Create Eye Sparkles in Cross Stitch

Little Stitches That Make a Big Difference!

Before you read on, take a look at these two images of a cross stitched wolf from our Portraits of the Wild Life cross stitch pattern. Can you see a difference? Do you like one better than the other?

Two Cross Stitch Wolves, With and Without Eye Sparkle

I like the wolf on the right. He looks brighter and more alive to me. The difference? Two itty-bitty white stitches on the pupils. That’s it! Those are the “sparkles” in the wolf’s eyes.

When light shines on real eyes, they sparkle. We may not consciously be aware of it, but it makes a difference. Artists are taught to add similar marks to paintings and drawings, and they are just as effective in needlework.

In The Lord of the Rings movies, one way Galadriel is set off from the other elves is by the light that reflects in her eyes. Designers built a special light, made of Christmas lights, rather than a single bulb, to use for her close-up shots. The effect is a bunch of shimmering sparkles in her eyes. She appears brighter, or lighter, than the other elves. Now, did I notice that the light in her eyes was different when I watched the movie? Nope! But I did get the impression that she was special, light, ethereal.

It’s a cinch to make two itty-bitty white stitches on a pupil, but getting them to look just right can be a trick. If there are two eyes (a straight-on image rather than a profile), the sparkles need to coordinate—to appear as though they come from a single light source. And more than that, they need to be a similar size and placed well. How do you do that? Well, I’ll tell you: I don’t know. I stitch and rip until I get a look I like! Trust me, you’ll know when you’ve got something that works.

So there you have it. Next time you stitch a person or animal, even if the pattern doesn’t include them, stitch sparkles in the eyes and see what happens. If you’ve got some white, sparkly metallic fiber, give that a go.

Don’t judge a stitch by its size; sometimes a small stitch has a big impact.

8 Responses to “Create Eye Sparkles in Cross Stitch”

  1. Beaj

    Thanks for the hint, I agree it makes a difference and improves the end result..:)

    October 25, 2013 @ 5:51 am
  2. Jen

    Yay, I’m glad you agree and found this helpful! It’s kind of crazy, isn’t it, that such a small thing can make such a difference?

    October 25, 2013 @ 6:21 am
  3. Sheila

    I can’t believe that it made that much difference. I certainly will add!

    February 5, 2015 @ 9:28 am
  4. Jen

    I love this trick! I wonder what other tricks we might learn from painters and photographers and others who capture images.

    February 5, 2015 @ 10:39 am
  5. Lin D

    Just Found You through Bookmark Request.

    LOVE Your Tips…Am Stitching A Fairy For Granddaughter…Will Add Eye Sparkle

    March 4, 2015 @ 11:17 am
  6. Jen

    Thank you, Annette and Lin! Crazy, isn’t it?

    March 5, 2015 @ 8:15 pm
  7. Annette Briggs

    Who knew just what a stitch would make. Thanks.

    March 5, 2015 @ 2:39 pm
  8. I like it!

    March 8, 2015 @ 9:54 am

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