Painting eyes is something many people get stressed out about and most times just slap on some black paint and call it done. But horse eyes aren't solid black!
When painting anything, let alone horse eyes, make sure you work from a reference. You can print it out, leave it open on the computer, have a book with an image, whatever it is just use a reference! You can't paint accurately and realistically without even knowing what the real thing looks like.
I like to line up all of my paints and brushes so I have everything in one place. For a brown eye you'll need black, white, a dark brown, a lighter brown, gold, and a flesh color (if your horse has large eyewhites).
Even if you're painting a large horse, you still want very fine brushes. And please, don't use a toothpick. That's not a paintbrush.
Since eyes don't take up very much paint, you'll waste a lot of paint by dumping it out on a palette. Shake the bottle well and unscrew the cap. Now you have paint in the cap that you can tip your brush into.
Very carefully dip the end of the brush into the paint, only getting paint on the very tip of the bristles. If it looks rounded at the end, wipe some off (that's why you see a bunch of paint around the rim of my paint cap
). You don't need much paint on there at all. If you have too much it'll take forever to dry and won't look smooth.
If you need to, use a bright light to see where the edges of the eye are. Sometimes it's hard to see, especially on darker horses. Don't be afraid to use a magnifier if you need to! Paint the entire eye black.
Paint some white at one corner of the eye. Depending on what your horse is doing and which direction he's looking it will go at one end or the other, but never both. You might not even need to paint eyewhites on the horse depending on what it's doing. Appaloosa always have eyewhites showing, no matter what the horse is doing. If you like you can add the fleshtone in the corner of the eye now. Don't worry about getting it perfect - as you can see mine are way off.
Add more black to fix the white. Again, how much white is showing will depend on what your horse is doing.
As I use each color I leave the caps out so I can easily access the paint again if I need to.
Paint the lighter brown all the way around the eye, leaving a very small rim of black around the edge of the eye.
You can either mix some light brown and black or use a darker brown to add to the middle of the eye. Apply the paint in a circular shape but don't make it a perfect circle. You want it to be uneven.
Apply a thin layer of gold paint if you want to wherever you want the shine.
Finally paint the pupil, which as you will see in your reference is a long skinny oval. Again you don't have to be perfect about it.
Seal the entire model in your preferred sealant, and coat the eyes in gloss varnish. Then you're done!
If you have any other tips on painting eyes or do it slightly differently, please share!