Let's Draw: Sketch Realistic Eyes with Pencils | Gabrielle Brickey | Skillshare

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Let's Draw: Sketch Realistic Eyes with Pencils

teacher avatar Gabrielle Brickey, Portrait Artist - ArtworkbyGabrielle.com

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Materials and References


    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.

      Adding Details


    • 8.

      Closing Thoughts


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About This Class

Enhance your drawing skills in this easy to follow, step-by-step course!

In this class you will learn about materials and techniques used to create realistic drawings. This class project will revolve around drawing one of the most interesting features of the human face: the eyes!

I'll guide you through the anatomy of the eyes as well as share tips on how to achieve a variety of expressive emotions. You will learn measuring tricks to help with proportional accuracy, shading techniques, and blending methods that will help you create realistic pencil drawings with ease.

If you find yourself saying, "But I can't even draw a stick figure!" - no worries. By the end of this class, you will be armed with the skills to draw beautiful, realistic eyes.

To learn the full portrait drawing process, enroll in Start Drawing: Techniques for Pencil Portraits!

Meet Your Teacher

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Gabrielle Brickey

Portrait Artist - ArtworkbyGabrielle.com

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Hey there! I'm Gabrielle Brickey.

And I'm so glad you're here!

I teach artists like YOU how to draw and paint portraits and characters you can be proud of. I'm so excited to help you improve your art skills, gain confidence, and create the art you've always dreamed of!

Jump into class. Let's get started. :))

