How To Draw Expressive Eyes

Eyes are the windows of the soul, and as such, they are also the cornerstone of facial expressions.

We look to the eyes first to see what a person is really feeling or thinking, and when the mouth contradicts what we see there, we believe the eyes.

Expression in the eyes is shown by the outer shape of the lids, the placement of the irises, how much of the whites of the eyes are visible, and how closed or open the eye is.

By exaggerating the shape of angry and sad eyes, you can see how both are triangles, but angled differently, with anger being triangles that point inward and sadness being triangles that point outward.

Even in realistic portraits, that general shape will be present for those expressions, and the eyebrows will reinforce the degree of the emotion by plunging down in the same direction as the eyes for anger, or pulling off to the side to mimic the upper line of sad eyes.

Laughing eyes are closed or mostly closed. Wrinkle lines appear at the sides to show how the skin is puckered, and there is a wave in the line of the two lids closing together to show that the eye is being forcibly closed, instead of closed in sleep or boredom.

Eyes that are downcast, whether in sadness, boredom, or sleepiness, have relaxed upper lids and just a hint of the iris peeping out at the bottom.

The eyelashes curl out to the side, and oftentimes, the darkness of the line of lashes is indistinguishable from the tone of the iris.

Additional emotion in the different downcast positions is shown in the eyebrows, mouth, and the puckers or wrinkles that show if the cheek and forehead muscles are being pulled into sad, bored, or sleepy positions.

Wide open eyes show surprise or shock, whether welcome or terrifying. Here again, the full story is told by the rest of the features. Match wide open eyes with a screaming mouth and you have terror.

The same eyes with a laughing mouth is happy surprise. The shape of the upper eyelid can help to show more emotion in the eyes themselves, because the eyebrows often affect the shape of the eye.

When the eyebrows pull down in worry, the inside of the eyelid is covered at a slight angle, giving you worried eyes.

In happy surprise, the wide, smiling mouth can affect the shape of the bottom eyelid by pushing the skin up as in happy eyes.

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2017-10-31T13:18:40+00:00

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