Making 'Toony Eyes
will cover how to make eyes by being resourceful with
available materials to create
cartoony eyes for a mask. This technique yields eyes with good visibility
that also help with ventilation.
- One large plastic bowl.
- I've found these bowls advertised as "salad bowls" or
for storage use, they can be found at Walmart, Kmart, or dollar
stores. They are typically inexpensive and are not very thick
plastic so they are flexible and easy to cut. If you can't find
bowls, you can substitute empty detergent bottles (such as bleach
or laundry soap). Try to avoid bowls that are too thick or are
brittle. If you can flex the bowl with your hands and it doesn't
crack, then its a good one.
- Razor knife.
- Black "Chiffon" fabric for the pupils. OR white
"Buckram" for pupils + irises.
- Acrylic paint and brushes to apply the iris color. (And/or
paint pens or markers,
if using buckram.)
- Black and the color(s) of your choice for the irises.
- Vinyl fabric for eyelids.
- Hot glue and
- Paper (to make an eye template before cutting).
- Drawing compass or circle templates.
- Dremel (optional).
- Warm water, heat gun or hair dryer (optional).
- Krylon Matte Finish spray
- Fleece fabric to prepare the eye socket
Draw and cut out
pattern to use as a template to cut your eye shape from. Match it up with
your mask to make the template the proper size and shape. Once you've
determined what shape eyes you want, start by taking
your scissors and cutting your eye shape out of your plastic bowls. Most of
the time the plastic bowls have a lip, cut that off first, which makes
it easier to cut the rest of the bowl. It helps to cut the initial rough
shape out with your razor knife (larger than your template), and then trim it down
to fit with your scissors.
Lightly draw in pencil the outline of your eye
shape from your template as a guideline to cut your bowl. Use the curve of the bowls
to your advantage, try to match up the curve with the shape of the face of
When you have your
main eye shape refined enough to your liking, use the razor blade to cut
out your pupils. Carefully judge the placement of your pupils, it often
helps to use a compass or circle template to trace on a perfectly round
pupil with a pencil. Placement and size of your pupils is also key to how
well you can see through them. Make sure they are big enough to see out
of, and placed appropriately so your vision is not obscured by either the
muzzle or the plastic itself. Since I prefer a more
oblong shape (that's how I typically draw my character's pupils)
I believe it gives a more specific gaze. Be careful to not make your
character appear wall-eyed or cross-eyed
since eyes are the first thing your audience
focuses on. Be sure to think of the overall appearance when
deciding the shape and placement of your pupils.
you are ready to cut, make a general first cut just to get the blade in,
and then shave the plastic into small slivers that will eventually form
your pupil shape. A sharp, new blade works best. I prefer a retractable
blade so I can have a small amount of the blade out, just enough to cut
through the plastic but doesn't get in the way when I make a curved cut.
If you make a mistake it helps to have extra material on hand to practice
with. Be sure to leave a thin piece of plastic along the bordering edges
of the pupil if it touches the edges so you have enough material to
glue the fabric to the eyes, and the eyes to my mask.
suggestions on working with the plastic bowls: Perro
said: "You can do wonders with a pair of project scissors and a
Dremel. You just have to use a little patience and use a light touch when
making the initial cuts with the scissors to avoid cracking the plastic.
After that smooth with the Dremel." ... Diadexxus
suggests: "You can soften the plastic bowl by running it under
very hot water, or use a hot air gun then you should be able to cut it
with scissors." You could use a heat gun or a hair dryer to warm
Your pupil's holes are cut out,
now what? You have a few options depending on what you'd like your end
result to look like. For irises painted on the plastic, you can use black
chiffon fabric for the pupils.
chiffon fabric is a soft, see-through, meshlike material found in the fabric
department of fabric stores. Its often used in wedding dresses. It can be
found in the "silky
solids" section of Joann's fabrics. It allows you
to see out but doesn't let others see in very easily. It is susceptible to
camera flashes, though, but otherwise has excellent visibility out. For
irises and pupils that are painted on the fabric, you'll need to use buckram.
Buckram is a stiff fabric often found near the interfacing (fabric stiffeners)
at fabric stores, it comes in different weaves (looser or tighter). Make
sure to pick one out that you can see out of, but will conceal your
human-self. Both types of fabric yield good results and it is your
personal preference for which method you would like to use. For either
kind you only need one
layer of this fabric to believably conceal your human-self inside the
mask, more layers will make it harder to see. The eyes currently pictured
through this tutorial use black chiffon for the pupils and the irises are
painted on. You can also use buckram for the pupils only and still paint
your irises on the plastic.
