Painting Dog Eyes on Paper Mache

Note: This method works really well for rabbit and bear eyes, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

In this video I show you how I paint dog eyes on paper mache sculptures.

I use Golden Soft Gel between all the layers in this version. For smaller sculptures you can simplify the process a bit more by leaving off the gel layers, and the eyes will still come out very nice. I didn’t use the gel on most of the eyes on my baby animal dolls, for instance, because the eyes were much smaller than the one in this video, so they didn’t need so much detail.

I like to use the gel because the transparent acrylic colors pool into interesting patterns, caused by the brush marks in the gel layer. You’ll see what I mean if you give it a try. Eyes are never all one flat color, and the variations and random patterns help to make the eyes look more realistic, without needing a magnifying glass and a tiny brush to painstakingly paint each one.

15 thoughts on “Painting Dog Eyes on Paper Mache”

  1. Hi thanks for the video tips I just wondered do you have to wait for each layer to dry of paint then paint the gel over
    Or do you paint then apply the gel straight away

    • Hi Corinne. The acrylic paint dries really fast, so I wait to put on the gel. That way I don’t smear the paint underneath – but sometimes that could actually create an interesting effect, so it depends on what you’re looking for. Test it both ways, and see what works best for you.

  2. Hey Jonni
    Iยดve seen a lot of your youtube-films. I made this flying pig out of paper mache.
    I wood like to complete some of my sculptures like your beautiful Ballerina Bunny – but it is difficult to find the right things in Denmark. Can you tell how you made the patina bronze? And what you use to make it look like old bronze? And can I buy this thing online? Thank you so much for this inspiring homepage.
    ๐Ÿ˜‰ Rikke

    • Hi Rikke. Your flying pig didn’t show up in your comment. Maybe it just needs to be edited to make it smaller. I hope you’ll try again, because I’d love to see it.

      I purchased the bronze coating and the Tiffany patina online from this company: I don’t know if they ship internationally, but you could send them an email. They have some videos on that site, and you can also see a lot of instructional videos using their products on YouTube. There are probably similar products sold in Europe, but you would probably have to hunt around a bit to find them.

  3. I am a highschool art teacher and truly like your tutorials for getting ideas on papier mache projects. I was wondering if you had a grid of a bassett hound as I have bassett hounds and would love to make one for my husband for fathers day. The tutorials are so inspirational that I cant wait to start a project of my own

    • Hi Pat. I don’t have a basset hound pattern – yet. However, I’m having so much fun with my little Chihuahua project that I decided to write a new book, with 25 dog patterns! A Basset Hound is one of the dogs on my list, but I haven’t actually drawn the pattern yet. However, you could use a side-view that you find with an image search on Google, and draw one for your sculpture. I’m sure you’d get it done a long time before my book is finished. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I was so happy to see this video on doing dog eyes. I love making dogs and this will really help. Is it the same for horses?

    • It’s almost the same, but the shape of the pupil is different. Do a Google image search for horse eyes to see what I mean. It’s hard to see on the really dark horse eyes, but on lighter ones you can see that the pupil is more of a horizontal oval than round.

  5. Excellent Jonni- I wish I had seen this prior to doing my mother- in-law’s dog- I did exactly like you said with the magnifying lens and painstaking layers. It turned out ok but this is so much more realistic.
    On another note, how come I no longer receive your emails about tutorials? I tried to re- sign up and it wouldn’t allow me to.

    • I think your mother-in-law’s dog came out great. And, about those emails… I don’t know why the tutorials aren’t being sent out, but I’m working on it. That’s my task for today. Wish me luck.;)

  6. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have never seen such beautiful eyes as the ones in your sculptures. And now we can all try it. I know (and I know YOU know) that Dan Reeder usually uses taxidermy eyes or when he does paint them, he uses resin for the ‘shine’ — but I like your eyes ( ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Much more practical and they are just fascinating. I never would have thought of nail polish.
    Thanks again, Jonni.

  7. Hi Jonni, Using your earlier paper mache mix, I made a pileated woodpecker. I stopped when I couldn’t determine how to make the finer details (eyes mainly) because my mache was rough. I tried sanding it but can’t imagine that you sand all your sculpures smooth after making them. Do you have any suggestions as to how I could have gotten my mix to be finer and easier to work with for the details? I did try using a knife and saran wrap to smooth it, but it just wouldn’t cooperate. ๐Ÿ™

    • Hi Linda. The mixture will get smoother the longer you mix it. If you need a mixture that is much smoother, try the new air-dry clay. It has less paper and the addition of corn starch, so it’s a lot smoother and easier to use for fine details. However, it isn’t as sticky, so you do need to use a wash of water mixed with glue before adding the air-dry clay to a section of your sculpture that is already dry. You can find the air-dry clay recipe here. The air-dry clay is also a lot easier to sand because it doesn’t dry as hard as the original paper mache clay recipe.

      • If I have air-dry clay around, I use it for the eyes. It is easier to make the eyes for me, also. The other thing that has helped me is using your recipe for gesso instead of the stuff in the stores. I can make the gesso as thick as I want it, thus making the eyes or anything else smoother, without even thinking of sanding.

        This demonstration is awesome, Jonni. Thanks so much. You can be sure many of us will be doing this. (Although, I hate to admit, I don’t know what gel is, but I’ll find out!)


Leave a Comment

Heads up! You are attempting to upload an invalid image. If saved, this image will not display with your comment.

Heads up! You are attempting to upload a file that's too large. Please try a smaller file smaller than 250KB.

Note that images greater than 250KB will not be uploaded.