If you want the eyes in your portraits to look realistic you'll need an art template to produce a perfect circle or oval.
The reason for using a template/stencil is that there are going to be situations in which you will need to create a circle or oval. Particularly when you are drawing in a hyper-realistic method. Unless you're a gifted circle/oval maker, your circles and ovals will be less than perfect.
Some instances in which you might want to use a template to create a circle or oval are when drawing...
When I first stated painting in oils I did what many other artists do: I drew circles with no aids of any kind. Then one day another artist, who had much more experience than I, commented on how odd my eyes looked. She asked me if I used an a template to draw the cornea and iris. She suggested that I use a template when drawing the eyes. And now my eyes are much more realistic.
I know what you may be asking... If the eyes are round...
why do I need an oval template?
I'll give you a visual example...
Get a cup and look at it from straight down over it. Notice how the opening is round? Now look at the opening from the side. You'll see that the shape of the opening is now an oval!
The cornea and iris appear to be on the surface of the eye and will appear as ovals when looked at from the side. spheres such as balls will look round no matter which angle you view them from.
The eye is a sphere, and if it were outside of the eye-socket, it would be shaded in a similar way that you would shade any sphere.
When looking for a template make sure it has enough sizes to handle whatever job you might have. The one I use for circles goes from 1/16 inches to 3inches.
Unless your planning on doing large posters or murals, this template will have more than enough sizes to handle any job you might be working on.
My oval template has 15°, 30°, 45°, and 60° ovals.
Now that I've shown off with my pseudo geometry knowledge, I'll let you in on a little secret... I don't pick an oval or circle by choosing a specific inch or degree size on the template.
In fact, I don't know what the difference between a 15° and a 30° oval. I just know one is a little more "squished" than the other.
Don't worry about all the measurements on the templates, you probably won't need them.
So, unless you're pretty good at drawing circles and ovals free hand, you might consider investing in a couple of good templates.
If you want to attempt to draw an oval (also called an ellipse) here is a link to a site that goes into how to do it free-handed: http://www.sibleyfineart.com/tutorial--draw-ellipses.htm
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