When making the irises,
weather painting them on the plastic or on the buckram fabric, this part is my
it can be the most creative! You can get creative by painting more
realistic irises, or do anime-inspired ones, or just simple solid-colored
ones (as pictured). You can add white for eye shine, make them
glow-in-the-dark, different colors that fade from dark to light, anything!
Its all up to you on how you'd like your character to look.
If you want to
paint irises directly on the plastic, use a brush to apply the acrylic paint to the
top of your eyes. Since the paint may or may not stick well depending on
the plastic's texture, sand the area you plan to paint
and make sure your first application of paint dries thoroughly
before applying more coats. You can also test your paints on a scrap piece
of the bowl so you can practice your technique. If you make a mistake Acrylic paint is washable before it dries. Be sure to paint the
inside edge of your pupil-hole, its easiest to paint it the same color as
your iris. If your pupil borders the bottom of your eye and you left a
margin of plastic along the edge you can use your black acrylic paint to
continue the pupil's shape.
Now its time to apply your "chiffon" fabric to your pupils. Cut a small piece in a shape a
little bigger than your pupil-hole. Spread out a small bead of hot glue
along the first edge and glue down the fabric. You can lay the rest of
your chiffon piece over your pupil-hole and apply the glue on top, since
the fabric is meshlike the glue will seep through as you spread it with
your glue gun. You only need a little bit of glue to get the material to
stick to your plastic, make sure it is glued all the way around though, so
there are no folds or loose parts.
If you are using
buckram, cut out the fabric in a shape a little bigger than your
pupil-hole. You'll have to color both sides of the buckram for best
visibility. You can use acrylic paint or markers (use thin layers of
acrylic paint when working with the buckram so it does not clog the
fabric's holes so you can still see out of it). Using buckram you can make
your eye design overlap both the pupil and the iris (like if you are
adding a large area of "eye shine"). Because
buckram can warp from moisture if left untreated spray Krylon Matte
Finish to protect it. Use several light thin coats on both sides to give
it water-resistance. Apply the buckram similar
to how applying chiffon was described above. A tip for adding "eye
shine" is making it come from the same direction, i.e. both left and
right eyes have the "eye shine" on the left edge of the
pupil/iris. I always add my "eye shine" after the eyes are
assembled and installed in the head to prevent them from looking
wall-eyed or uneven.
Once the above steps are completed you have almost
There's just one more very important thing to add, which most people often
omit or forget.. that's eyelids! Eyelids help a lot to give the eyes more
character, they add to the overall expression of your mask, and are often
an overlooked detail that can add the extra "life" some masks
may need. To create some nice-looking eyelids, use Vinyl fabric. I sew one
edge under with a straight-stitch on a sewing machine, this helps emulate
the folds in the skin of an eyelid, too. If you don't have access to a
sewing machine, just fold one edge over and put a thin bead of hot glue,
press it flat until its dry. It takes a little playing around with the
piece of vinyl to find out what kind of expression you want your mask to
have, once you decide, take your hot glue and tack down the left and right
edges where the end of the fabric makes the beginning and end of your
eyelid. Then run the glue along the back side (the inside) of your eye
under the vinyl and press it flat. This way your eyelid sticks up just a
little bit so its more dimensional. Trim the excess vinyl from the back
side of your eyes and hot glue all the edges so they don't come up. You
can also add a piece of fabric to the back side of your eye to cover the
white and finish the inside, but only you will see the inside while
wearing it, so its up to you how you decide to finish it.
The front and back sides of my completed eye.
When you prepare your mask for your eyes to be installed, do it once that
area is partially furred. This way you will know what it looks like right
away, and there's no
guessing if the eyes you just made will look good after you fur the rest
of the mask. Comb the
fur away from the eye socket and prepare the inside by lining the inside
with black fleece. On this particular mask (pictured), I glued the edge
where the iris touches the fur between the eyes first, then the bottom
edge, and then the rest. Just glue the eyes directly to the fur fabric.
Comb the fur away from the eyes so you can glue them to the fur backing.
As you install your eyes, if the plastic is flexible enough, you can bend
it to fit the curvature of your mask's face as you glue it. Once all
glued, comb the fur away from the eyes and admire your handiwork.
Hopefully this tutorial was helpful to you!