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1. Introduction: Hi everyone. I'm Gabriel [inaudible] , and in this class, I'll be showing you how you can draw realistic eyes with pencils. Now, if you think you can't draw, no worries. By the end of this class, you'll know all the tips and tricks I've learned for drawing eyes over the past 10 years. As your new knowledge, I'm hoping you'll feel more confident in your abilities, and proud of the work that you can create. So click Enroll, and let's get started. 2. Materials and References: I'm going to show you my all-time favorite pencil drawing tools. If you don't have these materials but you're inspired to get started right away, go ahead and grab what you do have and then add new tools to your supplies as you see fit. When I make a pencil drawing that I'm going to be spending a considerable amount of time on, I usually draw on heavyweight paper so it can handle more detail. Today, I'll be using Canson brand vellum bristol paper. I personally enjoy using Pentel brand lead, and I put that lead in a variety of mechanical pencils. I use 0.3 millimeter 3H lead in this draft line pencil to make light smooth tones. I use 0.5. 4B lead in my Staedtler to draw really dark values. 0.3 and 0.5 is just the size of the opening of the pencil, so 0.3 is a little bit skinnier. You may have seen something like this before with tons of pencil grades to choose from. I find that all I really need are two pencils, though. I like to have something from the H range, which is a harder lead, and something from the B range, which is usually a softer lead. But you can actually make an entire drawing even if you only have one pencil. Just by drawing your light values with light pressure on your pencil and your dark values with harder pressure on your pencil. Any of these are great alternatives if you don't have the pencils I'll be using. I prefer mechanical pencils just because there's no sharpening required, but use whatever you're most comfortable with. For blending, I use tissues for large areas and q-tips and blending stumps for smaller areas. Experiment with soft textures to find what you like blending with the best. For erasers, I like to use a regular eraser, a kneaded eraser, and an eraser pencil. The regular eraser you might already have lying around. These are great for erasing big marks. A kneaded eraser, I would highly recommend having too. You can pull them apart and mold them into any shape you need. They also have the ability to erase in much more subtle and gradual ways, which is great for drawing eyes. I think it's worth it to pick one of these up at the art store, and the good news is they're really inexpensive. An eraser pencil works really well for erasing crisp lines. It's not a necessary by though. Being careful with an exacto knife, you can cut a regular eraser into a pointed shape and use that too. White gel pens are really fun. Gel pens are great for adding bring little highlight details. You may also want to have available a couple extra pieces of regular paper for scrap paper. You'll want to use one under your drawing hand to prevent smudging while you work, and another to use for measuring later on. If you're interested in purchasing any of these materials online, check out the shopping list I added to the project section of the class. Your project for this class is to make your own eye drawing. If you'd like, I've provided several references you can draw from in the project section. Or you can find another reference online or even take a photo of yourself. If you choose to use your own, I found that turning the image to black and white will help draw more accurate values. 3. Anatomy: Let's do a brief anatomy lesson, just so we're familiar with the main parts we'll be drawing. This here is the iris. It's the colored part of the eye. Often the iris will have lots of unique little details and shapes in it. Now in the center of the iris is the pupil. It will likely be one of the darkest values in your drawing. The sclera is often referred to as the white of the eyes. But you'll find when you draw it, the value is actually not as light as pure white. Even some of the latest values on the sclera are gray. So keep that in mind when you're drawing. Now here we have the upper lid and the lower lid. Here you'll notice there's a small ledge and the eyelashes come off near the outer edge of it. Finally, here is the tear duct. In drawings, I tend to not over-exaggerate and add too much detail to this portion of the eye. Because I want the main event in the focus of my piece to be the beauty of the iris, highlights, and the eyelashes. 4. Expressions: Before we begin drawing, I want to show you how the slightest changes in shapes can drastically change the emotion of the eyes. The angle of the brows, the amount of skill area you can see and the shape of the eyelids all dramatically alter emotion. Check out some of these examples. Here we have the eyes with a neutral expression. But here the expression is obviously surprised. We can tell because of the arch brows and because we can see a little bit of sclera above the iris here. These are signs of a surprised expression. Here we have something dramatically different. Now the brows are pointing as sharply downward. When the browse arched down like this, the expression will immediately look angry. Often you'll see villains with brows like this. Here we have sad eyes. With sadness, the inner brow tips will angle up slightly. You'll also tend to see a triangular shaped depression here. In many times around this at the bottom of the eyes. Drooping upper lids will be a telltale sign of tiredness or boredom. You may also see some sclera showing below the iris. Say you're drawing from an image with a neutral expression. But you find your drawing is looking a little angry. Well then knowing these things, you'll need to consider taking another look at the angle in which you drew the brows or if your drawing is looking scared or surprised, consider how much sclera showing. I'll be drawing eyes with a more subtle expression, but feel free to draw your project with as much or as little expression as you wish. Just remember to look at the angle of the brows, the amount of sclera showing, and the shape of the lids to determine the expression. Now let's jump into sketching. 