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How to Draw Eyes – Tutorial

July 19, 2009


Everyone has their own way of drawing eyes and when you’re just learning, it can be very helpful to look at as many different techniques as possible. In this article, I talked about general tips for drawing eyes and provided some links to tutorials on the web. Now, here’s my tutorial.


1. The first step is the reference. Find a reference photo that is clear, detailed, and has a range of lights and darks. This reference image was borrowed from the Image Library at Wet Canvas. You can grid your reference by hand or digitally, whatever works for you. If your picture is in colour, make a grayscale version to show just the values.





2. I grid my paper to correspond with the reference and begin my line drawing with an ‘H’ pencil. This shows not only the placement of the elements of the eye, like the iris and pupil, but also shows the placement of major areas of shadow and light. This is probably the most important part of the drawing, and it’s a good idea to take your time. The more careful you are here, the more accurate your final drawing will be.



3. I erase the grid lines and begin to block in the basic values with a ‘B’ pencil, using these shading techniques. Many people work from light to dark, but in general I prefer to work dark to light. By starting with the darkest values I instantly get a sense of the dimensions of the drawing and can shade other areas accordingly.

I shade overtop of where the eyebrow will be in order to establish the skin tone that will be seen underneath the individual hairs.




4. Now I blend the entire drawing with my blending stick. Here it’s important to work from light to dark, and as your blending stick gets dirty, clean it off on a sheet of scrap paper.




5. You’ll notice that some of the definition is lost through blending. Now I will use my ‘2B’ pencil to go in and add some of the dark details, blending as I go. Pay close attention to the shadow and patterns within the iris, and keep in mind that the crease of the eyelid is not a solid line: it is a shadow that blends out towards the edges.




6. Next I will use my kneaded eraser to create highlights. With a kneaded eraser, it’s best to dab at your drawing instead of rubbing it. This will pick up the graphite, lightening the area without smuding. I add the highlights to the tear duct and along the edges of the eyeball. Of course, depending on the size of your portrait, some of these details may not be visible.




7. Next I use my ‘4B’ pencil to darken the pupil, the outer edge of the iris, the edges of the eyeball and the crease of the lid.




8. Now it’s time for the eyebrow. It’s important to save the hair for last, otherwise you would be trying to draw around it. I used a “4b” for the eyebrows and eyelashes, sharpening it regularly to keep a point. When drawing eyebrows, place your pencil at the spot where the hair starts and flick your wrist to make a short tapered line. Also keep in mind that eyebrow hairs are curved and that they grow in different directions. Those near the nose tend to grow more upwards, pointing out more as you move to the edge of the face. The key to drawing hair is building up layers. For this eyebrow, I did a layer of flicking strokes, then blended it. Then I used my kneaded eraser to pick up a few highlighted hairs, then did more pencil strokes.




9. The last step is the eyelashes. Use the same wrist-flicking motion as you did for the eyebrows to make curved lashes that taper at the end. Make sure your lashes aren’t too thick or uniform. Notice how eyelashes sort of bunch together to come to a point, growing in different directions to cross over eachother. At this point in the drawing, I would go in and touch up any highlights or blending .



From → Drawing, Tutorials

  1. That’s a great tutorial on the eyes, the images really helped me see your instructions.
    Cheers 🙂

  2. I love your tutorials..would love to see you show these awesome lessons in video!!

  3. Ikra permalink

    Great Eyes

  4. meena permalink

    wows…..what a picture what a picture

  5. Nader permalink

    This is splendid Tutorial !

  6. Mashi permalink

    Thanks! It’s helpful! 😀
    But… weird question but I find it hard to make eyebrowns. Do you have some hints? Eyebrowns are easy to do but I can’t shade them right so it looks like real hair :S

  7. paige permalink

    you will not believe how helpful this was, as a gcse student i want to receive a phenomenial grade… you have really helped me thank u ever so much

  8. Clairessa permalink

    Your amazing!, this web is so helpful for doing my art n art hw’s that i get :P. Thank you soo much! :).

  9. addie permalink

    this is actually like amazing just saying

  10. Syed permalink

    Mirinda You are great. I love your work. It give me lot of inspiration. Thanks

  11. excellent 🙂
    thanks so much, you’re a true artist 🙂

  12. Manoj Kumar Badoniya permalink

    Miranda your art is inspiration for me that how to draw…Thanks for teach me.

  13. jannihilator permalink

    this helped me alot thanks!

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