We are going to spend a few lessons drilling into some specific elements that make a portrait stand out. Today we are doing eyes. When we were little, this was one of the earliest things most of us lcoked down as something we needed to do “correctly”. Once you realize there is more to a head than just dots for eyes, most of us lock in pretty much the same oval symbol for an eye. If the drawing is of a female eye, maybe the eye has lashes. Always with a couple of circles within the eye representing the pupil and iris.



But the eye is pretty interesting and diverse, made up of a lot of different shapes if you really take a look at it. There is the oval-ish shape that holds the eye, where most of us are content to use as the general eye But the corner of the eye going towards the nose has a little shape within that space.

Looking closer, the lashes of the eye start outside of that shape, forming a super close oval outside the oval (which isn’t really much of an “oval”, really.

Past that point is the eyelid, which arcs over the eye (true for most faces, but not all).

A baby’s face has less wrinkles, and needs less definition. In fact the general rule of drawing faces is that the more lines you use, the older your subject will look. For babies, maybe the lashes are too close to the main eye shape to be able to see a difference. The eyelid is often less defined. There are likely no bags under a baby’s eyes. Light on lines looks youthful.



An older eye will be filled with life and lines, and wildly varying from person to person. Some may have deep crow’s feet from a lifetime of smiling. All will have some sort of bags beneath the eyes. There are always many lines in the eye of an older person.



If the subject is looking up or down, it changes the shape of the eye entirely. The bottom curve will straighten out or even curve upwards when the subject looks up. When the subject looks down, the eye will curve in the other direction.





If you are looking at the eye in profile, it becomes a loose triangle in it’s general shape.



Be mindful to keep the pupil touching both the top and bottom of the eyelid, unless they are specifically looking very high up or down. A pupil that touches only the top or bottom of the eye will naturally feel like the subject is taking action. Pupils that touch none of the edges of the eye will look frightened or shocked.

The assignment is to take a hard look at either your own eye or choose a different eye that you can get close to. Really look at all the shapes that make up your eye and try to put it down on paper.



1Draw your eye, or find an interesting eye to draw in as much detail as possible.
2Show your drawing off in the Facebook group