The Eyes Have It
fascinate artists in general, as shown by the fact
that most artists draw or paint a piece focusing on
the human eye at some point in their career. The important
role eyes play in capturing a subject simply cannot
be overstated. An issue with the eyes distorts an
entire portrait and severely impacts how much the
drawing resembles the original subject. Eyes show
emotions, and are often the first thing people focus
on when viewing a portrait. Learning about the structure
of the human eye can help you become more accurate
in your portrait drawings.
remember that all eyes have the same basic characteristics,
as seem in the image below.
shape and size of eyes will vary from person to person.
However, if you take all of these characteristics
into account, you are well on your way to getting
a realistic appearance in your drawings.
in the picture the effect that highlights and shadows
have on the eye. Eyes are moist, and highlights will
develop where ever light hits that moisture. The brightest
highlights occur on the ball of the eye, but there
will also be highlights in the corner, along the lower
lid, or in the white of the eye, depending on the
light source. Highlights in the eye are a necessity
because they give the eyes life and warmth. Even if
the photo you use for reference doesn't have them,
I would suggest drawing them in. You will be surprised
at the difference.
are normally produced in the crease, under the upper
and lower lash lines, and under the brow bone. Notice
there are definite shadows in the white of the eye.
These shadows are usually soft, but without those
shadows, the eye will not have depth and will appear
white without shadow.
position of the eyeball will give the impression of
different emotions. For example, if the eyeball is
up, and more white shows below it, the person may
appear sleepy, bored, or disinterested. When the eyeball
is in the center, such as in the eye above, the person
seems alert. If the eyeball is positioned downward,
and more white shows above it, is gives the indication
of surprise or fear. The eyelids of the subject will
dictate how much of the whites show. Eyebrow
position also indicates emotion, and should be rendered
carefully to compliment the eye.
shape of the eye will change dramatically depending
on the position of your subjects head. However, you
still need to consider all aspects of the eye, especially
that eyes are curved and have depth. Also, the actual
color of the eye should dictate how dark you render
the eye with black and white mediums such as graphite
or charcoal. Blue or green will be the lightest of
the shades, with dark brown the darkest.
the next article . . .
that you have an idea of the basic structure of the
eye, it's time to try drawing it for yourself! The
next article features a step-by-step Eye
to List of Articles
follow the steps in the tutorial and learn to draw
a basic eye. See