How to shade an eyeball

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how-to-shade-an-eyeball-step-5-rfaEvery now and then, I get questions about how to shade eyeballs and how to make them look round. It’s a little difficult to explain without pictures, so here’s a short and sweet step by step tutorial to answer that question :) Enjoy!

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While you’re drawing the eye, keep the white part of the eyeball as clean as possible. We’re going to shade the entire eyeball later. This will bring your highlights out more because your highlights will be the lightest value in your drawing.

Step 1: Light Shading

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Grab a blunt HB pencil and use the side of your lead to create large, blunt strokes on a scrap piece of paper. Use the exact same edge to shade an even layer of graphite across the eyeball without drawing over the iris. Contouring would be a suitable shading technique to use.

Step 2: Blend Carefully

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Wrap a small piece of tissue paper around your finger and blend the eyeball in 2 separate sections. Do not touch any areas with dark shading or else you will smudge extra graphite onto the eyeball. Use very little pressure and use a new piece of tissue after every stroke.

 

Step 3: Shade Around the Iris

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Once your shading is smooth, use your HB pencil to shade around the iris. The goal is to eliminate the harsh edge around the iris. Blend the graphite out if you need to.

 

Step 4: Shade the Eyelid Rims

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Soften out your graphite where the skin touches the eyeball. This step is very subtle, but helps pull the skin and eyeball closer together. Compared to the previous image, this one looks like the top and bottom lids are actually touching the eyeball – snug fit.

Step 5: Add Subtle Shadows

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Depending on where your light source is coming from (mine’s coming from the top), add subtle shadows using a blunt HB pencil. To make the eyeball look round, shade the far ends of the eyeball. Make sure your value transitions are very gradual.

Scroll up and compare the images from step 4 and 5. Notice how even the most subtle shadows can give the eyeball such a round shape. Just something to keep in mind when you shade.

Also, there’s an area of the eyeball near the tear duct that is slightly bumpy. So make sure to pay extra attention to that. However, you don’t want to bring too much attention to it, so try to keep it subtle.
I hope this tutorial was helpful! Which steps helped you the most? I’d love to know :)

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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.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I just started pencil drawing several months ago. I bought some beginner books of animals first, that helped immensely with shading and placement. I then started experimenting with drawing people and I just stumbled on to your site a few days ago. I am more than excited to see how you give directions on a number of things. Thank you very much.

  2. Thank you so much Darlene you really made my sketching simpler. I like how you accentuate the interior of the eye with attention to detail

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