Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Tu Tor Plus, Tutorials

Carving eyes

Perhaps one of the most challenging processes of carving the human face is the carving of eyes. The secret is to PRACTICE carving eyes over and over again to find the method that works best.

Besides that actual practice of shaping the wood with a knife to look like an eye, learning the look of the eye is essential. Some carvers are tempted to use the instructional steps of making mechanical cuts as the sure fire way to create an eye that looks like the instructional steps.  Doing the steps without having an understanding of the look of the entire eye will not produce an eye that sees. Study one’s own eyes in a mirror, an eye in a photograph, an eye in a sculpture or an eye rendered by a two dimensional artist in a drawing or painting.  To find eyes to study one can do an internet search in either Google or Bing by adding “images”  to the subject being researched as in “drawing human eyes images.”

The method being presented here is a little different than previous tutorials on this blog and is intended to be a little easier to be put into practice.  Keep in mind that there are various ways to carve eyes and what is presented here is one of many.  If fact under “Main Menu” of this blog, click on “The Eyes Have It”  to view many varieties of carved eyes, each different from others but works for that particular carving.

The Whittle-Carving method of carving eyes with a knife requires the practice of making a three cut triangular cut over and over again until it becomes second nature. The second major cut to practice is the notch cut made with two slicing angled cuts that meet at the bottom of the first cut to form a ditch or trough.

One cut is not a cut to end all cuts, which means that the triangular cut and the notch cut are beginning cuts to allow for stair step shaping of the area around these openings.  Often these cuts will be deepened again to satisfy the contour look of the shape desired.

Using the instructional photograph as a visual tutorial to go along with the written steps will give the method and how-to for carving an eye using only a knife.

Carving eyes

# 1 ~ Notch cut underneath eyebrow.  # 2 ~ Three cut triangular cut to open up the beginning of eye mound.  # 3 ~ Notch cut at bottom of eye mound.  # 4 ~ A flat plane is sliced down and across the eye mound to establish the ridge of the upper eye lid. # 5 ~ A narrow notch forms the bottom of upper eye lid with a notch cut for bottom eye lid and with the eye ball shaped between the eye lids. # 6 ~ Eye ball is rounded with inner and outer corners cut with triangular cuts as is the pupil.

The next instructional photograph is a visual tutorial with written steps for not only the eyes but also other facial features of the nose, smile line and mouth mound with dental curve foundation.

Carving eyes

Notch cuts to establish bottom of eye brow area as in # 1.  # 2. Notch cuts at bottom of nose nostrils and scooped out cuts on either side of nose to lower eye and cheek area. #3. Notch cut for top of eye mound and triangular cuts to establish nose, smile line and upper dental curve with mouth mound. # 4. Triangular cuts at juncture of nose and eyebrow to open up for eye mound. #5. Notch cut at bottom of eye mound.# 6. Flat plane slice down and across the eye mound to establish upper lid ridge. #7. Notch cuts for upper and bottom eye lids to establish eye ball. A finished face shows end result

After this visual tutorial, practice with knife to Whittle-Carve these various cuts to learn these steps.

 The purpose of this tutorial is to teach the “method” and the “how-to” rather than the style.  After and while learning to do the steps in the “method” each carver will carve their own style.  In fact after extensive practice of the “method” the carver will experience their own creativity suggesting a tailor made method of their own.

The “method” suggested in this tutorial is only one of many ways to carve eyes, nose, ears and facial features.  The only right way is what works for the carver.  What works can only be discovered by the practice of many methods over and over again.


                     Donald K. Mertz ~ the WOOD BEE CARVER 



This entry was posted on Sunday, July 14th, 2013 at 3:25 pm and is filed under Tu Tor Plus, Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.