How to Draw Eyes – Structure

So, I’m done with the loomis method for now
and as promised I’m going to move on to features. These tutorials will be based on things I
learned from school, books, and through my own experience and life drawing. In this episode, we learn about the construction of the eye. Let’s start by going over some common terminology. The eye socket refers to the hole in the skull
where the eyeball sits. The top edge of this hole has a ridge that’s
called the brow ridge. The eyeball is covered by a top and bottom
lid. At the inner side of the lids, there is a
tear duct. The white portion of the eyeball is called
the sclera. And the window to our soul is made up of the
iris (which is the colored portion), the pupil (thats the black dot) and the cornea, which
is a transparent cover shaped like a contact lens. Now, all these little shapes make up the eye,
but it’s important to first understand the simplified structure of the eye. These simplified forms should show through
all the details. The brow ridge can be simplified into a block. The front plane represents the forehead, and
the bottom plane is the roof of the socket. Of course, the eyeball is… a ball. From the side you can see that the eyeball
is deep inside the socket and the brow ridge acts as an awning to protect the sensitive
eye from falling things like, rain, dust, asteroids, and bird poop…. When drawing the eyes, I start by finding
their placement on the face. We already know that the face can be broken
up into thirds. The brow ridge is represented by the top of
the middle third. I like to find the keystone shape of the glabella,
which is the space between the eyes, also known as the third eye. From there I’ll continue down the side of
the nose to the bottom of the lid and back around to the brow ridge. Make sure to observe how far down the bottom
of the lid is. If the person isn’t looking up or down, but
straight ahead, then generally the center of the eyes will be placed in the center of
the head. Then, to find the horizontal position, I look
for an angle from the wings of the nose to the tear duct. From the front view, this will usually be
a straight line up. Of course, first you’d need to find the placement
of the nose.. which I’ll cover next time. And as a general rule of thumb, this width
of the eye is about the same as the distance between the eyes. A common mistake is to make the eyes too big. But, this doesn’t really look good, does it? This is probably because we think of the eyes
as more significant than the rest of the face, and so we do this. But this isn’t always the correct way to make
something appear more significant. Consider adding more contrast, sharper edges
and more detailed shapes instead. Now that we have the general forms, the placement
and the size of the eyes established, let’s go a little deeper and explore each part individually. The Sclera, or commonly called the white of
the eye, is a sphere, and so it needs to be shaded like one. Even though it’s know as the white of the
eye, a common mistake is to actually make it white. This will cause it to look flat. The part of the sclera that is visible through
the opening in the lids usually has a soft gradation, which is enough to show its roundness. The eyelids wrap around the eyeball, and so
again it’s important to remember the simple spherical form underneath and how it affects
the outer forms. construct the shape of the top lid using 3
planes. The side planes and the top plane. For the bottom lid, I use 2 planes. Pay attention to the differences between all
these angles and don’t draw fish-shaped or almond shaped eyes. They taste good, but they don’t look good. Typically the peaks of these planes, won’t
be symmetrical. Look for this diagonal. Another factor that will change the shape
of the lids is the cornea. Since it is a convex form, as the cornea moves
it will push the lids out. Notice how the shape of the top lid changes
as the eye moves. Also, the lids have some thickness to them,
so showing the bottom plane of the top lid and the top plane of the bottom lid is very
important. If the light source is above the eye, as it
usually is, the top lid will have a shadow underneath and the bottom lid will have a
highlight on the top. From the side, the top lid sticks out
further to protect what’s under, just like the brow ridge. And the last thing about the lids, is the
epicanthic fold. Some people will have this skin covering the
entire top lid, other have the entire top lid visible, and some only a portion. placement of the tear duct is not in the center It’s actually a little bit lower When a person turns far enough towards the side the eyeball and cornea will cover the connection between the tear duct and lids. And so, you’ll see a little piece of the tear
duct peaking from behind. The shape and angle of the iris is commonly
overlooked. It will only be a perfect circle from front
view. When the eye turns to the side, the shape
becomes an oval. The further the iris is from center, the narrower
the oval will become. If the eyes looks to the side AND up or down,
that oval will be angled. To find that angle, imagine a straight line
from the center of the eyeball to the iris. The angle of the iris will be perpendicular. The cornea sits right on top of the iris. It is convex and transparent, like a contact
lense. The iris, which is the colored part is also
convex (according to anatomical diagrams) BUT I like to draw it as if its concave. This gives the eyes a more life like effect. This is important to know when you start shading. Imaging the light source coming from the top
right. The iris, as a concave form, will be lit at
the bottom left. The cornea, as a convex form, will have the
opposite light pattern. It will be lit at the top right. Since the cornea is transparent, only the
highlight will be visible. So, an easier way to remember all this is
The highlight on the cornea will be on the dark side of the iris. Then I’ll put in the pupil as Black Dot In fact, the pupil is a hole in the iris that
lets light in. The pupil dilates to let in more light and
contracts to let in less light. So, when drawing the pupil from a side angle,
be sure to draw it on the iris, not on the cornea. The eyebrows sit on the brow-ridge and peak
towards the outer end. The outside ends tend to be lighter, thinner,
and have less hair than the inside ends. The shape of the eyebrows varies from person
to person. Men tend to have fuller and straighter types
while women have thinner types that peak higher. The trick with eyelashes is to simplify them. I like to group them together into chunks
and draw them as simple dark shapes. From the front, the dark shape of the lashes
will merge with the dark shadow under the top lid. If the lashes are long and curl up enough
to be seen as individual lashes, still try to simplify them rather than drawing each
lash. I like to draw them blurry as if they are
out of focus. group them into little triangles and vary the shapes From the side, the shape is like a curly triangle.


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