Thursday, April 07, 2011


First of a very occasional series of posts on things that I (personally, ie. me only Free Happy Smileys) finds slightly strange and bizarre in this wonderful hobby of ours.... first off.... eyeballs.....

If you look at a person, or animal, who is far enough away to appear only 25mm scale tall, so say at least a couple of hundred yards away, what's the first thing you notice about them? That's right... their eyeballs.... Free Happy Smileys

Am I the only one who thinks that painting little tiny eyes on our little metal men makes them look a little .... strange?? As for painting eyes on horses....

For me the perfect look is some dark shading in the eyeball socket, neat, clean, and very realistic...

These are from the MacPhee's Miniature Men blog and illustrate exactly what I mean - just lovely... and none of those hundreds and hundreds of little eyes following you around the room, and watching your hand move towards them as you plan to put them in harms way...Free Happy Smileys


  1. Agree with you totally, I never paint eyeballs.

  2. Gave it up decades ago. Just a dash of brown if not doing an over wash.

  3. Eye free zone here, lets talk facts, you cant see an individuals eyes from 5 meters away.
    However some people can do such a good job of eyes that I cannot bring myself to totally poor scorn on every eye painter, but the rest of you!
    Honestly some armies have expressions on their faces that suggest the brigade has found a new way of smuggling banannas across the border, and they ran out of dripping. ;-)


  4. I was very tempted initially to comment with something like "When I paint Highland regiments it's not just their eye-balls I paint!" but then thought, no best not, that might be misinterpreted.

  5. Now I was expecting at least one person to tell me the error of my ways...

    Wishful - I forget where but I was looking at a website the other day that featured an Ancient Britain army, and he had painted there............. :o))

  6. I've gotta agree with you on this, it's too much hard work painting eyes.

  7. Yep, I totally agree with you

  8. Agreed. Eyeballs on wargaming figures make them look like Fozzy Bear or one of the other muppets. The effect spoils otherwise nicely painted figures.

    Best Regards,


  9. I do the same - shade the faces to get the right effect. I find that figures with eyes end up looking like regiments of pandas and/or raccoons. Plus I use the 2 foot rule. If the detail isn't noticeable at 2 feet, it probably won't worth doing at all.

  10. I paint them on display figures that are 54mm or larger. It seems a bit of a waste of time for smaller chaps.

  11. I paint eyes all the way down to 15mm, gulp... I guess I am just weird :(

  12. Completely agree - eyeball are nice but bad eyeballs are worse than no eyeballs, and I'm a shocker!

    I deliberately chose my Weird WW2 German figs because they had gas masks and I didnt have to do faces :-)

  13. I've never painted any eyes and I never expect to . . . but I do know a fellow who paints them on all of his 15mm figures . . . and if you think eyes look odd on 25s (and they do), on 15s they are weird.

    -- Jeff

  14. OK I'm going to fly in the face of all comments! I can see your point, and it does take a bit longer to paint eyes, but I always try to, on 28mm figs. Obviously, the smaller you can make them the better.
    Part of my thinking is, if the sculptor is talented enough to sculpt them, then I should at least try and paint them.

    I do tend to get a bit frustrated though when you can see the eye of the figure through the helmet its wearing, but can't get your brush to it... ;-)

    They do take a bit of practice to get right, a steady hand, fine brush tip and a bit patience.

    I'll admit a lot of my earlier efforts were definitely pandas & Raccoons, but they're a bit better now.

    I just always feel the figure looks half done without the eyes painted...

    That said I am about to embark on painting some Perry ACW figs, and am contemplating not doing the eyes! It will be a first for me!

  15. I paint them on 28mm and larger models, but nothing smaller. I personally believe thet the eyes breathe life into the model - not in some quasi-magical sense mind!

    Well painted eyes will be proportionate to the scale of the model and allow the character of the model to present itself. Is he a steely eyed veteran or a wide eyed and fearful youth.

    I also do the teeth where they show, and paint varied haircolours and so forth. After all at this scale, you'd feel it was wrong to ignore details like cuff lining and buttons, why ignore key anatomical features you can't argue away?

  16. I don't paint eyes as I use 1/72 figures. I am a wargamer, and I see the figures from top and at distance (three feet rule in action!) so the eyes are not necessary
    Best regards

  17. Just a mid- brown dash for me. Look at the photograph in the Steve's posting below. You are pushed to see the people's eyeballs; and figures on the table are a lot less discernable than the people in that photo.

  18. I stopped painting eyeball l;ast year as my eyeballs were going square trying to paint them and yes they just never look quite right

  19. If you can't see the eyeballs at the two foot level, then likewise you wouldn't be able to see any of the buttons or buckles on the crossbelt or brass emblems on the cartridge box either. A 28mm figure without eyes looks wrong to me, as if the poor fellow had the misfortune of visiting the village of Harvest Home and had said eyes gouged out.

  20. I don't normally as I think it looks strange on the table.

    However when photographed figures look odd without eyes. Since we look at examples of good painting most often through photographs, blogs, magazines etc. the eye painters have the best of the argument.

    My point would be that what the figure looks like from three or four feet is largely irrelevant to todays painting styles. Is that purely a response to the universality of the photographic image?

    As for horses, oly Ancient Greeks, rocking horse makers and wargamers have no idea what an horses eye looks like.


  21. Totally agree with you, Steve. Unless you can paint them in really well and proportionately (and few can), leave them out and shade instead, dotting the eyes, if you feel brave enough. No one paints in outsize belt buckles so why paint in outsize eyes? (... but, heh, lets face it, aren't we all eccentric?)


  22. Life's too short; as are my level of painting skills

  23. Wait till you see the murky flesh tones of their eyes boys, then give 'em hell!