I have a hard, polycarbonate globe, like this one pictured below. I am trying to make it look like an eyeball. I am lighting it from inside, and I already have a good blue iris that I made out of blue gel sheets. The problem is, it only looks like an eyeball when the light is on, and it is not too bright outside. When the light is off, it looks like a white sphere.

So, I'd like to dye an iris shape on the outside of the globe. But everything I'm reading seems to say that you can't dye this kind of plastic. Is that correct? Or is there some way?

(I've tried painting the outside, but when light is shining through, every little brushstroke stands out, and it looks awful)


White Polycarbonate Globe

EDIT: Just to add more context, here are the current eyeballs I have created. The first pic is in not-so-bright sunlight, with the internal light bulbs at max: Eyeballs in daylight 1

And here is what it looks like in very bright sunlight. Note that you can barely see the iris: Zerble in bright daylight

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    Have you only tried hand painting it? Because with an airbrush or even spray paint you won't have any brush strokes. And you could cut a circle in almost anything to be a stencil.
    – user24
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 4:57
  • I haven't tried airbrushing or spray-painting. I will test that out on my smaller (cheaper) globe and see how it looks with light coming through. I'm guessing it'll be tricky to get a coat thin and even enough to look good and still let light shine through, though. Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


Get 2 clear plastic bowls that are the same size and some clear bathtub silicon in a tube. Glue one bowl in the eyeball, this is the iris - paint it so it looks good, glue the other bowl upside down onto it. When the silicon has dried, cut away the excess with a really sharp knife. enter image description here

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    HI there. That looks neato. But that open hole is actually being used in the back of the eye. It has the light fixture and is how the eyeball is mounted. So this method wouldn't work for me. Commented May 3, 2018 at 19:51

The colour gel (that is photographic filter, if I understand correctly) actually sounds like a good idea to me; I’m not sure why it doesn’t work for you. Have you tried painting the iris texture on it, so that it looks more like an eye?

Apart from that, if you want even colour without brushstrokes you could try cutting a piece of coloured tissue paper and gluing it on.

Another way to colour it without brushstrokes I can think of is to print the colour on it instead of paint it:

Cover the areas you don’t want to have painted (with masking tape for example). Then you can apply the colour either directly with something like a piece of soft cloth (put little paint on a pallet or something like that and dab the cloth on it, don’t put paint directly on the cloth; be scares with the paint), or apply an even layer of paint on a sheet of paper (with a roller or again a piece of cloth) and then press and rub that against the area you want to have coloured. You may have to do that several times (lift the paper and press it again without putting additional paint) to get better covering. Either way, don’t smudge the paint on, but press it on instead (this is more time consuming but will give you even texture as a result) and don’t put too much paint (this will give you uneven texture).

That is if you are using paint. If you are using ink, then put some ink directly on a cotton ball or something similar, and dab it on the surface.

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