Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login


Submitted on
July 1, 2013
Image Size
1,012 KB


81,260 (14 today)
4,851 (who?)
How to Paint Realistic Eyes Tutorial by feavre How to Paint Realistic Eyes Tutorial by feavre
I've had a lot of requests for a tutorial/steps for how I paint. This picture wasn't done with a reference, so a referenced eye would be even more photorealistic. You may also look at other eyes on my portraits to see different color variations.
For more WIPs and resources : art blog
Full paint tutorial:

I used photoshop CS5, and this tutorial is for digital artists, and assumes you have a basic knowledge of these programs.

Step 1: Sketch the eye. I've drawn enough eyes to be very familiar with the shape and proportions. If you aren't, find a reference and work with that.

Step 2: Color blocking, begin to define the brow bone. I'm doing a blue eye, and colors vary widely depending on what color iris--a green eye for example will also have brown and gold. Play around, generally you can use this tutorial for any color.

Step 3: Shading. The top of the iris will always be the darkest because of shadow from the eyelid. This is also applied to the whites of the eyes. Also color the tear duct.

Step 4: I keep darkening the iris and below the lash line. The limbal ring is usually a desaturated, dark color. Darkening it (that's the ring around the iris) makes the eyes more dramatic. And I also define the crease, the skin under the eye, and the waterline.

Step 5: For the most dramatic eyes, with lots of depth, make the pupil and area above it black, as well as the lash line. The whites of the eyes are also high in contrast from the shadow. This makes them look rounder and "glowy."

Step 6: I usually do entire portraits on one layer (best for blending) but I recommend putting the reflection on a new layer. For photorealism, more layers can help. Below I have another box with alternative reflection. They can be any shape, depending on light source. They are nearest to the light, and the lightest part of the iris is opposite that. See the light blue on the right with the reflection on the left.

Step 7: Adding some details in tear duct and waterline. White makes it look wet/shiny. Also use a natural brush to make the base for the eyebrows. Keep in mind that the edge of the iris should be blurry--it's not a hard line. This will contrast with the hard edged reflection. There is also some brown near the edges of the iris. No iris is completely one color. There will be flecks of color blended in. I also added individual hairs on the eyebrow. Using a speckled brush with spacing, dabble in some skin texture. I put this on another layer set to overlay.

Step 8: Put your pen pressure on opacity and size jitter. Then brush in some eyelashes. They will curve outward from the eye, and curve from under and out from the eyelid. I put this on a new layer, set to multiply. Do the same on the bottom, though these will be much smaller. Lashes can be brown or black, dramatic or short. You may stop at this step, but I chose to add makeup.

Step 9: You may make another layer if you wish. A speckled brush comes in handy for shimmer. The color depends on what "eyeshadow" you want, but it will usually be a soft shade that is darker near the crease and eyelid. The brow bone should be defined with a lighter color, and the hollow near the inside of the eye is also darker. I also add lines on the lash line and bottom shading for a more dramatic effect.

Step 10: Tiny details. If you zoom you can see the tiny lines under the eye and specks that make the skin's texture. I also darken the eyebrows to match makeup.

I hope this is helpful to you! If you use it, let me know or link to it in the description.

More tutorials:
Add a Comment:
KaHiShiKi-Sama Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
whoa! Amazing! I try myself to draw realistic! I hope this can help me! Thanks you! 
Carolina22 Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you this was very helpful!
Cinderemmie Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014  New member Student Digital Artist
I tried it! I'm actually glad on how it turned out. Thanks for the tutorial! [link]
Elvann Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I followed your tutorial and I really liked your technique.  It will certainly be of use in the future!  Thanks a lot for this awesome tutorial.  If by any mean you feel like checking out the reasult, here the link to my deviation :… :)  I will attack the whole face very shortly! Have a nice day!
MaliziaBleeding Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2014
woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 amazing!
bjorn1992 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2014
and now i want an easy way to do that som one now how i make my eyes black like a demon?
PSIKOM065 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Student Artist
Wooah, that's soo far away from mine ;_;
RainbowShine-Mlp Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Kharianne Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014
I am new in digital painting... r u using just PC mouse or graphical tablet? I cant even touch the right place with mouse :-D
feavre Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014   Digital Artist
Add a Comment: