On a scale of 1-10, how terrified of drawing are you? Did you quake in your boots when tasked with drawing self-portraits in art lessons at school? Does the prospect of perspective give you goosebumps?

Our Head of Learning and Engagement, Heather, is here to help. Learn the basics of how to draw, bi-weekly on The Lightbox blog. Today, let's have a go at drawing a pair of eyes.

Equipment needed:

  • Paper
  • Pencil

2B pencils or higher will work best for this tutorial. The softer your pencil, the darker your lines can be. If you don’t have these types of pencils at home, you can use whatever you have and when you are happy with the lines, use a Biro to make the lines darker. 

Tip: It’s a good idea to draw both eyes together to building up each section at the same time so that you can see they are in proportion with each other. 


1. Start by drawing the outline of the eye. Draw an almost almond-shaped oval. You can use a mirror in front of you to keep looking at your own eyes as you do this, or work from an image if you prefer. Add lines above and below the eye to represent the thickness of the eyelids.

2. Draw the iris next. Make sure that the top of the circle is not quite complete, as the eyelid folds over it slightly. The bottom of the iris is a slighter, less full shape and closer to the rim of the lower eyelid. Depending on the way the eye is looking, this positioning will change. In the mirror, have a look at where the white space is and draw your iris accordingly.

3. The pupil is the dark circle in the middle of the iris. Draw this, leaving a small gap (usually near the top) for the highlight. Draw this as a square or rectangle in the gap at the top of the pupil.

4. For the detail in the iris, you'll see that there are many different lines coming from the centre of the pupil - not just straight lines but squiggles, broken lines and small dots, flecks and marks. Make sure you are creating darker lines here as you will be adding shading later and you want them to be visible.

5. Fill in the pupil with a really dark shading, but do not shade in the highlight.

6. Time to add the eyelashes. Be quite forceful with the lines, pressing harder to create darker lines so that you only have to do them once. Practise drawing your eyelashes on a separate piece of paper first, and you can always erase parts you are not happy with, rather than starting again.

7. Using the side of your pencil, you can start to shade in the top part of the Iris and eye with a mid-tone pencil (or just press a little harder or softer, depending on the pencil you're using). The top part of the eye will have a darker tone than the bottom part. You can start with lighter shade all over if you prefer and then build up to darker at the top once you have found your base level.

Add more shading/smudge the pencil marks if you like, and add further lines to build up the eyelids and add the brow dome/eyebrows.You can keep adding lines and experimenting until you feel it’s done.

How did you get on? Did you find one eye easier to draw than the other? Mirroring the technique across both eyes is a great brain-training exercise!