3 top tips for creating convincing eyes

In order to paint eyelids properly, you first need to fully understand the shape of a human eye – but also the shape of the skull and likewise the shape of the flesh over the skull.

The eye area has several volumes and shapes. These are created by the bone 
of the skull, the eye itself, and by the surrounding flesh and muscles – knowing which is which can be very useful knowledge to the artist.

The eyelid itself is just a piece of flesh. 
If the eye is closed, it simply covers the ocular globe. If the eye is open however, the eyelid is folded inside the eye socket, over the ocular globe, and this creates a fold just above the eye and below the supraorbital. Once you know this key bit of physiological detail it shouldn’t be too hard to paint eyelids.

It's important though to also bear in mind that not everyone's eyes are exactly the same shape. Analyse a range of pictures that depict people of different ages, genders and races, look properly at their eyes and try to imagine how you'd approach painting them.

01. Eye them up

eying up

Notice how the eyelid bends inside the eye socket, causing a horizontal folding over the eye – that's the key. The ocular globe is basically a sphere that's half inserted inside the eye socket surrounded by two very prominent areas: the supraorbital and the cheekbone.

02. Simplify the image


Once you've grasped the physical structure, try to simplify the volumes of the eye to understand them better. 
The ocular globe and the eyelids can be depicted as a sphere with a depression in the middle. Eyes are spheres, so there will be highlights, shadows and so on.

03. Finalise


Once you understand the basic shape of the ocular globe, the eyelid, the supra orbital, the cheeks and nose, painting the eye should be easy. It's just a matter of representing the volumes using lights and shadows, according to the light sources. Studying references will help.

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This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine. Subscribe here.

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An illustrator living in Spain, Paco has produced art for several card games, magazines, books and role- playing games.