Drawing a Realistic Eye with Graphite | Matheus Macedo | Skillshare

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Drawing a Realistic Eye with Graphite

teacher avatar Matheus Macedo, Realistic Drawing Artist

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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

13 Lessons (51m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Intro to Sketching

    • 4. Sketching - Frontal View

    • 5. Sketching - Side View

    • 6. Sketching - 3/4 View

    • 7. Intro to the Final Project

    • 8. Pupil and Iris

    • 9. White of the eye

    • 10. Skin

    • 11. Eyelashes and Eyebrow

    • 12. Final Touches

    • 13. Conclusion

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About This Class

Learn how to draw realistic eyes like a master! In this class we are going to learn how to sketch eyes in three different views (frontal, side and three-quarter view) free hand and a realistic eye from start to finish using only graphite. 

This class doesn’t require prior knowledge, because there are secrets that make realistic drawing accessible to anyone. Of course, different artists will have different results depending on their experience, but if you are a beginner, this is the opportunity to take your first steps :) 

In this class you will know:

  • All the materials used for realistic drawings in graphite;
  • How to sketch eyes in different views;
  • How to draw a realistic eye from scratch.

By learning how to approach this theme, you will be able to create fantastic eyes using graphite.

For this class you will need basically paper, graphite pencils and other drawing tools shown in the Materials video.

About me

My name is Matheus Macedo and I'm fascinated by making realistic drawings, especially portraits. I firmly believe everyone is able to draw as I do, so my goal is to help you achieve your full potential as an artist.

Join us in this jorney and follow me on Skillshare to be uptaded about all my classes :)

Meet Your Teacher

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Matheus Macedo

Realistic Drawing Artist



Hello, everyone! My name is Matheus and I am focused on realistic drawing using graphite, charcoal and colored pencil. I have been doing realistic drawings for years, always pushing myself toward improving my skills in order to become better and better.

