How to Paint Eyes on Ceramic Figures

Updated April 17, 2017

Painting ceramic figures requires a delicate touch and steady hand. Facial features, particularly the eyes, demand concentration and artistic vision. Experiment with paint colours and brush sizes to get the look you want. Varying the look of the eyes on your ceramic figures will give each one a distinct personality.

Paint the whites of the eyes using white underglaze. You may have to apply more than one coat to reach the opacity you prefer.

Use your 10/0 spotter brush to paint a thin, smooth line of black-brown acrylic paint across each upper eyelid. You may vary this colour to suit your figure. Use a lighter brown for babies. Mix half black-brown paint and half red paint to line the lower eyelids.

Determine what direction you want your figure to be looking. Make a circle of paint in your chosen eye colour for each iris. Leave off the tops and bottoms of the iris because they are hidden underneath the upper and lower eyelids. To get colour depth for the iris, apply two colours, blotting the wet paint between colours.

Wet the end of a sharp wooden toothpick and use it to blot out the colour in the centre of the iris. The colour should be light in the middle and darker around the outer edges.

Add shadow to the eyes to add depth to the face. Use the same colour as you used for the eye colour. Brush the colour across the upper lid using a 10/0 spotter brush and gently blend the shadow colour up toward the eyebrow. The colour should be darker in the outer corner and eyelid creases to look natural.

Apply a small black pupil to each eye using a small ball stylus. Make sure you position the pupils so that the eyes are looking in the same direction. The pupils should be small. Do not let them fill the entire iris.

Add sparkle to the eye using white paint. Place a short slash at the one o'clock position on the iris and one or two smaller slashes at the seven o'clock position.


Use a small hand mirror to give you another perspective on the doll. It will help you position the irises and pupils evenly. After you paint the first eye, turn the doll upside down to paint the second eye. It will help you match the location and angle of the eyes.

Things You'll Need

  • White underglaze
  • 10/0 spotter brush
  • Acrylic paint in soft brown, black-brown black, black, red and chosen eye colour
  • Small hand mirror
  • Wooden toothpick
  • Ball stylus
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About the Author

A professional writer and editor, Kristi Roddey began freelancing in 1999. She has worked on books, magazines, websites and computer-based training modules, including South Carolina Educational Television's NatureScene Interactive, "Planted Aquaria," "Xtreme RC Cars" and online courses for Education To Go, Inc. Roddey holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of South Carolina.