Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Wet Look - The First Steps to Drawing Eyes

In the last lesson on eyes we talked about the various problems that artists run into when trying to draw eyes as realistic as possible. In this lesson, we will begin the drawing process. There are two things that you need to do in order to in order to get started. The first is to make sure you are using the right tools. If you have trouble finding the tools locally, or if you would simply like to help support this site, you can purchase the tools directly from my Shopping Center by clicking on the Pencil Portrait Supplies link in the upper left section of this page.

The next thing that you have to have is your initial sketch drawn on your paper. The first two images I am going to show you here are the original photograph and my initial sketch.

Step One - The Pupil
The first step is to draw in the pupil. Using your 2B pencil, color in the entire pupil area. Make sure you lay in a lot of graphite and create as dark of a tone as you possibly can. Don't worry if you can't get really dark. If it needs to be darker later on, you can use a softer lead pencil on top of the 2B. But that will be in the final stages of the drawing as finishing touches.
Important Note: Make sure that you do NOT color in the areas that will be the highlights. This is very important. Those highlights have to be left completely white in order to get that wet look that we are going for.

Step Two - The Iris
Before we start drawing in the iris, I want to talk a moment about a technique called hatching. We use the hatching technique when creating the iris. You start with your pencil on the paper and make a short sharp motion across the paper. The key to this is to lift your pencil off of the paper before you finish the stroke. The result is a nice line that tapers off into nothing.

This image illustrates both the correct and incorrect usage of hatching. Notice the first group of lines starts out solid and dark, but ends up fading to a nice point. This is what you are looking for. The second group of lines was done by stopping the pencil before lifting it from the paper. Notice that both ends of the line end suddenly and harshly. The third group of lines shows what happens if you try to join groups of hatched lines that are done incorrectly. Notice the dark band where the two join together. The last group shows how two groups of hatched lines join when they are done with the correct motion. Notice that the area where the two groups join is nice and smooth.

There are a few ways that artists traditionally shade the iris area of the eyes. All are legitimate techniques, but the one we are going for is the first one. Start at the outside edge of the iris and hatch inward toward the pupil. This will help to create the realism that we are looking for.
Ok, the first step in the iris is to create the initial lines of hatching. The human eye has many layers of lines that make up the iris. That means that you must draw many layers as well. Do NOT start out trying to draw the darkest areas of the iris. Start out light and create the darker areas by drawing many layers on top of each other. Take your time with this. This is a very important step and there is no need to rush it. Sit back and enjoy the feel of the pencil on the paper. Also realise that you can add more layers as you continue through this lesson. So, if you don't get it dark enough now, you can darken it later. When you are satisfied that you have it looking the way you want, go on to the next step.

Did anyone notice the mistake I made here? I will point it out later in the lesson.

Step Three - The Edge of the Iris
Every eye is different, of course, but most eyes have a distinct darkness along the outside edge of the iris. In this step, all I have done is create a dark ring that I will be pulling into the iris in the next steps. Remember, never press hard when drawing! If you want something darking, simply add more layers.

Step Four - Pulling in the Darkness
Using the same hatching technique that we used before we are simply pulling the darkness around the edge into the iris so that it does not look like such a hard ring in the middle of the eye.

Step Five - Blending to Create Depth
Using a tortillion as a blending tool, start blending the lines of the iris. Make sure that you follow the same direction as your pencil strokes. This will begin to create the depth of the eye that is contrasted by the bright white of the highlight. Once again, make sure that you leave the highlights completely untouched.
Step Six - The Inner Darkness
Along with the outer ring of darkness in the human eye, there is also an inner ring. If you look very closely at the original photograph you will see this area. You will also notice that it is not a uniform ring. In some areas it is closer to the pupil than in other areas.

Using your pencil, lightly hatch in layers until you have recreated that inner area as close as you can to the original photograph. Then use the Toritillion to blend it in with the rest of the lines of the iris.

Step Seven - Fixing the Mistake
Did you figure out the mistake I made yet? I left out a very important highlight. If you look at the outside edge of the eye on the left you will see that I have "drawn in" the highlights from the photograph. How did I draw them in? I am so glad you asked. I used an eraser. Actually, I used a battery operated eraser. It is very useful for drawing in highlights when using both graphite and colored pencil. Always remember the importance of highlights and do not skimp out. The closer you recreate those highlights the more realisic your drawing will look.
Step Eight - Drawing the White
As much as your brain wants to think it is white, the whites of the eyes aren't really white. They are just whiter than the rest of the eye. The true white is found in the reflections you see in the eyes. In order to get that highlight to look as white as possible, the whites of the eyes have to be darker.
In the image you see below, I barely allowed the pencil to touch the paper while laying in just a small amount of graphite. I then used the Toritillion to smooth the graphite and remove the lines. Note that I avoided the highlight areas and went in with a very sharp pencil to draw in some lines to represent the blood vessels in the eyes. Note: it is possible that I have made the whites a little too dark. But I will not know for sure until I get the rest of the image created. If need be, I can lighten them up later on.
Next Lesson:
We will focus on the edges of the eyelids and the corners of the eyes. Attention to detail in these areas is very important.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. The end result looks natural. Practicing.

