Tuesday, 7 May 2013

How to draw eyes

How to draw realistic eyes

In this post I will discuss a step by step tutorial on how I draw eyes.  

I believe that in order to draw realistic eyes, they need to look alive.  Eyes are wet and have a shiny texture.  Eyes are also white and people sometimes tend to forget that.  In essence, in order to get the eyes to look real and alive, you need them to appear white and also have a wet texture.

Drawing of an eye on tea wash paper
Figure 1
When I first started out drawing portrait, I had a basic understanding of eyes.  But like most people, my brain couldn't completely work out how I was going to do it.  After a lot of observation and trial and error, I found an easy way to add detail that looks incredible but aren't complicated at all.

Shape of an eye

All the elements of drawing still apply when you want to draw an eye.  But what I have noticed is that an eye needs some extra attention when it comes to shape.  Everyone is unique and so is the shape of his or her eyes.  Some people have big eyes while others have small eyes.  There are people who have "cat eyes" and some that have round eyes.  One must always remember that no one's eyes are the same.  When you are drawing the shape of the eyes, you must also consider the facial expression.  If the facial expression happy or laughing, less of the iris will show and there will be laugh lines near the temple.  In figure 1, the expression in the eye is awake and more alert.

In this tutorial on how to draw eyes, I am going to focus on one eye and it's details.  I normally just repeat everything on the other eye.  I am drawing with willow charcoal, compressed charcoal, a putty eraser, a rubber eraser and smudge tools.
step 1 of drawing an eye
Figure 2

Step 1

An eyeball is round and the soft skin and hair, all form around it.  The first thing I start with when I draw an eye is the eyeball and then I start with the shape of the eye (see figure 2). I start of with willow charcoal.  Willow charcoal is softer and less permanent than compressed charcoal.  It is also a nice medium for shading.
step 2 of drawing an eye
Figure 3

Step 2

The next thing I do is draw the iris and pupil.  I then draw the eyelid above and under the eye.  The next thing I do is ad the eyebrow.  I fill in smaller details like spaces I want to keep white.  The reason for this is because these spaces that are left completely white, will pop out and make the eye look 3D and also gives it a glossy texture.  If you forget to leave those areas white, you can always use an eraser to reverse it, but bear in mind it might not be as white so try to always mark the places you want to leave white (see figure 3).
step 3 of drawing an eye
Figure 4

Step 3

In my next step, I do a basic under tone for my drawing with willow charcoal.  I smudge the charcoal to get a nice and even tone and then add more charcoal where needed until I am satisfied.  This helps so when I add my detail, I can just add over it in another layer.  But some spots will go darker and some might go lighter, depending on the detail I add later on.  This is my first step to creating volume and shading. 
step 4 of drawing an eye
Figure 5

Step 4

I then add some detail on the skin and eyebrows with my compressed charcoal (I always leave the delicate eyeball area for last).  Compressed charcoal is a hard type of charcoal that gives you more permanent lines.  It is also darker than willow charcoal and can be treated like a pencil.  I sometimes charcoal to add darker tones over the willow charcoal.  I find that it works nicely for me. 

Step 5

step 5 of drawing an eye
Figure 6
After I have added some detail to the areas surrounding the eyeball, I can start with the fun part.  Doing the eye ball and the iris.  I use my smudge tool that is a bit dirty by the end of the sketch to add the volume to the white area.  Remember to leave those marked spots white.

I use my compressed charcoal to add the detail in the iris.  Make sure your charcoal is nice and sharp, this way you can get darker and more defined lines for detail. 

Drawing of an eye
Figure 7

Step 6

To finish off the drawing, I add the lashes.  Even though I have drawn a man's eye, he still has lashes.  Pay attention to the shadow they cast over the eyeball.  Use a sharp compressed charcoal to add the lashes and a dirty smudge tool to add the shadow.  

And there you have the final sketch.  I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and that you use the tips I gave you.

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