The eyes are the most important part of any pencil drawing. I believe its the part that you must dedicate the most time to. Without the eyes there is no life in the drawing. The secret to making realistic eyes are the subtle details that most us don’t see. These details even though small, when they come together can make a big difference in your final drawing. I’ll keep on repeating this, with all your drawings, study and understand what you’ll be drawing before you actually pick up the pencil.
Before i start the eyes on a drawing, i look at many reference photos to understand what i will drawing. In the case of a tiger, i not only look at tiger photographs, but i also look at reference photographs of regular house cats. The photographs of house cats actually are more beneficial because they show much more detail than most tiger photographs, for the simple reason that you can get closer to these cats.
Lets look at the image above to get understand what we will be drawing. Just by looking at it you can see that they eye is full of textures and reflections. We won’t be adding every one of those textures but will be adding patterns and reflections that will bring it to life. What makes a good eye drawing, especially in animals, are the fine hairs that grow over the eyes. Most people don’t pay attention to these things, but you must begin to see what others don’t. These tiny details make all the difference in having a realistic looking eye and just an eye. The tiger is a beautiful because of the striped patterns that its coat has. I decided to do a tiger as main subject because it will allow me to teach you many different techniques that will not only help in this tutorial, but also in drawing all kinds of animals. Once i have covered all the important features of a tiger, i will post a whole tutorial on drawing the whole tiger using the techniques that I’m explaining. Now, Notice the fine hairs that run around the eyes and the direction that the hairs run. These hairs will be drawn using the stylus and the techniques that i have explained in my previous hair tutorials. The image below is the final drawing that i ended up with. Follow the steps, but don’t get discouraged if yours does not end up like this one. It will take time, but i guarantee that you will see results with each drawing. OK, lets begin.
- Canson Bristol Vellum
- 2b Mechanical Pencil
- 2h Wooden Cased Pencil
- Color Shaper
- Kneaded Eraser
- Stylus(Empty Pen)
- Stylus(Needle Pen)
- 4b Progresso Pencil
- Paint Brush
The paper that i used for this drawing was Canson Bristol Vellum. Its a heavier paper and its great for the techniques that we will be using today. Since you’ll be indenting with the stylus, the tick paper will make it easier. We’ll first start off my drawing the outline. The outline will consist of the the eye, the hairs around the eye and the reflections in the eye. Draw the outline using your 2b mechanical pencil, this will allow you to lightly draw it and if you need to erase, it won’t leave any marks. I have made my outline darker so you can see it. This is just a rough outline, so don’t worry about it looking good, its just a starting point.
Now take your 2b mechanical pencil and outline the eye.The area outside this will be all black because of the shadows being cast from the area above. Now take your needle stylus and you will begin to indent the hairs that are growing just above the eye. Make sure that you overlap them and that you curve them a bit. A suggestion to make things easier is to flip the paper around to find the best position to indent. For me i find that its easier to indent down than upwards. When i have to draw hair that is growing upward, i flip my drawing upside down to indent. Play around with this so you can understand what looks good and what doesn’t. Test it out on a different sheet of paper, thats always a good method to experiment.
In this area i used the needle because the hairs are finer and will suggest single hairs. You will be indenting around the edges and nothing else. This is so that when you run your progresso 4b pencil it will show the tips of the hairs. It makes things easier to understand where things start and end. Indent in the direction that you see in the reference photo. Do the same thing to the hair below the eye. After you have indented the top and bottom, all you do is run your 4b progresso pencil over the area to reveal the hair.
Take your progresso pencil and fill in the area around the eye, the area that was outlined on the previous step. Make sure not to press too hard. The beautiful thing about the 4b progresso pencil is that you don’t have to ad to much pressure to get it on the paper. You should layer the pencil by adding and blending with your color shaper, repeating until its dark enough. After filling the whole area around the eye, take your kneaded eraser and press it between your index finger and thumb and squeeze. This creates an edge, now with it, tap around the bottom of the eye over the dark area. This will add a highlight, this will be the bottom eye lid that will be barely visible, just enough to suggest that its there. It should look like the image on 3a. When you are tapping you will notice that you lose the edge on the kneaded eraser after a couple of taps, so you’ll have to keep making it. It will take time to control the kneaded eraser around curves. But once you get the hang of it, you will realize that its a valuable tool that can be used to produce some amazing effects.
Now take your 2h pencil and you will start to blend the corners of that highlight. The left side of the corner will blend into the above area which will be all black. So make sure you add some 2h pencil from from the top end down to about the end of the other side, not all the way. Don’t make it too dark, because this will defeat the purpose of adding the highlight and you won’t be able to see it.