Cyndi Mulligan said...

GREAT detailed instruction. Favorited this site. Well done! Thank you!

Judith Rolevink said...

Interested to see more

Anonymous said...

I dable in drawing and this is a wonderful site to get my skills back to the way they were when I was young, Thank you for sharing your knowledge of Drawing!

Cortnee' - TX

Michael said...

Thanks everyone, I hope I can live up to your kind words. I will be doing some more work on the eyes this afternoon and I should be able to post the next lesson tomorrow. After that I will do a lessons on lips, noses, ears, skin tones and hair.

After those are done, I hope to move into portraits with colored pencil.

Anonymous said...

Not good. Not good AT ALL.

Tracey said...

I don't think you should be encouraging beginning artists to draw in isolation, as this is a problem many beginners struggle with already. The correct way to draw eyes is generally accepted as realizing that eyes are no different from noses, cheeks, or vases. They are volumetric, moist objects, and there is no special trick to drawing specific objects aside from practicing.

But if you are doing a value drawing, you need to build up the value and the lines together, not separately, creating transitions with value changes and not delineated edges. Create the lightest lights and the darkest darks first, throughout the entire composition, then build from there. As you said, your whites may be too dark when you "draw the rest," but you should build up the whole drawing to avoid mistakes like this in both value and proportion.

It is a good idea for a tutorial, but I don't necessarily agree with your approach. Good work, though :)

FireSketch said...

stumbled. very nice :)
i've been drawing eyes all day xD

gotta add colour though...

shane said...

Thanks a lot these instructions are great!

christian said...

Tracey hit it RIGHT ON THE HEAD. Drawing in isolation is the FIRST mistake beginners make. Value should be used to create forms not vice versa.

Michael said...

In response to the comments about isolation, I will agree with you. However, my own experience has led me to different methods. I spent 30 years trying to learn with traditional methods. I also spent 30 years extremely frustrated because I could never "get it right."

There are many people, myself included, that simply can not (even with years of practice) accomplish what you are describing. To build values slowly across an entire work is simply beyond what I am capable of doing.

However, I have found that the technique of working on a drawing or painting one piece at a time works extremely well for me. I have also found that it works extremely well for others. Especially those that gave up on art because they were told that things have to be done a certain way or they were wrong.

My techniques are not for traditionally taught artists. They are for people that want to create works of art, but find the traditional methods simply will not work for them.

I encourage people to use what works for them. To use techniques that will result in their final goal. If using the traditional methods works best for you, then by all means, that is what you should do. I found a way that works for me. If it works for others as well, then that is what they should do too.

It all boils down to the individual person and what is comfortable for them. Art should not be a struggle, it should be fun and relaxing. So you should use methods that are fun and relaxing for you.

Ashley McFarland said...

Very nice tutorial! Thank you :)

LoveHugs said...

@ TRACY: Wrong, Tracy, wrong Tracy Wrong. Please forgive me but I am an artist and have been drawing and painting for over thirty years. The eyes need special attention in order to make them look as though they were real life. It can make or break a painting or drawing. My first oil, copy of A Girl With A Pearl Earring by Jan Vermeer, I painted so well I got an "A" in my class in college but the eyes in the painting, because I wasn't given specific instruction to make them more life like, appear flat to me. Luckily I painted in oils so I can go back and add some life to the painting.
Some people do need to use this isolated instruction , some don't. It's all a matter of what works for each person. We are all unique, aren't we? Thank goodness, huh? lol.. Your input was good but really doesn't apply to absolutely everyone.
Take care, and
@ Michael
Thank you for this lesson. I saved it for my daughter who is an up and coming artist herself. =)

Milander said...

Never found eyes difficult to draw to be honest. Feet are harder for me as are getting the proportions of the body correct.

The author probably knows this but as an aside to other posters you may want to take a look at comic art and notice how often artists avoid drawing feet, usually they are hidden in water or behind an object.

Great post on how to draw eyes though, good job.

GeologyJoe said...

excellent techniques.

sizumi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

We are very good cyber teacher and great artist, if I can follow your instructions than any one can as I am a new starter with pencil art. Please keep up the good work posted Micheal.
Tracey needs to experiment with different methods that's how progress is made, not by sticking to one method, if that was the case we would still be building pyramids and painting on cave walls. Tracey you need to explore, learn of Micheal or send us your work.

Liz Tyler said...

Beautiful Artwork on this site!!! Very nice information.

Anonymous said...