Through the years I had the opportunity to study with many great art teachers around the world, and each one gave me a different perspective on art. Some of them are able to tackle an entire project in a few hours, whereas others would spend days to go through a drawing from beginning to end, all of that depending on how detailed they wanted their pieces to be, or what materials they use and so on. After all I was able to develop my own approach for black and white and colored drawing... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Matheus Macedo and I am a drawing artist, specialized in the realistic style. My favorite mediums are graphite, charcoal and colored pencil and I have been teaching my technique to students of all ages for years. In this class, I want to teach you how to draw realistic eyes. I will be showing you a step-by-step method for drawing pairs of eyes in three different views, which will give you the tools to approach varied references or even draw from imagination. Then we'll move on to project to see in depth how to shade a single eye to have a realistic result using only graphite. I'll also be showing you all the materials and how to use them to make your drawings in a life-like manner. You are encouraged to share your studies and get feedback from me. I will love to see our results And hopefully this class will give you a hand on improving your skills in drawing eyes. See you in class! 2. Materials: In this video, I'm going to show you all the tools I use for this class on drawing a realistic eye. You don't really need all the tools I used, but it does make everything easier if you have them. First of all, I will be using a common paper for the three pairs of eyes. It's known as offset of printing paper, easy to be found. For the final project, I'll be drawing it on Canson XL bristol paper. But any smooth thick paper will do. Papers may vary on their color: some are white, whereas others may be yellowish. It gives to your drawing a different aspect and there is no better or worse here, it is just a matter of personal taste. When it comes to the surface, for realistic drawings, I prefer to work with smooth papers. I would recommend picking out a paper with medium to high thickness. Its weight should be at least 150 grams per square meter. All the drawings are going to be quite small, so you don't need papers bigger than A4 size. So for this class I chose Canson XL Bristol paper. Some other good papers are Fabriano 4L, Strathmore 300 series bristol smooth, Hahnemühle Nostalgie, and Lana Bristol. There are different grades for graphite pencils and you don't need a complete set to take this class. I'm going to using only an HB, a 2B and a 4B. This is the Staedtler Mars Lumograph, which is my favorite option. I use also a 0.5 millimeter mechanical pencil. With 4B graphite lead. A kneaded eraser will be used in this class as well. The Tombow MonoZero 2.3 millimeters stick eraser. And I use a utility knife to chamfer the eraser. Eventually a common thicker stick might be useful too. A pencil eraser can be a cheaper alternative if we don't have the stick eraser. Blending stumps or tortillons are going to be used as well. I have two in different sizes, number one and number three. A piece of toilet paper. I use as tissue. Fold it in triangles three times to have more control over it and fold one of its tips to be able to see what you're blending. A pencil sharpener of course. And you can sharpen your pencils using a utility knife too, if you prefer. Here's my utility knife. I use some brushes for blending. They are all flat and I trim one of them to have a firmer brush, which helps to make the graphic grip onto the paper. And the others are more delicate and helpful for shading too. A soft, long-haired brush for a cleaning your drawings is useful and it's better to use it than blowing the dust and crumbs from the paper. It prevents you from spitting and screwing up your drawing. And that's all. 3. Intro to Sketching: The following videos are going to show you how to draw eyes in three different typical views, frontal, three-quarter, and profile view. These videos will emphasize the structure, how to place the eyes on the paper, how to check the proportions and to prepare them to shading. The realistic technique will be taught in other videos. So we'll be able to learn the process in depth later. Common papers and pencils are enough for this step. So let's dive into it. 4. Sketching - Frontal View: Let's get started with sketching some eyes in different positions. Starting with the frontal view. Use a hard pencil, such as an H or HB grade. I will start the sketch with a horizontal line which will help with the placement of the eyes. I mark the extreme points of the drawing, and these marks will determine the size of the drawing. Then, I divide this line in three sections because the distance between the eyes corresponds to the width of one eye. You can measure the divisions by using your finger and the tip of your pencil. Now I do the shape of the eyes, making them simple using only straight lines. It's easier to draw the structure using them. And only later I will use more organic lines to make it look more real. The upper line can be divided in three straight segments, and the lower one in two. The iris is a circle, but only if the eyes are directed to you. However, I prefer to focus on the negative space which corresponds here to the white of the eye, also known as sclera. So if you draw the negative space, you'll end up with the iris drawn as a consequence. Now adding the eyelid crease and the pupil. You may also simplify the shape of the area between the eye itself and the eyebrow. This helps to understand better the distance between them and the eyebrow shape as well. I also divided this region in three smaller areas, each one corresponding to the segments of the upper edge of the eye we determined previously. Then we add the eyebrows, just deliminating their shape. This is how I sketched the structure of an eye from a frontal view. From now on, I will show how I finished this drawing, but this isn't a realistic shading. I will focus on that on the final project videos. Here I am only using different graphite grades to widen the range of values, which adds more contrast and depth to the drawing. Don't forget to erase the construction lines before working on the shading. Let's watch the end of the process here and let's move on to the next video. 