Carving Tutorial - Part 4

Carving the Eyes, Eyeballs and Eyebrows

Check your carving for smooth transitions between the lower part of the face, the cheeks, nose, and eye sockets. It is important to work all aspects of the face at a time. Take a little off all around the face as you do your basic shape. An 8/10 has the right sweep for bringing down the inside corner of each eye against the nose.

Redraw the outside boundaries of the face. Note the position of your marks for the horizontal units for the second half of the face. Outline the boundary with a V tool and bring down the sides of the face if necessary.

A) Carving the Eyes (refer to models #4 and #5):

Model #4 - Photo model 4 wood carving
  1. Start with a deep gouge (probably a # 11) sized to match your carving.
    • Make 3 separate passes over the eye area. Make one cut upward that curves cut above and one downward curving cut below. The third cut is across the center.
    • Rework these cuts until you have some depth in the corners and some distinction where you can see 3 separate areas. Take only a little wood out at a time.
    • These 3 areas give you space for the upper lid, the eyeball and the lower lid. You may need to lower the cheeks a little after carving out the eye area.
    • Draw your eye lids in place using a divider to ensure they are the same length and width. Refer to your vertical marks alone the midline for the 3 center units as per Diagram A. The eyes can be a bit wider than the units.
    • If you are right handed carve the left eye first and vise versa. Doing this allows you to see the carved eye while carving the second one. After having carved the first eye measure the second one again with dividers. This will ensure that both are very close to the same. If they are not than make adjustments.
  2. Using a fine knife, make a curved stop cut that will show the top of the top eye lid. Cut toward the eye ball. Do not under cut the lid. Follow over this cut with a V tool placed on its side. The stop cut is a caution as the wood is very fragile.
    • This cut can start either in the inside corner of the eye or from the outside corner. Go up and over and back down the other side. This represents where the lid goes under the brow.
  3. Make another stop cut and use a V tool placed on its side to part the lids from the eyeball.
    • This will take 2 cuts; the upper one curving upward, across and back down will complete the top lid. The lower one is cut slightly downward, across and back up and will show the edge of the lower lid as it touches the eyeball. These cuts can start either in the inside corner of the eye or from the outside corner, which ever is most convenient. Take only a little wood out on your first pass and check your eye sizes again.
    • The inside area of these last 2 cuts is the eyeball.
Model #5 - Photo model 5 wood carving
B) Carving the Eyeball:

With a small detail knife (small Warren blades are good), take wood from the corners of the eyes so that the eyeball has a more rounded look. Taking more wood out from the corners will also create more shadow and illusion of depth. The outside corner of the eyeball should be lower than the inside one. Round the eyeball but leave the center higher and somewhat flat. Leaving the center a bit flat prevents the eye from looking bugged out. You will probably need to deepen the corners again after you trim the bottom lid back to fit under the top lid.

You should be able to see the nose bridge clearly above the eyeball when you take a side view. If you can't see the bridge clearly than remove more wood from the front of the eyeball and push back the corners of the eyes.

  1. Thin down the area under the eye using a shallow gouge. The bottom lid fits under the top lid. You add to the round look of the eye when you trim down the corners of the lid a bit. Take only a little wood out at a time.
  2. Use a V tool to put some wrinkles and creases coming down from each corner of the eye and under the eyes. You don't need to connect the wrinkle lines under the eyes.
  3. When you have carved the lids and eyeballs, draw in the iris for each eye. The eye looks better if the iris is not located directly in the center. Use a divider to ensure that both iris are the same size.
  4. Take a small detail knife and make a stop cut at the top all around the inside of the iris. Be sure to cut angled in toward the center of the iris.

C) Carving the Eyebrows:

  1. Carve the separation between the eye brows with a # 9 or 11 gouge.
  2. Use a # 7 gouge inverted to shape the eye brows. You can round the inside corner by the nose by carving down toward the nose.
  3. You can put hair on the eye brows with a small v tool. The hair curves a bit under the brow and gradually turns as it goes over the top of the brow. Only put a few hair lines on the eye brows.
Continue to Part 5: Hanging and Finishing the Carving