Out of all our facial features, an eye drawing says a lot about your character or subject as it is a window to signify emotions as well as drawing focus from the audience. But before you start learning how to draw an eye and how it conveys emotions, you need to understand the parts of the eyes.
A lot of excellent drawings of the face will have a lot of time devoted to the eye. Even without expressing emotions, the idea of an eye staring back through a drawing is a quick and strong way to get an audience's attention. This is why the eye is a popular subject to master.
So what part of th eye does what? How are emotions formed? How does the eyes interact with the rest of the face? The more you know about how the eyes behave, the better you can develop your own methods for critically thinking through a composition involving this facial feature.
As a result, your drawings and paintings should come alive much better than if you were to learn how to draw eyes using a set example or procedure. In short, you need to know the anatomy of the eye as much as possible. To do that, we will start with a simple diagram to outline the basic characteristics of the eyes.
In learning how to draw an eye, we have to be familiar of two main parts: the eye itself and the eyebrow. The eye is divided into several parts: eyebrow, upper palpebral groove, upper lid, eyelashes, iris, pupil, sclera, lacrimal gland, and lower lid and groove.
Eyebrows create emotions; the pupil is directs the viewer on where to look; eye lashes help stereotype male and female genders; iris and upper palpebral groove defines ethnic background; age is defined by the lower lid and grooves; and lacrimal glands are used to make tears.
Next, we look at size and ratio. The eyebrow usually sits about one eye width up. Moving into the iris, the pupil can be divided to be one-third of the overall circumference of the eye. This is important to know how big to make the pupil as it sits inside the eye socket.
Draw all these items in your eye drawing on a separate layer. Then, create another layer under it and fill it with a neutral skin color. Using a large chalk brush, dab in some shadows to create a simple topography of a section of the face.
Some artists like to dive right into the eyeball. While it's tempting to start drawing out the details first, it it not very efficient. Instead, I suggest starting with everything else besides the eyeball. Basically, build the entire eye socket as it connects to the rest of the face.
First, blend in the eyebrow into the skin. Areas to make lighter than the rest would be the forehead and the nose bridge. They entire eye area can be darken a bit. However, lighten up the area at then end of the eyebrow and in between the upper lid to create to show topography of the skull socket and eyeball.
Once that is done, go ahead and draw in the upper lid, the lower lid, and the palpebral groove. Extend the upper eye lid past the the lower lid. Next, draw in a groove for the lower eye lid to give it some topography. Then, darken the ends so it looks like the ends are recessed into the eye socket.
Finish off the rest of the face as best as you can. For example, light up the area underneath the entire eye to portray the cheeks; use a dark tone to create a boundary where the hair is; and complete the nose bridge as it connects to the eyebrow.
Now that you have the eye socket and its relative topography to the face, the eyeball can be easily worked on. Using the same chalk brush, draw in the outline of the iris. Before you do anything else, though, whiten the sclera to brighten up the rest of the eyeball.
Within the boundaries of the iris outline, draw curved lines going from the center out towards the circular outline. This will create the effect of the iris. Once that is completed, switch to a smaller brush and dab in some textures just behind the iris outline to create simple reflections.
The pupils are easy enough. Using a solid round brush, just draw in the circular pupil. The only difficulty is making sure the pupil is the right size. Too large or too small will make it unnatural. Then, switch to a light color and draw in a reflection.
The reflection does not have to be anything special. A few squares or circles around the pupil area is enough to give the illusion that there is something in the background. You can also add reflections in the iris area near the iris boundary. Do the same to add some shine to the tear duct.
Saving the best for last, an eye drawing will not be complete without the lashes and brow. In this step, I like to do this on a separate layer because I can duplicate the lashes, blur them out, and create very fine cast shadows. You can draw it on the same layer if you like.
Anyway, the lashes have to be carefully flared out in the right direction. Near the tear ducks, the upper lashes are small. However, once it moves towards the center of the eye, the lashes will flare up almost vertically. Near the end, though, the lashes will flare out horizontally.
Another area where a change of direction is the eyebrow. From the nose bridge, flare out the brow in one direction following the curvature of the nose bridge. Once it gets near the end of the eye, you will have another directional change. Using the 'bend' in the brow, draw the brow collapsing on itself as it tapers off to the ends.
Once the upper portions of the eye is done, draw the remaining lashes on the lower lid. Unlike the directional change on the top lid, the lower lashes follow the curvature of the lower lid. Plus, these lashes are usually less, quantitatively, than the upper lashes.
Remember how I said I liked doing the lashes on a different layer? There is another advantage in that I can work on the shadows underneath it without it covering the lashes. For the shadows, make sure it conforms to the curvature of the face as the eye socket curves to the back.
Other than that, finish off additional textures like the hair, defining the outline of the face, improving the nose bridge, or anything you may have missed. You can even lighten up or increase contrast on the entire eye drawing to highlight the shading.
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