For the past three years I’ve participated in Elle Luna’s 100 Day Challenge. 2015 I drew all the Animals of Farthing Wood, 2016 I illustrated my most played songs, and for 2017 I drew 100 eyes.

You can view them all in more detail on Instagram.

A6 Sketchbook

I usually restrict myself in some way with these projects, and I’m quite fond of using A6 sketchbooks. Make it as easy as possible for yourself to complete the daily task, but leave room to expand if you have the time. The small sketchbooks do that for me. For the eyes I could grow them to explore detail, or shrink them to save time.

Fineliners, Promarkers, Coloured Pencil and White Marker

I wanted to work with my promarkers this time, to help build skill, and because I love mixing media. I felt like if I only used pencil, I would get caught up in the detail and spend hours trying to get each eye perfect. Markers are more weighty in their markings, and so free you up to be more expressive and keep moving.

The biggest thing I learnt here is to buy new markers if the old ones seem to be drying out! I left that too long, and was struggling to draw with the old ones thinking I could get by. I couldn’t, and it affected the quality of drawings.

You can build layers with markers. For some eyes I was working in 5 minute slots throughout the day, so I got the layers. Others I was doing all the marker work in one go and getting a blended effect. Experiment and see what you like.

Eye Choices

This was the toughest part. Thinking of 100 people, finding 100 decent references, gah, this was hard! I reused some people and used cartoons when I was short on time. Deciding all 100 at the start would have been beneficial, but probably not practical.

Drawing Structure

I wanted to keep them black and white, except for the iris. There are a couple where I’ve broken the rule (I mean, how can you draw Bowie without the colour in the lightning bolt too?) but otherwise it’s worked well.

The white marker is what brought the eyes to life. I’d be quite happy with the drawing, but as soon as I added the highlights they gained another dimension.

What Worked Best

Light coloured eyes (blues/greens) and photos without direct flash worked best. Markers need a lot of contrast in the reference, and for the irises the colours needed to be light enough to show some marker through.

Try not to leave big gaps between drawing. I get rusty quickly and can see where I’ve started and stopped the project. Something for me to work on during the next one!

The Quotes

To add some interactivity I added a quote with each on Instagram, to enable people to guess who they were. I enjoyed finding the quotes as it tied into my decisions on the eyes themselves.

My Favourites

It’s no secret that I think Cillian’s eyes are divine. I drew them 10 times for the project, using different character references for each. I also used TV shows and films to do groups of characters, and a couple of times tied things into current events. One of the eyes is mine. The ones with glasses were some of the hardest!

Final Thoughts

There are a couple where my eyes and hand were not coordinating, and one or two where I didn’t invent enough detail for the rough reference. For some of them they’re more obvious when you look at the thumbnail small. I’m really proud of the project. I love drawing eyes, and was so excited to do 100 of them! I’d like to do a full portrait in this style, so watch this space 🙂

Elle Luna’s 100 day project usually begins in April, let me know what you’ll be doing this year!