Sketch Study – How To Draw An Awesome Eye

Sketch Study – How To Draw An Awesome Eye


Step 1: Blank Slate

Let me start by saying that everyone’s style is different. I personally have a messy style of drawing. Take what you want from this tutorial and leave the rest.

Step 2: Draw the Outline

Lightly draw the outline of an eye. Many people think an eye looks just like a football. It doesn’t. Look at pictures of eyes to get ideas and practice. Some people use the method where you draw a circle where the eyeball would be, but I don’t do that. Don’t worry about messing up. Sketch the outline lightly. There’s no reason why this has to be a neatly drawn outline because you are going to draw all over it in a couple minutes.

Step 3: Add More Outlines

Draw a circle for the iris, the tear duct, the upper eyelid crease, and the edge of the lower eyelid. If you look at pictures of eyes you will see the lower eyelid has a ledge that usually shows. This is important.

Make sure the iris is not dead center. Usually the iris is cut off on top, but not always.

Step 4: Outline the Pupil and Highlights

Most eyes have a reflection of the light source. The size and shape of the reflection can vary, so fool around with it. In general, pictures of eyes with a little glare are more eye-catching (pun intended). Don’t worry about overlaps in the outlines as long as you erase them later.

Step 5: Add Texture To Iris

Every eye has a unique pattern, so add yours. Use light pencil strokes and make sure they are even coming out of the pupil (like the spokes of a bicycle wheel). However, keep them messy and unique. Straight lines are boring. I’d suggest loose and light strokes because they create a natural texture. You’ll notice that this almost seems sloppy, but that’s on purpose.

Step 6: Darken Around Iris and Around Pupil

Using the same stroke style as step 5, you should darken the edges. It’s almost as if the strokes are fading into the center of the iris. This is very important! It will make the iris POP. Don’t worry if you draw into the pupil because we are going to draw all over that…

Step 7: Fill In the Pupil and Darken the Outer Edge

Now you fill in the pupil and trace the outer edge. Make sure that the iris and pupil form clean circles, but you want the darkness to fade into the rest of the iris. There should be very few harsh lines (if any) in this drawing! Also remember to keep the reflections in the eye white.

Step 8: Shade the Top of the Iris and Around the Highlights

Darken the top of the iris (see below) and around the highlights to provide contrast. You’ll see this makes the eye look a lot better already! Make sure that the original outlines around the highlights in the eye are no longer visible. The shading should blend all the outlines into the drawing.

Step 9: Give Shading to the White of the Eye

Don’t be afraid to shade the “whites” of the eyes. Ideally, the only part of the paper that should remain white are the highlights. Use light strokes. Again, I draw a little messy, so if you want to make the shading a little softer, please do. I find it helps to draw with the contour of the eye. That will help make it appear round.

Also shade in the tear duct in the corner of the eye. The center of the duct is almost like a little ball, but don’t make it too defined or it will look weird. See below to get an idea.

Step 10: Start to Give Shading Around the Eye

Deepen the shading around the eyelids. Look at photos for reference. Every eye is different.

Step 11: Deepen Shadows and Add Wrinkles or Whatever

Here’s where I tell you to put more graphite on the paper (and I’ll say it again later). Deepen/darken the shadows and decide on any characteristic wrinkles or shading that you want to include.

Step 12: Draw Some Clumpy Eyelashes

Listen up: eyelashes are usually not gorgeous and perfectly curled. In almost every case, eyelashes stick all over the place. I’m sick and tired of seeing unrealistic drawings of eyes with evenly placed curving lashes. They also don’t all come out of the skin in a straight line! Look in the mirror! That’s why I want you to start by drawing lashes as if they are sticking straight out of the paper and uneven. See below to see what I mean.

Step 13: Now Add Some Nice Curvy Lashes

Add some thin lashes that do curve up nicely. The combination of these two steps will create a nice set of natural-looking eyelashes. Make sure they are drawn darkly enough. Feel free to draw lashes that look clumped together (that happens, you know…)

As a guideline, check out the angles below.

Step 14: Add Some Thin Lower Lashes

Gently add lower lashes. These should not be as dark or thick as the top lashes. They should be thin and light. Don’t be afraid to make them uneven.

As a guideline, check out the angles below.

Step 15: Keep Going

Here you have a very nice eye drawing, but I wouldn’t stop here. Chances are it’s TOO LIGHT and lacks character. So here’s where you LIGHTLY add more and more depth to the drawing. It may take some practice to get the light touch down, but once you do it will really help.

Below are different stages of the drawing over the course of 10 minutes. I am barely touching the page, but sketching very quickly. By allowing myself to almost lightly “scribble” I give texture and depth to the drawing.

Again, this is my style, so feel free to add your own touches to the eye at this point.

Pencil strokes give the illusion of skin texture.

Darken shading that you might have missed before.

Look at other pictures of eyes to see how the light falls and shapes over the eye.

Add more details & styling…

Stop When It Feels Right

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5 Comments

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    • Chris Collins

      Hey Tae – I guess I don’t draw eyes the way most people do. In my experience, most eye tutorials are confusing for amateur artists, so I wanted to make something that could help artists at different levels. I don’t think it’s bad to draw an outline as long as it’s lightly drawn. Ideally, you don’t want any part of the page blank except the brightest highlights, so any light outlines can (and should) disappear through the process.

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