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How to Draw Eyes – A Step-by-Step Tutorial

How to Draw Eyes - A Step-by-Step Tutorial

As artists, we are often captivated by the fascinating and expressive nature of eyes. They serve as a window to the soul and can be the defining feature of a person’s face. However, when it comes to drawing eyes, many of us find ourselves struggling.

To truly master the art of drawing eyes, it is important to understand the underlying structure and learn the techniques involved. In this article, I will guide you through the basics of drawing eyes and provide you with an easy-to-follow tutorial.

What You’ll Learn in this Tutorial

  • The basic structure of the eye
  • Placing eyes within the overall facial structure
  • Different types of eyes
  • Step-by-step instructions for drawing realistic eyes

Materials Needed for this Guide

  • A piece of paper
  • Graphite pencils (2H, 4B, and 8B)
  • A compass
  • A ruler
  • A blending tool
  • An eraser
  • A white gel pen/fine liner

Video Tutorial

The eyes you’re going to draw:

How to Draw Eyes - Final Result

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process:

Section 1: Basic Structure of the Eye

Let’s start with some basic theory. Grab a piece of paper and draw along with me.

1. The Sclera

Eye Structure - Sclera

The sclera is the white part of our eyes that covers and protects them. It’s important to note that the color of the sclera can vary from light blues to greens, purples, and grays.

2. The Upper Eyelid

Eye Structure - Upper Eyelid

The upper eyelid is a complex combination of tissues and muscles that protect the eye from external factors. As artists, we represent it as a cover-like shape that rests above the eyeball. Keep in mind that it doesn’t completely encircle the eyeball due to its connection to the surrounding skin and muscles.

3. The Lower Eyelid

Eye Structure - Lower Eyelid

Similar to the upper eyelid, the lower eyelid is represented as a cover-like shape that connects to the upper eyelid and covers the eyeball from below.

4. The Iris

Eye Structure - The Iris

The iris is a perfectly round circle (or oval, depending on the viewing angle) that sits in the center of our eyeball.

5. The Pupil

Eye Structure - The Pupil

The pupil is another perfectly round circle (or oval) that lies within the iris. It adjusts its size to control the amount of light entering the eye. Keep in mind that its shape may change based on the lighting conditions.

6. From Basic Shapes to Organic Form

Eye Shapes - From Basic to Organic

Now that we have covered the basic anatomy, let’s transform our simple eyeball shape into a more realistic eye. Notice how the upper eyelid is partially hidden behind the lash line due to the downward pull of gravity. On the other hand, the lower eyelid (waterline) is always visible and should not be overlooked as it contributes to the vitality of the eyes.

Additionally, pay attention to the tear duct area, which may or may not be fully visible depending on the angle and tension of the eyelids. The folds of skin formed by the upper and lower eyelids are simplified into lines. The upper eyelid is the more prominent feature due to the underlying structure of the frontal bone and eye socket.

7. From Organic Forms to Realistic Eyes

From Organic to Realistic Eye Structure

Now, let’s add shadows and fine details to create a more realistic-looking eye. Although it may seem like a significant leap from the previous step, it is not as challenging as it appears. As long as you understand the underlying structure, you can easily follow the process.

8. The Side View

Side View of Eye Structure

Drawing eyes from various angles can be challenging, but understanding the structure is crucial. In the side view, the eye maintains the same fundamental structure as the front view, but the viewer’s angle may alter the perceived shapes. For instance, the tear duct may not be visible, and the iris appears as a thin oval that seems to emerge from the eyeball. Remember that the pupil is not on the surface of the cornea, but rather behind the iris, giving the illusion of depth.

9. From Basic Shapes to Organic Forms (Side View)

Side View of Eye - Basic Shapes to Organic Forms

Let’s transform the basic shapes into organic forms by incorporating soft lines that mimic the skin folds. In the side view, the upper eyelid is more defined than the lower eyelid due to its mobility during blinking. The lower eyelid is influenced by the surrounding cheek skin and muscles, making it less noticeable at times.

10. From Organic Forms to Realistic Eyes (Side View)

Eye Side View - Organic Form to Realistic View

To make the eyes appear more realistic, add additional shading to simulate skin, eyelashes, and textures. This process might seem daunting, but with a solid understanding of the underlying structure, it becomes more manageable.

Facial Structure

Facial Structure

Understanding the overall facial structure is essential when drawing eyes. Pay attention to the highlighted “eye mask” shape, which represents the eye sockets and the bridge of the nose. This shape serves as a helpful guide when placing the eyes within the face.

Some Volume Will Help

Facial Structure - Volume

Since the eye sockets are hollow, they create certain shadow and highlight areas. The area between the outer eyebrow and the eye socket receives more light due to the frontal bone’s protrusion. Conversely, the area between the inner eyebrow and the upper eyelid appears darker as it is the deepest part of the eye zone.

Basic Shapes of Eyes

Types of Eye Shapes

Eyes come in various shapes and sizes, but they can often be simplified into irregular hexagonal forms. By adjusting the angles and lengths of the lines, you can create different eye shapes. However, it’s important to consider that the skin around the eyes contributes to their unique appearance, including features such as hooded lids, slanted eyes, sunken eyes, and protuberant eyes. Observing and referencing real eyes will help you capture these subtleties.

