The EYES have it
when painting ceramic bisque.

by Dolores Swaldi [c] 2004
http://www.dollyandernieceramics.com

 When painting ceramic bisque there is always one area that most people have trouble with; painting good looking eyes onto their items. You can spend hours upon hours meticulously painting your item, applying many different techniques to make your item look just the way you envisioned. Only to have it all fall apart when you paint a dreadful set of eyes onto your piece. Nothing can be more aggravating, frustrating, or a few other choice phrases I can think of that wouldn’t be proper to publish in this article

      Because the painting of eyes is a difficult area for some people to learn, we have developed a five step process that we teach to all students who enroll into our ceramic classes.  It is not exactly textbook, but it is a quick and easy way to paint eyes that works well for most people. It can be used to paint people eyes, and even some animal eyes. " A quick tip for  painting animal eyes:  it is best to stay away from blue, green, and brown which is the normal colors for human eyes. Instead we like to use hot orange, or burnt orange for the eyes in our animal pieces, this is not to say that you can’t use the others; especially if you are trying to give the item some human properties."

Are you ready to begin? OK lets start. We will now proceed step by step through this simple, yet effective technique . For a closer look of any step in this process; simply click on the picture for an enlarged view.

     Step #1: The very first step when painting eyes is to paint the entire eye white. This may take more than one coat especially if some of the surrounding colors edged over onto the eye itself.


Base coating the eye

Step #2: The second step is to line the top of the eye with a thin line of black. For this and all of the following steps it is recommended that you use a high quality brush with a very fine pointed tip. Tip - " when painting eyes be sure to remove excess paint from your fine tipped brush this will keep your lines thin and attractive looking."


Outlining the eye

Step #3: You now must paint the pupil of the eye black. Notice in the picture how we try to keep the circle perfectly round and we cover form top to the bottom of the eye. Remember you may click on any picture for a better view.


Creating the pupil

     Step #4:  Now we begin to add color to our eyes. You do this by making a letter "C" on the pupil of your eye. When you do this try to leave a small space  between the outside edge of black and your colored "C".


Adding Color to the Eyes

Step #5: Now its time to add accents to our eyes. Again for this step you will need to view the enlarged image for a better understanding. Place a small, short slash at one O' clock and one or two smaller, short accent slashes at seven O' clock. This will give an  illusion of some glare on your item's eyes.


Adding accents

     Finished eyes: This next picture is of our eyes when finished. You can see in this picture how wonderful the eyes look when completed using the five steps listed above. And the best part is that it's not a very complicated technique to master. Most people become very proficient with this technique after only practicing on a few pieces.


The finished product

We have many other techniques to cover so please check back for future articles or sign up for our free newsletter and never miss an article.

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About the Author:
Dolly Swaldi is the proprietor of this web site and has
been involved in the ceramic craft for over 28 years.