Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Colored Pencil Tutorial: eye of a jaguar

Greetings, my fine feathered friend!
Creating realistic eyes can seem a daunting task, but it really is just a matter of layers.  Today I am going to show you how using one of the jaguar's eyes from my current project.

Start with an accurate drawing
This eye is on the more shadowed part of the face so the colors will be more subdued than the other, but the steps are still the same.
Put down a light layer of base color
In this case, my base color was yellow ochre.
Lightly add in highlight color and other main colors
I added a thin strip of canary yellow where the brightest part of the eye will be.  Then I added limepeel near the pupil and pumpkin orange along the bottom.  Yellow ochre was then layered over the eye--except for the lightest part--to unify the colors.
Add more value to colors by putting down more layers
More yellow ochre was added and also a layer of goldenrod.  Terra cotta was added to the bottom to darken.
Color in pupil, add shadows, and refine colors with more layers
Sepia was added to pupil and to area shadowed by the eyelid.  Remember to leave a space for the reflection of light in the eye.  More limepeel and goldenrod layers added.
Deepen shadows and darken pupil, define dark eyelid
Add more layers of sepia to darken up the eye.  When shading, be sure your pencil barely touches the surface of the paper.  Shading is all about how many layers you put on, not how heavy you put the pencil on paper.  Also use sepia to draw in the dark eyelid around the eye.  This will help you to see if you need to add more color to the eye.
Add black to pupil & the darkest shadows of the eye
Just like when adding the sepia, add the black with a light touch and build up the layers.  I also toned down the color in this eye by adding a thin layer of sepia over it.  Again, keep your touch very light!
Add color to reflection of light in eye, touch up other colors as needed
I added a little jade green to the spot of light in the eye, and also softened its edges with a white pencil.  I also did a little touching up to some of the colors until I was satisfied.
And there you have it!  Colored pencil is all about layers, layers, and more layers :)  So the next time you think to yourself "I can't make that!", just remember that your subject is merely layers of color.  As always: Happy Flying! 









  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful explanation of your process, Sarah! Beautiful jaguar eye!

  2. really nice tut :) and very neat seeing the eye go from flat to really life-like

  3. Oh my goodness - those eyes are amazing! I don't use coloured pencil (although I wish I could as the effect you achieve is fantastic) but it was really interesting to see the step by step of how you coloured this - and useful to learn about shading being about layers and not how hard you apply the pencil.


Thank you for perching in my blog tree!