How to Draw a Realistic Eye

The complexity and the beauty of the human eye make it one the most popular and exciting things to draw. There are literally zillions of different ways to draw eyes. But if you are looking to improve your drawing skills and produce realistic drawings of eyes, a step by step method is probably best using a step by step approach.

How to draw a realistic eye? To draw a realistic eye from direct observation, you will need to follow the step by step guidelines outlined below. Which are as follows:

The following post will provide a detailed outline of how to draw a realistic eye step by step advice. It will provide you will detailed guidelines on how to draw the different aspects of the eye and show you how they can be combined to produce highly realistic drawings.

How to Draw a Realistic Eye Step by Step

How to Draw a Realistic Eye
How to Draw a Realistic Eye


Before you begin your drawing of the eye, I suggest that if you are not already aware of the different parts of the eye, then you look an eye. This will help you develop your knowledge of the different parts of the eye.

Structure of the Eye

The essential characteristics that make up the structure of the eye are as follows. You will need to become familiar with them.

  • Iris
  • Pupil
  • Selera
  • Conjunctiva
  • Upper Eyelid
  • Lower Eyelid
  • Caruncle

Draw the Eye Step by Step from Observation

For my first example, we will draw an eye from the front. This is the best way to approach drawing from observation for the first time. With a basic pencil drawing, begin making a basic line drawing. You can then progress onto adding values of shading from dark to light.

The Proportions of the Eye

The outline of the eye can be drawn in numerous ways. To begin to draw two faintly drawn circles with a 4H pencil, one large and one small.

The larger circle will outline the eyeball, and the smaller circle will represent the iris will the pupil in the center.

How to Draw an Eye Step by Step?

If you are new to drawing eyes, then a step by step approach is the best approach if you lack experience. The basic shape is the frame into which the basic outline of each individual feature will be drawn. So focus on getting it right. This will let you focus on the different elements such as applying shade and detail.

Drawing the Iris and the Pupil

The Iris forms the colored area at the front of the eye. The Iris is a thin circular structure which controls the amount of light that enters the eye through the pupil.

The easiest way to draw the Iris is to draw a faintly circular outline with an HB pencil. This circle represents the iris and the pupil in the center.

At this stage of the drawing focus upon establishing the primary form of the eye with a linear drawing.

Before you progress onto adding more detail onto your drawing, make sure that you sketch the following features of the eye, the iris, pupil and the upper and lower eyelids.

The next stage is to apply tone onto the iris. The basic rule here is to shade light to dark, beginning with the edges of both the pupil and the iris. Quickly apply areas of mid-tonal shade onto the iris. You will notice that some individual areas are left blank to allow for reflections and the highlights which will make the eye look more authentic.

Once you have finished applying shade to the edges of the iris, you can begin to apply the detail, which consists of finely drawn lines drawn around the eye in a clockwise formation. Again remember to leave spaces for those reflections and highlights.

When adding and refining these final details try to render the curvature of the lens of the eye. This can be achieved with slightly curved lines.

Remember to leave a light space onto which you will be able to add the reflection or a highlight on the iris. This is an effective way to

Applying Shade onto the Eye

As mentioned in the previous paragraph try to render the three-dimensional form of the eye. This applies to the whites of the eyes as well as the iris.

Pro Tip: You will notice that any reasonably successful drawing of an eye will include subtle areas of shading in this area. A drawing which does not include these areas of tone will inevitably end up looking flat. It is always a good idea at this stage to take a step back a take a long hard look at what you have drawn.

Use a blending stump to help blend the different areas of tone and shadow, and then revisit this part of the drawing and add more detail if need be.

How to Draw Eyelashes

The drawing of the eyelashes is one those parts of your drawing which will either make or break it. Again when drawing this part of the eye, it is essential that you focus on how you draw the form and shape of the eyelashes.

To achieve the very best drawing, you will need to consider very carefully and develop your awareness of the marks that you are drawing as there are a definite right and wrong to applying this technique.

To start make sure you have access to an HB and 4B pencils, which are sharpened to a fine point. Drawing with different grades of hard and soft graphite will allow you to create a variety of marks and make your drawing appear more authentic.

Pro Tip: How that you are prepared to draw the eyelashes, begin by drawing a very fine curved line which directs away from the eye. When you are drawing these marks, draw irregularly, with the lashes pointing in different directions and drawn at slightly different intervals.

Focus on achieving the correct length and shape of eyelashes, if the lashes appear too small the eyes will look out of proportion.

Drawing Eyebrows Step by Step

To begin, faintly draw the outline of the eyebrows above the area where you want the eyebrows to be. Next, use a soft grade pencil to apply to shade within the shape, make sure you are using the side of the pencil.

Proceed onto adding detail by quick drawing the individual hairs. You can quickly sketch to give the impression of hair or draw each own hair if you are looking to create a more detailed drawing.

