Simple tips for drawing authentic anime eyes

Today we’re going to be going through some simple yet effective techniques to combat some of the most common mistakes made by students as they’re learning to draw anime style eyes.

First of all, it is important to understand what parts of the realistic human eye we use when drawing anime eyes. After all, even very exaggerated anime eyes are rooted in reality somewhere!

Simplifying the eye for anime style

Firstly, we have the above style, where we use the entire outline of the eye and iris. You can see some rough examples of the kind of anime eyes we get by using this technique on the left.

Next, we have the following style, where we are using the top eyelid and eyelashes, the iris, and just the lashes from the bottom eyelid.

Finally, this most simplified style uses either just the outline of the eye, or just the iris. It might be hard to tell, but the top and bottom eye shapes here are in fact simplified representations of the upper and lower eyelid being squeezed together!

Now we’ve seen which parts of the eyes we use to draw eyes, let’s move on and look at some common mistakes often made by artists just starting out with the anime style.

Common mistakes and how to fix them

The outer edge of the eye doesn’t line up

This is a really common mistake made by anime artists when learning! Because we simplify the edge of the eye, it can be easy to forget what the original shape of the eye should be. Make sure you have it clear in your mind which part of the eyes are which, and how they should connect. Make sure they form a shape that means they would connect with each other in a natural shape if you followed the lines on, even when you’ve left out bits of the outlines.

The same goes for the following side view of the eyes, so be careful, whatever angle you’re drawing from!

Fail to follow this rule, and we end up with a portion that is neither eyeball or skin (marked in red here).

Skewed iris and pupils

Make sure the shape of the iris and pupil are relatively rounded, and standing upright in the eye, rather than slanting off to one side.

Unnatural eye shapes when drawn from the side

Because of how large and rounded anime eyes sometimes look from the front, it can be easy to get confused when drawing from the side.

Make sure the eye connects in a realistic way at the corner, rather than just drawing two flat, parallel lines. The eye should form a half-almond shape when viewed from the side, to reflect the natural shape of the eye.

Also, be sure to flatten the iris of the eye out, so that we see the lens of the eye floating on the surface, rather than a big round sideways iris on the left. Looking at photos of real eyes will help you see how the eye is put together and understand this point more firmly.

Talking of the “lens” of the eye, remember the full shape of the eye ball when drawing. We are drawing only a small portion of the eye that’s visible through the open eyelids. Because of the shape of the eyeball, the surface of the eye when drawn from the side should form a slight curve. Use this shape for the most realistic results!

I hope these tips will be useful for you when drawing anime characters! The mistakes mentioned here are very common among anime artists, and can be hard to notice on your own. Now you know how to spot these mistakes, it’ll be really easy to fix them using the techniques I’ve shown you here!

Get more great tips, as well as personal one-to-one advice from your teachers, at our art school, Anime Art Academy! We have plenty of free lessons available there too!

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