That's pretty great. You really did a great job.
Unfortunatley I can't draw at all, it looks bad whenever I try. My eyes look kinda awful, they're not same size and so on... But thatnk you ;D

Anonymous said...

Continue on Michael, please. While Tracey was probably on the scaffold with Michelangelo Bunarroti critiqing the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, those of us who lack artistic ability equivalent of her worthiness, do value what you offer. (No pun intended)This is a hobby for great deal of us. We most likely are not going to attend an art institute or even an art class thus are self taught. So please overlook it when people fail to see the kindness you are extend to us.

Concerned Illustrator said...

I love art tutorials, really, but as an artist and illustrator myself, I have noticed a lot of problems with this and your own comments, so I HAVE to respond....

1) This is not art.

It is fantastic practice for art.

It is a good way of impressing non-artists.

But it isn't art.

Copying anything from a photo is generally considered sketch practice, with a few exceptions. One is that the photo has been taken by the artist with a final subject in mind; the second is that the artist or illustrator makes such significant changes to the (preferably purchased or otherwise used-with-permission) source image that it is obvious that the artist is not straight up copying, but actually bringing something new and interesting and *alive* to the table.

Simply copying a photo is either illustration practice or straight up craft, not art.

2) This is one way of many ways to do eyes. Every artist has a different "brain," a different way of seeing things. This tutorial is, at best, a description of how *you* draw eyes using a *source image*.

True eye tutorials give general guidance as to the shape of the typical human eye and where it fits in the head, and leave figuring out the rest of the detail to the budding artist. "Guides" such as this one, written as though they are the end-all be-all to create eyeballs, are one of the many reasons people come to me asking why they can not draw eyes, saying "I followed the photos! I looked at the online tutorials! Why isn't it WORKING???!"

Please please please. For the sake of student artists everywhere, revisit this so that it is either more useful or clearly restricted to showing individuals how *you* draw.

As you have said yourself, your brain works differently from the brains of other illustrators. Don't try to influence the education of artists who will only be confused by "tutorials" on "art" like "this one."

I applaud your desire to educate others, though. Thank you.

Kylie said...

@Concerned Illustrator: I would argue that all art tutorials show how the tutorial *author* draws. That is the nature of a tutorial. It teaches how a specific person does a specific thing.

Further, I would argue that some art students (and would-be art students) actually benefit from tutorials such as this, since some art teachers teach as though their own method is the end-all-be-all of art and as though there is no other "correct" way to draw.

The reality is that every person is different, everyone learns differently, and everyone *draws* differently. To say that any particular way of drawing or teaching is wrong is...well...wrong.

Anonymous said...

I keep reading these comments about how we are all different. Who cares. Shut up and draw something. If it be a simple line then so be it. A detailed work of art, that's fine as well. Telling someone that they are different does not help them draw better. You know what does though? Practice. Thats it. No amount of "tutorials" can make someone become a better drawer. It comes with practice. What happens when there is no one to write a tutorial on a specific subject that you need to understand better? Are you forced to give up on that subject? If so, then you need not try to become an artist, as art is created through trial and error. You can't expect to be good at something as soon as you start trying that something.

Anonymous said...

I keep reading these comments about how we are all different. Who cares. Shut up and draw something. If it be a simple line then so be it. A detailed work of art, that's fine as well. Telling someone that they are different does not help them draw better. You know what does though? Practice. Thats it. No amount of "tutorials" can make someone become a better drawer. It comes with practice. What happens when there is no one to write a tutorial on a specific subject that you need to understand better? Are you forced to give up on that subject? If so, then you need not try to become an artist, as art is created through trial and error. You can't expect to be good at something as soon as you start trying that something.

jpowell2488 said...

To Concerned Illustrator: If your definition were applied to something like music then an orchestra reproducing a Beethoven symphony would be something less than music unless they applied "significant changes" to the source material. I reject your arrogant and snobbish definishion of art and supply my own.

To Michael:
Thanks for the great work you're doing here. The lessons are very helpful.

Landscapeideas Team said...

good me, its difficult to draw the eyes..the eyes will show how exactly the subject to the drawing..hope you can visit m blog would like to see you comment.thanks!

ryan said...

Thank you for the excellent instructions.
I like drawing creepy eyes, and this will help out alot.

Miranda said...

Nice tutorial. Don't let the others discourage you. Technical skill is just another tool in the artist's toolbox. All the great conceptual ideas in the world don't mean anything if you don't have the skills to realize them. For people just starting out, tutorials like this are exactly what they need to help develop their own drawing process.

Anonymous said...

thanks you so much for this tutorial. :)

Ro said...

Thanks! Appreciate the time and effort to help those of us who wish to be educated. I found in implementing your method I learned a few things about my own abilities. I am excited to practice more. I need help with hands!

Anonymous said...

Man u suck. Must run in the family.