How to draw a realistic eye

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Hi, welcome to RapidFireArt! My name is Darlene and in this tutorial I’m going to teach you how to draw a realistic eye using easy step by step instructions. This is my first tutorial, so I hope you enjoy it!

For this tutorial on drawing a realistic eye, I will be using the following tools:
– Mechanical Pencil with 0.5 mm HB and 4B Ain Leads
Derwent Graphic 6B Pencil
Kneaded Eraser
– Blending Stump (Learn how to use them here)
Smooth Bristol Paper

Let’s Begin!!

 

how to draw eyes step by step_rapidfireart

Step 1: Outline the Shape of an Eye and Highlight

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Let’s start off with an HB pencil to sketch the shape of the eye. This outline should not be too dark because you want to prevent it from showing through in the end. We just need the basic shapes outlined at this point. The square shape in the pupil is a glare from a window or similar shaped light source. You can use other shapes such as circles or ovals as well.

If you’re stuck on drawing a realistic eye shape, iris or eyebrow, visit the 2 pages below:

Step 2: Shade the Pupil

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Using a 6B pencil, fill in the pupil. Avoid pressing too hard or else it will be hard for you to erase if you need to make corrections later on. You can go over the area again to achieve a darker shade. Make sure the highlights stay clean!

Step 3: Shade the Iris

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On a separate sheet of paper, smear some graphite into a small area. Use the blender to rub the area until the graphite has transferred to the tip of the blender (learn how to use a blending stump here). You will now use that to fill in the outer area of the pupil. This step does not have to be done perfectly. Sloppy smudging will make it turn out better, as well as give the eye more depth.

Step 4: Draw Spokes

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With a 4B pencil draw spokes going outward from the pupil. Overlap some of the spokes to create thicker lines. This will make the eye look more interesting. Leave some areas untouched as they will be filled in later.

If you’re enjoying this article, click here for another realistic eye tutorial!

Step 5: Blend the Iris

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Use the blending stump to fill the white space in the iris. Carefully work around the highlight. Don’t press too hard. You should still be able to see the lines coming out of the pupil when done. If most of the lines have disappeared, you have either used the blender with too much force, or have not pressed hard enough when creating the spokes.

Step 6: Add Depth

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Use the 6B pencil to create a shadow under the eye lid to give the eye more depth and roundness.

Step 7: Shade the Skin

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Shade the eye whites as well as the skin around the eyes. Don’t leave the eyeball white or else it will appear unrealistic and lack depth. For a more detailed tutorial on shading eye whites and how to make eyeballs look round, click here.

Darken the creases using a 4B pencil. Use the kneaded eraser to make the highlights pop, as well as dab areas of the eye that need to be lightened. For example the eye whites, lower lash area, brow bone and the inner corner of the eye near the tear duct.

Want to improve your shading skills? Click here to read my shading tutorial!

Step 8: Draw Eyebrows and Eyelashes

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Fill in the eyebrows as well as the eyelashes. Eyelashes should be drawn using curved lines, NOT straight lines. To create the eyebrows, use a thin HB pencil. For the eyelashes, go with something darker, like a 6B. Go over the drawing and darken areas such as the pupil, creases, shadows and clean the highlights to make your drawing POP!

Click here for a super detailed tutorial on how to draw eyelashes

Step 9: Touchups

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I’ve added some eyelash reflections, some subtle blood vessels as well as darkened the overall drawing. Try to use as many shades as possible when drawing eyes. Most people are afraid to go dark. Look at the picture in step 8 and compare it to the last step. Going dark makes a huge difference! I used to stop at step 8 too, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to erase if my hard work turned into a complete disaster. This fear left me unsatisfied with all my drawings because they lacked depth. So take it a step further and make use of your softer pencils!

I hope you enjoyed this simple step by step tutorial on how to draw a realistic eye with pencil.If you have any questions or requests, let me know in the comments below!

So tell me… was that an easy eye drawing tutorial? Or does it need some improvement? Your feedback would be greatly appreciated :)

Want more? Click here to learn how to draw an eye from the side!

If you love RapidFireArt tutorials and want to support what I do, check out my Patreon page where you can support RFA and earn cool rewards at the same time!

Darlene created RFA In 2013 with the goal of sharing simple yet detailed drawing tutorials with other artists on the world wide web. She is a self taught pencil portrait artist and Youtuber.

