Sketch: Eye

Last month, a video post from April Rains Fine Art reminded me that I had been meaning to try another sketch in ink (and all the reasons that it would help me in the long run, including learning to place lines correctly at the beginning of a drawing. No erasers allowed!). This time I just used a regular old ballpoint pen, which I found to be much, much easier to work with than the fancy archival pen I used last time I tried sketching in ink. The ballpoint allowed me to create more distinct values and put down finer lines. Maybe that other pen was not intended for sketching, or for finishing an entire sketch? It did run out of ink after one session…Anyway. On to my current sketch.

I started by outlining the elements of the eye and the eyebrow.


Then I began to fill in some more detail using light pressure.


I was really focused on getting the values right, so I used light pressure most of the time, except for the darkest areas, such as the pupil, where I used harder pressure but still built up the value in layers.


It was pleasing to build values slowly, concentrating on the overall effect and value range rather than trying to be perfect with directional lines. It was a little intimidating to admit that the whites of the eyes were not actually a straight, bright white and give them a little shading. The only area I didn’t touch at all by the end was a single reflection toward the bottom of the inner corner of the eye.


Finally, I decided that it would be a good idea to suggest the skin around the eye and its shadows rather than just sticking to the eye itself and the eyebrow. I also filled out the eyebrow and lashes a little more.


Overall, I am very pleased with how this sketch turned out. While it may not be identical to my reference in terms of shape or exact placement/proportion, to me it looks like a relatively convincing eye. This was a fun sketch to do, and after this experiment I am definitely eager to tackle other subjects in ink. Also, it was just such an easy medium to work with—no mess (except the stray smudge or blotch) and only one tool needed. No erasers, no sharpening, no switching from color to color. I’m a fan!


  1. Thanks for the mention Anna! It made my day to know I played some small part of this ^_^
    You tackled a very challenging subject for something permanent and I think you pulled it off quite nicely! I’m looking forward to seeing what else you try with this medium in the future


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