How to shade an eyeball

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!




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


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


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


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


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


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.

Thanks to MargaritaM for reminding me to add a slideshow to this tutorial! Use the slideshow below to see all the steps and their subtle differences:

I hope this tutorial was helpful! Which steps helped you the most? I’d love to know :)

Share to Unlock

Want to download a FREE PDF version of this tutorial for offline viewing or printing? Please share this page with your friends using the buttons below to unlock the PDF. Thank you! Alternatively, you can purchase ALL my tutorials in PDF form at once, for a small price. Click here for more info.
FB Like
Facebook Share


😊 Thank you for sharing!

Here is your PDF download link:

Click here to download the PDF version of this tutorial :)


How to shade an eyeball Read More »