How to paint an Eye using Watercolor?
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Rad Educators is a 1-year program intended to help beginner artists learn step-by-step techniques from professional artists across different mediums. This is in no way sponsored or promoted by any particular Art Brand.
Ambbali Bhattacharyya Dutta is Rad Educator for Watercolour Landscape & Portrait.
To begin with the base, I have started with yellow ochre and did a flat wash on all over the face. I diluted it well with watercolor to maintain the translucency.
The secret to achieving a three-dimensional effect on the skin is the balanced use of the cool and the warm color. I am using a crimson lake with a tinge of ultramarine blue at the surrounding area of the eye and french vermillion red on the upper crease of the eye, and inside the ear.
Now for the Eyebrows, I used burnt umber mixed with deep orange. While doing the eyebrows you must remember that your strokes should be spontaneous and random and fast. It should not be well defined to avoid the artificial look.
For the eyeball, I have sap green as the base and near the iris area, I have used yellow ochre as a base. The white area of the eyeball is the whiteness of the paper I left while doing the base. The eyeball has a reflection of the upper lid and upper lashes. With a fine rigger brush, I have defined the edge of the eyeball and painted the reflection of the lashes carefully on the white area. The pigment thatI have used here is Payne's grey.
It is very important that you paint the body of the eye. Most people leave it white or paint it white. That's a common mistake. The color of this part is highly influenced by the surrounding light, skin color and it also carries the shadow of the upper lid and lashes. It is never white. I have used very well diluted yellow ochre on the left side and on the right I have used very light purple. You can see how instantly the eye looks alive and real.
At this stage, my concentration has shifted to the surrounding area of the eye. I painted a few creases near the lower lid of the eye. I have used Burnt umber mixed with very little deep orange. On the cheek, I have again done wash of crimson lake to make it more prominent.
Here I am back to the eyebrow and with the same technique as the previous one, I have applied another layer of thin hair with more of Payne's grey and less burnt umber.
This is the most fun part of the painting. Doing the freckles is so satisfying. One thing we need to tell ourselves here is not to go over and not to feel scared at the same time. I have applied clean water on the wet surface of the paper and added dots of color (yellow ochre + burnt umber on the nose and burnt umber + crimson lake on the cheek) and let it bleed a little. These have taken an organic shape of themselves and look natural on the skin.
I have added a few lashes to the lower lid and upper lid as well at this step.
While doing lashes we need to remember that lashes start from the waterline of the eye and they are not straight like matchsticks. The lashes are curvy and they come out from the waterline of both the lids. They are very fine lines and mixing and overlapping with each other. Do not paint separate individual lashes coming out from the eye itself. It will thus looks kiddish.
This is the final stage and I have now done the hair and the eyebrows a little bit. Applied the same colors with the same technique, added a few more lashes and a few more touch upon the freckles. I have used opaque white watercolor just to highlight a few areas on the eye i.e the corner of the eye, a thin line near the lower waterline of the eye. These touch-ups add instant life to the eye and make it look life-like.