Saturday, November 2, 2013

DIY Eyes

 I've made a new rule for myself:  1 hour a day, I do something for my dolls.  It might not be something spectacular, but something.  Dust them, comb wigs or change then and eyes, resettle them in new poses, make a small repair, an hour of sewing or work on one of their projects, and eventually it will get done.  That sort of thing.  It has to be hands on the doll type stuff, not just looking for new ideas, shopping online for shoes, or >.>;; new heads.

Yesterday I got out the DIY eyes from Pupa Paradise.  Previously, I'd had a hard time assembling the ones I made for Kyou's Mephisto cosplay, there are tiny air bubbles in them.  I finally had it sorted in my head that using too much Gorilla crazy glue was part of the problem.  Also, the corneas really magnify the pupil. I buy the ones with no pupil, but they sell the pairs with with pupils, too.  They are also not domed, so they fit well in dolls with lowered eye lids or crinkled smile eyes.

I've studied a lot manga artwork (because I can't draw, but I can make myself miserable reading how-to-draw-manga books and tutorials...) and one of the things I found out is that pupil size isn't just a matter of light.  It's part of expressing thought and emotion in a character.  So I tried making a pair of 'intense' eyes, and a pair of 'dreamy' or 'thoughtful' eyes based on one of my favorite artist's work.

         Intense                                                                                   Thoughtful or dreamy

I made the irises on plain paper with water color pencils, dry, and used a Sakura 01 pen for the pupils.  Then instead of putting the glue all around the cornea and the backing stem of the eye (you can get just the fronts, but they're difficult for me to position), I put it on a toothpick and just put a tiny dab in one spot.  Less chance of getting glue all over the whites and my fingers.  And if the glue does blob, I decided that's the part going up under the eyelid.

Centering the paper was a pain the first time, but I got a clue the next time and used a bit of glue and a pin to slide the pupil into the middle of the eye.  While I'm tempted to buy the eyes with pupils in them already, I know now that being able to make the pupil different sizes will really change the look of the doll.

As for the smaller eyes, (Pupa Paradise sells from 22 to 8 mm) I think it would be easy to use paint, rather than try to get a painted piece of paper into them.  And there is a little space under the cornea for the pupil to be built up of paint.  But I like the control factor of separate paper.  Glitter eyes might be easier too, if you use a very thin layer of glitter.  Not so sure about gears and things.  My guess is use very thin paper cut outs, or live with the cornea not going all the way down into the eye?  I did iron my gold eyes to make sure the clear gloss and metallic paint was totally dry before cutting them out and gluing them in.  Also, if you do them on paper, you can test how big the pupil will look by putting the cornea over it before you glue them in.

I'm hooked!  I love being able to make the exact eyes I want, rather than hunting all over for them and finding out I've made another half blind expensively useless purchase to toss in the 'eventually I'll get a doll for these eyes' box. And, I can make multiples of the same 'eyes' with different pupil sizes, which while pretty anal, is also very cool.

NOTE: if you check the comments, dear Fishcake (Dolls, Art, Cats) gave me a brilliant idea!


  1. Those came out so well! I love the threaded irises, they look very natural!

    1. Real praise from a real artist! Thank you! ^_^ I just pressed the paper down on to the cornea cup part thingie, and then criss-crossed it with the pencils randomly.

      And now I want to try sewing! a threaded iris. O_o Maybe for the 16 mm eyes first.


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