Carving an Eye

how do i carve an eye ? that is a question we often hear, and so i want to present in this tutorial an approach to carve an eye, that will work in every situation …

carving an eye, or any other subject for that matter, without a reference is very hard. i can’t do it. i always rely on reference material, showing me what i want to carve. without reference fotos, we are forced to rely on our visual memory, and that is not as good as we might want think:
have you ever observed a car accident, and after that how the opinions of the colors of the cars involved differ? some people say both cars were green, others say, no one car was red the other blue… and, who is right ? often neither of them…
the eye, or mind, plays tricks with us, and the same is true when we want carve an eye : we believe we know how an eye looks like, after all we see our own eyes every day in the mirror, do we not ?, ,,, but when we start carving an eye without reference, we fail badly (me too, btw), since our visual memory does not tell us the plain truth…

ok, now let´s start …

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27 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Todd Breitholle
    Jun 08, 2009 @ 15:29:12

    Nice tutorial Doris. This will help me when I start to carve a face. Very well thought out.



    • dorisfiebig
      Jun 08, 2009 @ 16:26:35

      thank you todd,,, yes, give it a try and follow it, see what works for you, and what not, and change it then to your needs. … and, there are more in the works…


      • michael febbie
        Apr 16, 2013 @ 15:19:41

        Doris, this is feb from WCI, I can carve an indian eye and have carved realistic eyes but I’m have trouble with Afro- American/Jimmie Hendrix eyes.


        • dorisfiebig
          Apr 17, 2013 @ 21:28:36

          hi feb, nice to hear from you! when you say you can carve an indian eye and a realistic eye, then you have learnt it all you need!… look at it this way: “forget” that the eye you want carve is an eye like jimmy hendrix has. just concentrate on carving an eye, like you already learnt. BUT now, observe what ware the subtle differences. can you spot them? yes? good. so carve an eye the way you know it works for realistic, but each time you come to a point where you notice a difference, stop for a moment and consider how you should change now slightlzy what you would do “normally”… as we explained in many places all over this blog, carving itself is easy, the difficulty however is to understand, to see, what you need carve… and, from your question i think this is your problem… so, my advise is, take your reference fotos, and make a list of what is different to the realistic eye, or the indian eye. then grab your chisel and carve… i hope this helps…


  2. Ron Takahashi
    Jun 08, 2009 @ 19:59:54

    Thank you, Doris, for taking the time to help your fellow carvers. Time is a great gift.


  3. Larry Armour
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 07:46:34

    Thanks Mark;

    I’m going to try some experimenting into relief carving this summer and the tutorials make it seem less daunting a task. (Ducks & Birds seem so easy by comparison to something new.)

    Will keep you posted.



  4. Larry Armour
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 07:48:21

    Doris . . . my appologies . . I directed the comment to Mark in error. Pls forgive me.



    • dorisfiebig
      Jun 12, 2009 @ 08:04:33

      no problem, larry !! we did not write very clearly who is author of the pages, so it easily is understand. really no problem, don´t worry..
      oh yes, please keep me posted, you know it is really great when i can learn my effort does help. and, if questions arise while you try, you know where you can pose them… thanks, larry,,, and good luck with the reliefs


  5. Alice Kummer
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 00:10:49

    Doris thanks for doing all this work for us fellow carvers it is very much appreciated.
    I have been studying your eye carvings “my girl” has the eyes 3/4 closed would you still do an iris? I must get my husbands camera out so I can show you the “girl”
    Thanks again


    • dorisfiebig
      Aug 06, 2009 @ 07:41:08

      hi alice. … hmm without seeing how she looks i really cannot say. of course, the answer would depend highly on what you want the carving to be, the feeling, your idea you want show us with the carving. so, if you show it to me, and i would advise, “do it this way”, that can only mean that i could say about how would look good with composition. it might still be the wrong advise, when i not guess correctly what you desire for your carving… having said that, i like to see her, and maybe i can give you ideas what is all possible, and might look good… oh, i have a good idea : please show me the carving, and then i make a small claymodel of the eye area with various possibilities, so then you can see and choose what you think fits … another idea would be to look at sculptures of the masters, they have great solutions found, we just need pick them for our use,,,


      • Alice Kummer
        Sep 07, 2009 @ 13:57:34

        Doris ,thanks for your reply ,it took me a while to find this post,not computer savy:-))
        I finally took a picture and have to put it on the computer so one of those days?? soon I will be back


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