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How to Draw a Realistic Eye: A Step-by-Step Tutorial


By Sam Cooper in Art Tutorials > Drawing Tips

Hey everyone! In this tutorial, I’ll guide you through the process of drawing a realistic eye. If you prefer a more detailed video tutorial, simply click here to receive a notification when it’s available!

Recommended Drawing Tools

• General’s Charcoal Pencil 6B
• Mechanical Pencil with HB and 4B lead
• Tombow Mono Zero Eraser
• Posca Paint Pens (White 0.7mm)
• Old makeup brushes for blending

Step-by-Step Guide: Drawing a Realistic Eye

Step 1: Locate an Appropriate Reference Photo

To accurately depict a realistic eye, it’s crucial to have a high-quality reference photo. This allows you to determine the eye’s shape, size, and the correct placement of features and reflections.

Drawing reference of a close-up eye

Step 2: Begin with a Light Sketch

Start your drawing by lightly outlining the eye. I find it helpful to mark the starting and ending points with indicators on the left and right. Additionally, resize the reference photo to match the desired proportions for precise drawing.

Basic sketch showing just the shape of an eye

Step 3: Outline Facial Features

Once the central part of the eye is sketched, proceed to outline the remaining features, such as the tear duct, eyelid, and eye bags.

Outline drawing of an eye, eyelid, eye bags, and tear ducts

Step 4: Render the Darkest Areas

Using a charcoal pencil, selectively shade the areas that should appear the darkest. Pay attention to the eyelid crease, the shadow beneath the eyelid, and the pupil and iris surroundings. Be cautious, as charcoal is challenging to erase once applied.

Drawing the darkest shadows in the skin around the eye, as well as in the iris, using charcoal

Step 5: Add Depth to the Whites of the Eyes

Shade the whites of the eyes by applying light shading techniques. Remember, the whites are never entirely white, as they possess shadows and three-dimensional characteristics. In this case, the tear duct area is slightly darker, and the opposite corner of the eye is even darker, casting a shadow due to the eyelashes.

Light shading of the whites of the eyes

Step 6: Define the Tear Duct and Enhance the Iris

Proceed to shade the tear duct, maintaining its dark nature while portraying its reflective quality. Simultaneously, add details to the iris, focusing on areas surrounding the pupil and the iris’s circumference.

Drawing more shadows to the inner part of the eye

Step 7: Bring the Iris to Life

To depict the iris realistically, draw various types of lines extending from the pupil—some curvy lines, others reaching the iris’s edge, and some starting and stopping at random points. Fill the majority of the space with these lines, incorporating black spots. Remember, there’s no specific formula for this, as every eye possesses unique characteristics that contribute to its appeal.

Drawing details inside the iris of an eye

Step 8: Shade the Skin

Establish a base shade for the skin using an HB pencil. Begin lightly, gradually deepening the shadows with a 4B pencil. Pay specific attention to the eyelid crease, the edge of the eye, and the eye bags. To blend the shadows seamlessly, use a brush, tissue, or cotton bud.

Adding dimension to the skin around the eye by lightly shading it

Step 9: Draw Realistic Eyelashes

Using a 4B pencil, draw the eyelashes. Start from the root and flick the pencil lead off the page as you draw, creating lashes that are thickest at the root and thinnest at the tip. Consider the direction of the lashes, as they follow a specific pattern. In this case, the top lashes curve up towards the left and gradually curve up towards the right as they reach the edge of the eye.

Drawing realistic eyelashes with a flick of the pencil

Step 10: Add Texture and Highlights

To introduce skin texture and highlights, utilize a Tombow Mono Zero eraser. Apply highlights to the eyelid and tear duct, mimicking the way light naturally interacts with these areas.

Adding skin highlights with an eraser

Finally, use a white Posca paint pen to incorporate the brightest highlights. Focus on the eyelid, tear duct, and iris reflections. Utilize a stippling technique to simulate the look of skin with its tiny bumps and reflections.

Create bright highlights around the eye to add extra realism

I hope you’ve enjoyed this comprehensive tutorial. Don’t forget to sign up for a notification when the full video tutorial becomes available!

Special thanks to Sam Cooper (@justsomedrawingzz) for generously sharing this tutorial! For more of Sam’s incredible drawings, please visit

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Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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