Take your 2b mechanical pencil and outline the pupil along with that highlight that will be over it. Make sure to outline lightly the highlight. These two highlights will be reflections from the surrounding area, ill explain later. Now it may not look like anything now, but once we start adding more detail you will begin to see what impact it has on the whole eye.
Take your paint brush and cover the area around the pupil. The brush is a great tool to lay down pencil smoothly. This will be the base that we will be working on and we’ll be adding layers of detail from here on. Once you have covered the area with it, take your 4b pregresso pencil and lightly outline the bottom part of the eyeball, just above the bottom eyelid. Blend it into the surrounding area. This will suggest that the eyeball is round in shape and that there are shadows.
Take your 4b progresso pencil and cover the are above the pupil, making sure that you outline the highlight as well. This dark part is the eyeball being shadowed by the area above it. Take your color shaper and blend dow to the bottom. This will fade it in nicely and will produce a continuous fade into the light area. I have found that if some areas don’t blend completely, you can run your 2h pencil over the area which blends it nicely. Over all this we will be adding highlights and shadows so it doesn’t have to be perfect, but enough to make it look smooth.
We will now start to add some depth and texture on the iris. Take your mechanical pencil and make some “W” shaped lines just below the edge of the pupil. Make sure to make some longer than others. These wont go all around the whole pupil, mostly on the bottom and should be less visible as you go around to the top. The image on the left shows what they should look like. These will be just dark enough for you to see them because you will be filling them in with your 2b mechanical pencil. These will be shadows and highlights and will give the drawing so much texture and life. It sure beats having just an eyeball and pupil. These simple details makes a drawing much more interesting and gives life to your drawings. We’re not done yet with the details. Lets move on.
Using your 2b mechanical pencil to make the grooves on the bottom of the iris. This is to suggest layers on the iris. Look at the reference photo and you will notice these layers. This will not only give realism to the eye but will add some texture. The image on the left shows the pattern that were going for. Once you have the pattern like the one on the left, make the area under the red line darker than the rest of the iris. This area will indicate a shadow. It doesn’t have to look exactly like mine, but make sure it looks random.
Now take your kneaded eraser and squeeze it between your thumb and forefinger to make an edge. With it you will be creating some highlights that extend from the center out. Just tap with the kneaded eraser which will pull from the graphite leaving a lighter line. Make a couple that run from the center out, going from the left to the right side, just like the image above.
Take your mechanical pencil and you will start to make ‘W’ shaped patterns under the highlights that you created on the previous step. These shapes will indicate slight shadows under these highlights. It gives the drawing a bit of depth and the more patterns the eye has, the more life it will have. Once you have the outlines, slightly shade and blend them into the area below, just like the image above. One important thing is to blend everything into the surrounding areas so it flows smoothly, but not completely or else you will lose the details. TIP: user your 2h pencil to blend, yup using this pencil works great at blending darker areas into the light ones.
You will now be adding some markings that will another layer of detail. These markings will be made using your mechanical pencil. If you look at the reference photo you will notice the dark markings that are on the iris. Some are just dark spots, but don’t make the spots too obvious by making them round. Make them and carefully blend the edges so they fade into the rest of the eye. Some look like veins, just like the dark spots, make the ends fade into the rest of the eye. If you make some that are too dark or too thick, lightly tap with your kneaded eraser to make it lighter. Don’t worry if you think you made a mistake. There are no mistakes in drawing. Again, i can’t stress it enough that your first drawing will not be the best, so don’t get discouraged. But, I guarantee that with each one you will see improvements. With each one you will understand something new and will incorporate that into your next pencil drawing.
There is just one more thing that must be done to the eye, the highlight above the eye. Take your 2h pencil and lightly shade the left side. This side will blend into the left side of the eye. You may be wondering why the highlight has that weird shape. Well, eyes are very reflective and our eyes are the same. Look at your eye really close in the mirror, you’ll probably see your reflection on your eye. Well this shape is the reflection of what’s in front of the tiger, it could be trees,fields or bushes. The white part is the sky being reflected. It adds another touch of realism that will greatly improve your drawings. In this tutorial that is the last step, but you can go on and add whatever else you want from other details that you have seen in some reference photos that you may have. From here on you will be adding the surround hair around the eye. If you want to continue, just go to the next page or click on this link Drawing Hair Around the Tiger Eye.
I hope this tutorial was helpful in improving your artwork. If it was, be sure to show support by sharing it with social media below. It would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for the amazing response!!