Creating Realistic Eyes Using Colored Pencils with Spiros Felonis
Spiros Felonis, one of our Fuel Your Creativity artists, specializes in vivid, lifelike celebrity portraits using colored pencils. Read his artist profile article here to learn more about Spiros' background and inspiration. Spiros often uses a reference picture for his art and makes a light sketch of the entire portrait before moving on to specific areas with colored pencils. The first part of a portrait Spiros creates and spends the most time on is the eyes. Keep reading to learn the 4 valuable steps Spiros uses while creating an eye using Arteza's Professional Colored Pencils!
- Colored Pencils
- Pencil Sharpener
- Mixed Media or Drawing Paper
Creating Realistic Eyes
Spiros starts by slightly erasing any sketch lines so they won't be obvious underneath colored pencils. He then begins with the basic foundation of an eye, using a black colored pencil (A012) to draw eyeliner. Next, he creates the outline of the entire eye with Sienna Brown (A048). Using the black colored pencil again (A012), Spiros starts including more details of the eye like the outline of the iris and shades of brown for color of the iris. After adding in the pupil (A012), Spiros uses Elephant Gray (A035) on the inside of the eyes to create shadows. Now that he's made a detailed eye structure, Spiros moves on to the next step.
At this point, Spiros starts blending with a white colored pencil (White Quartz, A024) beginning on the eyelid and on the inside corner of the eye. He finds that because it is always the lightest part of the eye, adding this highlight makes the eye pop. Spiros uses a lot of pressure during his blending process which ensures that the colors blend perfectly and there are no harsh lines.
He then colors the area around the eye with an assortment of skin tone colors similar to the subject, making sure to add shadows with the darker shades and blending using lighter shades. Our Arteza colored pencils can handle even the most enthusiastic marks, so if you try these tips for yourself, don't be afraid to apply pressure!
Lastly, Spiros adds gray (A035) to create shadows. Spiros uses gray in both the eye and around the skin of the eye; however, he didn't always do this process. He discovered this effect while experimenting a few years ago and hasn't looked back. He finds that adding gray creates much more realism and always makes sure to include this step in his artwork.
Most importantly, Spiros ensures the colored pencils he uses are always sharpened before he starts drawing because it is essential for adding refined details. Once his pencils are sharp and the eye area is blended, Spiros starts to add in details. Using Sienna Brown (A048) at the bottom eyelid, he makes the lines a little bit harsh and as close to reference pictures as he can get in order to create more depth. Spiros continues to make the shadows around the eye area even darker. He then starts to draw the lower lashes with a black colored pencil (A012), where he focuses on the reference photo to ensure the lashes are as accurate as possible. At this point, the eyes are starting to come to life, and he is ready to move onto the next step.
Refining Facial Features
An important part of Spiros' technique is creating the nose before finishing the eyes. He prefers to complete the facial features that connect first (like eyes and nose) before he starts moving onto other areas of the face. Spiros begins by creating the outline of the nose with the most prominent skin tone he's using. The shadow and shading of the nose are vital, and he finds that not getting it accurate can make the portrait look off. Lastly, he uses the same blending process on the eye and nose area to ensure everything is cohesive. For Spiros, it takes 3 or 4 passes over the portrait before he feels the piece is thoroughly blended.
We hope Spiros’ process of creating his portraits has inspired you to create your own beautiful colored pencil portraits and works of art! Don’t forget to share your colored pencil expertise with us on Instagram.