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How to Draw Eyes

June 25, 2009

Eyes can be very tricky to draw, mostly because we all have preconceived ideas about what an eye looks like. Again, this is where a detailed reference comes into play. The eyes can be the key to the success or failure of a drawing. As they say, the eyes are “the window the soul” and can capture the personality of a portrait. 

View my step by step tutorial on how to draw the eyes.

Here are a few general tips to keep in mind when drawing eyes:

  1. The eyeball is a sphere, it should be shaded as one.
  2. Don’t forget the highlight, this is what gives the eye its sparkle!
  3. The cornea (the lense covering the iris) sticks out from the eyeball. This means that the lids will be widest wherever the iris ispointing.
  4. The iris is the perfect circle found in faces, but this is only when we see it from head on. When we see it at an angle, it becomes an ellipse.
  5. Eyelashes are curved, and they grow in all directions crossing over eachother.
  6. Eyelashes close to the inner eye sometimes point down and cross the eye itself.
  7. Don’t forget about the tear duct! This has a distinct shape, shadows and highlights of its own.
  8. You can often see the inner edge of the eyelid, especially on the bottom lid, before the lashes start growing.
  9. The iris is not a solid colour, it has radial patterns and usually a dark inner and outer ring.

On the Web

On my travels through various art blogs, I’ve come across some excellent tips and tutorials. Each of these approaches drawing the eye in a different way, giving you the advantage of a couple different techniques.

Annette Labedzki’s article describes the steps to consider when drawing the eye.

Visit Stan Prokopenko’s blog for a tutorial that very clearly demonstrates the structure of the eye and how to draw it.

And finally, Faith Te’s tutorial gives a step by step guide to drawing and shading the eye. She uses graphite powder and brushes, but her process can be used with other techniques as well.

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