Drawing Expressive Eyes for Beginners | Margarita Bourkova | Skillshare

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Drawing Expressive Eyes for Beginners

teacher avatar Margarita Bourkova, artist | dreamer | infp

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Anatomy

    • 3. Shapes

    • 4. Expressions

    • 5. Lineart & Style

    • 6. Let's Practice!

    • 7. Outro

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About This Class


Welcome to this class about drawing expressive eyes for beginners! Doodling eyes is a passion of mine and I'd love to share my favorite tips with you. In this class we'll focus on drawing emotion in the eyes while also exploring some anatomy basics and different eye shapes. 


Here's a quick summary of the class : 

  • Anatomy : A few anatomy basics to help you draw realistic eyes; visual dictionary; facial muscles
  • Shapes : A series of common eye shapes; drawing different shapes; drawing the eye in profile 
  • Expressions : My technique for adding expressiveness to your eye drawings
  • Lineart & Style : Draw along with me; examples of different sketching styles
  • Let's Practice : A few ideas for your class project


For this class you'll need your usual drawing tools (traditional or digital, whichever you prefer). I used both Photoshop and pens (Staedtler Pigment Liners and regular fountain pens). 

Meet Your Teacher

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Margarita Bourkova

artist | dreamer | infp


I'm margaw, a freelance artist based in rainy Belgium. I'm self-taught, and i really believe anyone can draw if they really want to! I created this channel to share my drawing techniques, my personal tips and tricks, and to support others on their creative journey. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or if there's a particular technique you'd like me to teach -- i'm always interested in your feedback!