Adding Eyebrows

Types of Eyes with Eyebrows

Eyes wouldn’t be complete without eyebrows. They add definition, express emotions, and create a harmonious balance. Eyebrows come in various shapes, densities, and positions. When drawing eyes facing forward, the focus should be on achieving symmetry.

Realistic Look

Types of Eyes - Realistic Look

This image demonstrates how realistic-looking eyes can be created based on the underlying structure. Pay attention to the proximity of the inner eyebrow to the eye and the skin’s natural pull around the eyes. These details contribute to the overall realism. The direction and texture of the eyebrow hair are also important elements to consider.

Step 1: Draw a Circle

Draw Realistic Eyes - Step 1

Begin by drawing a circle of medium size. Ensure that it is neither too large nor too small. Measure your canvas and leave enough space for two additional circles to fit horizontally with some room to spare on the sides.

Step 2: Draw Two More Circles

Draw Realistic Eyes - Step 2

Leave some space between the circles, applying the principle that the distance between the eyes is approximately equal to the width of one eye.

Step 3: Cut Those Circles in Half

Draw Realistic Eyes - Step 3

Divide each circle in half using gentle lines.

Step 4: Draw Two Angled Lines

Step 4

Starting from the inner side of each eyeball (not the central circle), draw two angled curves. The breaking point should be slightly below the centerline.

Step 5: Draw Two Irregular Hexagon Shapes

Step 5

Shape the eyes by connecting the lines to form irregular hexagons. Ensure that they stay within the boundaries of the eyeballs.

Step 6: Draw the Upper and Lower Eyelids

Step 6 - Upper and Lower Eyelids

Now, draw the upper and lower eyelids according to your desired style and eye shape.

Step 7: Draw the Iris

Step 7 - Draw the Iris

Place the iris in the exact center of each eye. Remember to leave some space between the irises and ensure they are symmetrical.

Step 8: Draw the Pupils

Step 8 - Draw the Pupils

Draw the pupil inside each iris. Since we are drawing eyes facing forward, the pupils should be in the center of the irises. Add a touch of shading to give them depth.

Step 9: Hint the Eyebrows

Step 9 - Hint the Eyebrows

Extend two lines from the upper outer corner of each eyeball to the inner side. These lines represent the shape and direction of the eyebrows.

Step 10: Organic Forms

Step 10 - Organic Forms

Erase the guidelines and add shading to create organic forms. Pay attention to the areas where the eyebrows were hinted.

Step 11: Shade the Eyeball

Step 11 - Shade the Eyeball

Shade the eyeball as you would shade a sphere. Consider factors such as lighting, the position of the eye within the socket, and the presence of the eyelids.

Step 12: The Eyelids

Step 12 - Eyelids

Shade the eyelids, paying attention to the fold of skin on the upper eyelid, which requires a stronger layer of shading. The lower eyelid should be softly shaded.

Step 13: Under the Inner Eyebrow

Step 13 - Under the Inner Eyebrow

Create strong shadows in the area beneath the inner eyebrow. Refer back to the structural information if you need a visual guide.

Step 14: The Outer Eyelid

Step 14 - The Outer Eyelid

Indicate the shadows on the outer eyelid to add volume and depth.

Step 15: The Eye Bag

Step 15 - The Eye Bag

The eye bag refers to the area between the eye muscles and the eye sockets. It is typically a thin and delicate area. Shade this area with soft shadows to create depth.

Step 16: Outer Upper Eyelid and Lower Eyelid

Step 16 - Outer Upper Eyelid and Lower Eyelid

Shade the outer upper eyelid and lower eyelid to emphasize the border of the eye socket and the beginning of the cheekbone. Soft shading in these areas helps create a more three-dimensional effect.

Step 17: The Inner Border of the Eye

Step 17 - Inner Border of Eye

This part of the eye zone experiences the most tension from the surrounding cheek muscles, resulting in a more prominent highlight. Use your eraser to remove color in this area.

Step 18: The Nose

Step 18 - The Nose

A hint of the nose is necessary to provide context for the eyes. Shade on top of the areas highlighted in green to create the shape of the nose bridge. Use your eraser (kneaded or normal) to achieve the desired effect.

Step 19: The Nose Part 2

Step 19 - The Nose Part 2

Between the eyes, there is often a slight protuberance from the frontal bone. Shade this area slightly to give it a more realistic appearance.

Step 20: The Iris

Step 20 - The Iris

Enhance the iris by adding thick and thin lines radiating from the pupil. Shade around these lines to create the necessary depth.

Step 21: The Iris Part 2

Step 21 - Irises Part 2

Continue adding depth to the iris by shading the border. Use your eraser to gently remove or add highlights as needed.

Step 22: The Eyebrows and Lashline

Step 22 - Eyebrows

Follow the lines provided to draw thin and thick lines that mimic eyebrow hair. Trace a thicker line above the eye to represent the lash line.

Step 23: The Eyelashes

Step 23 - Eyelashes

Begin with a few curved lines as a base and gradually add more lashes in between, creating a random pattern. Remember that lashes are longer on the outer side of the eye and shorter on the inner side.

Step 24 – Final Step: Highlights

Step 24 - Highlights

We’ve reached the final step! Add highlights with a white pen or marker to enhance certain areas such as under the eyelashes, the tear duct, the waterline, and the eyeball itself. Feel free to include small reflections to simulate the influence of light. And there you have it – a pair of beautifully drawn eyes!

I hope this tutorial has helped you gain a better understanding of how to draw eyes. Remember to have fun and keep practicing!

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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