Plush 101: How to Paint Plushie Eyes
Updated: Jul 22, 2021
Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to paint anime-style eyes on a plushie. (Originally posted in 2008)
Pigment liner by Steadler (0.05)
Sharpie/permanent marker (fine tip)
Pencil (2B or 4B)
Paintbrushes (size 0 or 2; I like the cheap nylon type, but a damaged hoghair does the job as well)
Fine Arts grade acrylic paints (pebeo, stevenson, liquitex, golden).
Sketch the eyes with a pencil and start by outlining the top with a pigment liner.
Lightly outline the rest; this step isn't necessary. I only do it because pencil marks aren't very visible.
Lay out your palette! Paint white around the iris (not the entire eyeball; it gets done last). This step is important because colours work in relation to one another. Therefore, the colour of the iris will look different against a skintone background instead of a white one.
Paint the base colour of the iris. This is generally the "eye colour" of the character.
Paint the bottom highlight
Paint the top shadow
Paint the pupil. (It's supposed to blend well with the top shadow, but that depends on the reference picture.)
Add in the top highlight bubble. Stick to your reference; there might not be a bubble in their eyes.
Darken the outline of the iris.
The iris is finished. Now proceed to the outline of the eye. Paint black in the large areas; the thin areas can be done with a marker or pigment liner.
Now that the outline is more or less defined, you can paint the white of the eyeball.
Paint the shadows in the whites. Remember that an eyeball is, well, a ball! It's round, so the outer corners are generally shaded. In terms of colours, I like to mix black, white, and the base colour (it provides harmony).
Refine the iris and make sure it's got a clean edge against the white.
Outline the eye with a marker and/or a pigment liner.
Add the eyebrows, eyelids, mouth, and you're done! Congratulations, your plushie now has a face!