Digital Drawing Tips: Eyes (Photoshop CS5)

Equipment: Wacom Intuos graphics tablet, Photoshop CS5, MacBook Pro.

For our inaugural blog post, I’m going to do a quick run through of my preferred method for coloring eyes in Photoshop. It’s fairly simple, only involves a few layers, and gives the eyes a very glossy look in the end. There’s a multitude of ways to color and shade eyes on drawings of people and it all depends on your particular style. This way just works for me.


1. I start with top and bottom lashes, in this case for an eye wearing heavy mascara and eyeliner.  2. I follow up the lashes with the pupil and lines for the iris. For this example, the iris is relatively small. In many cases, when I want they eyes to be a focal point, I will exaggerate the size of the iris so a lot of color can be seen at a distance.  3. After my lines are done, I start with base colors. I never use pure white for the sclera (the white outer layer of the eyeball) because it makes them too bright for a realistic look. They are going to look white after shadows and highlights are added.  4. I start with shadows because, for me, they are easier to fix and reshape. I sample with they eye dropper from the base colors and choose a darker, more saturated tone from that same area.  5. I typically go with bright, highly saturated tones for the highlights and keep the opacity anywhere from 5 to 10% while I add highlights until I get the desired effect.  6. To finish, I add reflections spots with white at a very low opacity (3-6%)

1. I start with top and bottom lashes, in this case for an eye wearing heavy mascara and eyeliner.

2. I follow up the lashes with the pupil and lines for the iris. For this example, the iris is relatively small. In many cases, when I want they eyes to be a focal point, I will exaggerate the size of the iris so a lot of color can be seen at a distance.

3. After my lines are done, I start with base colors. I never use pure white for the sclera (the white outer layer of the eyeball) because it makes them too bright for a realistic look. They are going to look white after shadows and highlights are added.

4. I start with shadows because, for me, they are easier to fix and reshape. I sample with they eye dropper from the base colors and choose a darker, more saturated tone from that same area.

5. I typically go with bright, highly saturated tones for the highlights and keep the opacity anywhere from 5 to 10% while I add highlights until I get the desired effect.

6. To finish, I add reflections spots with white at a very low opacity (3-6%)