How to draw semi-realistic eyes with oil/watercolor style

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Understanding the Eye Anatomy

Hello everyone, and welcome in this tutorial step-by-step where you'll learn how to draw and color an eye and place it into the face;

First thing first, understanding the eye anatomy;
As you can see in the picture I illustrated, the eye is a lot more than "just a cirle", and it has very defined parts, expecially in the folds of the skin that protects it.

To draw a more realistic eye, it's important not to forget a single one of them.
A common mistake is thinking that the eye is flat; it's actually not:
the cornea part sticks out from the sclera, making that soft half-cirle shape. It protects the pupil and the iris and it filtrates light and images. It's not too important if you draw the eye from the front prospective, but always keep in mind that it's not flat, at all!

Placing the eye into the sclera

The eye placement is roughly in the middle of the sclera, right where the pupil, cornea and iris are; (It's smaller than in my example if the eye is realistic) the folds around the eye form thanks to the round shape of the eye, so keep that in mind!

Understanding shadows and placing them into the eye

This piece was created IF a source of light naturally falls on the eye. There is no strong or artificial sources of lights; that would totally change the placement of the different shadows!

I'd suggest to always look up to realistic reference to fully understand where the shadows have to be placed; but I tried my best to illustrate it; Use a soft brush to place soft and undefined shadows; this will make the eye look more deep and realistic! The innercorner part is the one which shadow is darker than all the other parts of the eye; if you want to add black circles to your characther, just make the lower eyelio darker!

Adding lights

Lights are as important as shadows: they are the parts where the skin gets directly hitten by the sun, in which results to be lighter than the rest.
The eyes tend to be oily/teary, and thanks to this adding blocky lights makes it look more realistic; expecially in the tear duct and on the upper part of the lower eyelio.

A quick video dimonstration of the shadow and lightining placement I did using Photosop.

Placing the Eyes into the head

There are some tricks and tips on how to put eyes in the perfect position;
As I'm showing in this sketch , the eyes are , of course, in the upper part of the head, just below the eyebrows; but how can you place them correctly?

Here are some tips:
1- The inner corner of the month and the corner of the eye (The tear duct) can be connected by a straight line;
2- The external corner of the eye can be connected to the upper part of the ear that directly connects to the skin;
3- The pupils coincide with the jaw, right before the chin starts.
4- The eyebrow starts right where the nose nostrils are.
5- The bottom of the eyebrow coincides with the upper part of the ear.

Sketching the eyes - step by step.

My general go-to when I draw eyes is:

Base shape sketch;
Upper eyelio;
Lower eyelio + details;

Adding color and shadows to the piece

Using a COLOR layer I transform the sketch into something with more color and life;
I also add a LOWER layer with a base color that I want for the skin.
I proceede on adding light shadows in a normal layer, to mesh the colors together and give them a softer and more natural look.
After that, I create a OVERLY layer to add a pinkish tone , that makes it look more realistic and skin-like.

Keep adding more and more shadows as you please;
I personally keep using the normal layer on top of the others, but feel free to use the layers as you please the most! I like to go back and fort with the palette that's already creating on the skin and use the same colors to blend everything in.

Coloring the Iris + palette

When coloring the eye you have to picture a sphere with more depth: in this case, the shadow comes from the top , and the light comes from belove, which makes the lower part, just under the pupil, to be lighter; just create soft arches that are lighter and lighter; I use add glow and glow dodge layers to achieve that beautiful effect of light.

The direct light touches the eye in a lot of different ways; it depends on the ambient light that your character is in; but you can use bizzarre and crazy lightning if that's your go for. Remeber to add a "glow" effect just under the direct light to make it look more natural and bright.

Adding details and lights to your piece

To add realism to the eye I use a soft red color line that starts from the corner of the eye and blends in with the lower lash line; you don't necessarely have to do this, but I personally find it very appealing to the eye.
After that, I begin to put lights in the same places as in the black and white version, using a soft-pinkish white, avoid using PURE white, since it's pretty unnatural.

Adding Lashes

I personally don't like lashes on my piece, but I'm still gonna explain how to obtain more realistic and pretty lashes: Make different, soft strokes: don't make them ALL same size and lenght. Based on where the lash is coming from , the lenght, shape and softness of it can be very different:

As you can see in my piece, the more you go into the inner part of the eye, the smaller the lashes are. On the contrary, the more you go trought the exterior part, the longer and arched they are.

You can add as many details and lashes as you want!

We're done!
Thanks for following by!




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