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Harvey Bunda

Ultimate Guide on How to Draw
Manga Eyes

Learn to Draw Manga Eyes Faster

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Alright, so you’ve been drawing manga for a while and have a pretty good grasp on most things… except for the eyes. No matter how many times you try, they just don’t look as good as what you see in professional manga or anime.

Luckily, you’re not alone.

Manga character’s eyes are one of, if not the hardest part of the face to master. Eyes are where most of someone’s emotion is expressed and when drawn well, an artist can create several layers of depth for a character. Based on the style you use, you can distinguish between kindness, malice, sadness, joy, and basically any other human emotion, all without any corresponding dialog.

Manga eyes

In other words, eyes are super important in manga and something you’ll want to work on getting better at drawing.

The following are some tips you can use to improve your eye drawing skills.

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Ladies First

It probably goes without saying that male eyes and female eyes differ quite a bit, especially in manga. Female characters tend to have larger eyes, longer lashes, and more of shine (we’ll get to this later) than males do.

Female manga eyes

Since there’s more to female eyes, we’ll start there for this tutorial.

1. First, you’ll want to start with the eyelids and eyelashes. Draw a thick, arched line in the shape you want for the top of the eye, and then add however many lashes you’d like for this character. Do the same for the bottom eyelid, but not quite as wide. Remember to keep the top lashes fairly long and curved towards the outside of the face.

* Side note: decide how feminine you want this character to look The more eyelashes and the longer they are, the more feminine she will appear. Also, don’t just make a series of thin lines to represent lashes; they should be drawn in segments, almost the same way manga hair is done. It might be best to look at an image for reference.

Now for the main part of the eye - draw a large oval under the arch you just made, about the same width. You can decide how open the eyes should be based on the expression you’re going for. Do you want her to look surprised? Wide-open eyes will do the trick. How about mad? Narrow and coming to a point works best for showing anger.

Next you’ll want to add the pupil and iris (colored portion). Inside the first oval, make a slightly smaller oval, then an even smaller oval inside that one. The smallest oval (the pupil) should be colored in completely black.

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Something very characteristic of anime and manga eyes are the small circles added to represent light reflection and glare. These are typically drawn covering a portion of the pupil and iris, and are left uncolored.

Now you should be left with something that looks like (you guessed it) an eye. Finish up by adding appropriate shading, and then add whatever color you’d like to the iris.

But wait, there’s something missing here. Eyebrows!

Since this is a female character, eyebrows are typically done by drawing a thicker arched line above the eye, contouring to the overall shape of the top lid. Again, here is where you as an artist get to be creative with the type of emotion you want to display. Depending on angle and thickness, you can portray various emotions. Play around with some positioning to see what works best for you.

Now the Guys

So, you should have a pretty good understanding of how to create a female manga character’s eyes. While there are literally thousands of variants, the above tutorial should help with the basics.

Male manga eyes

Male character’s eyes, while often just as expressive, can be a bit easier to draw. For starters, they’re usually smaller and don’t require as much detail.

Let’s get started. Go ahead and draw an arch for your top eyelid, but make it longer and with less of a curve. Do the same for the bottom eyelid but again, not quite as wide. The lids should come to a bit of a point on the outside and on the inside they should come close, but never touch.

From here you will create the eyeball. Imagine a full circle behind the eyelids you drew. Only small, curved areas are going to appear on both the left and right side while the rest is hidden (look in the mirror to get a visual for this).

Inside, you will do the same as you did on the female eye. Draw a small circle (covered slightly by the lids on the top and bottom) to represent the iris, then an even smaller circle for the pupil. Again, color the pupil black, and add a couple small circles for light reflection.

An eye

Hey, look at that. It looks like an eye.

Add some shading and whichever color you’d like for the iris, then draw some masculine eyebrows above the top lid. For male characters, brows are usually thicker, straighter, and come to a point on both ends. Like before, play around with the position to see how it evokes different emotions.

That Wasn’t So Bad

There you have it. That is the basic idea for manga character’s eyes. By no means do you have to stick with all of these rules. The fun about drawing is that everything is entirely up to your imagination. Try out a bunch of different styles and see what you like best.

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