5. Sketching - Side View: Here we will draw the eye from a side view. Perhaps this is easiest view to do. We start by marking a central point and then with a circle that corresponds to the eye ball. Trace the angle of the eye opening. So we already have the basic structure which we will work on. The eyelids go beyond the circunference we have drawn. Don't let the lashes in the original photo interfere with your perception of the structure of the figure. When drawing the iris, once again, we can observe the white space of the eye to have a better perception. Since the iris is in profile view, the iris is like a slightly arcuate line. The pupil is set on the iris. What we see on the surface of the eye is the cornea, which is our natural contact lens. The pupil is not found there, but underneath the corner. Like the iris, the pupil will assume an elliptical shape when viewed from the side. Time to draw the lashes. We can see how they are thinner in the corner of the eye and more concentrated in the middle. In the side view, we can see how they project forward in a arcuate shape. It is important to draw sharp lines as we move towards the tip of the lashes. As we are more concerned with this structure here, don't worry about drawing each individual eyelash. When drawing the eyebrow, I didn't make use of any simpler form. This time, I trusted my perception more and drew it according to my instinct. When you start sketching the hairs follow their movement according to the reference. Now let's finish this sketch. 6. Sketching - 3/4 View: In three-quarter view, we can notice there is a slight inclination of one eye in relation to the other, according to the reference. In this case, we trace a line considering that inclination. Again, I'm going to make this line pass through the corner of both eyes. It's true we can't see where the corner of the eye on the right is. We can guess it. Use a ruler or even a pencil as I did here, to have a better idea of what it will look like. Don't forget to use a hard pencil to trace the structure. Now, it's time to determine the distance between the eyes. In the photo I notice it is a bit longer than the length of the eye on the left. To transfer this distance to your drawing, measure using the pencil. The size of the eye corresponds to the distance between the tip of my thumb and the tip of the pencil. So, there in the middle, I can repeat that distance and add little bit to the right where the nose crosses the line. The dimension of the eye on the right is smaller and maybe more difficult to figure out, but it corresponds to the one third of the dimension of the eye on the left. The shape of the eyes I did following the same model I used for the frontal view.. Three segments for the upper line; two for the lower. This time I drew the tear duct apart. We can adapt this model depending on the situation. To draw the eyebrows, I think it's convenient to trace parallel lines to our first inclined line. For doing so, it is worth marking some reference points. Since the eyelid crease seem to be half the distance of the highest point of the eyebrow, I decided to use the crease as a reference point. I use the pencil itself to measure, marking the distance on the pencil's wood using another pencil. That measurement taken, I mark the points. Then I was able to trace the parallel lines with more precision. Those lines done, it became simple to draw the eyebrows. Here I didn't think it was necessary to divide the area between the eye and the eyebrow in smaller portions as I did in the frontal view. Here I just imagined those forms. You can draw them anyway if it's of any use. Now, it seems much better to draw the shape of the left eye as well. Since it's partially covered by the nose, it may be a little more difficult to understand its shape. Add a second line to the eyes contour line to show the thickness of upper and lower eyelids. Observe where this thickness is visible. It can't be seen in the entire contour of the eye. For drawing the iris, I suggest once again to use the negative space technique. At this point, we can adjust the shapes by turning the straight lines into more fluid or organic forms. Now let's finish our three-quarter view sketch. 