Painting an eye (tutorial/exercise)

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  02 February 2007
Great tutorial, had fun making an eye. =)
one day
  02 February 2007
Great job! You are a natural-born teacher

Thank you! Very helpful tutorial. I shall share it with my offspring as well!

I hope you it get back ten-fold. Very generous.

  06 June 2007
thanx a lot
helpful indeed
  08 August 2007
Thank you for this great tutorial Linda!!!

Here is my eye
::carpe diem noqutemque::

  09 September 2007

Hi buddy..
The excecution of the tutorial was an eye opener..
my expectations have gone higher..

Originally Posted by Enayla:

Instructions: The iris is completely round. For the most part, some of it will be hidden by the eyelid - if you hide only a little, the eye will look widened, shocked and staring (such as in the example I'm painting here), while hiding half or more will give the eye another expression altogether: perhaps indolent, seductive, sly.

Like the eyeball, never cease to imagine the iris as a round thing. To make absolutely sure, always paint the full round thing on a separate layer and then simply erase the bit that would be hidden by the eyelid. Like previously mentioned, we see the eyes, and we definitely see if something's messed up. A non-round iris will make it look alien and crooked - a neat thing if that's what you intended, but not so neat if you are aiming for a natural look.

So, pick a dark, random colour (nothing too extreme) and paint in the iris. Then on top of that, paint a lighter colour that will leave a slightly darker edge. Not all eyes have this darker edge at the outskirts of the iris, but we're settling for it this time around.

Similarly, the pupil is COMPLETELY round, no doubt about it. Paint in a round, dark circle in the middle of the iris. Just for the feeling's sake, dab a blotch of white on top of the iris and pupil, just to see how it would feel. There's the eye, suddenly a little glossy.

Common Mistakes: As previously mentioned, there is a tendency to make the iris less than round.

Instructions: There are no dark sketch-lines in a face, so it's time to get rid of them. There are two easy ways to do this - either you simply delete the layer, or you do as I did here: paint over them. I've found that painting over something rather than simply deleting it occasionally helps the liveliness of a picture. So for the sake of this exercise, paint over, don't delete.

What we have after we've done that is an eye that likely looks slightly messed up. We've used the lines as crutches, forgetting to shade the folds instead of letting simple lines do the talking. So the next mission is to do the highlighting and shading in the areas that are now looking stupid. For this, I use a brush that is either just a hard edged round one, or something similar to this:

(I've found that this brush is excellent to blend colours with, either as just painting, or as smudging)

Do not forget the fact that the bottom eyelid sticks out a little. It doesn't fit flat agains the eyeball - we need a little 'rim' to show that there's a shape to it and it's not just pasted in place. Paint this 'rim' (just above the lashes) with a vague pink colour slightly lighter than the skintone below.

Also, it might be a good thing to scribble the eyebrow in at this point, because once the lines are removed, chances are it looked like a dark blur. We'll fix it up more later.

Common mistakes: Leaving the lines in or mimicking them once they're removed.

Instructions: At this point, pick up a mirror. Look at the eye in the mirror, and notice that the white of the eye becomes pinker as it reaches the corner of the eye, and that the pink isn't entirely flat in shape right before the corner. We need a little glossiness here, a little colour to make it believable. A tint of blue added to the eyeball colour, and then some very soft, smooth touches of a round soft brush to pick out little highlights here and there. Most important here - be careful, chances are you'll overdo this area and end up with an eyeball that looks textured. This isn't the point. Point is, adding little touches of realism.

Also, redefining the shape of the eye at this point, and adding more detail to the eyebrow and the corner of the eye is almost a must. I've found that the realism is sometimes helped by further enhancing the shape of the corner of the eye by highlighting around it (take a look to the immediate left of it, you'll find a little highlight there). Try to work in more colours. Try to find little oranges, blues, reds and purples to discreetly add here and there for a more skinlike 'feel' to the area surrounding the eye.

