Eyes: Part I


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Eyes: part II - lids
and lashes


Hopefully you're coming here directly from part one. If so this picture will make sense. In part one you saw a quick view of the skull, the eyeball, and a few of it's muscles. In the illustration directly below, you'll see the bony orbit is outlined and grayed out ("rim of bone"). It would be window into the skull if the eye wasn't there. You can also see the spherical outline of the eyeball itself in white. And, what's new here is the roughly triangular overlay of the eyelids - more accurately, the opening between them - placed over the round eyeball. (The heavy pencil line.)

The bony orbit, the eyeball, and lids.


The Eyelids and Lashes


Around the eyes you have an upper and lower lid. Inside both lids is a tiny cartilage called the "tarsal plate". It's just beneath the skin in each lid, it's narrow and goes left to right under the entire lid width-wise. It acts like a curtain rod of sorts: it adds stability to your lids and allows them to open like a garage door i.e., they enable your lids to open or close all in one piece.

I only mention them because they allow your lids to open under the overhang of the brow in a "sleeve-like" fashion.. "Sleeve-like?" you say? Well think of it like this: each section of a telescope slides into the one behind it, right? Into the larger section? That's "sleeve-like". That's just what the eyelid does when it opens or closes - it rolls and unrolls up under the brow. (It's more profound on the upper lid.)

Detail of the eye lids

  1. This is just a demonstration of the fold caused by opening the upper lid. All the hoopla above about the tarsal plate was to make you aware of the cause of this fold. Watch somebody open and close their eye - you'll see clearly this sleeve-like action.

  2. The vertical jaggie lines shows the placement of the tarsal plate. If I hadn't mentioned it in the first place, I wouldn't have to go into all of this explanation now. But I think it's interesting, and hopefully you do too. If someone comes into the ER with a laceration of the upper lid and you can see the bright shiny white of the tarsal plate, it's time to get an ophthalmology referral.

  3. Three shows the medial (or nose-side) canthus. The canthus is just the sharp angle of the eye where it changes from upper to lower lid. I don't know if God made that differentiation but the medical establishment has named it as such. There's also a lateral canthus, and it's - guess where - at the lateral (or ear-side) of the eye.

  4. This is the lower lid. Generally when you're doing caricatures, you don't need to draw a zillion lashes. Usually just a darkened line or 3 or 4 representative lashes get the job done. If someone has just monstrous lashes, then you can get a little more extravagant.

    Note: if you look close at the medial canthus you'll see a tiny pulpy pink mound of tissue. It's called the caruncula. This part of the eye is always soaking wet. Why? Because the tears flow from the upper "lateral" side of your eye to the medial canthus - where they drain into your nose. (Which is why you sneeze if you look at a bright light or up towards the sun - all those tears irritate your sneeze apparatus. See if you can find the caruncula on a friend's eye.)


Try to name these parts on the Rodney Dangerfield eye:


  • Eye lid, lid plate (inferred not really visible) and lid fold,

  • medial and lateral canthus,

  • iris,

  • cornea,

  • and pupil:

Rodney Dangerfield Eye


Other things the eyelids do...


The lids also "tent" slightly depending on which way you're looking: the bulge of the cornea deforms the oval shape of the lids to a more triangular shape, like this...

Bulging of the lids caused by the cornea


Or like this...


More bulges, this time looking left


Here's some front views of the eyelids as they adjust to the movement of the eyeball and corneas beneath it. The high point of the lids is over the pupil/cornea. Learning this will help you spot these subtle features in other peoples eyes.

Front views of the eye showing the corneal
bulge of the upper lid.

Well that's enough anatomy for now. If you look over these two pages (Eyes: part I and II) and get a pretty good feel for the visible parts of the eye and the not so visible parts, doing the actual drawing of them will be more understandable. And guess what?...


...It's time to draw

Go to Part III: Pupils, Iris, and Eyeball

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