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How To Draw Realistic Eyes: Drawing Tutorial

Updated on November 12, 2011

Eyes are the most important part of a portrait. Eyes are the window to the soul. So in order to capture the essence of your subject, you have to get the eyes right. I love to draw eyes. They are my favorite part of a portrait. I love to capture every detail, every line, every shadow. I also love to add more reflective light in the eye. When I first started drawing realistic portraits, I encountered lots of frustration. It never seemed to come out perfect. Then I realized it doesn’t have to. So lets get to the eyes.

don’t think of drawing realistically as something complicated. Think of every thing you see as shadows and shapes. Drawing like anything you do takes practice.

Before you begin, you will need a good sketch pad. I like to use Canson sketch pad. You will also need a 2B, 4B, and a 6B pencil. You will need a blending stump, a white eraser, and a gum eraser.

I used a reference photo for this drawing. When drawing eyes, I like to start with the irises. I draw a simple circle with a 2B pencil. Make your initial lines with light strokes. This will prevent indents in your paper, and it will be easier to erase when you make mistakes.


Eyes are leaf shaped. So I draw a leaf around the circle, and draw the pupils.


I then draw the basic lines and shape of the eye. All of my shadows start out as lines. I later take my blending stump, and with circular strokes turn my lines into shadows. This makes for a more realistic appearance.


I use my 4B pencil for the darker lines. I use my blending stump to color in the lighter shades. The blending stump picks up the graphite from the pencil. If you get enough on the stump, you can draw soft shadows with it. I use a blending stump for the majority of my drawing,

I filled in the pupil with my 6B pencil


For the colored part of the eye, I simply used the blending stump. I apply varying amounts of pressure to get the desired shade.


I then came in with my 4B pencil, to draw the flecks of pigment in the eye. By this stage your eye will look very convincing.


Now I add more details to the eye. I draw the eyelashes using wispy strokes of my 4B pencil.


I go back and smudge the lines to give it a more realistic appearance.


Then I take my stretchy gum eraser and take away some of the graphite. I gently draw my highlights and light reflection with this eraser. You are going to want the reflection of the eyes to be the whitest part. Even if you outlined the reflections, it's good to go over with the corner of your eraser, just in case you smudged it.


And you should have an eye. You can apply these principles to any subject you’re drawing.

Happy drawing!






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    • profile image

      Mohit 3 years ago

      Posted on Do you people have a faoeocbk fan page? I looked for one on twitter but could not discover one, I would really like to become a fan!

    • profile image

      melissa 5 years ago

      I like this wonderful makes me encourage to draw...

    • OMGirdle profile image

      OMGirdle 6 years ago from United States

      Thank you for this article. It helped me a lot

    • Gabby G profile image

      Gabby G 6 years ago from USA

      Yeah carolus I plan to do one on hands.

    • Carolus profile image

      Carolus 6 years ago from USA /Portugal

      Very nice hub. Eyes are fun to draw. I always have problems with hands. Got any tutorials for those?

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 6 years ago

      Hi Gabby

      This hub is beautifully explained and I'm sure a great help to many. Writing it step by step has made it easy to understand. Definitely passing this hub on and sharing it with friends and followers here on HubPages and elsewhere.


    • nenytridiana profile image

      nenytridiana 6 years ago from Probolinggo - Jawa Timur - Indonesia

      I love drawing! Thank you for the lesson. Interesting!