An Eye for Detail
The eyes are the window to the soul is very true when drawing a portrait. If the eyes don’t accurately reflect the subject, the portrait won’t capture the essence of the person and the end result can be a nice portrait, but not one of whom the artist intended.
When drawing fine detail, some charcoal artists feel it’s a task best performed by a charcoal pencil. But a pencil can be unforgiving if a mistake is made, and there’s no reason to switch to a pencil when Nitram Charcoal batons work just as well- if not better.
Nitram’s ability to be sharpened to a fine point means that only one brand of charcoal is needed from start to finish. There’s no need to worry about color or texture collisions between brands.
Nitram doesn’t create a lot of dust so it’s perfect for drawing fine detail, such as the eyes.
Drawing the eyes with charcoal is very simple with a Nitram Charcoal Baton, a blending stick, a graphite pencil, a kneadable eraser, and paper with a fine tooth such as Canson Mi-Teintis.
Step 1: Sketch the EyeWith a graphite pencil, lightly sketch an outline of the eye. The iris and pupil are perfect circles and it’s best to use a template, keeping in mind that the pupil is perfectly centered.
Step 2: The PupilTo begin drawing, sharpen a Nitram Baton to the desired point and begin filling in the pupil. If the subject has a catch light in the pupil, leave a white space. The pupil is the darkest part of the eye and the Nitram B (soft) works well in this area.
Step 3: The IrisOnce the pupil is filled in, move on to the iris. The iris is usually darker on the outside and lightens nearer to the pupil. One the dark outside rim is filled in, use the blending stick to shade the charcoal out into the iris, adding charcoal as needed.
Step 4: The HighlightsThe eye is smooth and somewhat shiny and to achieve the reflective look, use the kneaded eraser to lift the charcoal from the paper until the desired effect is achieved. It may take several passes with both the charcoal and eraser. Smooth the edge of the iris with the blending stick, if needed. Because the white of the eye isn’t really white, the edge of the iris can be blended out into the white of the eye, shading it to a light gray tone. It’s important to draw and shade the corner of the eye.
Step 5: The Lash LineThe lash line should be drawn next to give depth to the eye. The lower lid line should also have depth. A flat dark line will cause the eye to look lifeless. The lower lid line should be shaded under the lower lid line as well. Not only is the under eye shadow realistic, it also provides the canvas for the eye lashes.
Step 6: The LashesIf the point of the baton has worn down, it’s time to sharpen it for the lashes. Hold the baton on a slight angle and, using wrist movement in a flicking motion, draw the lines so they taper at the ends. Be sure to let the wrist move and not the hand or the eye lashes may appear as hard lines. The upper lashes should be done in the same manner with some shading brought up to the lash line.
The eye may look difficult to draw but it’s very easy with the proper tools, and a little practice. Experimenting with the different grades batons will help to determine what works best for individual tastes.