Draw an Eye with Colored Pencils

OK kiddos, it’s time for another art lesson! Before I start, let me get some preliminaries out of the way. First off, I need to apologize for how the picture came out. This post is about drawing an eye in colored pencil, but you’re barely going to see any color. My scanner didn’t pick up the color that well. I hate that but I will do my best to explain and illustrate this lesson. I will still illustrate the pictures even though the color won’t show up well.

Colored Pencil Brands

I will be using an array of colored pencils from different brands. These will include Sargent’s colored pencil and Prismacolor, with the majority used by Sargent’s.

I believe that’s why the color didn’t show up well – Sargent’s doesn’t have wax in its pencils, so there will be no “shine’” to the finished product. The scanner usually picks up the shine but unfortunately not in this one.

Another colored pencil set that would be worth investing in besides Prismacolor is Col-Erase colored pencils and Prismacolor Verithin. These colored pencils have the same effect that a regular lead pencil has. What I mean by that is you can use my technique that I perform with a tissue. These pencils can be blended smoothly into the color next to them. Invest in them; you won’t be sorry.

With that being said, let’s hop on it!

The Initial Outline

Whether it’s an eye or a full sketch that will be in colored pencil, the first thing you will need to do is draw your subject out with a pencil, preferably a lighter pencil like between a 3H and 6H. You will need to make the pencil marks lighter later on as you get further into the drawing, so have a kneaded eraser handy or some Blu Tack to pick up the marks. That will also leave some faint marks to help guide you as you progress in your art picture.

Here I drew an eye that started as a football/almond-shaped object, and I added a circle in the middle to represent the iris. Keep in mind that I’m doing this from the top of my head – I’m not using a picture or model of an eye.



I then filled in the pupil using a Sargent’s black colored pencil and drew an ellipse in the pupil and iris area to illustrate a glare/highlight in the eye. I’ve also traced a darker circle around the edge of the iris.



Work on the Iris

OK, so here is where the problem starts. Note to self: do not use Sargent’s pencils for the main color. They will not show well in the scanner. As you can tell, I supposedly filled in the iris with Sargent’s brown colored pencil and some of Prismacolor’s peach beige. Let it be known that this is the same pencil I use for Caucasian skin tone.



Adding some detail, I added the eyelid crease with Sargent’s black and used the Sargent’s brown pencil to add more detail of some of the darker part of the iris flooding into the lighter part near the pupil.



The Surrounding Eye

In this stage, I added some shading toward the upper part of the eye using Prismacolor’s 50% cool grey, and I used Sargent’s black to draw in the eyelashes.



In the final stage, I added some Prismacolor blush pink and a little bit of pale vermillion to the tear duct area. I then colored around the eye area with Prismacolor peach beige; unfortunately, my scanner had different plans.



Smoothing Out the Work

An extra thing I like to add to my art piece, especially if I’m working with colored pencil, chalk, or crayon, is load the picture onto my computer and I will load it to my PaintShop Pro so that I can smooth out the pencil scribbles. To each his own; some people like it and some don’t, but it always makes an improvement on the picture, especially on my crayon art.



Personal Takeaway

OK, so this was a quick colored pencil lesson. I don’t know if it was helpful since my scanner went rebel on me. Then again, using the Sargent colored pencils was a no-no. I know now to use all colored pencils except them.

If anything, this is how the picture looked using a camera (there’s more than one way to skin a cat):

Before computer smoothing


After computer smoothing


This is just one approach to drawing an eye with colored pencils. If you want to see more colored pencil techniques and the result of layering multiple colors using only Prismacolor, you can download the step-by-step lesson in the box below.