Acrylic Eye Installation

This tutorial made possible by Cauldroness! Thanks!

For this project you will need:

  • Acrylic Eyes (22mm or 24mm, half-round NOT oval)
  • Thin saw (hack saw, craft saw, dremel...)
  • Rough-grit sandpaper
  • Small rubber bands
  • Thin cardboard (food boxes)
  • Glue
  • Double-sided tape
  • Toothpick

Choosing your eye size:
You can buy acrylic eyes from many places online. If you use a traditional measurement for a doll's head, a pullip's eye size would be 22cm. HOWEVER, due to the roundness of pullip's eyes, a 24cm size eye has the same size retina as a normal pullip. If you use the smaller eye size, you may end up giving your doll a vacant stare. This can be fixed by carefully positioning the eyes and adding extra eyelashes. Whichever eye size you use is up to you; some people prefer the smaller size as it makes their dolls seem older. The 22 cm size was used in this tutorial.

Step 1: Remove the eye globes from the eye mechanism
The very first thing you need to do is remove the eyeglobes from the eyemech. In Type 1s this is very simple: simply tug them out. In Type 2s and 3s, you will need to break off the ring of plastic that holds the two eyeglobes onto their connecting bar. This "melted plastic" is on top of the metal disc and can usually be snapped off quite easily. It often looks like melted plastic and is often discolored, darker than the rest of the plastic. The red arrows in the photo below show where the plastic ring has been removed.

Step 2: Remove the 'whites'
The next thing you need to do is saw off the eye part of the eyeglobe. You need a thin saw blade for this. A thick sawblade will be harder to manage on such a small piece and will probably make it more likely that you will cut your own fingers. You need to cut just in front of the long pole, about where the curve of the front of the eye ends. The photos below show exactly where you should be sawing.

Here you can see what the mech looks like with the eye removed. Sand the X of the eye mech that is where the glue was removed enough to roughen it up so that glue will stick better.

Step 3: Sanding the Eye
This is an easy step, but it's also the most time consuming. Put a piece of sandpaper down on a flat surface. Put the acrylic eye iris-up on the sandpaper. You will sand off the back of the acrylic eye by rubbing it over the sandpaper. You can also use a dremel to do this, but it's harder to end up with an even back and you may scratch the acrylic eye.

Here you can see the difference between a sanded acrylic eye (left) and an unsanded acrylic eye (right). You can see you will need to sand off a significant amount from the back of the eye. This is necessary because it brings the eye closer to the shape of the eye that was originally on the eyemech post.

When sanding the acrylic eyes stop and check every so often to see if you've sanded away enough. With acrylic eyes, it's better to sand too much than not enough. You will need to sand away more of the back off the eye if you want the blinking function; less if you just want side-to-side movement with no blinking. (Remember, sanding enough to allow the eyes to blink will make them appear more sunken in the head) Make sure that both eyes are sanded the same amount.

Here's how to check your eyes: use the double-sided tape to tape the eyes to the X of the eyeglobe. Put the eyeglobes back into the eyemech.

Step 4: Re-assembly
To make up for the piece of plastic you've broken off at the very beginning, you'll need to use tiny rubber bands. Slip the rubber band over the bottom pole of the eyeglobe, then pull it behind and up and over the small peg that you originally broke the plastic off of. See the photo below (note: The post of the eye below still has the eye globe attached. Yours will not).

Put the eye posts into the eyemech. Using a toothpick or tiny screwdriver, catch the rubber band of each eye post and pull it back over the peg you broke the "melty plastic" off of.

Step 5: Attaching the eyes to the mech
The first thing is to glue a bit of cardboard onto the back of the acrylic eye (Most acrylic eyes are hollow in back, this is to create a surface that you can glue the X of the eyeglobe to). You can either cut out the circle of cardboard and glue it to the acrylic eye, or glue the acrylic eye down and cut around it. At this point, if your eyes were too sunken when you tested them, add another layer of cardboard to push them up.

Test the eyes again after this step, using the double-sided tape. If they blinked before but do not blink now, you need a thinner piece of cardboard (cardstock may be your solution).

In general, if you simply glue the acrylic eyes into the eyemech without doing anything else (when gluing, try to get the center of the pupil directly above the center of X of the eyeglobe, otherwise the bulge of the acrylic eye will poke up in the wrong place and may prevent the Pullip from blinking). If you are using 22mm eyes, the eyes will look slightly up.

Naderine's eyes were done this way. She has 22mm, and a double layer of lashes (stock lashes + additional lashes).

You can glue a small tab of carboard to the back of the acrylic eye. If this tab is towards the top when the eye is glued in place (remember to use your double-sided tape to "test" positions), the doll will look straight ahead. If it's towards the bottom, the doll will look even more up. You can play around to get different angles until you find the one you like. The cardboard tab is more important in a Pullip mech than in a Taeyang mech; some Taeyangs will look straight forward without any tab.

Cornice's eyes were done with the tab of cardboard pointing up. She has 22mm, and only a single layer of lashes (her stock lashes) and as a result has a rather vacant look. Whichever position you use, if using 22mm remember to add extra eyelashes.


Here's a photo of 22mm in a Taeyang, and Cornice with 22mm and double-thick lashes:

Once you have the eyes set up the way you like, glue them in place and let them dry.

Once they've dried, screw them back into your doll and you're done!