Drawing a Realistic Eye Using Color Pencil

Once you have learned to draw a realistic eye in pencil, the natural choice is drawing with color pencils. Blending with color pencils is similar to pencil graphite in that it can be progressively layered from light to dark.

Use This Stepwise Approach to Drawing an Eye with a Color Pencil

  • Drawing the Outline. Apply the same basic principles that you used during your first drawing, draw a basic outline sketch which includes all of the different parts of the eye.
    If your first attempts where small scale drawing then maybe consider drawing on a larger scale.
  • Apply color onto the pupil and the iris. The benefits of using colored pencils are that you can combine and layer pigment progressively applying a high level of detail and depth of color.
  • Begin by arranging your colors into order. For example, if you are drawing a blue eye, take the lightest of blue, and the darker shades which can be easily accessed to progressively layer color onto your drawing. These colors can then be layered on top of each other, blending from light to dark.
  • Using the lightest shade of blue apply shadow to the edges of the iris and the pupil. The aim here is to convey the 3 dimensional of the eye, thorough rendering the shadows created by the contraction of the iris.

Continue To Apply Fine Detail onto your Drawing

  • Progress onto adding a darker shade of blue on top of the initial layer of color. As you build up the layers of color and tone around the edge of the iris, it will begin to appear more realistic. To enhance this a stage further add your darkest shade of blue and layer this color over your first shadows.
  • Pro Tip: Consider mixing the darker colors in your pallet to create your own black. If you are unsure about which shade of black to want to incorporate. Blend blues and greens predominantly if you are applying them in different sections of your drawing.
  • The Pupil. The pupil represents the central part of the eye and probably the darkest section of your drawing. When producing a graphite drawing, this area is usually drawn with a 4B or 6B pencil.
    There are two alternatives, firstly use the black in your colored pencil set. Or alternatively, layer a combination of darker colors to create a dense shade of color. Possible combinations could be dark blue, purple, red combined together will produce a dark shade of color in the center of the eye. This will be a good idea if you are creating a larger drawing.
  • Upper and Lower Eyelids. To add a greater sense of form to your drawing focus on adding value to both the upper and lower eyelids. Apply a layer of graduated color across each eyelid.
  • Remember to retain a little highlight at the tip of each eyelid. This represents the edge of the eyelid where the eyelashes will be drawn.
  • Next, use a sharpened color pencil to draw the eyelashes around the eye. Remember to vary both the intervals and the length of each individual eyelash as you draw it. If the eyelashes appear to short the draw will seem out of proportion if they look straight the drawing will appear artificial.

How to Draw an Eye from the Side

If this is the first time you have attempted to draw a side view of the eyes, it is advisable that this task is completed in pencil. This will allow you to sketch the primary form of the eye.

Use this step-wise guide to draw the side of the eye

Stage 1. To begin Drawing a Faintly Drawn Oval

The oval outline will frame all of the different parts of the eye.

Stage 2. Next, Draw a Basic Triangle on the Right Side of the Eye

This will allow you to outline a space where you intend to the side view of the iris and the pupil.

Stage 3. Progress onto Drawing both the Upper and Lower Eyelids

Both eyelids are positioned above and beneath the triangle that you initially drew. Draw an additional two lines over and beneath the triangle, both those lines will mark the top and the bottom of the eyelids.

Stage 4. Draw the Iris

The iris is essentially a flat plate that is observed from the side. So draw it a such. Now the will need to draw this as a slightly distending from protruding out from the side of the eye.

How to Draw a Pair of Symmetrical Eyes

Many parts of the Human form will involve some aspect of symmetry. The features of the face are a perfect example of how symmetry can be used.

Use the following stepwise approach to drawing a pair of symmetrical eyes.

Step 1. Begin with a horizontal line drawn across the face

To begin drawing a faintly drawn construction line across the page. If you are drawing the eye level as part of a larger drawing, make sure that the line is drawn halfway down the oval. A common mistake is to draw the eye level to high.

Some graphite artists prefer to draw the eye level as a slightly curved line. More advanced drawing methods when drawing the face and head looking in different directions will use curved lines.

Step 2. Draw a Centerline

The centerline is drawn give the face a central point from which to draw the eyes.
This should be measured across the page and a point made in the of the eye level.

The centerline can be used as a reference point from which the features can draw.

Step 3. Subdivide the line into Five Sections

Drawing and preparing the underlying form and proportions of the face is essential if your drawing is to look correct.

Portraits in particular need to be drawn in proportion if the right outcome is to be achieved.

Step 4. Draw the Outline

Draw the outline of the eyes in the sections outlined. The shape of the eyes should be drawn at the points marked out on the centerline. Produce a line drawing to add details such as the iris, pupil and the reflections on the eye.

Also at this point add the details of the eyelids, eyebrows and the eyelashes.

