Kat Can Paint! Eyes

Free Painting Tutorial! How to Paint Eyes

Kat Can Paint! Eyes

Week One wraps up with a tutorial on how to paint the eyes that you learned to draw yesterday.

This painting tutorial is a primer for you to get familiar with painting: learning color mixing, paint flow, and laying down lines & forms with a brush instead of a pencil.  I’m covering the basics first, then we will wrap up all the lessons in one big class that brings everything you’ve learned all together in a finished painting.

Supplies you will need:

  • Canvas or paper : I like to use canvas paper or watercolor paper for studies or exercises like this one on how to paint eyes. Be comfortable with your supplies and enjoy the process. Please don’t worry about getting everything perfect or ‘ruining’ your good supplies, use sketchbook paper if you don’t have canvas.  
  • 3 brushes: one larger one to paint in the skin base, one smaller one that is your default brush, and one tiny liner brush for details. I use golden taklon brushes, because I like their springyness in these sizes; size 12 flat brush, size 2 round brush, size 0 liner brush.   Have no idea about brush sizes? Dick Blick has a great pdf for that!
  • Acrylic paint in:
  • white
  • black
  • burnt sienna
  • primary blue
  • primary red
  • yellow ochre for skin mixing if needed
  • optional colors if you don’t want to mix them yourself:
  • light blue
  • gray
  • skin tone of your choice.

Mixing a light skin tone:

Light Skin tone is white + burnt sienna + red.  The ratio for me is something like 5/1/1.  That’s five parts white, one part burnt sienna, one part red. If this mixture looks too pink to you, add a dot of yellow ochre.  There is a push and pull to mixing flesh tones because its subjective, if you like your skin mix darker, lighter, pinker, tanner, etc then you can customize just like a recipe, this is the base mix.

Dark Skin tone is burnt sienna + yellow ochre + blue + white.  The ratio is 5/3/2/1 ish.  Again, this is subjective, you should experiment to find a color mix you really like, use this ratio as a guide and make it your own.  Be careful with the white, though, it will make a rich brown look very ashy if you use too much.

I dedicate an entire bottle to my flesh tone base color.  I start with a white bottle of paint, add a squirt of burnt sienna, 1 drop blue, and half a squirt of red and shake it like a… yeah, I almost went there.  If you have an entire extra bottle of white paint and are going to paint a lot of portraits, then I recommend you make your own bottle so that your skin color paint is always consistent.

I always adjust my color as I need it, the key here is to really not get an orange skin tone.  Unless you are painting Snooki and George Hamilton, then pick up your nearest pumpkin orange and have at it.

How to Paint eyes easy tutorial from KatCanPaint.com

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Of course, you can always paint any color eye you want.  I realize that maybe you want a green eye, or a brown eye, or a lavender eye, or some sort of crazy peacock feather inspired eye.  Do it.  These rules are just guidelines to get you to see painting eyes in simple shapes and easy steps that you can break down and learn.

How to paint eyes color collage by KatcanPaint.com

Quick and dirty eye color studies. I like that brown eye!

Green eyes?  Paint the iris with your base green, then highlight with a brighter green, and add the white highlights accordingly.

Brown eyes? Paint the iris with a milk chocolate color, shade with an expresso, highlight with a teddy bear brown.  Brown eyes look great with a lot of different tone on tone shades and highlights, but white really dulls a beautiful brown, use it sparingly.

Purple eyes? Base your iris with a lilac, shade with a violet, and highlight with white.

See the pattern?  You can apply it to any color of eye you’d like.

Wacky peacock inspired eyes?  I used turquoise to base the iris, purple to shade, and lime green to do the four spoke highlight… then I just added the white highlights like normal.

Try metallic paints, or glittery ones, they can be very striking as eyes.  Just limit yourself to a few colors 2-3 plus white and black for small eyes so you don’t get your paint colors all muddy and lose detail.

Lets wrap this up, shall we?  Next week I’m going to show you how to draw and paint noses!

In this blog workshop / free painting series you can expect to learn how to draw and paint all the basics of a pretty female face:

  • How to Draw Eyes 
  • How to Paint Eyes (You are Here ^_^)
  • How to Draw Noses
  • How to Paint Noses
  • How to Draw Lips
  • How to Paint Lips
  • How to Draw the Face (facial structure) and Ears
  • How to Draw Hair
  • How to Paint Hair
  • Bringing it all together


    • How to Mix Custom Skintone Colors (we did that today!)
    • How to Choose a Canvas
    • Types of Paint : Quick and Easy Explanation and Reviews
    • Types of Brushes: Quick and Easy Explanation and Reviews (I’m feeling a theme here)
    • Gesso, Mediums, + more: demystifying the whys and whens of using primers and mediums
    • How to Incorporate Mixed Media and Collage elements
    • Where do I go from here?
    • Pinterest drawing and painting Inspiration

I know there will be a lot more additions to this list too, because I want to include everything I know about drawing and painting a pretty face in this series.  I want it to be easy to read and follow along and fun for beginners and more advanced painters alike.

If you have questions go ahead and leave a comment so I can answer them & add them to the tutorial.

<3 Kat