When I was first learning to draw portraits, I would always start with the eyes, often to the detriment of the piece. I ignored composition, proportion, scale, everything, and just drew the eyes. Then I would sort of grow the rest of the face out from that point. Sometimes I would just get lucky and be relatively successful, but more often than not something would just be.. off.
I’m much better now at working the whole piece holistically, building the shapes and proportions together before adding any detail. But when I do start on the detail, the eyes usually come first still. There’s just something about the eye, when it’s down on paper suddenly there’s a real person waiting to be drawn, instead of just lines on a page. And they always convey the same message to me.
“Don’t screw me up.”