5 Practical Tips for Drawing a Realistic Eye with Tears
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 5 min read


  1. Study the eye structure
  2. Sketch the basic eye shape
  3. Add detail to the iris and pupil
  4. Draw the tears with realism
  5. Shade and highlight for depth

Have you ever admired a piece of art and marveled at how the artist managed to capture such raw emotion in their work? A big part of that is in the details, like the sparkle in the eyes or a single tear rolling down a cheek. Capturing these details can be a challenge, especially when it comes to drawing a realistic eye with tears. But don't worry! We're here to help you master this art with our five practical tips on how to draw a realistic eye with tears. Let's begin!

Study the Eye Structure

Before we jump into the actual drawing process, it's important to familiarize yourself with the basic structure of the eye. You might think an eye is just a simple oval shape with a black dot in the center, but it's much more complex than that. Let's break it down:

The Eyelid

The eyelid frames the eye and creates the shape we're familiar with. Here are a few key points to remember while drawing the eyelid:

  • The upper eyelid has a slight curve, and it's usually more prominent than the lower eyelid.
  • The inner corner of the eye, or the tear duct, is slightly pointed.
  • The eyelashes grow from the edge of the eyelids and they follow the curve of the lid.

The Sclera

Next up is the sclera, also known as the white of the eye. Despite its name, it's not pure white. It has subtle shades of blue, grey, and even yellow. Keep this in mind as you're adding color to your drawing.

The Iris and Pupil

Central to the eye is the iris and pupil. The iris, the colorful part of the eye, is a circular shape with a black dot in the middle— the pupil. Remember, the iris is not a solid color. It's a blend of different hues and has a unique pattern that can be fun to draw.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the eye's structure, we're ready to start sketching. In the next section, we'll guide you on how to sketch the basic shape of a realistic eye with tears. Stay tuned!

Sketch the Basic Eye Shape

Now, let's bring that understanding into practice. With the right approach, you can sketch an eye shape that is both accurate and rich in detail. Ready? Here's how:

Start with a Light Hand

The key to a good sketch is starting light. This allows you to make adjustments without leaving heavy marks on your paper. So, grab your pencil and lightly sketch an oval shape for the basic structure of the eye.

Mark the Eyelids

Next, draw two lines across the oval shape for the eyelids. Remember, the upper eyelid curve is more prominent than the lower one. Also, don't forget the slight point at the inner corner for the tear duct.

Draw the Iris and Pupil

In the middle of your eye shape, draw a smaller circle for the iris and a smaller one inside that for the pupil. Keep in mind that part of the iris is often hidden by the upper eyelid, so adjust accordingly.

Great job on the basic sketch! Next, we'll move on to adding details to the iris and the pupil. This is where you'll start to see the realistic eye with tears come to life!

Add Detail to the Iris and Pupil

Now that we have our basic eye shape, let's turn our attention to the iris and pupil. These elements are vital when learning how to draw a realistic eye with tears. It's all about the details, right?

Texture the Iris

See those unique patterns in your iris? Yup, we're going to draw them! Start by sketching light lines radiating from the pupil to the edge of the iris. Don't make them straight — natural irises have a bit of a wavy pattern. Give it a try!

Darken the Pupil

Now, it's time to darken the pupil. The pupil is the darkest part of an eye, so feel free to press your pencil a bit harder here. But, remember to leave a little spot white. Why? That's our reflection, and it will make the eye look more real.

Add the Limbal Ring

Ever noticed that thin, dark line around the iris? That's the limbal ring. Go ahead and add that in. It's a small detail but goes a long way in creating realism.

Whew! Take a moment to appreciate your work. We're halfway through learning how to draw a realistic eye with tears. Up next? The juicy part — drawing the tears!

Draw the Tears with Realism

Alright, we've got the eye. Now comes the emotional part — let's bring on the tears. Here's how to draw a realistic eye with tears.

Create the Tear Duct

First, let's start with the tear duct. It's that little pink corner of the eye on the side closest to the nose. Sketch a tiny oval there. Tears originate from this area, so don't skip it!

Trace the Tear Path

Next, visualize how a tear would roll down the face. Draw a wavy line from the tear duct, following the shape of the cheek. Remember, tears aren't straight—they follow the curves of the face.

Draw the Tear

Now for the actual tear. Draw an elongated droplet shape on the tear path you've just created. Make the top of the droplet a bit wider, tapering to a point at the bottom. It's starting to look a bit emotional now, isn't it?

Add Reflections

Finally, it's time for the finishing touches. Light reflects off tears, giving them a shiny appearance. Add a few tiny white spots on each tear to represent this. Just like that, you've learned how to draw a realistic eye with tears. But wait, there's more! Let's add some depth to our drawing in the next section.

Shade and Highlight for Depth

Now, let's make it pop! Adding shading and highlighting is a key step in your journey on how to draw a realistic eye with tears. Let's dive right in.

Start with Shading

Shading gives your drawing a three-dimensional look. Start by lightly shading the area around the eye and the tear duct. Remember, the part of the eye closest to the nose is typically darker because of how the face is shaped. Lightly shade the tear as well—tears aren't completely transparent, after all.

Add Highlights

Next, let's add some highlights. These are the parts of your drawing where light hits the hardest. On the tear, make a couple of small areas where you don't add any shading at all. This will make your tear look shiny and wet. Don't forget about the eye either! Add a small highlight to the iris and pupil to make them seem moist and reflective.

Blend for a Realistic Look

Lastly, gently blend your shading and highlights together. This will give your drawing a soft, realistic look. Be sure to use a clean finger or a blending stump for this, as using a dirty finger could smudge your work.

And voilà! You've successfully learned how to draw a realistic eye with tears. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't get discouraged if it doesn't look perfect on your first try. Keep at it, and soon you'll be creating eye-catching — no pun intended — works of art!

If you enjoyed learning about drawing realistic eyes with tears and want to expand your skills even further, consider checking out the workshop 'Painting 101: How To Paint The Human Eye' by David Shepherd. This workshop will not only help you master painting eyes but also provide you with valuable techniques to enhance your overall artistry.