fit). I started out understanding first how human eyes are structured.



OK this is now understood, so let’s look at different types of eyes we generally find back and have to reproduce on our mini’s. Including also the color selection that needs some clarification at this point.




Use your smallest brush with the best tip and load the very tip of the brush with white paint. Paint the whites of the eyes as small almond shapes. It is important not to get the eyes too big or you will get a cartoonish look.

I prefer to make the whites of the eyes slightly offwhite, which is truer to life anyway.

The colored circles of the eyes, the iris, can be done in blue, green, brown, or black. Make the iris extend the entire width of the white of the eye, the top and bottom of the circle not quite touching the edge of the white of the eye. If the iris is too small, the figure will look like he/she is shocked or amazed.

Put a small dot of black in the middle of the iris to represent the pupil and a smaller white dot above and to the right or left of the black dot. Be sure that for both eyes, the white dot is at the same angle above and to one side from the black dot. This white dot represents light reflecting off the eye.

If you have an incredibly steady hand or if the eyes are particularly large on the miniature that you are working on, you can paint small lines radiating out from the pupil (black dot) towards the edges of the iris to represent the lined pattern on the iris of a person’s eyes. Here’s an example from Massive Voodoo:


I’m primarily using a wet palette so I have fairly transparent paint.  This lets me use glazing.  The faces on models are too small for 2-brush blending, so the best method I’ve seen is glazing – layering thin, transparent layers of paint to build up color.


Here are other shapes of eyes with a few steps on how to fill them up with colors:




Let’s finish off by a great tip that I’ve fond on the RPG Anthenaeum blog:

Cook an extra steak. One fellow in this writer’s circle of friends is well-known for his uncanny ability to cook steaks over a charcoal fire exactly to order. On a cool evening last July, he shared his secret which, strangely enough, has immediate applications for miniature painting. He cooks an extra steak, but doesn’t tell anyone he’s doing it. Then, as he cooks, he periodically cuts off (and eats) sections of this extra steak to see where the other steaks are in the cooking process. This way, he knows exactly when the other steaks are rare, medium rare or well done, and by the time he’s done cooking, he’s eaten all the evidence that there was an extra steak in the first place. Miniature painters can do the same thing by having an extra, throw-away test model (or model parts) on hand to experiment on, just as the cook uses the extra steak. Wondering if the flesh wash you’re about to use on your figure is too dark? Try it on the extra figure first. And please don’t eat the evidence.


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