Tutorial: Stunning Eyes – Part 1
I have been asked how I color eyes in Pigment several times. The video link I provide below shows the traditional coloring of an eye with colored pencils; however, the same principles apply if your software is flexible enough. The video does an excellent job of demonstrating how to make the iris and pupil look realistic. So instead of reinventing the wheel, I decided to provide an existing YouTube video.
When coloring an eye, be it a human or animal, there are a few things you can do to make your eye look more realistic. However, you are limited by how the eye is drawn and the size of the eye as to how much detail you can provide.
From my experience, key things to remember are as follows.
Your iris is not a single solid color. Instead, it is comprised of many colors…some light, dark, and neutral. The video above provides a very good example of how to layer the color.
When working in Pigment, the Pencil tool is very helpful. It has lightly feathered edges that provide nice texture. Adjust your opacity until you get the contrast you want.
The darkest color of your iris is the very outer rim. I use the Pencil tool on partial opacity to make this darker rim of color. When I do this, I select the iris to keep the color inside the iris. Then I place the Pencil tool outside the iris, just close enough to create the outer rim of color in the iris.
As shown in the video, the marks you make within the iris should radiate between the darker rim and pupil. Also, as you layer in your colors, the length of your marks should vary and should be layered so that there is contrast within the iris colors, such as light against dark. The video shows a good example of this procedure.
Sclera (white part of the eye)
First, if you want your eye to look natural, the sclera is not a flat white. If you look closely at an eye, you can find peachy, brownish, and/or bluish tones. You will find more bluish tones in young humans and animals. Older subjects may have more yellowing, brownish, or even reddish tones from broken capillaries, tears, allergies, or illness.
Shading needs to be added in the corners of the eye so the eye appears round instead of flat.
Highlights make the eye look wet. The type of highlight I’m adding determines the type of brush and level of opacity I use. There are 3 main highlights in eyes, and there could be multiples of these lights.
- Direct light such as the camera flash or the sun. This is the brightest highlight when present.
- Reflected lights such as a blue sky and tree line, a window with light shining in, a reflection of a person or object, or other sources of reflected light that is not a direct source of light.
- Captured light displays as a pool of lighter color within the iris. This captured light would be directly opposite a direct light source. So if bright light enters your iris on the upper left side, the captured light would be directly opposite on the lower right side and indicated by a lighter color in the iris. Highlights can also appear on the white of your eye, but it will not produce captured light like it does when light hits the iris.
There are several shadows that can appear in the eye such as under the upper lid, in the corners, and so forth. Again, the video does a good job of pointing them out.
In the next part of this series, we’ll color an eye in Pigment using the techniques we covered here.
Digi Coloring and Design
Janet Dickerson-Deshotel has been involved with artistic endeavors for approximately 30 years, which includes traditional art media, graphic arts, and photography. Today she is actively involved in adult coloring using traditional and digital methods. Janet leads the Digi Coloring and Design Facebook group and also hosts an adult coloring group at her local library.