My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lesson 9 - Drawing an Eye

It's easiest to start off with a shape you know. Draw an almond or football shape.

Look at your eye in the mirror. The bottom half is a lot flatter than the top. Adjust your bottom line.
Now pull the corners up slightly. This will be the left eye. In the right corner is the tear duct. Pop out the end a little and make a crease where the flesh of the tear duct meets the eye.
Inside the bottom edge of your eye is a little ledge. Draw a parallel line just inside your bottom line.

 Your eyeball sits like this under your eyelid. It's important to know what you can't see when you draw, because it affects several things.
 The iris and pupil sit in the center of the eyeball like a bulls-eye target, but it doesn't sit directly in the center of your eyelid.
 That makes the eye look scared, such as the eye in this photograph:

A calm restful eye has the iris disappearing under the top lid like this:

Make sure when you draw in the iris and pupil, that the pupil isn't tiny. That makes the eye look afraid or psycho. A peaceful look is one where the pupil takes up about half of the iris in size.
The upper eyelid has a shelf, too, but because of the angle you look at eyes, you often don't see it. However, it casts a shadow across the eye. In the iris/pupil part, that shadow will be dark, anywhere from a 7 - 10 on the shading scale. (See lesson 1 a). Also, circle in your highlights. They will sit below the shadow line.

 Now is the fun part. Fill in the pupil a 10, or black. Fill in the shadow below the top eyelid somewhere between a 7 - 10 (you choose how dark by the color of the eye. Light eyes that are blue or green will have the lighter shadow of 7. Darker eyes will be 8, 9 or 10.)
 Now look in the mirror at your iris. It has a ring circling it. Put a darker ring around the outside of the iris.
 To begin shading in the iris, draw light lines inside the iris, going around the pupil like a clock or a wagon wheel. The angle will change as it circles.
 This is the direction your strokes should go:
Now that you have the basics in, it's time to do some fun shading. Inside the iris, softly fuzz in a shade on the outer edge and inside against the pupil, leaving the center lighter. That makes a cool highlight.

 Now we're ready to shade in the whites of the eyes. Keep your shadows extra light (a 2 or 3) as it circles the edges of the eye. As the shadow goes into the center of the white, dwindle it down to nothing, so the center is the white of your paper. Do not shade all the way through the white, or the eye will look dead. Keep it to the outer edges.
 We're ready to put in the creases above and below the eye. They hug the eyeball beneath. Note that neither the upper or lower crease touch the eye. The top one runs parallel. the bottom one is lighter, only going halfway and not dark or deep. That would make it look like a bag.

Shade in the tear duct, leaving a couple sparkles. Darken the outer edges of the lash lines (we are doing a female eye. For a male, you leave the lines light.)
 Shade around the skin on the upper eye lid, and the crease below the eye. Touch up the shadows and add sparkles into the eye if needed. Go back and soften or darken the lash line.
 Now you're ready to do lashes. Like the wagon wheel strokes we put inside the iris, lashes change angles as they go around the eye. Here is the bare-bones drawing of the angles that the lashes should take. Note how the lines angle straight at the outer corners and direct top and bottom.
 Getting the lash shape will take some practice. Grab another sheet of paper and start out with a check, like in the right column. Keep making check marks, but soften the angle until it's a swoop like the end of the right column. The left column gradually gets flatter. You don't want that. You want your lashes to have a swoop. Keep practicing until you're confident.
 Your lashes (for a girl) will start at the lash line like above, then swoop down, then up again. Beware of putting too many lashes. Then you end up with spider eyes like the drawing below.
 Good lashes are few. Draw in your lash strokes, then go back at the base and thicken them up by drawing another lash stroke just off the side of your original lash, drawing the top of the line into the original line. It will give a full look, as well as looking like more lashes.

I also went back and softened the outer edges of the iris by putting a soft lighter shade just outside the edge of it.
All right! Now you have an awesome eye! Grab some magazines and look at a variety of eyes. See if you can tell what makes one slightly different from the other. Practice drawing lots of eyes. The more the better!

Next week: How to draw a nose.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I love cool eyes, and yours is awesome! Great post.


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