How to Draw the Eyeball

Why Learning How to Draw the Eyeball is so Important

Let me tell you, one of the hardest features to draw is the eye. We really don’t know much about them, their shape, or their size. We are quite fooled by the fact that only a small portion of the eyeball can actually be seen when our eyes are open. So, with basically 80% of the eyeball covered up… why do we need to look at it at all? The answer is, because although we can’t physically see it, it influences the shape of every other part of the eye.

So, let’s get this sorted and learn how to draw the eyeball!

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to draw the eyeball
  • How to draw the iris and pupil in different directions
  • How to add a highlight to the eye

Saddle up and get that pencil ready, we’re going to be learning how to draw the eyeball!

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.

Common Mistakes When Learning How to Draw the Eyeball

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

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

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. You can see the result of this line in the middle between the other two examples.

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!

How the Eye Actually Works

When learning how to draw the eyeball, instead of thinking of the eye as a circle, begin thinking of it as a ball (duh!).

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 shape.

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.

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.

TIP: If you struggle with getting the spherical shape, it can be helpful to take a circular object like an orange, or a Ping-Pong ball and draw the horizontal and vertical lines across the surface so you can use these as a reference while you are getting started.

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

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 a Highlight on the Eye

Everything is starting to come together and we now know how to draw the eyeball. 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’ 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 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 to 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.

Whooh! That was a lot of information. Hopefully, now you will see why learning about the eyeball is so important! All these little details are what will allow your work to stand out above the rest. You can go onto other parts of the eye such as How to Draw the Eyes or Eyelids, Eyelashes, and Eyebrows.


Draw 100 spheres, using dividing lines to indicate the contour or shape as we learned to in the How to Draw an Eye Sphere segment. Practice adding in the lens where the center lines intersect.


Using the example from Drawing the Iris from Multiple Directions – practice drawing the Iris all 11 ways, (including the upper and lower corners) at least ten times altogether.

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