5. Sketching: To begin, I'm going to be using 3H pencil because we're going to be sketching pretty lightly. I'm also going to use a piece of scrap paper to make some measurements, so have one of those ready too. Now, if you're a little scared to just jump right in and freehand, I'm going to show you really quick how to measure to feel more confident going in. Right now, I'm just lining up my paper straight across the rim of the eyes, and what I'm going to do is I'm going to make some marks. Right here, I see the end of the eyelashes. The end of my paper is just going to be the end of that eyelash, and I want to mark where the sclera ends too. Just going straight down from here, that's my sclera mark. Right here, I see the end of the tear duct. I'm just going to make a mark for that as well. Finally, I want to make a mark for this inner corner of the tear duct too. So right there, I'm going to make another mark. Now, I'm going to do the same thing on the other side, tip of the tear duct, the shape of it here. Then another tick here for the endpoint of the sclera, and then again right at the edge of the eyelashes. Now, we have these really basic proportion set up that are going to help me place these eyes better. Now, I'm just going in and really generally putting down some basic lines using my marks. The tear duct goes here. There's a roundness over there. This is where it ends and then that's where the eyelash flips up. Careful to keep my measuring paper in place, here's where that other tear duct begins. It has the roundness. It ends about there, and the eyelash ends right there. You can see how lightly and loosely I transferred those measurements to my paper. Taking the time to do a couple measurements will really help keep everything properly placed. Now as I begin, I'm sketching with a pretty light touch and I'm trying to look at the angles of the eye. Right here, I'm seeing that this angle goes up and see how that one goes up. So I'm just trying to match that angle there. This one goes more flat and this one comes back down. There's that angle there and then it has a roundness coming around like an almond. Sometimes, it helps me to go ahead and trace over my reference so I can get the feel for making that motion. I just try and draw that as best I can to get this general eye shape that we can make more specific as we go along. Now, let's go ahead and do the next one. I'm just looking at the angles again. This angle goes slightly upward, so I'm going to draw it going slightly up. This one goes like this. This one comes back down. Again, here we have a roundness at the bottom that ends in the tear duct. Now, I'm going to eyeball this distance from here to here so I can get that lid placed in there. Feel free to measure with the paper as before if you wish though. I'm just trying to follow the general curve I made before. Now, your instinct may be to go in and draw a semicircle for the iris. But what can actually work better is, instead of drawing that circle, we can draw this triangle. This is seen negative space. Negative space is the space around and between things, often the background in images. Is the space around the positive space, which is usually the subject to a piece. You may have seen something like this before. Here we have a drawing of a chalice. But here we have what looks like two human profiles facing each other. The chalice in this image is the positive space. But if you consider the negative space around which in this case is the shape of the white background, then you can more accurately copy and draw this picture. So I'm just lightly drawing these triangles, thinking about that negative shape. Even though my instinct right away maybe to just go in and draw the more obvious positive shape of the iris. I believe drawing negative space helps us be more precise because they're often more abstract shapes. So our brains have to think harder to figure them out, rather than just drawing a simple shape we think we know, but really don't. Now that I've considered the negative space, I am going to go in and draw by looking at the positive space. I think it's good to keep both of these things in mind as you work. This will help you be the most accurate when you draw. I'm just thinking about the width of the iris and I'm refining that shape of the eye. Again on this side, I'll first look at those triangular shapes of the sclera. Then once I'm done looking at negative space, I'll go ahead and refine by looking at the positive space of the iris. Now, let's place those brows. I'm going to measure the distance from the tear duct to the bottom of the brow. But it will also help me if I keep in mind this negative space between the crease of the upper lid and the bottom ridge of the brow. Taking a couple of quick measurements and thinking about the shapes of negative space will really help you as you draw. Using really light lines, I'm just trying to get down that shape. I even get a little sketchy with it because that helps me feel the flow and rhythm of this eye. Now, don't get distracted by brow hairs or anything like that just yet. Just think about big shapes right now as you sketch. That mentality will really help you draw better in this beginning stage. Now, I'm going to be accurate, so I'm just measuring to check how big the opening of these eyes are. Doing a bit of measuring and thinking about the positive and negative space has really helped me personally when it comes to drawing accurate proportions, and I hope you'll find these ideas useful as well. For sketching like this when I'm planning out proportions, I always use a lighter lead. I like 3H because it's very easy to erase rather than a softer, darker lead like 4B, which is usually more difficult to erase. I'm putting these lines right here to show the general value shape for her eye shadow. I'm just putting this as a marker to help guide me through that shading later on. Now, I want to place the pupils. I'm going to check out the distance from here to here. Make sure you try not to draw them too small or too large. You can use the measuring trick with the paper, or you can also think about the positive and negative space. In my picture, she has some fun and interesting highlight shapes happening. I'm just trying to think about them as abstract shapes, and I'm just indicating that outline of those highlights. Your highlights in your reference may be more simple. I really like drawing highlights though, so I went for a very dramatic image. As you work on your eyes, you may find it helpful to actually think about the shape of a ball. Because when you do you start thinking in a more rhythmic way. So instead of just copying things, now you're thinking about how things flow into each other. Thinking about long imaginary lines will