How to draw owl eyes
For the second in my series of how to draw animals, birds and wildlife l am going to give you a step by step tutorial on how l drew these owl eyes. There are many, many ways of drawing eyes and lots of amazing artists use lots of different techniques. My aim in this series of 'how to's, is to show you how l did something on a particular piece, really just to give anyone new to coloured pencils an idea of where to begin.
So here we go! The very first thing l want to say is that if you look at my drawing the eyes are not identical in size. Nor are they perfectly round. It is important to copy your reference photo if you want a realistic result rather than draw it how you think it should be. A word of warning though about quirky things, like the eyes not being the same size. If it looks odd in your reference photo, don't copy it. It will look even more odd when you draw it. You either need to be able to correct it without making everything else look wrong, or better still get another reference photo. When l looked at this reference photo nothing struck me as odd about these eyes, even though they are clearly of different sizes, so l decided to go ahead and use it. But l have learned the hard way. If l looked at that photo and found myself trying to work out why one eye was bigger than the other, l would not have used it. I know that if l did, l would look at my drawing and forever wonder why it had odd eyes, and most likely everyone else would too. The first shot, as you can see (and as is very normal with coloured pencil), looks like a child with their coloring in book. I used a Caran D'Ache Luminance white pencil to mark in where l wanted the whitest highlights before l began, now here, there are different opinions, some of the books that l read when l was just beginning said that you should never, ever have more than one highlight in an eye, that it will make the subject look weird. I am not going to argue with that. They are fantastic artists. This is just how l did it. I personally like the highlights to look as they look in real life. If you prefer just one highlight, have just one highlight.Then l filled in the black pupils and used several yellows as a base color, for what are really orange eyes. I layered the yellows until l felt the paper was not taking the color so well.
Then l blended with odourless mineral spirits, that is what you see in the second shot below.
Next l add two different yellows and an orange. This time l am paying a lot more attention to the reference photo, marking out the darker areas and obvious markings or splodges of colour. I also add a couple more layers of black to the pupils.
ln the photo below, l have blended it out again. You can see that the eyes still look pretty crude and have no realism or life to them yet.
For the following layer l added four more shades of orange and some olive which l could pick up around the pupils and near the top lids. I am really concentrating now on the markings and colour gradations within the eye. There were another three layers of black added to the pupil and this time l added a layer of Carmine as well, this just gives the black a bit if a life and lift. This was blended again.
For the next layer l added even more oranges and some red. I darkened the rims so l can begin to see how the finished eye will look in the socket. I have also begun to work on those highlights. I can see tree branches and clouds and blue sky in them, so l add them. I think many would not agree with this. So experiment and see what you prefer. I truly believe you should draw the way that you like to see it. There is so much amazing art out there and so many styles and techniques. There are really no rights and wrongs. If the end result pleases the eye, it is good art.
In the shot below l have blended out the work above.
Because the eye is nearly there, l now like to add a bit of the surround so that l can truly see how the eye is going to look. In the picture below l have added some hot pink and more greens. I have also added the more subtle misty highlights that are nearly always there if you look closely. The eyes you see below are not finished. I always work the eyes first so that l can work on them every single day that l work on the piece. They are close enough to finished. It would be very difficult to photograph the changes that l make after this point. I know l have at the time of writing added a lot more reds, a different hot pink, a lime green, some burnt sienna. Each day l look at them afresh and add little marks or hints of color, or more shadow. But it is very subtle.
I hope the above step by step guide will be of help to those who are new to the medium. Please never take anything l write as a rule, there are none. I am just aware that as a beginner - and l still consider myself a beginner - trying to work out how to do everything can be a bit overwhelming and that simple instructions are not that easy to find. I will be doing lots more in this series, but if you have any particular animal, bird or wildlife questions you would like me to cover, do use the contact me form and l will do my best to cover that topic as soon as l can.