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Achieving "symetry" in setting deer eyes

Discussion in 'Deer and Gameheads' started by fish stuffer, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. fish stuffer

    fish stuffer Active Member

    I know that even on a person, the left side is not exactly like the right. It is not a mirror image. Also, eyes can be rotated. But as a taxidermist, I feel like if you can't get things symetrical, you ain't much of a taxidermist. Anybody can set 1 eye. But can you do two and get them right? Ever heard that?? I'm talking to myself. I've had alot of problems over the years. Some just slap them in, because the suppliers want us to believe the presculpted forms are perfect. They can't even agree on the angle. 45 degrees, 47, 43, which is it? Who cares? just make them look right. And the downward cant. I've watched 100 videos and seminars, I've never seen anbody explain how they come up with this downward cant. Do they just guess? Set the 45 degrees and then just angle them down alittle? How many instraments do you guys use? Calipers, straightedge, level? Anybody use the clear acetate with the markings like they sell for bobcats and such? Do they make those for deer? I know if you get it close, when you slide the skin on you have to be carefull not to mess up your clay. I've had trouble while drying things move also. I've had so much trouble over the years, I'm wondering if I need to have my eyes checked. Also, I know I need more light in my shop, I'm working on that. So, can eyesite affect the way you see things when looking at the small details? I know it sounds like a stupid question. For example...I started using a mirror to check things. A deer hanging on the wall, almost dry. I've been working on it fine tunning it. I notice one eye is a tiny bit more open than the other. The left eye is wider. Now I can close one eye or open the other one. Both would be anatomicaly ok. One gives it a more relaxed look. The other gives it a more alert look. I look at it in a mirror and I know it is a reverse immage but now the deer's right eye looks wider. I'm thinking, "boy I really suck at deer mounting." Bout ready to throw in the towell. I think I need my eyes checked. But I try hard. I think about what Sally said one time. "I don't like nothing I do, never satisfied with my work." I've had lots of trainning, I guess I just suck at taxidermy. Symetry kicks my but.
    Trapper2016 and Richard C like this.
  2. BrookeSFD16

    BrookeSFD16 Well-Known Member

    You're not alone. Pretty much everyone gets one a little more off than the other.
    Justin_Meagher and fish stuffer like this.

  3. Justin_Meagher

    Justin_Meagher New Member

    My first tool for eye-setting is a contour gauge... Shows how much the orbits are REALLY off. Then I take it from there.
  4. Keith

    Keith Well-Known Member

    Most of the glass eye pupils are not symmetrical to begin with.
    rogerswildlife likes this.
  5. I level up the back of the form with a hand level. Then I use a laser level that is set up across the shop to check the front corners of the eyes on the form. They are usually pretty close. Then once I have the form level I set my eyes using the laser level to make sure the pupils are symetrical side to side. So that's my starting point. A contour gauge is a big help with the eye opening.
    Tanglewood Taxidermy likes this.
  6. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    A level and a contour gauge are your friends!
  7. Why worry the forms are never symmetrical. So how do you achieve your dream without hours and hours of work on the form. WATCH NATURE look closely nothing is symmetrical. Watch a fish swimming under the water, the unside of the fishes curve is more bulbous than the outside of the curve, the outside can look almost flat in longer fish.

    So how much symmetry is enough?
    George, Jordan Park and Bill Dishman like this.
  8. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    I just back up a few feet from the mannikin, and toss them in place! Where they stick is where they are, LOL. I don't do competition work, but most of my eyes are symmetrical. It just takes repetition, and in my case, not suffering too much over it. Walk away from the deer for a few minutes and come back to it. Make one little adjustment at a time, and when they are close, stop.
  9. Bill Dishman

    Bill Dishman taxidermist / instructor

    Leave it to taxidermists to over think something to the point that they're getting in their own way. You don't need graphs, charts, calipers etc. Like Joey said, its repetition and not suffering over it.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
    George and Glenn M like this.
  10. I use the mirror trick while it is still damp and drying. Using critter clay around the eyes helps also.
  11. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I don't think the 8 to 10 seconds it takes to use a contour gauge to determine that one socket is 1/4" deeper is too detrimental to the eye setting process. It does however, allow you to make adjustments in the beginning so you don't have to guess why one eye looks too deep and then adjust while your clay is going on.
    Bucknut, fish stuffer and dale65 like this.
  12. If it's eye pleasing, and looks the same on both sides, to me just by appearance. I know its good for the customer. because my eyes are 100x more critical than a customers.
    If one of my customers should take it home break out a leveler, contour gauge, measuring tape, drafting compass, or what ever on it. I don't want them back anyways !. Those are the ones you could never please no matter how good its is. their just looking for something to bitch about, and at 56 i'm not listen to bitching anymore !
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
  13. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    I'm gone call you and bitch about something, LOL!
    msestak and fish stuffer like this.
  14. Lol. Go ahead but I know some adult words, in response.:p:)
    msestak and Megan :) like this.
  15. Tom Maul

    Tom Maul Active Member

    It's interesting...
    I think there's a lot of truth in every one of these posts,
    even the one's that oppose one another.... lol.
    One response I'll give to the original post...
    Good lighting is imperative for me.
    I also try to be conscious when using "directional" lighting...
    If I have a task light that I'm using, say, while doing deer eyes and it's over my left shoulder, for example, when I get things how I think they should be, I move that light dead center(ish) of the deer for a final check on balance. Shadows (unbalanced lighting) will have me chasin my tail quicker than anything. I think good balanced lighting is a must to achieve reasonable symmetry. I wouldn't know what perfect symmetry is... lol
    My shop is lighted well, but I don't ever think I could have too much light.
    Joey says, "when they're close, stop". I like the way you think, Joey. I'm still learning, and by gosh, that's one thing I've learned!...;):D
    joeym and fish stuffer like this.
  16. fish stuffer

    fish stuffer Active Member

    Good replys everybody, thanks. Question, If I had my eyeset and clay work perfect, absolutely perfect, but My eyes were screwed up, say 20-20 in one eye but the other eye weaker and I need glasses, would it make me see things differently than they really are? Ex., I need to adjust the deer's right eye a little, it needs moving some, when in reality it is perfect, I'm just not seeing it right?

    I know I need glasses, I'm just wondering if one of my eyes being different than the other would make me see things wrong.
  17. Chip Hayes

    Chip Hayes New Member

    I use my phone, with most smart phones you can take a picture of one side , edit the photo to flip the picture and now you can sculpt the other eye easily, without having to go back and forth
  18. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    Excellent idea!
  19. My eyes are like yours and i don't wear glasses. My dominant eye is the 20/20 though.
    Like Justin said, so many of the forms eye sockets are out whack. .
    I use trueyes and it's nice you can take T pin in the corner of the eye where the pin mark wont show, and rotate them if you get the pupil a little off.
  20. Tom Maul

    Tom Maul Active Member

    Sounds like a question for an optometrist, fish stuffer.... I, for one, wouldn't know the answer to that. Ask the internet... it knows everything... ;)
    fish stuffer likes this.