Painting an Eye in Watercolor

Watch a watercolor painting demo of how to paint an eye from beginning to end.

Explained is how to start the painting by blocking out large areas of color. How to make the pupil and eyeball appear convincing and dimensional.

12 min. video

How to add small details like the freckles and eye lashes in a way that integrates well with the entire painting. Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

Eye painting in watercolor, Clara Lieu
Clara Lieu

Video Walkthrough

  • When painting, it’s often more effective to “overdo” the saturation of your colors and then pull them back.
  • When there is an area of the eye that you know you need to keep the white of the page, note that area so you don’t fill it in by accident.
  • The eyelids are a lot more dimensional and dramatic than you think.
  • The “whites” of the eyes (the sclera) are not literally white, they always have a slight tint of color.
  • A wet paper towel is a great way to remove areas and also to “scrub” areas to create softer edges.
  • Look for the “flaws” in the skin to give it texture: blemishes, freckles.
  • Often, if the skin is too smooth in a painting, it can look plastic and fake.
  • Notice that eye lashes are not straight and even, they often cross over each other and are much messier than you think.
  • Veins in an eye usually aren’t that prominent, and need to be made more subtle with a wet paper towel.
  • Try to get a balance of both crisp edges and soft, slow transitions with your watercolor marks.
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