How to Draw an Eye | 01 |Eyeball Structure

Here’s a quick peak at the final image that you’re going to be going through in this lesson about how to draw eyeballs.

how to draw eyeballs finished drawings

drawing eyeballs front view

Ready to learn how to draw eyeballs?

We all instinctively know the eyeball is actually a three dimensional ball, but when we begin to draw we often forget this and instead think of the eye as just a series of circles laid inside of each other.

This simplified understanding is perfectly fine for the front view, but the problem arises when you want to turn the eye and draw it from another angle.

drawing eyes common mistakes

Common Mistakes When Learning How to Draw Eyeballs

This image clearly shows the problem that arises if you think of the eye as just a flat circle.

In the middle, if you were to turn your flat circle 90 degrees to the side you wouldn’t see anything because there is no depth to the circle.

On the left of the image you can see the same flattened circular eye turned to the three-quarter view and again it doesn’t look quite right.

On the far right is the most common problem that people have. In order to try turning the eye, instead of thinking of it as a three dimensional object, they will just move the different circles in the eye over to the side, but again, this doesn’t look right either!

draw realistic eyes eyeball side view

How the Eye Actually Works

When learning how to draw eyeballs, instead of thinking of the eye as a circle, begin thinking of it as a ball.

In order to help yourself visualize this it may be helpful to draw some light lines through the mid part of the ball to show where the horizontal and vertical middle lines of the ball are.

Instead of drawing the iris and pupil as circles, like in the beginner mistakes section above, you need to draw them as an elliptical or oval shapes.

Within the iris (the colored part of your eye) there is the pupil, which is actually a hole in the eye where the light is able to enter.

You’ll be going into these parts in more depth below but it’s important to realize here how those circular shapes get squished as the eye turns to the side and become elliptical.

The Eye is Not a Perfect Sphere

Because of the lens that sits on top of the pupil, the actual shape of the eye is not perfectly spherical. There is a small bump over the pupil that you should be aware of, especially if you want to draw very realistic eyes.

drawing eyes lens of eyeball

draw realistic eyes eye as sphere

How to Draw an Eye as a Sphere

If you are not familiar with drawing or thinking in terms of three dimensional objects, here’s an exercise that you can use to start training your brain to see things this way.

  • Start by drawing a circle on your page
  • Then lightly try and draw the curved line that would represent the middle of the sphere in both the vertical (up and down) and horizontal (side to side). Another way to think of this is if you took a sphere and sliced it in half. You want to draw in those lines that indicate half.
  • Remember that this line will cut across both the front and back side of the sphere, so be sure to draw the complete line.
  • The point where the two middle lines meet is the middle of your sphere.

It may be uncomfortable to draw in these middle lines at first, but don’t give up on practicing too soon, because this is a simple technique to grasp and it will help you out a lot with your drawing and how to understand three dimensional objects.

Try to draw at least twenty spheres and middle lines, and if you’re still not comfortable, try drawing twenty more.

draw a realistic eye finished sphere

Here’s a look at the finished eye drawn tilted upward and to the left.

how to draw eyes iris from different angles

Drawing the Iris from Multiple Angles

This image shows how the iris looks from multiple different angles. Remember that the iris is the hole in the middle of the eye where light is able to enter.

how to draw an eye highlights

How to Draw a Highlight on the Eye

Everything is starting to come together now in this lesson on how to draw eyeballs. And, as you are beginning to understand the eye as a three dimensional shape, with the lens slightly bulging out in the middle of the eye, it will naturally catch the light because of the angle of the lens’s surface in relation to the light source.

This is another important concept to grasp when you are learning how to draw eyeballs.

The light will hit the lens and cause a highlight, but will continue to pass through the lens because it is clear, and will then hit the colored part of the eye – the iris and also lighten that up. It’s important to realize the relationship between the highlight and the lightened part of the iris.

If you would like to see an example of this yourself, try going into your bathroom or any room that has a mirror and strong overhead lighting. You should be able to see the highlight on your eye and how the opposite side of your pupil is more lit up than the other.

drawing human eyes photo of eye

how to draw eyes realistically finished drawings

Looking at the Completed Eye Drawings

In this image you can see how the eye has been shaded to include both the highlight on the lens and the lighting on the pupil.

We hope you learned a lot from this article on how to draw eyeballs. Understanding how to draw an eye as a sphere is just the first step, and you’re going to continue on learning more about the eye in the next lessons.


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