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How to Draw an Eye – Step by Step

September 19, 201241 Comments

Direct light terminology explained –

1. Go to my facebook profile -
2. On my profile, RESHARE the post to this video
3. Check back September 28 to find out if you won.

[UPDATE] Winners - Brian LeBlanc and Clement Scott

If you prefer to read, here is the transcript:

Hey guys, this is Stan Prokopenko, welcome to another episode of Proko! In this episode I will show you step by step, how I draw an eye.

I recommend you watch my previous video in which I cover the structure of each individual part of the eye.

Step 1 -LAY-IN

So, every drawing starts with a layin. This phase is usually linear and is focused on proportions and shape design. You want to make sure the the major shapes are the right size and in the right place BEFORE you start adding details.

Most of the time, my layin process involves starting with the biggest shapes and then breaking it up into smaller and smaller shapes. So for an eye, the largest shape, is the eye socket. Start with the angles of the eye brow, side of the nose to bottom of the lid and back around to the side of the socket.

I like to group the lids, sclera and iris into one shape at first. I feel that it’s easier to get this shape accurately placed inside the socket, instead of drawing all the pieces individually. I make sure to observe all the angles of the plane changes.

Then, I can break down this group into it’s smaller pieces. When you’re drawing the lids, make sure you include the bottom plane of the top lid and top plane of the bottom lid. This will show the thickness of the lids.

This eye is looking directly at us, so it will be a perfect circle. Usually the top lid will cover more of the iris than the bottom lid.

Don’t forget about the thickness of the eyebrow and make sure the distance from the brow to the top lid is correct.


The 2 value stage is very important. Most people want to jump ahead and start rendering details. If you’re advanced, you can do whatever you want, otherwise, I suggest simplifying the process. The 2 value stage involves separating the areas that are directly lit from areas that are in shadow. To clarify, halftones are considered part of the lights, and reflected light is considered part of the shadow. If this terminology isn’t familiar to you, I’ll try to get a video on that later. For now, you can take a look at my blog post. I’ve added a link to it in the description box below.

So, I’m observing the light pattern and trying to design those shapes. This stage should look clean and graphic. You should only have 1 value for the lights and 1 value for the shadows. My shadow value is usually around a 4 on the value scale.


Now I’ll put in the darkest areas of the drawing. I do this to establish my value range. Meaning, I have the darkest and lightest values in my drawing. You’ll typically find the dark accents in core shadows, deep creases, like on the top lid, and areas that have a darker local value, like the hair of the eyebrow.

After putting in the dark accents, you start to see the reflected light in your drawing. Notice that I didn’t erase the reflected lights to make them lighter, I just darkened around them.


At this point, I switch to the lit areas of the drawing and I focus on the gradations and plane changes to make the forms read a little bit more 3-dimensionally. If you find the highlights, then you’ll know that everything around them just needs to be a little bit darker as the planes turn away from the light source.


Finally, I’ll go through the whole drawing one more time and clean up anything that I think can make the forms read better. I’ll sharpen some edges, clean up shapes, and maybe add some more details.

So, for example I want to sharpen this cast shadow from the top lid and make sure that it’s shape wraps around the eyeball.

I’ll add some fuzzy eyelashes.. and I’m almost done here.

Ok, I’ll call this one finished! And I’m going to be giving away this drawing and the drawing I did in the previous video to 2 lucky viewers! If you want a chance to win, just find my facebook page and reshare the post to this video or the first eye video, or both! I’ll pick the winner on September 28th.

Hey, btw… If you want me to use your photo in one of these videos and you haven’t sent one in yet, you still have time! I still have to do tutorials on the nose, lips, ears and hair. So, keep those photos coming! The main things I request is a good balance of light and shadows, so please don’t use a flash. And since I’m publishing these videos in HD, of course the higher the resolution the better. Thanks a lot guys! I really appreciate everyone who has already contributed.

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  1. How to Draw Eyes | So Realistic They Will Accuse You of Witchcraft - | May 12, 2014
  1. Dirk says:

    Hallo Proko,

    Great video. I really like your lessons and your style.

  2. Desi says:

    what have you used to draw in this video? it’s a pencil? o.O
    thank you for all your videos! :)

  3. mark says:

    do you use graphic tablets ?? you can make some video showing some of your techniques, but digitaly.. sorry for the english im brazilian… :)

  4. David says:

    Hi Stan I’m really enjoy your humor through all your teaching videos. But here struggle, How do you do the fussiness effect that you made on the eye slashes ? Is it because you have a really soft pencil or is it more in a hand-wrest movement ?

    • It’s a combination of the two. But there’s nothing fancy in the arm movement. Lightly go over the shape multiple times to create a soft edge. If you’re not able to create a soft edge, whether it’s with the side of the pencil or the tip, you should fill a page with fuzzy shapes. Draw triangles, circles, squares, all with varying amounts of soft edge.

  5. Excellent blog post. I absolutely love this site.
    Keep it up!

  6. It’s awesome for me to have a web site, which is
    helpful in support of my know-how. thanks admin

  7. hitakshi says:

    dear sir,
    your videos are amazing they are by far the best tutorials i’ve been through
    i stay in india we do not get the pencils here you prescribed therefore i use steadler HB for Sketching and steadler 4B for shading are they ok?

  8. hitakshi says:

    dear sir,
    your videos are amazing they are by far the best tutorials i’ve been through
    i stay in india we do not get the pencils here you prescribed therefore i use steadler HB for Sketching and steadler 4B for shading are they ok?and please share videos for basic shading

  9. Wilburn says:

    You really make it appear so easy along with your presentation
    however I find this matter to be actually one thing that I believe I’d by no means understand.

    It kind oof feels too complex and extremely vast for me.
    I amm taking a look ahead in your subsequent submit, I wilpl attempt
    to get the hold of it!

    • Yes you’re right, it is very complex and takes many years to get good at drawing. Teachers always make things look easier than it is when you’re just starting. Don’t get discouraged though. Everyone had to start from nothing at one point.

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