How to paint a rocking horse eye

Written by amy rath
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How to paint a rocking horse eye
Rocking horses are still a favourite toy among small children. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

A rocking horse can provide hours of amusement for a small child or it can be a unique addition to any equestrian lover's decor. Whether building your own rocking horse, or restoring an antique to its former glory, accurately painting the details of your rocking horse are important. Perhaps one of the trickiest parts to paint is the eyes, but with a steady hand and a little patience, you can give your rocking horse the perfect eyes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Black paint
  • Brown paint
  • Gold or bronze paint
  • Small paint brush -- less than 3 mm (1/8 inch)
  • Toothpick
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Pencil
  • Small tip marker

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  1. 1

    Prepare the area of your rocking horse where each eye will be by sanding the surface and painting the body colour first. Do not use any sort of varnish or top coat, as these can be hard to paint on when adding your eyes.

  2. 2

    Mark out where to place the eyes with a small tip marker. Using a marker makes it easier to see on the rocking horse's body than a pencil. To accurately measure where your eye marks should be, align your ruler from the tip of the nose to the bottom point of the ear where it meets the head, and draw a line lightly in pencil. Mark a dot with your marker 1/3 of the way down from the bottom of the ear. Repeat the same process for the other side of the head.

  3. 3

    Draw an outline of each eye with a pencil. Start the front tip of your eye on the placement mark you made in Step 2. First, draw an arch above your line that is about 1.2 cm (1/2 inch tall at the top and 2.5 cm (1 inch) long. Then repeat the process for the bottom of the eye, making this arch about 6 mm (1/4 inch) tall and 2.5 cm (1 inch) long. The end result should look like a horizontal oval, coming to a point at each end.


  1. 1

    Fill in the outline of your eye with black paint. Cover the entire area. Let the paint dry completely, then add a layer of gold or bronze, leaving a thin strip of black around the outside. To remove some of the metallic look from gold paint, mix in a drop of brown before you apply it to your rocking horse's eye. Let it dry completely.

  2. 2

    Paint a smaller layer of brown for the iris, leaving a border of your bronze or gold showing. Note that a horse's iris and pupil are not round like a person's, but rather they are the same oval shape as the eye itself. Therefore, try to maintain this same shape when completing Steps 2 and 3. If you wish to keep the painting process simpler, you can paint a circle for both the iris and pupil instead.

  3. 3

    Paint a black pupil in the centre of the iris. The pupil should be about 1/3 the size of your iris. Finish the eye by placing a small dot or thin, short line of gold or bronze in the very centre of the pupil using a toothpick. Once both eyes are dry, you can finish the project with a layer of clear varnish over your entire horse, or put clear nail polish over each eye for an added glimmer effect.

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