How to Draw the Eyes

Why Learning How to Draw Eyes is so Important

You know the saying – eyes are the window to the soul. If you are like me, then you may feel like your soul sits somewhere behind those eyes which make them a very important subject to get right in your paintings. Without it, your character may fall flat! We wouldn’t want that.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to Draw the Eyes
  • Drawing Different Types of Eyes
  • Portraying Different Emotions

The 4 Basic Lines of the Eye

Want to learn about drawing basic eyes? It’s simple! The eye is made of up four basic lines as shown in this example image.

  1. The inner part of the eye
  2. The top of the eye
  3. The outer part of the eye
  4. The lower part of the eye

Where Eyes Differ

Where the eyes differ is determined by the following:

  • Where the lower line meets the inside of the upper eyelid
  • Where the lower line meets the outside of the eyelid
  • Whether or not there is a crease on top of the eye
  • The angle of the line making up the top of the upper eyelid

The rest of this lesson will be spent exploring how modifying the placement of the points of the eye listed above can give you a wide variety of different eyes.

TIP: Take a moment to look at your own eyes and discern the shape of it. Do you have round eyes, thin eyes, tired eyes? How defined is the crease? Are your eyes slanted at any particular angle? Do you have thick or thin eyelashes?

Ask to also study and look at the eyes of family members and friends. They might even be interested in learning about themselves in the process!

You can also be creepy and sit around a boring party or the mall and see what other people’s eyes look like. They probably already think you are weird… why not sell it?

Example Drawing #1 - Inside and Outside Corners on a Flat Line

In this example, we are starting with a horizontal line, that both the inner and outer corner of the eye will be placed on. You can still see this initial line in our example if you look beyond the two corners of the eye.

A low arch was used to add in the upper lid.

An eye crease was added over top the upper lid. It is not a well-pronounced crease but it is a typical eye type.

This indicates that the eyeball is set back into the skull because the eyeball’s shape is hidden but if you look at other examples – like the one below – the crease of the eye is caused by the eyeball being very close to the surface of the skin.

This eye isn’t overly expressive, it is quite flat, but can be used for both male and females.

Example Drawing #2 – Higher Outside Point

In this example, we start with a tiled line that the eye will sit on. The lower point has been deemed the inner eye point, and the other the outside eye point.

The upper lid uses angular lines that bend outward making the eye look rounded. The bottom line is also on a curve.

A thick eyelash was painted over top, darkening and expanding the lash line.

Lastly, the crease is added. In this example, the crease is very high up indicating that the eye is very close to the skin showing a lot of its roundness.

The skin wraps around the eyeball, almost hugging it, allowing us to see its form.

The lower lid is just an arched line connecting the two outside points.

Example Drawing #3 – Higher Inside Point

Our last example is quite wide eyed, dreamy, or youthful. Example three is much more tired and used to add age to a character. Again, we are on an angle, but the inner part of the eye is higher than the outside.

The main shape of the upper eyelid is obscured by a drooping upper lid which is the key element in depicting age. The eyebrow is also drooping and coming down quite close to the eye which indicates age – gravity has done some damage on the tightness of the skin. Anyone would know that this elastic inefficiency of human skin is an indication of old age.

This eye can also be used to give the emotion of sadness or when the person has realized something that they aren’t happy about, but will let go of it.

The bag below the eye is also either a side effect of being tired, or can also indicate age for the same reason as before. Either way, it is an effective way to provide context for your character.

The eyebrow in this example would be a part of a male set of eyebrows, which tend to be larger and left ungroomed.

Example Drawing #4 – The Thin Eye

Here we are back at the inward slant. Our variant this time is mostly the height of the eye, and as we said is quite thin. This eye can be used for quite a number of reasons. It can be seen in both males and females. It can also be an indication of race, as people from Asia tend to have thinner or less exposed eyes.

Thin eyes can also be an indication of emotion. A person could be tired, bored, or expressing indignation. You may squint your eyes when you don’t believe a person, or to get the sun out of your eyes. Or the person can be smiling widely. People squint their eyes for a lot of reasons!

The eyebrow is also quite thin, but isn’t particularly male or female.

Example Drawing #5 – The Tall Eye

Here we have a large, round eye with a deep crease. Every line has been made with a slight curve to accent the feeling of the eyeball being close to the surface of the skin.

The eyelash here has been made up to resemble a female lash line which – like most everything else – is thickened and defined. Men never have pronounced lash lines and are usually understated and undefined.

You will often find round and wide eyes on young, or particularly cute girls. This is seen a lot on female leads allowing them to have a larger range of emotions that a thinner eye may be unable to express.

NOTE: Disney uses wide eyed and starry-eyed girls in their designs to allow them a larger range of expressions and emotions. Big eyes also allow the viewer to see the expression more clearly which can be of use on screen.

Achieving a Different Look for the Eye

Sometimes simply changing a few elements of a particular eye can drastically change the way the eye reads.

This eye is very similar to our third example where we talked about drawing eyes for older men. Much has stayed the same, but the iris and pupil have been darkened and a stark shadow has been drawn below the upper lid.

Now, this eye can be used for a new range of emotions. It can give the idea that the person is very angry, very tired, or maybe suspicious of someone. This eye could be used when someone is being serious or blatantly honest.

That’s it! Now we have only just explored the surface of all the possibilities out there. If you continue to learn and expand your library of eyes, you will be able to not only give your character’s personality – but individuality as well.

ASSIGNMENT

Using references, or even your imagination, draw 100 different eyes, trying out different combinations of eye shapes, lash lines, creases, and eyebrows. Make sure to draw even and symmetrical eyes.

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