Painting Anime Eyes

Eyes can make or break your figure, so it's one of those things that you want to spend extra time on. There are many different orders and styles in painting eyes, and I have tried a few myself. Here is one that I think is pretty safe.

Again I'm going to illustrate with Misato's eyes. Note that the following pictures may be a bit weird since I digitally created the sequence.

In general, I found it more efficient and less error-prone if I work on both eyes in parallel.

First you want to have the eyeballs white. One easy way to achieve this is via masking. I think it's quite important to have a very level surface of white here - if not, your eyes will give jagged reflection that looks quite bad.

Next is the most important step in painting eyes - draw the outlines for the iris and pupil. Use an erasable medium to do this - e.g. if the white is acrylic, use enamel or oil for outlining, and vice versa. You want to spend extra time here to make sure the eyes are aligned and look right; if not, you can erase or fix the mistakes.If your figure is looking sideways, be careful! Most of the time the eyes are not symmetrical - that's because they focus on an object.

When you outline, besides drawing the border of the iris, draw a circle for the main highlight and paint in the pupil. If you get this right, you're half done. I use a grey color to do the outlining. It's more work to fix mistakes with a darker paint.

If you're starting out, I recommend you try to immitate the build up photos that comes with the kit, or get a picture of the character you're working with. Doing it free hand without reference is quite difficult.

Now we can lay down the basic color of the iris. Avoid the highlight outline and leave it white, and leave the pupil too. For Misato I use brown.
Next we lay down a deep tone of the basic color on the top part of the iris. I use red brown.
Next we lay down a light tone of the basic color on the bottom of the iris. You can use orange, here I use a yellow ochre-like brown.
Getting close! Here I fill the pupil with black. I also painted the upper most area of the iris with black.You can smoothen the edge of your highlight circle with the black too.
Using a light grey, the top part of the eye white is given a shade. This gives the eye more depth. I also used black to border the iris.

Line the eye white with black for eyelashes. For anime characters, the bottom lashes are ususally just a thin line that borders the lower part of the iris and extend slightly beyond, don't line the whole bottom. For the upper eye lashes you want to line the whole upper eye. Use a fine tipped brush to give one or more stray lashes at the edge of the eye. It's not easy! You may want to use erasable paint medium here.

You're done! You can give the eye more highlights with white, but Eva characters usually only have one per eye. You also want the eye to be glossy. Either use gloss paints with the above procedure, or apply a gloss coat, such as Future floor wax.

For Misato I went a bit further. Since I use artist oil to paint in the light grey for the eye shadow, I could blend it a bit to make the transistion more natural. Some white was also blended around the pupil to give the eye more lustre. But that's just cosmetics.

Masa has another approach.


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