Drawing lesson #2: The eyes

If you haven’t viewed the previous lesson, you can see it here. In the lesson, I included an underdrawing that you can use to follow along with this lesson.   Feel free to print and use it to help you learn some of the techniques I use for portraits.

Whenever I draw a portrait, I always begin with the eyes. I have learned over time that if I don’t get the eyes right, the whole portrait will look wrong. So I focus on the eyes and try to get them as close as possible to accurate before moving onto any other part of the portrait.

I start by drawing the pupil and outline as dark as it needs to be, constantly comparing with the ref photo:


Click images to enlarge.

Now, I very, very lightly start coming in from the outline toward the pupil. I want to make the outer edges darker and gradually become lighter near the center.



Using the pencil softly, I use circular motions to add layers and darken shade around the edge of the iris.


I keep adding layers until it looks like this.


Then, I use a kneaded eraser to lift off highlight from the middle, around the pupil.


And a tortillion to blend it till it is smooth. You could also use tissue paper or a Q-tip for this.


Don’t try to do it by memory. Always be looking at the eye and comparing it to your drawing.


I start using a tortillion to draw the shadow under the eye.


You know how there is a little starburst pattern in the eyeball? You can imitate that by taking a cap eraser, beginning at the light in the center, and making a wispy motion toward the outer edge. Do this all the way around the iris.

You can also see that  have used a tortillion to shade the white of the eye, very lightly. If you do this too dark, you can always go back with a kneaded eraser.


Now I use a tortillion to create a shadow above the left eye, and then a 2B pencil to draw the eyelashes.


Holding my pencil at an angle, I softly draw the shadows around her eyes with a 2B pencil.



Then I use tissue to smooth it out.


Almost done with the eyes…I’ll do more refining as I move to the rest of the face.


Is there anything you would like me to touch on in the next lesson? Anything that I have failed to mention? If you are drawing along with me, I would love to see pictures of your progress. Send them to me here.


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