Eyes are a beautiful subject to draw—a lot of different materials are combined in them, and they look like precious gems hidden in our own body. They're also quite challenging to draw, but it doesn't mean you can't do it! In this tutorial I will show you how to draw a beautiful, realistic eye without a reference.
What You Will Need
- Sheet of paper
- HB pencil
- 2B pencil
- 4B pencil
- 5B pencil
- 7B or 8B pencil
- Blending stump
- Eraser (preferably kneaded)
- Pencil sharpener
1. How to Start Drawing an Eye
Take the HB pencil and sketch a rough oval very lightly. The line should be barely visible.
Cross the oval with two curves that will make the eyelids.
The eyelids have a certain thickness, so add rims to them.
Draw the round iris, the pupil in the middle, a shape of the reflection, and the corners of the eye.
The eyebrow is a frame for the eye, so don't forget about it! Draw it with straight lines to achieve a natural shape.
Before we shade the eye, we must understand the 3D form of it. You can work it out by drawing directing lines. I've described this technique in my tutorial
2. How to Draw a Realistic Iris
Take your softest pencil (7B or 8B will work the best) and fill the pupil with it avoiding the area of reflection. The darkness of the pupil will define the contrast for the rest of the drawing.
Take the 2B pencil and draw fibers coming from the center of the iris. Go around the reflection. Keep the pencil slightly tilted to make the lines soft.
Darken the edge of the iris and draw a "ring" around the pupil.
Take the 2B pencil and darken the edge even more. Shade it, drawing more fibers, some darker than others.
Use the same pencil to shade all the iris. Draw a semi-shadow around the ring, and little shadows between the fibers.
Take the 4B pencil and make sure it's properly sharpened. Use it to accentuate the shadows you've drawn before.
Take the blending stump and subtly blend the outline of the iris. It's a part of the eyeball, so it shouldn't have a completely sharp edge.
Use the 4B pencil to draw a shadow of the upper eyelid over the iris. Keep in mind that eye isn't flat, and therefore the shadows must be curved.
Use the same pencil to draw the shadow of the eyelashes. It will be the most visible over the reflection area.
Take the 5B pencil and adjust the contrast of the eye. Darken the shadows to make the light parts pop.
3. How to Shade an Eye
Take the HB pencil and draw a subtle shade around the white of the eye. While shading, keep in mind that the eyeball is roughly a sphere, so don't make the shadows flat.
Use the blending stump to soften the shadows. Feel free to blend them even farther into the center.
Take the eraser and clean the illuminated area with it. The eye isn't completely smooth, so it will look even better if you break the soft shadows with sharp edges of the eraser strokes.
Take the HB pencil and draw the details of the lacrimal caruncle. This area is wet and shiny, so draw the outline of little highlights.
Shade the area subtly.
Take the 2B pencil and shade the area stronger. Use the same pencil to draw a subtle shadow under the lower eyelid. This will separate the eye from the eyelids.
Take the HB pencil and shade the rims of the eyelids. Keep in mind the location of the light source!
Blend the shaded area with the blending stump.
Use the same technique to shade the rest of the skin around the eye. Draw with a tilted pencil to capture a big area at once and to avoid sharp lines.
Take the 2B pencil and add more shadows where needed.
Take the 4B pencil and add even darker shadows.
Finally, take the 5B pencil and strongly darken the crease of the upper eyelid.
4. How to Draw Eyebrows and Eyelashes
Take the HB pencil and draw the direction of the hairs in the eyebrow.
Take the 2B pencil and draw the hairs one by one. Don't draw them sharply—their width will depend on the scale of your picture. Tilt your pencil if necessary to achieve thick strokes.
Take the 4B pencil and thicken the front lower part of the eyebrow.
Take the 2B pencil and sketch the direction and shape of the eyelashes. Before you start, however, look in the mirror and try to understand what you see. The eyelashes are curvy, and their shape will be affected by perspective. They go slightly down, right from the rim of the upper eyelid, and then they curve up.
Create the lower eyelashes the same way.
Eyelashes tend to stick to each other, creating sharp clumps.
Take the 4B pencil and thicken the eyelashes, adding more hairs in between. The eyelashes don't grow in one thin row! Also, adjust the width of the eyelashes to the scale of your picture.
Take the softest pencil, make sure it's sharp, and accentuate certain parts of the eyelashes.
The picture is almost finished. Look at it at a distance and try to see how the shading can be improved. Use all the pencils for this task.
Finally, draw tiny details to make it more realistic: thin veins in the eye and little wrinkles here and there. You can make the skin more uneven just by crossing it with rows of sharp lines.
If you decide to digitize your drawing to publish it on the Internet, don't forget to prepare it first:
But What About the Other Eye?
I'll tell you a secret: there should be no "other eye". When drawing a portrait, draw them both at the same time, step by step. This way you'll simply draw both eyes without copying one from the other. And the good news is they don't need to be identical at all—our faces aren't perfectly symmetrical!