Painting Irises

Determine the direction that you want your doll to be looking, and the color eyes that you want.  Make a circle of paint for each iris.  Notice in the photo that the top and bottom portions of the iris are not painted, as they are naturally hidden beneath the upper and lower eyelids.  

One of the best tools you can have to paint eyes is a small hand mirror.  Look into the mirror from the same angle you want to paint your eyes, and notice how much of your iris shows, and how it is positioned.  Also notice the position of the pupil, and make a mental note.  You will want to remember for later.

Wet the end of a sharp wooden toothpick.  Use the toothpick to gently blot out the color in the center area of the iris, leaving some light color in the middle, and a darker ring of color around the outer edges.  


Eyes with color in center areas removed.


Color used for green eyes:

Willoughby's Brown Green - 85%

Virginia LaVorgna Barely Brown - 15%


Eyes can be painted in many positions, and in a variety of different colors.  They can add a tremendous amount of expression to your doll.  Also, if your doll has it's head positioned at a particular angle, be sure to consider the direction that the eyes might be looking.  Dolls don't all have to be staring straight ahead, and a starey eyed doll can look very unnatural.


Suggested colors for blue eyes:

3/4 Virginia LaVorgna Blue Eyes

1/4 Seeley Indigo Blue


Suggested Color for Brown Eyes,

Virginia LaVorgna German Brown

Lovely medium dark, warm brown color

Finishing Eyebrows

Using your 10/0 brush and the brow color of your choice, stroke tiny individual hairs over the brow base that you applied in the last firing.  Make sure that your paint is mixed thin enough so that the tiny lines will flow off the tip of your brush, but do not over thin, or these tiny lines will simply blur and run together.  Mix as thickly as possible to still have an even flow of paint from the brush tip.

Start stroking at the center of each brow.  Pay attention to the angles of the hairs.  They should lay down, following the angle of your base brow.


Here are some reference points to check to keep your brows even.

#1 - Center dividing line 

#2  Make sure that each brow starts the same distance from the center dividing line

#3  Make sure that the brows end at the same place above each eye.  Normally the brows end at the point where a line from edge of nose and corner of eye would extend.

#4  Make sure that the distance from eyelid to bottom of each brow is the same, and the arch is in the same position over each eye.

Finished brows.

Now, if desired, add additional color to lips, and cheeks.  

Fire all pieces to a cone 018.

Eye Shadow

First, eyeshadow is not just for your lady dolls.  It is useful on any doll to add depth and dimension to your painting. 

For Penelope, I have stroked my shadow color across the upper eyelid, using my 10/0 spotter.  There are many wonderful shades that can be used for eyeshadow, and you need to choose according to the coloring or even the costuming you have planned for your doll.  The color used here is Smoky Topaz from Seeley's which is my favorite brown shadow.

Gently blend the eyeshadow color up toward the brow.  Keep the color darker in the eyelid crease and inside corner, and feather out at the outside edge. 

Compare the shadowed and unshadowed eyes.  Quite a difference, isn't there?

Both eyes shadowed using Smoky Topaz.
You can also use the same color used for the irises to shadow, which tends to bring out the eye color.



Children dolls sometimes tend to look "made up" with colored shadow, but they should have a layer of shadow in the blush color added to increase the depth of the eye area.  This adds depth, but still looks youthful and natural.


Use a small ball stylus to apply a small black pupil.

Positioning of this is very important.  Remember to consider the angle that you have painted your iris, and make sure that you position the pupils so that both eyes are looking in the same direction.  Keep the size ofyour pupil under control!  Don't let it fill the entire iris.

For side glancing eyes, it is common for at least one edge of the pupil to be touching the top eyelid.

Touch Up

Use your bottom eyelid color and 10/0 spotter to redefine the lower eyelid.  It will probably have lightened considerably in the previous firings, and now that you have your iris painted, you may find that you want it heavier, or even blended out around the lower eye.

Don't worry about the upper lid at this time, we will be working with it in our next firing.

If necessary, darken the lip color, applying paint as in previous steps.  Darken cheeks if necessary.

Fire to a true cone 018.