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Painting fantasy eyes

Eyes are so expressive, showing character, mood and beauty. Katarina Sokolova explains how to make them look natural...

In order to paint a realistic-looking eye it is necessary to understand its form. The human eye is a sphere, covered by upper and lower eyelids. If you imagine the parallel lines passing along the eyes, that will make it easier for you to understand how to construct your sketch correctly.
Eyes come in many diverse forms and will be different depending on the facial type and race of the person. The upper eyelid is wider than the lower one because of its function – to cover and  protect the eye. While painting the upper eyelid, you can add expression and emotion to your character. Half-closed eyelids convey languor and allure; squinted eyes look sly or playful.
Don’t forget that there’s also a lower eyelid – if it’s missed, the eye will look strange and unrealistic. In the inside corner of the eye there’s a tear duct. Again, eyes look odd without this.
I can’t stress enough the significance of detailing the iris. This part is responsible for the volume and expressiveness of the eye as well as its colour, of course.
Personally, I find it very important to draw eyelashes. I always make them slightly unreal, too long or of unusual colours. Sometimes I put sparkles on them, or add tears trickling down. This is always a final step in my portraits.
During this workshop I’m going to look at all aspects of painting an eye, including the eyelashes and make-up.
I like to paint fantasy portraits of beautiful girls and I never leave their eyes without make-up. Remember, though: the make-up can be rich but it shouldn’t be vulgar.

From issue 18.

Click here to download the full workshop for free (PDF)
Click here to download the support files (9.52Mb)
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