Drawing Animal/Dragon Eyes
Feel free to use the art on this page for your
own web pages, or however you like. All images (c) 1998
Step 1 - draw a circle in the color of the iris of the eye.
(you're done! Just kidding.)
Step 2 - add progressively lighter colors to the LOWER HALF
of the eye.
Why? Because as the rendering shows, an eye is like a ball
with a bowl shaped depression in it. When the light hits it,
it highlights the lower interior edge of where the iris is.
(Iris = Colored part of the eye) So, the iris color is darker
on top, and lighter on the bottom, but the white part of the
eyeball is lighter on top, and dark underneath.
Step 3 - Add a pupil in pure black.
You can use a round pupil for more of an eagle/falcon/wolfish
look, or a slitted catlight pupil for a catlike eye. If you
wanted to get the look of an intent or frightened cat, you'd
make the eye almost completely black except for the rim - leaving
only a tiny portion of the iris color showing.
In this picture, I've also added another level of darkness
to the upper half of the iris, just to make it even more striking.
Step 4 - Add the brow and eyelids
One good way to get a feeling for how eyelids/eyebrows work
is to take a ball, and take two pieces of cloth ( you can do
this with a basketball or even a tennis ball and two tee shirts),
and drape them over the ball, leaving only about 1/4 of the
ball exposed. Examine the way the light hits the ball, and the
shirts (which represent the eyelids). Do a few sketches from
You may have noticed that the 'white' of this eye is no longer
white. No, he doesn't have pinkeye. :-) Shadow falls on the
white of the eye as much as the iris, and because of the shadw
of the brow, even the top of the white of the eye is in shadow
(a darker gray). The rendered eye above doesn't have any brows
or lids, so it's highlighted, but in a real eye, this would
leave it too exposed.
Step 5 - Shadowing the Brow, and final highlights
Depending on the look you're going for, your eye may have a
heavy brow (like the brow of a large dragon), or if it's more
like an alligator, the eyes might almost sit atop the head.
In this case, I've used the heavy brow of a flying animal. Deepen
the shadows along the top lid and along the top of the white
of the eye. Also, if the brow is particularly prominent, you
can darken the lower lid quite a bit too. Using a transparent
black color, you can outline the lids and the iris to make them
stand out even more. Remember - contrast is FUN! :-) (Okay..that's
my personal preference speaking up there,but hey...)
Finally, use your airbrush tool or paintbrush set on pure white
to create TWO highlights. One large one closest to the light
source (in this case, the light is coming from the upper left),
and a smaller one away from the light source.
Why? I dunno. Just looks good to me.
Voila! That's the basics of how to do eyes!
You can add speckles, different colors, striations, lines,
wrinkles, veins, Visene..whatever you like.