86 COMMENTS

  1. Wow your tutorials are wonderful and soooo easy to folliw at first it was hard but then i got pretty good(not to brag) and i coukd even sell my artwork!!(just kidding!) :)

  2. wow so cool! When I drew eyes, they were always different sizes and wonky. Could you do some tutorials of drawing breakfast foods such as bacon and detailed eggs? Thanks so much! :) :D

    • Of course you can :) You can use a regular school pencil (they’re usually HB). The other pencils mentioned will just give you darker values so that the eye will have more depth. If you’re using 1 pencil to draw this, you can apply more pressure to get the same effect (to a certain degree).

      • I usually have my own way to draw realistic sort of eyes (not as realistic as yours) but I decided to try a different sketch of eyes (yours) but I only tried doing it in HB pencil. It worked out really well surprisingly. I love your drawing.

  3. I just downloaded your tutorial picture!
    just started self learning how to draw, I hope you all the best and succeed in your art works!

  4. Hello! This is a great tutorial, first off. Your art is beautiful. I was wondering, though, approximately how long does one of these drawings take you? I know they’re all different but, for example, this eye. How longing might just an eye take you to finish on average?

    • Thanks Lain. If I remember correctly, this eye took me around a week to draw because I had to plan out the steps very carefully for the tutorial. If I’m not writing a tutorial, a similar drawing could take me around 40 minutes to 1 hour without taking any breaks.

  5. You are amazing! I drew an eye earlier in the day (it was horrible) and then drew this eye and it was instantly better. BY A LOT!

  6. How do I know how big or small to make the eye relative to the nose and mouth? Also, where should I draw the eyes, like how close to the nose? And are there any ways to make it easier to draw both eyes symmetrical?

    • Feel free to email me using the contact page with any examples of your work. I’d be more than happy to give you some constructive tips and suggestions :)

  7. Hello,
    I am unsure if this comment has already been posted, as I recently posted it but it disappeared. But I would like to know how to do Step One. I am VERY stuck on it. Your eye looks flawless but mine looks awful. I know you’re fantastic at this, and I am no true artist, but I still think I can do slightly better. Any pointers?

    • Hi Claire, feel free to shoot me an email via the contact page (you can attach images there). I’ll do my best to help you out :)

  8. I am stuck on Step One, could you give me some pointers? I am having difficulties shaping the eye correctly, while yours looks flawless.

  9. How awesome (and inspiring) that you’re SELF TAUGHT!!! I’ve only now at age 40 decided to give drawing a shot (I’ve been a filmmaker for years) and it’s great to see work that I admire from someone else who is self taught. Thanks!

  10. Your step by step tutorials and tips & tricks make it so simple and easy…i tried to draw realistic eyes so many times before but none was so good as now…i have sent you a drawing..
    Thank you

    • Hi Da’Jon,

      I think what you should aim for is to make them look ‘similar’, since eyes are not exactly mirror images of each other :)
      It would be quite a challenge for me to explain how to draw a set of eyes through a comment, so I’ll try to make a tutorial on it. You can sign up to my email list or follow me on facebook to find out when it’s up! :)

  11. Thank you so much for these amazing free tutorials, they have really helped me with my confidence in drawing, and I hope to be able to draw like you some day! :) Just a question: what type of pencil should I use for the eyebrows? (I got really stuck on those!)

  12. Hey!
    I sketched my first ever eye today. I doesn’t look as good as yours but m super pleased with what I made. Thanks a lot!
    Also I am gonna use all your tutorials and will definitely keep looking forward for more tips from you.
    Also I struggled with the eyebrows, they look worse than my eyes. Could you help me with moustaches and beards too?

    • Hi Akanksha :)
      It’s great to hear that you are enjoying the tutorials! I’m in the middle of a move at the moment so no new tutorials yet. Once I get settled into my new place, I’ll be pumping out lots of new content!
      I’ll send you an email with some image examples a little later. Watch out for my email :)

  13. Thanks for the helpful tutorial! I was wondering if you had any tips on how to make the eyebrows and eyelashes look more realistic. When I tried, they looked too artificial. Any advice?

    • Hi Holly! I’d be more than happy to give you advice! I’ll send you an email with tips and image examples very shortly. Keep an eye out for my email. It may land in your junk folder :)

  14. Hi Darlene!
    You are welcome, it’s very kind of you!

    For my personal wishlist (of course if/when possible :) I’m looking forward to a tutorial just about shading, particularly I’d love to “catch” how to exactly move from the picture shown in step 6 (http://rapidfireart.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/how-to-draw-eyes-step-6.jpg) to the one in step 7 (http://rapidfireart.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/how-to-draw-eyes-step-7.jpg).

