Here are my top ten suggestions for how to draw glasses.
1. Downplay or eliminate the reflections on the lenses.
2. Reduce the cast shadows or caustic effects below the lenses on the cheek, and the shadows beneath the temple pieces. In this watercolor-pencil drawing of my friend Paul, I only put a small accent underneath the frames to show where they touch the cheek.
3. De-emphasize the nosepads, too. In general, these details don’t add to the impression of character; they’re just accidental effects.
4. If you have a dark background, the far lens can be suggested with just a curving white line. If you’re working in ink, you have to carefully draw around that shape.
5. As you start the drawing, lightly indicate the glasses, but otherwise ignore them. Try to draw the face without the glasses at first. Erase them with your mind as your draw.
6. Once the face and eyes are constructed, then “put on the glasses.”
7. Big or dark frames often cast shadows over the whole eye area, so the modeling on the eyes may need to be a bit darker than they would be without glasses.
8. Sometimes you may want to capture the optical effects of glasses. Glasses distort the size of the eyes, and they usually shift the contour of the cheek. Reading glasses make the eyes bigger and move the cheek contour outward. Distance glasses for nearsighted people make the eyes appear smaller and move the cheek contour inward.
9. For cartoony character effects, you may want to eliminate the eyes altogether inside the glasses frames, leaving a smudge or a foggy patch, which gives a “clueless” look. For this “goofy” sketch of Jeanette, I drew her glasses crooked.
10. Just a small hint of the glasses gives the full impression of them.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, or advice!