Eyeballs can have a number of great uses in Halloween props. Giving eyes to some props like skulls and ground-breakers can add that “creep factor” that you just might be looking for. They can also be useful in any number of other props and decorations. A candy dish full of eyeballs for your Halloween party; a jar of eyes to adorn your witch’s arsenal of potion ingredients – the possibilities are aplenty.
Real eyeballs are not so easily obtainable, and I’d imagine that the red tape one might have to cut through for a single pair would be far beyond the worth. I’d also be willing to bet that they would be pretty hard to work with, and likely wouldn’t last very long. With that in mind, I have discovered a budget friendly solution that will give your props that optical enhancement that they so deserve. Inspired by Easy Eyes from the Haunters Hangout website, I use a slightly different method to create my eyeballs. I’ve also created my own set of high detail printable irises (see link at bottom of page) for use with this method. In this tutorial, I’m going to share the process I use to create the eyeballs that I use in my props.
To get started on this project, you will need the Following:
- 1″ wooden balls
- White Acrylic hobby paint
- Red Acrylic hobby paint (any dark red will work)
- 1 sheet of Prop Eyez printable irises
- Glue Stick
- Modge Podge Gloss sealer
- 1/4″ broad tip hobby paintbrush
- Fine tip hobby paintbrush
- Drying rack (see below)
- Electric drill w/ small drill bit (same size as posts on drying rack)
A handy tool for this project is the drying rack for the eyes. I made mine from two 4″ pieces of wire coat hanger and a small flat piece of scrap wood. Just drill two appropriately sized holes in the wood, cut two straight pieces of wire coat hanger and insert them in the holes. You will need to make sure that the drill bit is the same diameter as the coat hanger to ensure a tight fit. For the record, I used a thin wire hanger and a 47 gauge (0.0785″) drill bit. This will allow you work around the eyes completely without getting your fingers in the paint, and to set them aside to dry on your work surface.
With the drying rack ready, and all your supplies in place, it’s time to get started. The first step is to drill a small hole about halfway into each of the wooden balls. These holes will need to match the diameter of the coat hanger used on the drying rack. Once the holes are drilled, mount the balls on the rack.
Paint each of the balls white. 2 or 3 light even coats will work much better than 1 heavy coat, and will probably take much less time to dry.
Once the white paint is dry, you may choose to paint the backsides of the eyes red. If your eyes will be mounted in a prop where the backs will not be visible, you’ll probably want to skip this step. Using a piece of sponge, lightly drybrush the backs of the eyes with red paint about halfway around. The color should fade into the white gradually.
Once your wooden balls are painted to your liking and dry, it’ll be time to add the Irises. Choose the desired color and pupil size from the printed Prop Eyez sheet and cut them out. When cutting out the iris, you should leave a small amount of white around the edge. This helps keep the iris’ shape and blends the color into the sclera (whites of the eye) more naturally.
With the iris cut out, make a few (4-5) slits inward to the pupil around the iris. Don’t cut too far in, just cut to the edge of the pupil. This will help the printed iris mold over the rounded surface of the eye without rippling.
Using a glue stick, apply a liberal coat of glue to the back of the printed iris, and press the iris into place. Then roll the eyeball (iris facing down) on a table or other smooth hard surface. That will help smooth out the printed iris and any thicker spots of glue underneath.
Once the iris is in place on each of your eyeballs, you may choose to add some blood vessels to the Sclera. There are several ways of doing this, and any of them work well. I just paint them in with a fine tipped hobby brush. Some folks use tooth picks to drag lines from a droplet of paint, and others have said they use red Sweater lint. Do whatever works best for you, or use your imagination and come up with a new way.
The final step is to seal everything up. Coat each eye with 2 coats of Modge Podge Gloss, and then another 2 coats of the Modge Podge Gloss thinned down a bit with water. The second two (thinned down) coats help make for a nice glassy finish, which gives them a wet, realistic look.
Tip: For a hazy, dead look, try adding paint to your final modge podge mixture. On the last coat(s) of Modge Podge, mix a drop or two of acrylic hobby paint, in the color of the haze you want, into your thinned out Modge Podge. Pale yellow works well for a Jaundace look, gray or white for a dead haze. When doing a haze, a little bit of paint goes a long way, so mix sparingly and test it out before you put it on the eyes.
That’s all there is to it. Once dry, you have yourself a nice, realistic set of eyeballs that can be added to any number of Halloween props and party ideas.