Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Painting eyes with Stephanie Blaylock

Tutorial Tuesday continues! Here's a really comprehensive look at painting eyes from Stephanie Blaylock!

How I Paint Eyes

by Stephanie Blaylock

I have this weird habit of jumping ahead and painting one eye. I just can’t have a zombie horse staring back at me sitting in the cabinet. I’ve always done this. Plus, the horse starts to get a little personality which helps me in painting. The first eye is the darker eye. The other will be bright blue.
My base color and favorite brush.
Because I can’t stay in the lines... 
I go around the eye with black. 
Now I float this color around the edges where the flesh meets the black.
I mix a tiny bit of red into it.... After all, he’s a Saddlebred!
Now he's a scary zombie.
I paint in a black iris.
It’s an imperfect art.
I float watered down sienna on the bottom of the pupil.
Then I lightly pull it around the whole eye.
This is colorshifting acrylic. 
I like a tiny bit of this specific color. A little goes a long way. I’ve also repainted the pupil black. I want my guy to be sort of looking back so I’m hoping my angle it good.
All that paint for one tiny eye.
This is my gloss varnish. Although the eye will most like be touched up and sealed several times before it’s totally finished, I go ahead and seal it now.
Before gloss.
And after.
A few days later, it's time to paint the second eye. Once again, I start with that flesh color...
This is the blue paint that's sitting on my table so that’s what I’m going to use. It’s more about mixing the right color than starting with the right color.
White, cream, blue, and flesh are my iris mix.
Here they are on my model.
Well, that’s freaky 👀
I tone it down with fleshy mixes...
and sienna around the edges.
Almost there!
Lesli Kathman showed me this tip years ago: Pencil for the pupil. The horizon should be your angle.
I also pencil around the iris.
All these colors for a blue eye!
I keep the paint at the top of my detail brush.
Now I’m tweaking and detailing.
I keep playing with color until I get where I like it.
I put the smallest hint of color shift on the lower iris.
This looks good.
Then I turn off my lamp to look at it in different light. I decide to make my iris bigger on the lower left.

That’s where I’ll stop. It may get tweaked later but for now it gets it first layer of gloss.
Got the blues? I do!
Stephanie's horse has been finished since this tutorial was written, and he is spectacular.
Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing his creation with us!


  1. I love this tutorial, thank you both!

    1. Also, I painted my eyes at the basecoat stage, before I added oils, after seeing Stephanie show her do-eyes-early plan. I had three reasons: 1, to see if having the expression come together early would help with the rest of the face painting, 2, because it occurred to me that it might be fun to try punching up the eyes with oils, and 3, because I figured I might be able to photograph my horse when it maybe wasn't quite exactly dry if that's what happened on Feb 28th (shh everyone, don't tell Jennifer!). So far I really like this plan and I think I'll make a habit of it.