connect your piece and make it look more natural. So try to find long sweeping lines wherever possible in your drawings. Before you get started shading, make sure you're happy with your basic sketch. I'm going to try and fix a couple of proportional mistakes that are bothering me and really refine a bit to push it to a more accurate state. As you sketch, just remember these tips: use a light pressure on your pencil and a light lead so that mistakes are easy to erase, break down complex parts into more simple angles, always remember to think about the positive and negative space, and finally, measure wherever you think you need that extra guidance. You can also try flicking your eyes quickly back and forth between your reference and your sketch. This will help you quickly compare the two images, or you can also look at your sketch in a mirror. Since this will reverse the image, you'll be able to see proportional errors right away. Once you're happy with your sketch, it's time to start shading. 6. Shading: Before we begin, I want to show you how you can hold your pencil in a way that can help you achieve a smooth tone. See how my hand is actually on top of my pencil, with the back of it actually hitting the inside of my palm rather than the traditional way you may hold your pencil for writing. This way of holding the pencil can work better for detail work. But for making smooth tones, I found that holding the pencil like this is more effective. Before I begin drawing, I gear up my pencil on a scrap piece of paper, just making clean strokes quickly back and forth. What this does is it makes it so that when I bring my pencil to my drawing, the level will be flattened out evenly, so I won't have this obvious gradation change on my drawing. Now, to keep me from being timid as I approach adding tones to my drawing, I'm just going to dive right in. I try to add a smooth tone over the whole sketch. Working with 3H pencil, I quickly move my hand back and forth over the whole area. Feel free to practice making strokes like this on a scrap piece of paper. Getting the hang of this motion will help you feel more confident doing it on your drawing. Now, I don't even worry about the fact that I'm covering some of the highlights at this point because my strokes right now are so light, it won't really matter. I can easily add them back in later with my eraser and a white gel pen. Once the area is covered, I take a tissue and with circular motions, I use it to smooth out my tone. This will provide a nice base on which we can get started. Here, I'm just taping down my reference so it doesn't move around. Now, I'm going in and I'm adding my first values. Starting at the crease of the eyelid, I just try to build up some tone with my 3H pencil. I'm not going for the bold drama of the darkest strokes right away. Instead, I'm sneaking up on them as I softly add values. Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. This reference is in grayscale, so the values are easier to see. We can see that the latest values or those values closest to white are in the eye highlights. While the darkest values, those values closest to black can be found in her pupils around the creases of her eyes and at her eyeliner. It's important to always compare values in an image to one another. Try and find a hierarchy from the lightest values, to the midtone values, to the darkest values. You can try squinting at your reference too. This can actually help group values together. When you group value patterns together, it actually simplifies them, making your drawing easier to read from a distance, which is a good thing. I'm just working to build up some of these values and layers, alternating between drawing big smooth tones and smaller darker accents. I'm just using my tissue at this point whenever I want to blend or smooth something out. Now, I'm getting into using my 4B pencil. This is a darker lead that will push this drawing along and bring on the contrast. Using a hard pressure on my pencil, I begin adding in some of these dark shades. Right now, I'm working to get the shape of that eye shadow. I'm just alternating back and forth as before, between adding big shapes of value and then switching over to adding smaller dark accents to make destroying pop with contrast. I'm becoming a bit bolder now, as i finally commit to adding a dark value to the brow and the pupil. Like I said, I like to sneak up on this and not go full force until I'm ready because once you put a lead like 4B down with hard pressure on your pencil, it becomes more difficult to erase, so just keep that in mind as you work. You can use your fingers to blend, but just be careful, make sure your hands are washed and dry since oils on your hands could leave ugly marks on your piece. You'll see that I go back and forth from here on now, between using 3H when I want to light a more delicate tone and 4B when I want to add more dramatic darks. Sometimes when I do a lot of drawing and I want to bring it back to a more unified place, I blend over the whole thing with a tissue. I find this can help me reunite a piece if everything is looking too separated and piece together. I find that I often work in this layered approach, just layering tones on top of each other. I like to work back and forth from adding big value patterns to adding small accents, then back to big value patterns. I find this helps me keep my mind fresh as I work. It's important to see that the upper eyelids cast a shadow almost sclera. When you add that cast shadow, the eye will immediately look more round. Now, with my kneaded eraser, I'm coming in and dabbing out those highlights real quick, to bring back that bright contrast. I find blending stamps to be useful in my workflow. They work well to blend smaller areas of the piece, but if you don't have blending stumps, q-tips work really nicely. I always have one or both of these as I work. Now, I'm not afraid that I just blended everything together here because I know I can lift those tones back off with my very useful kneaded eraser. There's a couple of fun kneaded eraser techniques that you can try out as you work. Try taking your eraser and poking holes into it with the middle tip of your mechanical pencil. Then you can use it as a stamp to lift off lead. This can help you make neat texture effects. I'll often use this technique when I'm drawing skin, or you can try molding your kneaded eraser into a flat side. You can use this to make long highlighted strokes, maybe for hair on a portrait. You can mold your kneaded eraser into any shape you want. They're extremely useful and affordable too. It might be worth purchasing one if you really enjoy drawing. With my eraser molded to a medium sized, rounded point, I just tap where the sclera needs to be lightened to lift off that tone. As a note, stretching the kneaded eraser will help clean it for repeated use. I'm just trying to bring back these lighter values and highlights from the smog. Now that we have most of the light and shade values in place, let's get into adding some details. 