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How to Draw Eyes

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Observe the Eye in Detail
How to Draw Eyes

the eye in closeup

F. Priestly, licensed to About.com
To draw a realistic eye, it is important to observe it very closely.

Notice that the iris is not a solid tone, but has streaks of color, dark around the edge. Observe your subject carefully to identify the patterns of their iris, and note highlights and reflections on the surface of the eye, which alter their appearance.

At this angle, the inside rim of the lower eyelid is visible, and part of the upper. Often a broken line is used when drawing the lower eyelid, to indicate this lightness, or in a tonal drawing, there may be a highlight.

The 'whites' aren't really white. They have slight color and often visible blood vessels, and are frequently shadowed. Reserve pure white for highlights.

The Difference between Good and Great

When you look at a realist drawing of an eye, the difference between jaw-dropping realism and a reasonable likeness is attention to detail, both in observing and drawing. If you are trying to achieve a very high degree of realism, you need a very large, clear reference photograph, and a great deal of patience and accuracy in drawing every tiny change in light and dark. There's no magic trick, just very careful attention.
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