When attempting to paint eyes in a portrait photo, eyelashes are sometimes the last touch, and they can indeed make or break your work. All eyelashes are not designed equal. Sometimes just a few strokes of the brush is all that is needed to suggest lashes. Other times it is vital to carefully detail lashes since that is the characteristic you want to stand out.
Studying your reference photograph or your model is the first thing you need to do while painting eyelashes. It is not likely that you will find uniformly straight-up eyelashes in every human. If you notice your reference picture carefully, you will see that the top lashes normally go off to the side, then gently lift upward. The bottom lashes are identical.
Be extra careful when painting eyelashes on male subjects. Too much color, and they will look too dark. The same is true for kids. A good technique to follow is to use a tiny brush and to use swift strokes. Stand back and observe the painting before adding more. Small quick strokes are all you need. Paint too many, and you will spoil the portrait. It’s easy to overdo eyelashes.
When I paint portraits, I like to paint the eyes and then the eyelashes. The reason is that the eyes represent a person and finalize the portrait in a sense. Other parts of the eye need to be painted correctly, of course as well. When it comes to the eyelashes, however, sometimes less is more. My advice is to use a tiny detail brush, quick strokes, and to know when to stop!
Here is a step-by-step guide to painting eyelashes
- First, paint the eye, and late jump to eyelashes (it should be the last step in a painting.)
- Everyone has various lengths of eyelashes. Some people (which includes me as well) might be wearing mascara and eyeliner. Either way, you’ll want to utilize a clean liner brush (if you have one) to carefully paint the eyelashes. Look firmly at how the top lashes arc. Starting with the eye’s edge, mimic length and descent of the lash in one quick motion. Start from the outside and towards the inside of the portrait’s eye when they look less pronounced and shorter.
- Add highlights (light-colored, thin) lines in-between the lashes so that they don’t seem like one awkward mass.
- Once you’ve completed painting the eyelashes, give a quick stare and move on from it. Don’t overdo the highlights or finishing touches when it comes to lashes. The hard part is over. Now, go back, refine your painting and your task is over.
We wish you the best.