Anime’s influence on modern culture, particularly young artists, cannot be overstated. Japanese comics and animations have inspired a generation of aspiring artists. Among the distinctive features of anime, the eyes stand out. The curious and imaginative shape and color of anime eyes capture our attention. Although they may seem simple, many struggle with drawing them.
Behind the stylization, sparkles, and thick lashes lies a foundation of realism, anatomy, and design. To grasp the fundamentals, it is recommended to review our previous tutorial, “How to Draw Eyes,” where you will learn about the basic shapes and different types of eyes.
In this tutorial, we will take you through the step-by-step process of drawing and detailing anime eyes.
What You’ll Learn in this Tutorial
- Basic shapes behind anime eyes
- Styles of anime eyes
- Step-by-step process of drawing anime eyes
Materials Needed for this Guide
- A piece of paper
- Graphite pencils (2H, 4B, and 8B)
- Blending tool
- White gel pen/fine liner
The Eyes You’re Going to Draw
These are the steps we will guide you through!
Basic Shapes Behind Anime Eyes
Anime eyes come in various shapes and styles. While they are based on human eyes, the artists stylize them, making it challenging to discern the underlying structure. To overcome this, we need to simplify the eyes into basic shapes.
The three fundamental shapes are round, rectangular, and triangular. These shapes serve as references, not as the base for drawing.
The stylized eyes omit anatomical details like the waterline and lacrimal, but retain simplified lines and spiky shapes for the lashes and eyelids. The iris and pupil also deviate from a perfect circle, taking on elongated ovals or irregular round shapes.
Different eye shapes are associated with specific character traits:
- Rounder shapes depict innocence, youth, positivity, and happiness.
- Rectangular shapes convey responsibility, seriousness, and optimism.
- Sharp and elongated (triangular) shapes indicate maturity and adultness, often seen in characters who have experienced hardships.
Anime Art Styles
Each anime has its unique art style, including the eyes. Protagonists’ eyes, in particular, may possess “powers” or “special characteristics” that distinguish them from others (e.g., The Sharingan in Naruto or Demon Eyes in Kuroshitsuji).
Take a moment to study the chart above, which showcases different art styles. Identify the variations and discern the basic shapes behind them.
To draw anime eyes, imitation is key. Practice by emulating your favorite anime styles and those that catch your attention. Over time, you will develop your own unique art style.
Step 1: Draw a Circle
Begin by drawing a circle with a 2H pencil. Use a compass or small circular object and lightly sketch a circle in the center of your paper. This circle will serve as a marker for the distance between the eyes.
Step 2: Draw a Line
Locate the midpoint of the circle and draw a line. This line will help you draw two additional circles to determine the eye positions.
Step 3: Draw Two Circles
Draw two more circles aligned with the line. Adjust their size according to your desired eye appearance. This is when you decide the shape you want for your eyes. Feel free to experiment and create new styles.
Step 4: Draw the Upper and Lower Lashes
Using two lines, sketch the inner part of the upper and lower lashes. For the upper lashes, use a soft curve, while the lower lash line should feature a sharp, short line.
Step 5: Draw the Lash Outline
Give volume to the lashes. Similar to applying eyeliner, draw the lash outlines. The upper lashes should be thicker than the lower ones.
Step 6: Draw the Irises
Use two oval shapes for the irises. The shape can vary as long as it is round, proportional to the eye size, and resembles an iris.
Step 7: Detail the Upper Lashes
Add triangular, spiky shapes to the lash outlines. Aim for symmetry when drawing both eyes.
Step 8: Add the Lower Lashes
Using small triangular shapes, add the lower lashes. Different styles may omit or use only one lower lash or lashes only for the corners. It’s up to your preference.
Step 9: Add the Pupils
Hint at the shape of the pupils in the middle of the irises. Avoid pressing too hard, as some part of the pupils will be erased later.
Step 10: Draw the Eyelid
Draw the eyelids with a long curved horizontal line and a short vertical line.
Step 11: Draw the Eyebrows
Erase the guidelines and add eyebrows to give the eyes emotion. Anime eyebrows tend to be very thin, but feel free to experiment with your preferred style.
Step 12: Fill the Lashes and Brows
Using a 4B pencil, gently fill the lashes and eyebrows. Build layers gradually, starting with a light shade.
Step 13: Add Depth
Carefully create depth in the highlighted areas using a 4B pencil. Keep the lines near the light thin and soft, and make the lines in the dark areas thick and dark.
Step 14: Mark the Highlights
Highlighting is usually done at the end. However, since we are using graphite, it’s better to add highlights early on to keep the area clean. Mark the spots where you’d like the light to hit the eyes. Anime eyes often feature exaggerated highlights, so have fun with their placement and shapes.
Step 15: Shade the Pupils
Fill in the pupils using an 8B pencil. Leave the upper part blank if you prefer it to merge with the iris. However, shading it entirely is also a valid choice.
Step 16: Shade the Iris
Using a 4B pencil, gently shade the entire iris, leaving the highlights untouched. Strive for soft and uniform shading, as we’ll build more layers from this point.
Step 17: Add Shadows to the Eye Area
Anime eyes do not adhere to realistic anatomy shading. Instead, they employ a simplified and stylized version. Softly shade the highlighted areas to add shadows to the eyes.
Step 18: Shade the Iris – Part 1
Build shading layers in the iris. Shade the highlighted area with a 4B pencil and create a small gradient within the iris. Remember to keep the highlights intact.
Step 19: Shade the Iris – Part 2
Using an 8B pencil, add another layer of graphite to the highlighted areas. Anime irises can have various details, shapes, and shading styles. The showcased technique is simple yet visually pleasing.
Step 20: Be Extra
Unleash your creativity! With a white gel pen, add additional details to your liking. Have fun and enjoy the process. Experiment with stars, extra highlights, or dark zigzag shapes. The choice is yours!
And that’s it! Congratulations on completing the tutorial. We hope you’ve learned how to draw stunning anime eyes and had fun in the process. Thank you for reading, and until next time!