How to Paint Realistic Miniature Eyes

Eyes Are the Window to Beautifully Painted Minis

When we talk about miniature painting, there are a lot of specific parts that can be really hard to deal with. Hands and fingers, cloth details. Those can be a lot of trouble, but there’s something that almost all creatures have and defines the way we look at them, and how they would look at us. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but shouldn’t it be in the eyes of the mini? Let’s talk about painting realistic eyes and making them look good.

Remember that the amount of detail and depth you can give to eyes depends a lot on the size of the mini, and sometimes the effects may be lost if the mini’s eyes are too sunken in the face.

Shine a Light on Them

Light is what makes eyes work and allows us to see. Unless you are some spectral beast that sees in complete darkness and gathers powers from grief and sadness, you have the same principle in yours. Using light effects and adding glow and shine is what makes the difference from a dead stare to a witty bright character semblance. 

You can add a little white in an eye, if it’s big enough for it to be noticed and not seem as a mistake, and that looks like a little glow. Remember that the way a character’s eyes look is something most descriptions in fantasy books will never let slide. 

realistic eyes hela
Hel, Goddess of the Depths, from Loot Studios’ Journey to Nidavellir.

If we are talking about realistic eyes, we have to remember that they are, as a structure, a little strange. Kinda gooey and soft, but containing blood vessels, fluid, and lots of nerves, and well, I’m not a medical doctor, but it looks like something that’s not similar to anything else in our bodies. 

Of course, most miniatures will not have some kind of x-ray or cross section, but it’s important to remember what we are painting. Using clear UV resin you can cover the base paint and make the eyes glossy so they will look more alive and moist. And also look like that thing that bursts and splashes in zombie movies, and that we carry around in our heads everyday. 

Here’s a tutorial video from Loot’s talented Lead Painter, Marcia Georgina, on how to paint realistic eyes if you’re working with a bigger model:

You Can See It Through Their Eyes. Or Around Them.

Regarding smaller miniatures, details can be hard to do. You can work the eyebrows and the skin around the eyes to make them more interesting by contrast, for example. You can add an eyepatch or an eye wound if it suits your RPG campaign, your daily mood, or if you, maybe, just felt like it. In any case, we talk more about those size differences while painting here.

Eyes are simple most of the time. In regular humans they mostly seem like a combination of black and white with some contours and tricks. But remember how much we focus on eyes in fantasy, sci-fi, games, anime, and even our everyday life. They have been said to be the windows of the soul, and I’m not sure, but they are, I would bet, great windows to show how much you care about your minis.

And if your miniatures could see, wouldn’t you love to give them some nice places and details to observe? Learn here how to paint amazing scenery objects that could leave them in awe.

Loot Studios can help you paint highly detailed minis, statues and props. Choose your favorite bundle from our previous releases or sign up for Fantasy or Sci-Fi to receive a new bundle every month. You can also check out some tips at our YouTube Channel.

Sign up to receive the latest updates and new releases

Upon signing up you are agreeing with our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.