The Eye In The Round

The eyeball is one of the more nearly spherical forms in nature. Its roundness shapes the surfaces surrounding it, especially the lids. An awareness of this helps give a sense of solidity to renderings of the eye. And the more solid feeling the eye, the more lifelike, the more expressive.

Medieval Helmet Illustration

Imagining the eye as a ball with thick, visorlike lids produces a drawing bearing close resemblance to the living eye (as well as a medieval helmet). The light is visualized as falling from upper left, throwing right-hand forms into shadow. Always show movement of tones on white of the eye to avoid the "dead fish" look.

Mediaeval Helmet Drawing

When lit from above the upper lid casts a shadow on the eye itself (A). Its thickness, and that of the lower lid, is due to a reinforcing plate of cartilage about the thickness and pliability of belt leather. Whenever the line of the lid is drawn, it should be imagined as traveling across the surface of a sphere.

The lower lid is narrower and less arched. Its upper surface, curved and upright like the rim of a teacup, catches bright light—often brighter than that on the eye. The rest of the lid surface, looking down more than up, is usually much grayer than the bright, top-facing upper lid. Notice how both lids—and the eyeball itself—curve away into shadow, increasing the illusion of roundness.

The three-quarter view is a good angle to see the curving structure of the lids. Beyond the eye is the inner eye corner, seen here as a small notch (B). It does not follow the ball but is set into the face, and so takes on its own direction, bending away from the rest of the eye. It often catches a good bit of shadow. The shadowed edge of the upper lid is quite dark—it's one of the darkest, heaviest lines in the face. It appears to overlap the lower lid line, then continues on, becoming a shallow skin fold (C).

Eye Shadow Closed Lids

When the eye closes, the upper lid does all the moving. The line of the closed lids is simply the original lower-lid line, its thickness increased by the joining of the eyelashes. More of the upper eyelid is exposed when it closes—part of its upper surface is usually hidden by a skin fold.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

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