The Eyes Have It

One of my favorite parts of thread-painting pet faces is inking and stitching the eyes. Trying to capture the soulful/mischievous/calm expressions is a very fun challenge!

I usually begin with white batik or PFD fabric, and lightly trace the outlines of the eyes, using a light box or my “light box” iPad app. In this case, the base layer of the face was white, which made it very simple. (In other pet portraits I simply cut and MistyFuse in place.)

Next, it’s time for Fabrico ink pens (by Tsukineko)…I discovered them in Houston and fell in love ;). Using multiple shades creates a more realistic look; here I used two shades of green:


Then, it’s time for stitching. For eyes and fur, one of my favorite threads is “Twist” by Superior Thread. The two-dimensional color adds a lovely realistic touch. First, I stitch the entire iris in the lighter shade, moving from pupil to edge of eye and back- as indicated by the red arrows:  
This kitty’s eyes are a darker green close to the pupil, so I followed with a second layer of stitching with a darker shade of green, in the areas indicated:

I stitch the iris first…filling the pupil in with black thread afterward can cover any errant colored stitches!

The final step is the most important–highlights. This photo was taken at midday and the highlights were in unusual places…I simply referred to the photo and touched up the appropriate areas with white ink.  
Here’s looking at you, kid!