Here’s a quick and easy way to draw closed eyes for beginners. I came up with this method by combining a few of my other ones, which turned out very well. You guys have been requesting me to draw a pair of opened eyes for a while now. So I’m going to work on that one next!
Tools I used in this tutorial:
- Derwent H, HB, 2B pencils
- 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil with 4B lead (Pentel Ain)
- Kneaded Eraser
- Canson Sketch Paper (Med Tooth) – Bought this on sale at my local art store (they ran out of Canson bristol paper). Great for sketching but not for blending.
I created a video to go along with the version you’re reading. You can check it out below! It contains a bunch of extra tips and tricks, which I think you’ll find useful! If you have the time, please leave a comment to let me know what you’d like to see me do differently in a future video, what you liked/disliked or other constructive feedback would also be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!
Please Read! The purpose of the video is not to produce a polished piece, but to show you the steps and techniques in a quick and easy manner. Click here to watch it on YouTube!
Note: Up until step 6, use only an HB pencil with very light pressure so that your guidelines and mistakes don’t show through in your final artwork. Drawing lightly is also better for erasing. In the examples below, I’m using more pressure so you can clearly see what I’m doing.
Step 1: Determine Eye Size
Determine the size you’ll want for one eye and use 2 ticks to mark the boundaries for that eye.
Use a ruler to draw a horizontal line through the ticks and across the right side of the page.
Then measure the first space and multiply it by 3. You should now end up with 3 equal spaces going across your sketchbook horizontally.
Step 2: Draw Circles
Draw a circle for each eye. Make sure each circle fits within the boundaries.
Step 3: Determine the Angle for Each Eye
Determine the angle you want the eyes to slant and draw a line through each circle, making sure the angles are similar. Watch the video for a tip on how you can do this.
Step 4: Draw the Eye Shapes
Draw the inner and outer corners of each eye where the slanted line intersects with the circle. The inner corner of each eye should be deeper and darker than the outer corner or tail of the eye.
When you draw the tail crease, allow your lines to gradually become lighter instead of having a hard edge.
Finally, draw a set of curves to form the eyelids.
Step 5: Draw the Shape for Each Eyebrow
Use my shadow-lining technique to draw a set of eyebrows. I like to draw the eyebrows just above the circles and slightly wider than each eye. In the video, I show you a technique to make the eyebrows match as well as where to draw the arc.
We’ll detail the eyebrows later. Let’s move on to the next step!
Step 6: Shading
Before you shade, make sure the guidelines you drew from step 1-3 are only slightly visible. You can use your kneaded eraser to roll a layer of graphite off those areas.
Let’s start by shading the top eyelids. Use the side of your pencil to shade a shape similar to an almond. The circle around each eye can help you see if your shading on the right eye is similar to the left eye.
If you want to draw details like dark under eye circles, you can use the circles as a guide. Watch the video for an example.
Add some light shading for the bridge of the nose.
Once you’re done, erase what remains of each circle.
Step 7: Shade the Rest of the Face
Shade the rest of the face. You can use these two tutorials to learn more about shading:
Step 8: Draw the Eyebrows
Here, I switched to my 4B 0.5mm lead. Starting at the lower part of each eyebrow, draw upward strokes. Make sure to lift your pencil up at the end of every stroke to make the hairs look more realistic. For a super detailed tutorial on this, check out this tutorial.
At the upper portion of each eyebrow, draw downward strokes. Add some hairs going down the middle if it still looks bare.
This step is very subtle, but also very important. Use an HB pencil to shade directly underneath each eyebrow. Make sure the transition is gradual. Now the eyebrows look like they belong, instead of just pasted onto the skin.
Step 9: Add Wrinkles to Eyelids
This step is optional… but it’s super fun, so why not do it too?
This one’s more of a crease than a wrinkle. When the eyes open, a crease forms on the eyelid. Use an H pencil and the lightest amount of pressure to draw two creases. The darker you draw them, the deeper they will appear.
Draw a row of curved diagonal lines along the edge of each eyelid. This area of the skin is very thin – wrinkling up when the skin is tugged. You’ll want to use an H pencil for this as well.
Depending on where the light is coming from in your drawing, blend the opposite side of each diagonal line drawn. For example: in this drawing, the light is coming from the top, so the side of each wrinkle that faces the light will be left alone, while the side facing away from the light will need to be blended.
Unless you’re drawing this on a large scale, avoid using a blending stump because the tip will not be thin enough for this job. Instead, use an H and HB pencil to create a nice gradient along each wrinkle.
Using a kneaded eraser, go over areas of each wrinkle that are facing the light and dab it gently with the pinched end of your kneaded eraser to lift a thin line of graphite. The highlights should appear brighter and the wrinkles should become more apparent and shapely.
Step 10: Draw the Eyelashes
To start, draw 3 eyelashes for each eye. One on the far left, far right and another in the middle. The lashes should fan out, angling away from each other.
If you want to be really careful, draw the eyelashes lightly with an H or HB pencil to start. Once you’re okay with the placement, curvature and length, etc… go over it with a darker pencil like a 4B. Here, I used a 0.5mm 4B lead.
Take your time to fill the spaces in between.
It’s okay that some eyelashes touch. It’s actually more natural looking when they form triangle shapes or even cross over each other.
Finally, use an HB or 2B pencil to shade directly under the top eyelid to create a light cast shadow coming from the eyelashes.
This is the first time I’ve done a written tutorial + video tutorial and I want to know what you guys think! Do you like videos in accompaniment to my usual stuff? Does it clear things up for you or would you rather see the video tutorial done another way?
Your feedback is always appreciated and will help me improve upon the tutorials further :)
I’m going to work on creating videos for past tutorials as well. So if you haven’t subscribed to me on YouTube, click here. Youtube won’t notify you when I post new videos unless you hit the bell icon beside the subscribe button as well, so don’t forget to click that too.
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.