7. Intro to the Final Project: Now we are going to focus on the shading technique for realistic drawing. Here, I'm going to use the tools mentioned in the materials video. The views were edited so as not to be boring, but be aware of the fact that realistic drawing, take a couple of ours to be done. If you want to achieve a result like mine, don't rush. So let's watch the videos on how to a draw realistic eye and I really hope you're going to learn a lot with them. 8. Pupil and Iris: Okay, let's get started with this female eye. the sketch here is already prepared. Then I use the kneaded eraser to lighten the outline and make it disappear when the drawing is finished. I like to start by the pupil and I'm using here the 0.5 millimeter mechanical pencil with 4B graphite lead. I willd take the blending stump to make use of the 4B graphite to prepare a first of graphite on the iris. Do circular motions to cover this area. The stump gives a blotchy effect, but don't worry, this irregularity will be beneficial for us. Leave the reflection area blank, preserve the white of the paper there. By the way, I made this reflection a bit different from what is on the original photo. It was on purpose. I wanted to do something more interesting to me. If the light comes from above, as it happens most of the time, the eyelashes will cast a shadow over the eye. Then, most of the time the iris will be dark on top and gradually get lighter on bottom, creating a gradient. Then, I start by darkening the area with the mechanical pencil and later get the stump to blend the graphite there. With the blending stump we can also blend the graphite on the borders of the iris. One important thing to mention is the fact that the limits of the iris are not given by lines. They always look blurred, unfocused. Then, if it's limits are slightly darker, rub the blending stump with graphite on its tip more than once to reach the tone you want. Now let's move on to the details in the iris. I'm starting with the B pencil. I'm not drawing lines here, but round marks instead, doing small circular motions with my hand. Observe the general gray tones in the area. Instead of focusing too much on the details here and there. I don't copy mark by mark. Actually, my goal is to achieve the genera effect, a texture. Regarding these values, notice how the area around the pupil is a little darker than the rest of the iris. Use the B pencil to push the darker values. The blending stump will complement the work done with the pencil. I keep on pushing the darkest values with the softest graphite grades, such as the 4B lead in the mechanical pencil and the 2B pencil. Little by little, we will achieve the desired effect for the iris. They brush will help to make the graphite grip onto the paper, getting into the paper tooth and preventing from looking grainy. And finally, the highlights initially done with the eraser. There is no need of pressing it hard. Do it softly. The idea is not to come back to the white of the paper, but to reach a light gray tone. I see more of this light gray as an arc between the center and the outer limits of the iris and it also gets darker when it goes up. I'm trying to follow the radial movement I see the reference. It will always be my guide. Later apply the brush one more time to achieve a softer effect. That being done, let's do the final adjustments to move on. Sometimes I come back to lighter pencils such as the HB, to have more control over these last details. I also rub the eraser on the reflection to make it sharper and I finally draw the lashes reflecting on that area. You'd better chamber the eraser for this step so as to increase its precision and also keep the pencils sharp. And here we are done with the pupil and the iris. 9. White of the eye: Now moving on to the white of the eye, also known as sclera. We start by preparing a base layer and our goal here is to get the right general values to add volume to the eye. Being it rounded, it tends to show more shadows in the corners. There is also a shadow cast by the upper eyelid. So I start with a lighter pencil, such as an HB, lightly doing parallel lines and then using the tissue to make the area smooth. It isn't time to focus on the details yet. Repeat the process as many times as necessary. The tear duct is a little darker, occupies a much smaller area and has some very intense reflections. So I start with a slightly darker pencil like the B one, working on the darker points and blending the graphite using a thinner blending stump. I decided to retrace the contour ine of the upper eyelid, because the blending process makes the outline disappear. Then I made some more adjustments in the shading. With the tissue, you can take advantage of the fact that it is a little dirty with graphite and rub it there on the lower eyelid, since this is a very dedicated area, with a noticeable light gray base. There is also a super delicate line there, which I will do with the HB pencil very carefully. The brush helps to gently blend it without undoing the process. We can now add the details of the veins. In this case, they are very delicate and so must be your strokes. I continue with the HB pencil doing these veins like little spots. The brush can soften the effect later if you want. We can begin to do the highlights in the tear duct. For now we're just marking where they are. Later we will return to touch up that area. We can also start shading the surroundings. Finally, I do the light reflection using the stick eraser with a chamfered tip. I am taking into account the position of the light reflection I did on the iris. Remember I made a small change in relation to the reference photo. 