Ballpoint pens are one of my all time favorite art supplies, i really enjoy using them for almost anything : rough sketches, stylized drawings or even photorealistic illustrations. They are easy to find, cheap and, once you've got the hang of it, really fun to use. Sadly, most people aren't familiar with them... that's why i teach several... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hi, everyone. Welcome to my class about drawing expressive eyes. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. We human beings are capable of expressing a large palette of emotions through our eyes. And that's probably why they're such a popular drawing subject. If you're like me, you probably loves getting eyes for fun. So in this class will have a look at some I and at me basics partially how I sketch eyes from different angles with different shapes on our styles. At the end of this class, you'll be able to draw simple but realistic eyes. With or without the help of father references. We'll also focus on expressiveness. True, Leinart, I'll show you how to convey emotion in your drawings. A few words about supplies for this class. I decided to alternate between traditional and digital tools simply because I used them both. In my daily work, you're free to use whatever drawing tools you're comfortable with being a drawing tablet, a pen or a pencil. Just remember that we'll be focusing on line art, so lines and strokes only, and not so much on changing. If that being said, gather your favorite drawing tools on Let's get started 2. Anatomy: to be able to draw realistic eyes. It's important to have a basic understanding of facial anatomy and how the eyeballs, onda muscles and bones around them all work together to create facial expressions. Here's what an eyeball looks like. The Oman shape of the I really know and recognize is created by the presence of the upper and lower eyelids that protect the I. It's important to remember that the eyeballs are spheres positions inside the eye sockets to cavities in the scope. Picturing the I as a sphere will be very helpful once we start sketching in the next videos . Here is a painting I'm working on right now. I'd like to use it to show you how some of the muscles around the I work, how they help create different facial expressions and how they can change over time. So the IBO should be around here. I tried to keep the virus kind of in the middle, and if you look at the islands, you have the upper island and above it, there's the muscle controlling the eye, bro. In the same way under the lower island, you have another muscle that helps with the various eye movements. There are, of course, many more facial muscles that help with that. But I'd like to focus on this to for this class, so keep them in mind. And now let's see what happens when this muscles moved. Raising an eyebrow, for example, is a common human reaction that can express a variety of emotions and feelings, from surprise to fright or disapproval, or simply to show that you have questions. When the muscle here moves, so does the eye, bro. Here's also another thing to consider off the time the muscle standard loosen, the skin becomes more saggy, and the effect of this can be seen on the eyes, their general shape, the thickness of the islets and, of course, all the wrinkles around them. In one of the next videos, I'll show you how to avoid making the eyes look too old when you draw them. Finally, before we start the proper drawing lesson, just a quick reminder of a few anatomy elements. Do not forget to draw. If you missed some of those, your drawing just won't look very realistic. So first we have the pupil, a small black hole at the center of the iris that defines the color of the I, the eyelids, both the upper and lower one, our foes of skin that protects the eye. This clearer is simply the white of the eye. The deduct carries the tears. As for the lack Rem Okoronkwo, it's one of those elements that people often forget the draw. Finally, the eyelashes are the hairs that cover the edge of the upper and lower eyelids. 3. Shapes: rounded almond who did there a lot of different eye shapes. But it's not important for you to know exactly how which one of them look like. If I'm showing it is, it's more as a reminder that all eyes are not simple almond shapes, even though the almond shape is the one we usually go for when sketching eyes. I want to show you that experimenting with different eye shapes can be really fun, and this practice will also give you more confidence in your drawing skills, and it will help you find your own style. So here I'm drawing a simple almond shaped eye. I'll take some time to show you in detail how I draw each element of the I in one of the next videos. But for now, I just want you to focus on the general shape of the I. The almond shaped eye is created by this to public lines. Now, instead of a Blick lines, let's try to draw something more rounds. This eye shape isn't as elongate as the 1st 1 and I also insisted a little bit more on the lack from Okoronkwo, making it larger. - Let's try 1/3 1 once more, the lack Rome ocurre uncle will have a different shape. I make it more pointy and turned down. This particular shape is called the monolith shape, and you can see how the upper island is covering the in a corner of the eye. - If you're having trouble, you can always start by sketching a circle and the iris in its centre. And then it's easier to draw the rest of the eye around his two circles. - You can also practice sketching different eye shapes, start simple at first and try to alternate between rounded and more angular shapes, more elongate or more combat shapes, etcetera. Now that we've had a look at a few different shapes, I want to show you what the eyes look like in profile, so I'll make a small, step by step tutorial. We'll start by drawing a circle. It's always easier if it can visualize that I as a whole. I will be looking to the right, and one thing that is important to remember is that the iris or always been visible it will always stick out a little bit. So the next step is to determine the field of view, starting at the center of the sphere. I draw two lines that will go on both sides of the iris. This lines filled and help us draw the islets around the eye. - So let's start again. I sketch a circle. There's no need for it to be a perfect circle, so don't worry about that. When you sketch, I decide where the iris will be. And then I sketched the two islands around it. - This is the basic shape of the I. After that, you can start adding details like the eyelashes. For example, - the eye bro usually goes just on top of the eye socket. So just over the sphere, I sketched. And so here you have a ni in profile, brought this sketching eyes from different angles, using further references, or does anatomy tricks I showed you. 4. Expressions: Let's have a look at some common human emotions. Joey Anger, fear, sadness. More often than not, these emotions can be perceived and read directly through the eyes. So in this video, I'll show you how I started with three identical sketches and how I used them to express tree different emotions. So I started by drawing the basic outline of a NY, and then I copy it. I now have two identical shapes for the 1st 1 I'd like to keep the expression neutral, so I simply draw the iris and the center of the eye as usual, but looking a little bit to the right, the eye bro. And so the muscle beneath it is relaxed. For the second sketch, I'll change this neutral expression by doing two things first. Instead of drawing the virus in the center of the eye between the islands, I draw it slightly higher. So now the eye is looking up, and the second thing I do is to change the shape and position of the eyebrow. The overall expression isn't neutral anymore. It looks more like disapproval or irritation. The muscle beneath the I broke contracts, and so the iro is furrowed And now, for the third example, I could be the same neutral sketch, and this time I draw the virus all the way down. So the pupil is barely visible, but I don't want it to just be looking down. I wanted to be wide eyed, so I raise part of the upper islet because I wanted I to be bulging and truck surprise or fear. As for the eye, bro, I want to draw it raised to really accentuate the expression of surprise so you see how the way you place the eyebrows or the iris in your eye drawings can really change the overall feeling of it. If you'd like to practice drawing different emotions, start by observing the people around you. Notice how, when the expression changes, it also changes different elements of their eyes. You can also use family photos or online for the references to sketch different types of I shapes and I expressions. Finally, one last tip. When drawing expressive eyes, pay attention to the size of the people. As you may know, the people size will very depending on the light, but also on the age of a person Children than to have larger or dilated peoples, whereas seniors will have smaller or constricted people's. In general, larger peoples can indicate that the person is alert, focused or interested in something smaller. Peoples, on the other hand, might indicate discussed confusion or boredom, So use the size of the people in your drawings to make the eyes more expressive. 5. Lineart & Style: Usually when drawing the eye, we start with this almond shaped. This is just the basic outline of it. Remember that there is the lack room. Ocurre uncle you need to define it usually has a triangle shape. So now that we have the basic shape of the eye, you can rearrange it however you like, as I mentioned before, there many different eye shapes that you can choose from taken very depending on gender, age, ethnicity, etcetera. You can then leave a little space for where the eyelashes will be and then draw the upper island. Don't forget that the I is a sphere that is held inside of the orbit. It can be helpful to very lightly at a circle around the sketch to see where the lower eyelid will be. The lower eyelid can be more or less visible again, depending on the age of the person or their ethnicity. But whether it is really large, like in this example or not so much, the important part is do not forget to draw it, and remembering that the I is a treaty sphere can be very helpful in that regard. You can then draw the iris and the pupil and then the finishing touches that are the eyelashes to tear duct and some basic lighting in the iris, a common mistake a lot of people make when drawing eyes. Sister used too many lines. Too many details can sometimes make the eyes and the character look old simply because the lines can look like wrinkles. So if you're drawing from reference, for example, Onda Person has even slightly visible laugh lines around the eyes. It sometimes better to not throw them at all because it will make the person look much older than they are. On the other hand, if you'd like to draw on older looking character or you have to do is add this additional lines around their eyes. It's a very easy trick that can completely change someone's face when drawing eyes or anything. Really, you can focus on different aspects of the drawing process. A very lose our style will focus on lines, for example, where the picture will be built upon this kind of abstract strokes. You can also have a focus on values and contrast with a shading effect where some parts of the drawing, where we more highlighted and others and you can also have a style focused on shapes where the shapes are put forward, thanks to more clean lines, more defined outlines. - Whether you have a defined art style or not, I really recommend trying out this different techniques and seeing for yourself which ones you find more interesting or feel more comfortable with. 6. Let's Practice!: eyes have always been one of my favorite subjects for sketches or just mindless Dodo's. But for a very long time, I used to always draw the same very simple, very stiff looking I that's just always looking straight ahead. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, and I think it's important to instill some kind of emotion and expression in the eye to make it feel more alive. So I'd like to challenge you to draw a small series of eyes and to make them all different , make them look surprised or scared or happy. Make them look up or down, or to the side. You can use a mirror to look at your own eyes while you draw. Ask a friend to both. For you use a father reference or simply your imagination and practice drawing expressive eyes. 7. Outro: Thank you for watching this class. I hope my tips will be useful to you. Don't hesitate to ask any questions you might have in the community section. Under this video, you can also share your sketches and drawings with the class by publishing a new class project. I'd love to see your creations. Don't forget to follow me so you won't miss my next classes. And you can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram. See you soon.