Find out how to draw anime eyes with this artical! Learn the anatomy of an eye to aid in the styling process. In this artical (also available as a pic), artist Raquel Arrellano explains in detail the different eye shapes in anime and how to color them.
I’ll explain the different shapes and styles of eyes, how to apply basic colors, how certain expressions work, and finally, how to draw anime-style eyes for an illustration
- Basic eye shape
- Real Eye vs. Anime Eye: The Proportions
- Eye shape variations
- Styles and grayscale
- Anime eye shapes and colors
- How to Color Anime Eyes
- Expressions through anime eyes
- Final Image + Anime Eyes
1. Basic eye shape
Before you start drawing and designing anime style eyes, it is essential to learn the anatomy of an eye. This will make the styling process easier.
2. Real Eye vs. Anime Eye: The Proportions
Look at the image below to see the difference between realistic and anime-style eye proportions.
3. Eye shape variations
Since there are a variety of eye types and shapes in anime, first think about the type of eyes you want to create.
4. Styles and grayscale
It’s a good way to approach the exaggerated version of anime eyes. From some elongated shapes, add the necessary shades of gray to create depth, always taking into account the highlights and structures that interest you most. Notice that in Steps 1 and 2 I only sketched the basic structure of the eye. Here you have the base of your eye and a guide to help you determine where to place the shades of gray.
In step 3 , I apply gray subtly (I make the pupil area a bit darker than the rest of the eye).
In step 4 , I add darker grays to create depth on the upper part of the eye, as the eyelid casts shadows on the eyeball. In this step, I tried a little experiment and added a lighter gray in the center of the pupil, to insert a certain touch of originality.
In steps 5 and 6 , I define and accentuate grays and textures.
In step 7 (the last), in addition to adding a little less intense light than the rest of the highlights, I retouch and detail all the areas.
To see all the details of this process, please watch the video.
5. Anime eye shapes and colors
It is convenient to separate the process of creating the eyes into different parts, as explained earlier. Let’s go back and break it down one more time and add the colorization process. Let me show you some colorization techniques starting from the grayscale drawing we already created in the previous part.
Remember: In addition to the basic grays with their respective gradients, add luminosity and textures that match the style of your drawing (see the example in the previous point).
In steps 1 and 2 , I start by drawing the eyelids. This will help me know where to place the iris and the rest of the eye.
In step 3 , I add basic gray tones (see “Styles and grayscale” ), then in step 4 , I set the combination mode of the colorization layer.
In this case, I set the Combination Mode to Overlay , but you’re free to try and choose another mode.
This way, the color you add will blend seamlessly into the gray parts. On the right you can see where the combination modes are. The default mode is set to “Normal”. Choose the mode you want.
If your goal is to draw colorful and attractive anime eyes, choose vibrant and saturated colors for best result.
6. How to Color Anime Eyes
Here you can see the results of using different colors and combination modes. I used Key mode for the purple, Bright Light for the yellow, and Steady Light for the blue tones and pink details. They go very well with the gray layer.
The key is knowing where you want to place the gray gradients, shadows, and highlights. Please refer to “Styles and Grayscale” if in doubt.
Try different colors and see which are best for the effect you’re trying to achieve. In this illustration, I’ve chosen two complementary colors: purple and yellow – with pink and blue tints.
Grayscale colorization steps:
In step 1 , I simply started with the previously created grayscale drawing.
For steps 2 and 3 , choose any color you want (purple and a bit of blue in my case) and try a combination mode that works well with grayscale.
For steps 4 and 5 , I added yellow using the Vivid Light combination mode .
In step 6 , I usually soften the hues a bit, using the eraser or lowering the layer opacity.
Finally, in step 7 , I just add the final touches and some strokes to highlight the volume and textures.
7. Expressions through anime eyes
In real life and in the world of manga/anime, the eyes are one of the most important features for expressing an emotion. Remember that the facial muscles will contract or relax, depending on the expression you want to achieve.
Let’s take a look at the eyelids, the inside of the eye and the eyebrows.
The emotions in these examples are easy to understand.
In the first example ( 1 ), the eyebrow is a little tense, but the eye is relaxed and bright; it reflects a state of worry or the fact that someone or something is missing from the character.
In the second example ( 2 ), the eyebrow is arched vertically and the eye is closed, so we can deduce that the character is happy.
In the following example ( 3 ), there is no reflection, the iris is completely white and the pupil is considerably reduced. It can communicate aggression. Note that the eyebrow is arched in the opposite direction of a happy eyebrow, which also signifies anger.
Let’s analyze all these expressions to deduce their meaning: 4 is suspicious, 5 is worried, 6 is neutral or observant, 7 is shocked, 8 is sad, and 9 is shocked/mad.
8. Final Image + Anime Eyes
Here is a character illustration with anime eyes. Please note how colors and shapes work together.