10. Skin: Now you're going to do the skin around the eye. Once again, I start by focusing on the volumetry without giving importance to details for now. I start by reinforcing some traces of the sketch, such as the eyelid crease, the lashes on the eyebrow, and then move on to the first layer of graphite. To make it homogeneous I use the tissue. You can start with harder pencils and then overlay layers with darker ones like B, 2B an even 4B. Since this is still the first layer, you should also shade the light areas. The same process is repeated in the lower region below the eye. Drawing the skin requires a little patience if you want to have a smooth and realistic result. do not rush in this step. I think that establishing the correct values for the drawing is as important or even more important than the details. Global values or the first thing the viewer will notice when looking at your drawing, so pay attention to this step. When we are overlaying, we can do one of the layers with circular movements to give a little variation and to simulate the skin irregularities a little, especially in the more shaded areas. Then the tissue will soften that texture and make the drawing look nice. As I said, we switch the pencils as we go on darkening the drawing. This work on overlaying makes the skin more consistent in the end. The area of the lashes where they grow looks like a dark misshapen mass. I start this area using the mechanical pencil with 4B graphite. Once again, the stick eraser will be used to do the reflection. This reflection corresponds to the one on the lower portion on the edge of the eye with the lower eyelid. Then you can use the pencil to give a better definition of the limits of this reflection. Take the opportunity to complement the shading of the white of the eye. I'm using the HB pencil again. And let's keep on building up the skin. It's also valid to use the blending stump, especially in smaller areas that doesn't need to be perfectly homogeneous. Here we will start to work on the texture. I use a lot the harder pencils, like HB, for that kind of effect. The texture consists of smaller blemishes that follow the volume of the skin. We are adding the texture and softening the effect with our blending tools, that is the issue, the blending stump and the brush. Start on the darkest areas to gain more confidence and reduce the pressure on your hand when drawing the lightest areas. A softer brush helps to blend the graphite gently without damaging the drawing. I like this type of brush for its softness. In the area of the lower eyelid, I do a small gradient with the HB pencil as I see the reference. It's a subtle detail, but it does make a difference. The eraser plays a very important role for the skin texture. The touches with the eraser are contained, being careful not to overdo it. Here the eraser doesn't have to be chamfered as we will make small marks where the graphite is. Do this step calmly and little by little, so that it will be well-done. Then use the brush to decrease the white intensity. And this is the way I do the skin. This is the most time-consuming step, but extremely rewarding. I hope you are enjoying it. 11. Eyelashes and Eyebrow: To draw lashes, I usually start with a harder pencil to mark where they will be placed. It's important that the strokes look thin in the tip. It is also important to avoid drawing eyelashes all in the same size and pointing to the same direction. The lashes are different from each other, and knowing how to represent this will make your drawing more natural. Then I go with the 0.5 millimeter mechanical pencil with 4B graphite to finally darken the lashes and add thickness to them. The process for the lower lashes is the same, but be aware they are shorter and more delicate. For drawing the eyebrow, we will follow similar steps. However, as we have a large area to work on, I like to use the brush after the pencil to blend the graphite and penetrate the paper tooth. After giving definition to some hairs with an HB pencil, I use the mechanical pencil with 4B graphite. The hair is built layer by layer, covering the area little by little. Don't do the hairs randomly. Always try to observe the direction they are going to. And don't cover everything, leave some empty spaces between the hairs. Of course, this is related to this specific reference as there are thicker or thinner eyebrows. In some places, such as the beginning of the eyebrow, the hairs are shorter and more spaced apart. Also notice this type of variation. It's valid to come back with the pencil to do some of these thinner hairs. With the same pencil, I decided to work more on integrating the hairs with the skin. They cast a shadow over it. A mistake that may be made here is to leave the hairs too prominent in relation to the skin. There is one or two thicker single hairs that we can make to finish this eyebrow. And this is how to do the eyelashes and the eyebrow. 12. Final Touches: Well, here we are in the last step of this drawing, which is to do the final adjustments. When the drawing is almost finished, we have a better perception of what is missing for it to be correct. As we have more references within the drawing itself. What helps most here is that the scale of values is already more established and that makes things much easier. Because of this, we can get a better idea of how much we can darken the white of the eye, for example. The sorrounding skin allows you to better understand if it's too light or too dark. I also thought it opportune to add some more details on the iris, which could be darker and give the last touches on the skin. Here you can see the drawing in photos and the scanned version so that you'll be able to see more details the recording camera doesn't show. This is the end of this class and I hope you've had fun and learned a lot. Bye! 13. Conclusion: I really hope this class helped you improve your ability to draw eyes and render them realistic. Don't forget to share your drawings in the project section, I will be checking the posts whenever I can. And thank you so much for watching this class and I hope to see you in the next ones. See ya!