This is where we start thinking about the iris, as well. The iris is a textured, wonderfully intricate thing and usually what makes an eye 'fly'. The first step to defining it would be just adding a very sloppy dark shadow at the top of it (from the eyelid, remember that it sticks out a little.

Common Mistakes: Forgetting to define the corner of the eye, or even leaving out that area altogether.

Do a new layer. Set new layer to 'soft light', and paint with a dark, ruddy colour to emphasise the skin tone. This will make more difference than you know. Paying special attention to the eyelids (the lower one in particular) and the area underneath the eyebrow. There is a vast difference now that the skintones are picked up. This sort of alteration goes for any kind of detail in a face, especially the bottom of a nose, around the nostrils and the eyes, but also the corners of the mouth and the side of the nostrils.

In this step and the one before, I've smudged the eyebrows a little with the brush I previously showed.

Common Mistakes: Forgetting about skin tone variation. A face and all its details looks dead and flat without such small devices.

Instructions: Continuing on the skin tone variations around the eye, make yet another layer above the first one, and now add textures. Use a small brush with pressure set to opacity and shape and just scribble away. The eye in the example is slightly exaggerated, but the practice is the same. Skin is NOT just a smooth, polished-stone texture. It's not porcelain. Do not forget to at least hint at the texture and the pores, sometimes only with little skin tone variations. I'll happily say that I learned this from the 3D art forums - watching all these marvellous artists work on the skin textures, and then in the end asking myself: why didn't I think of that?

The good thing about keeping the texture layer separate is that you can use a soft eraser to make some patches more transparent and others more opaque, giving a lively, 'real' look to it. Add a few birth marks while you're at it.

Common Mistakes: Leaving the texture out altogether. Big no-no.

Instructions: Paint the lashes in by using a hard edged little brush with pressure set to size. Keep them just a little bit scraggly, and don't paint them too long. Keep them on a separate layer. (A good thing to keep in mind is that the lashes rarely sweep out towards the outer corner of the eye, as they are often depicted to. Most of them will be curving downwards quite naturally).

After this has been done, use a combination of a tiny smudge brush and the eraser to soften the sharpness of the lashes. Rinse and repeat for the upper eyelid, but in this case remember not to point the lashes straight up, as this has a tendency to look unnatural.

Common Mistakes: Painting eyelashes as unnaturally long, and forgetting to taper them off at the end. Even worse, forgetting about the eyelashes altogether for a creepy-eyed look.

Instructions: We're getting there! The iris is a plethora of textures. If you pick a mirror up and stare at your own eye really closely, you'll see that it's not even just the diamond shaped textures radiating from the pupil, but that they're layered. Layer upon layer of delicate little coloured shapes. Not an easy thing to mimic. We'll try, though, by painting little soft strokes of colour upon one another, not erasing if we make a mistake but just keeping to paint over, paint over, paint over for that right textured, deep look.

In the end, I decided to break the highlight up as well, just to make it look a little more realistic. It's a good thing to think about the light conditions of a picture before deciding where to place the highlight and what shape it should be, but in this case, I just smudged it a little and added the faintest possible touch of blue to it (I doubt you can even see there's blue there, but there is).

Common Mistakes: Making the iris look flat by painting only one layer of texture and using only one colour with different brightness.

Instructions: There's not a lot to say. For the final step, look the picture over for some things you might want to change or do differently - in this case, adding some more shading and shadowing to the eyeball itself as well as adding a touch of gloss to the iris.

I hope the tutorial has been helpful. It's only been posted on CGtalk so far, but it should be going up on my page soon enough. Best of luck with your eye-painting.

  09 September 2007
Very good tutorial! I followed it, and I could get closed to the enayla's result, thanks!
The problem is I only know doing eyes, but, something is somethings, lol.
  10 October 2007
Wow...Great tutorial. This is what I'm looking for
  10 October 2007
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