7. Adding Details: Now it's time for the fun part, adding details. This stage will really bring your drawing to the next level. Instead of thinking of big shapes, now I'm thinking of all the tiny shapes in these eyes. So you'll see that I'm holding my pencil tight at the base for more control. Irises have fun little details in them. So using my 0.3, 3H pencil, I'm trying to draw some small lines and shapes. Now, I try to draw eyelashes with quick confidence strokes. Eyelashes tend to form themselves into wispy little triangles. You may want to practice drawing lashes on a scrap piece of paper first. This will get your hand muscles familiar with the motion. Right now, I'm using 3H pencil and a flattened kneaded eraser to bring some realism to this eye, during this stage, it's all about taking a closer look and getting that finer level of detail. I love using Q-tips to blend. I think there are really useful underrated art tool. Try experimenting with Q-tips to help bring depth to your piece. Now I'm using my eraser pencil to add some sharp highlight details. I'm just using it as if I were using a normal pencil. Now with my kneaded eraser, I gently lift off some of the tone from the brow bone. Now I'm adding some detail to the iris. I use my eraser pencil for sharp crisp highlights, and I use my kneaded eraser for softer highlights. For the brows, I tried to draw quick lines with my 3H. You may find it helpful to think about the direction the hair grows when you're drawing eyebrows. Now I'm adding the lighter areas right under the brows. I noticed my drawing needed more of a pop of contrasts there. Then I just use my tissue to blend and make these value changes more smooth and gradual. Right now you'll see that I'm using all my materials. When I'm adding details, I'm just trying to use the best tool that I think will help me get the job done. So you'll see that I'm constantly changing tools right now to whichever one I think will best suit my needs. My 3H pencil is awesome for tiny details and smooth tones and my 4B pencil works great for dark strong values. My blending stumps and Q-tips are perfect for blending small areas, while tissues are great for bringing unity back to a piece, as well as softening and smoothing out large areas. My eraser pencil is awesome for adding sharp highlights, and then of course my ever useful kneaded eraser works great for adding texture, pulling up gradual tones, and for applying other fun effects. Now, the final tool I'm going to show you is a white gel pen. I love using white gel pens. There's just something satisfying about using them to create those bright white highlights. Looking at my reference as a guide, I'm just dabbing my gel pen on top of the pupil. The dark value of the pupil bumped right up against the strong white of this highlight will crank up the contrast and demand attention at my focal point. Now I'm adding a little darker value to the bottom of the brows. I feel this makes them look more real. As I draw some quick strokes, I'm trying to think about the direction the hair would grow. You'll often see eyelashes gets stuck together and connect at their ends, making them almost look like little triangles. I try to draw some single lashes and some that are stuck together too. With my 3H now, I'm just adding some really tiny squiggles right at the edge of the eye. 0.3 3H is awesome for adding really tiny small details like this. This phase of the drawing is all about taking a closer look at your reference. In the previous videos, we were thinking with big ideas and looking at big shapes. But once you have that foundation, you can hone in on the detail. Now I'm just adding more lashes. As you can see, they're very dramatic in my reference. Using my 4B lead, I tried to draw with quick curving strokes. Using the white gel pen can really make your drawing look more realistic. It can make the eye almost look wet. I use my 3H for tiny details in the iris, I think 4B would be too dark, but the 3H works well for adding a few layers of detail. I'm changing my pressure as I work to get a variety of values, pressing lightly for light values and hard for the darker ones. Again, on this eye, I'm just drawing some more eyelashes, grouping some together and leaving others as single lashes. Now I'm just drawing over the white gel pen to add another layer of detail. I also like to use white gel pen for adding little sparkle highlights around the eyelids. I just dot them along and if ever they're too strong, I just dab them with my finger before they dry. Now I'm even adding little dots with my pencil too. I'm adding the tiniest of tiny details to my piece now. These are things we can hardly see, but they're just little finishing touches that will wrap up my drawing and tie it all together. So as you draw your eyes, first try and draw a proportionally accurate sketch then go in and add those big value patterns, and then finally, add the fun finishing touches. 8. Closing Thoughts: If you find yourself having trouble drawing, try some of these ideas to give you a new perspective. Look at your drawing in a mirror. This will flip your image and help you spot problems. Take a photo of your drawing, just seeing it on a smaller screen, can help you see new things or just walk away and come back an hour later. Just that time away, will help you see your drawing more clearly. Be patient with yourself as you draw, and try to have some fun too. You'll get better and better with practice in time. Thank you so much for joining this class. I'm so glad you've joined in, and I hope you'll make a piece and share it with us. I'd love to see what you create, and I'm happy to help you if you have any questions. Check out the project section to find extra resources and materials list if you're interested in purchasing some new tools. If you'd like to learn how to draw the entire portrait, jump in to start drawing techniques for pencil portraits or please join me in one of my other classes here on skill share. I can't wait to see what you create, now let's draw.