Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tutorial: Painting Eyes

This is a write-up of the 7 stage method for painting eyes that Meg Maples taught at her Masterclass in Montreal. I have seen this technique explained in images before, but I cannot find the original post I read, so I decided to make my own images, as much for my own memory aid as it is a way for others to learn. Indeed, reading the tutorial I previously found was not enough for me to be able to replicate it, I needed to see it in the flesh to be able to do it myself.

Something to bear in mind is that not all minis need their eyes painted fully, especially not the rank an file. I once read in a historical minis magazine that if you were to see a human at a distance where they were 28-32mm high, there is no way you would be able to make out more than a darker slit where the eyes are, which is important to bear in mind when you're filling up units of grunts, however, for the leaders, and display models, the eyes make all the difference, it's where our eyes are first drawn to on the mini. That's just basic human psychology/biology, we look at faces and eyes first. So lets take the time to get them right when we can.

One important thing that must be stated, the better quality your brush, the easier it will be to follow these steps. I know for many of you this is a no brainer, but I cracked out the sables for this, and boy did I notice the difference!

When taking up a new model, paint the eyes first. That way you can take your time and get it right before going over the rest of the face, and you won't have to redo the face, as you might if you do the eyes last.

Base coat the skin tone on the face, then go on with the following 7 steps.

Stage 1. 
Paint the shape of the eye black. If you go too far with the black, you can redo the flesh base colour to tidy it up now.
Stage 2. 
Paint a second oval inside the eye in off-white (e.g. Menoth White Highlight). Do not try to do brushstrokes. Jab/spot the paint in.
Stage 3. 
Do a black spot for the pupil. This is where I used to stop, if even I got this far, before I tried this technique, and to be fair, on most minis, especially rank and file, it's enough. The placement of this dot determines the way the mini is looking, so take care to make sure she is looking where you want her to, and most importantly, that both eyes are looking in the same direction. If not, go back to stage 2 and redo.
Stage 4. 
Put a circle of colour inside the black circle. The brighter the colour the better, as dark shades will not be seen after the next step.
Stage 5.
Put a second black spot on top of the spot of colour. Do not centre the spot, but put it at the top of the colour circle, and leave a crescent of colour showing through.
Stage 6.
Put a small white spot on the last black circle. This time use pure white, not off-white. On a larger eye, like a bust, more than one spot of reflection may be required.
Stage 7 (optional).
Gloss coat the eye. This does two things. It protects the eye from paint somewhat when painting the rest of the face, and secondly, it gives the eye a wet look.

Not all minis will have eyes big enough to do all steps. In fact, I myself usually stopped at stage 3 before I tried this (and had the proper brushes), but if you do have space for all 7 it can really make a huge difference to the mini. It gives them a window to their soul!

So there you go, eyes painted à la Maples. What could be simpler?

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