    Currently I’m less or more able to replicate the results shown in your wonderful drawings until step 6 included, but, when I try to shade it and move to step 7… unfortunately all the beauty sparkled by your drawing seems vanishing in mine!

    Just to let you have an idea of what I’m referring to, my shading resembles, say, the shading you are talking about in step 3 when you say: “On a separate sheet of paper, smear some graphite into a small area. Use the blender to rub the area until the graphite has transferred to the tip of the blender (learn how to use a blending stump here). You will now use that to fill in the outer area of the pupil.”So basically my shading of the skin around the eyes is very similar to the one I have used in step 3 for the outer area of the pupil, while in your shading (Step 7) the drawing begins literally to “pop out” of the page, so I’d greatly appreciate a specific tutorial about this topic :)

    Thanks again!

  15. Hi Darlene!

    Thank you so much for your kind and detailed explanation!

    Well done! You are GREAT, thanks again for your excellent tutorials and the whole website!

    :)

  16. Hi
    thank you very much for your tutorial, very useful indeed!
    I have 2 questions, if you could clarify I’d appreciate it a lot!

    Step 5:
    “Use the blender to fill the white space in the eye. Carefully work around the highlight.”

    In this step it’s not perfectly clear to me which “white space in the eye” you are referring to, as in the related picture (http://rapidfireart.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/how-to-draw-eyes-step-5.jpg) the eyeball is still white and it doesn’t seem to have got any “track” of the blender over it. :)

    “Carefully work around the highlight.”
    Maybe is it the square shape or the outer area of the pupil?

    STEP 7
    “Shade the eye whites as well as the skin around the eyes.”
    You mean shading using the blender stump or a finger?

    “Darken the creases using a 4B pencil.”
    Which crease, for example?

    “Use the kneaded eraser to make the highlights pop, as well as dab areas of the eye that need to be lightened.”
    Have I to sharpen the kneaded eraser to do this?

    Thanks in advance for any help about the above and keep up the excellent work!

    • Hi Joe!

      To answer your questions..

      Step 5:
      I made a mistake here. I should have said “Use the blender to fill the white space in the iris”. Sorry for the confusion! And thanks so much for pointing that out! I’m going to correct that part :)

      Yes, the highlight is the square shape.

      Step 7:
      You can shade using your pencil or blending stump. Avoid using your fingers. I’ve had a few incidents where I used my fingers to smudge the graphite which resulted in a permanent blemish on the drawing because the paper adsorbed the natural oils from my skin. Made it impossible to erase graphite in that specific area.

      Creases: eyelid folds and inner corner of the eye above the tear duct.

      When you’re using a kneaded eraser in tight spaces, you can roll it to a fine tip to dab small portions of graphite away.

      Hope that helps :) Let me know if you have any other questions. I’d be happy to answer them! :)

  17. Hi these tutorials are just what i was looking for. I only have an hb pencil at the moment but have both a birthday and christmas coming up so asked for art supplies and then i intend to put all of your tutorials to good use
    Have also emailed my first attempts to you
    Thank you soooo much

    • Hi Penny, thanks so much for sending in your work. I can’t wait to open my email! :)
      I hope you have a happy birthday and very merry Christmas!

      • Thank you Darlene, have recieved many sketching pencils and coloured pencils as well as other useful materials. I cannot wait now to use them and hopefully improve. Also thanks for the tips you sent by email from my eye pictures

      • Hi Darlene, have been busy practicing with all my new supplies and am progressing well. I am trying to attatch a quick sketch of my 9month old grand daughters features that I did from a photo, its not brilliant but much improved. I may have to do it by email as i can’t find how to do it on here.

    • You should have seen my first try. It was horrible! Practice everyday and you will achieve better hand-eye coordination :)

  18. The only thing I can say about your eye drawing is entrancing! I don’t want to sound banal, but you really have an eye for art. :)

  19. I am very new at drawing with this medium and you have taught me so much on this site! I just wanted to leave a comment and say thanks. I still can’t draw eyes as well as you, but I am working on it.

    • You’re welcome. I’m glad I could help! Any questions, just email me! I will be happy to give you some more pointers :)

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