Step 5. Apply Detail onto the Eyes

Next, similarly to have applied detail and shadow onto the eyes in your previous drawings, begin to add the fine details such as eyelashes and the finely drawn spokes around the iris.

Step 6. Apply Shading onto Eyes

Progress onto add shade to the eyes, beginning with the iris and the pupil. Begin by shading the iris and the pupil. Add a dark shadow at the top of the eye. Plus, apply a shadow around the edges of the iris, remembering to leave a blank space for any space where you need to add reflections.

Pro Tip: When drawing the pair of eyes it is always a good idea to draw both eyes together or concurrently, as this will give the drawing a greater sense of continuity.

Learn How to Draw an Eye Crying

Draw an Oval

Again begin drawing of the eye by drawing a basic oval shape where you imagine the eye to be. It is also a good idea to consider the size of the drawing you want to create at this stage too.

Sketch out the Shape of the Eye

Progress onto drawing two faint lines above and below the oval you have outlined, these will represent the eyelids. Next draw the iris, making sure that the top of the circle looks as if it is going under the upper eyelid, and the bottom of the iris is touching the lower eyelid, this will make your drawing look more authentic. Next, begin drawing the highlight and the pupil.

Add More Detail onto the Iris

Pro Tip. Firstly, begin to draw these details onto you drawing make sure that the highlight overlaps the pupil. This is an excellent way to add contrast to your drawing at a later stage. At this stage in the picture, it is also a good idea to draw a fine line to represent the thickness of the upper eyelid.

Even at this stage draw the tear duct in the corner of the eye towards the area of the nose. At this stage, it is also a good idea to have a good look at the drawing and alter any areas which don't seem accurate.

Begin to Draw the Eyelashes

The next step is to begin drawing individual eyelashes which a quite vigorous mark. As you are drawing with soft grade graphite, you can vary the strength and darkness of the different lines as you draw the lashes. It is crucial at this stage to draw with correctly and with confidence.

You can now check that any of the lines you have drawn don't quite look right, it is essential to alter or erase them before you progress onto adding more detail to your drawing.

Pro Tip: When drawing eyelashes: Begin drawing the eyelashes with normal pencil pressure and release the amount of weight applied as you reach the end of the eyelash. The trick is to draw quickly and with confidence. Make sure the eyelashes are curved and occasionally overlap.

Adding Detail to the Iris

At this point in the drawing, it is time to add detail to the iris. To achieve this, you will need to draw a variety of broken lines, continuous lines, and dashes that should curve outwards from the outer edge of the pupil.

Pro Tip: For larger drawing, you will need to apply a high level of details in terms of the lines and marks drawn onto the iris, for smaller drawing the level of detail can be more general. It is also a good idea at this stage in your drawing to really focus upon the process of looking at, and observing want it is you are drawing.

Add Shade to the Iris

Progress onto applying shade with the side of a 4B pencil over the marks that you have drawn. This should be mid-tonal shading, so make sure that you don't press too hard on the pencil. At this point in the drawing begin to apply a mid-tonal across the top of the eye to represent the cast shadow created by the upper eyelid.

Apply Tone to the Pupil

Your aim when applying tone to the pupil should be to create an area of flat intensive tone which will contrast with the detail in the iris and the highlights which overlap the pupil.

Pro Tip: Use a pencil eraser to add extra highlights to the iris, these tools are excellent for creating a contrast between the lightest and darkest parts of your drawing.

Continue to Add Shade to your Drawing

At this stage in the drawing to add tone around the eye. The aim here should be to apply the full tonal range to the picture, including the eyelids and eyebrow.

Draw the Outline of a Teardrop

It is now time to add a light outline of the teardrop over the Bottom eyelid. Apply an area of light shading around the edges of the tear.  Progress at this stage in the drawing draw at small highlight inside the teardrop.  Progress onto adding light shading around the highlight until you are satisfied with the result.

Additionally, you can continue to apply tone and highlights with a pencil eraser until you are happy with the end result.

Additional Questions

How to Draw Realistic Eyes for Beginners

If you find the prospect of drawing a highly detailed drawing daunting, then a step by step approach will develop your confidence in drawing a realistic eye.

Additionally, make sure that you understand the basic rules of thumb when establishing the outline of the eye. Think carefully about your approach to drawing the basic features, such using a faint continuous line, the weight of line you draw with at the start of your sketch.

Also, consider the size of the iris and pupil concerning the rest of the eye. For example, if the iris is to small the drawing will probably appear artificial in appearance. Small differences can make a huge difference in achieving the result you want.


I hope you have enjoyed my latest post concerning drawing the eye. The aim was to provide the beginner with some possible alternatives to drawing this complex feature of the face. As with all my posts on if you have anything to add concerning this post, please feel free to leave a comment below.


Ian Walsh is the creator and author of and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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How to Draw a Realistic Eye