How to Draw Eyes

Seh Hui Leong

Manga Tutorial

Male eyes sample

In this tutorial, I’ll put more emphasis on eyes, which I think is the hardest part to master (the hair comes second ^^).

Why I say that drawing eyes is the hardest to master? This is because eyes plays an important role in expressing the character. Not only you have to make sure that the eyes are balanced, you also have to draw out the eyes to show the emotion of the character. Yeah, hair might be tedious to draw; but mastering it wasn’t that hard compared to eyes.

So, let’s get started!


Good tips, tricks and techniques are in BLUE.

Common pitfalls, errors, and disasters in RED.

Different types of eyes and eyebrows

Various shapes of eyes

Before we start, it is better for us to know some different types about eyes. Now, as shown in the picture on your right, eyes can take different shape and sizes. Before you say that drawing eyes are very complex, inspect the picture carefully.

Notice that I’ve drawn an outline around the eyes, and you’ll be surprised that these shapes looks awfully like polygons! That means that you don’t need to be afraid when you are drawing eyes, it is quite simple to draw (although hard to master :P)

Talk about the shape of the eyes, they can range from circles to hexagons, anything that have more sides than a hexagon is uncommon in anime drawing. So, when you start to draw or design eyes for your character, knowing the shape of the eyes will help you a lot in drafting the eyes.

Sample eyebrows

The same applies for eyebrows: it also take different shape, color, and sizes.

You can divide eyebrows into two types:

Smooth vs jagged eyebrow flow

  1. The “Streamlined” eyebrows: The most commonly used. It can be a straight line, a “hill”, or a “small wave” (like this one).

  2. The “Jagged” eyebrows: Usually these kind of eyebrows are used for characters who have an exceptional personality. Many villains have these kind of eyebrows, but usually not females!

Difference between male and female eyes

Here’s also a point to note when drawing eyes for different genders:

Male eyes sample

For males:

Eyebrows are thicker, no eye lashes, and usually the eyes are smaller than females.

Female eyes sample

For females:

Thin eyebrows, eye lashes are thicker, and the eyes are bigger compared to males.

These rules aren’t fixed as different characters have different personalities and you’ll have to break some rules for that. E.g. An adventurous woman (e.g. Lara Croft) will have thicker eyebrows.

* NOTE: The size of the eyes looked almost the same in the samples given here. But with careful inspection, you’ll notice that the eyes of the females takes up a larger area compared to males.

Step-by-step guide

Step 1: Draft the shape for size

Draw out the overall shape of the eyeball and draw a cross to indicate the center of the eye.

Step 2: Sketch out the shape

Next, sketch out the shape of eye and the eyebrows. Take note that your eyebrow should match the eyes drawn, your instincts can be a good judge for this ;).

Step 3: Draw the details and pupil

Then, sketch where the eyes are looking at. Below are examples how the eyes look like at different directions. Take note that the eyes follow the direction he or she is looking at, so be extra careful. Otherwise you’ll have a character who is not paying attention :).

Looking at various directions

Step 4: Draw the iris

Now, you eye is almost finished, but the eyes still look lifeless and needs more details. So, sketch out the pupils, the dark areas and the light area of the eyes.

* NOTE: You’ll need some understanding about “light sources” before determining the dark and light areas. If you’re clueless about this, just trace out my examples for the time being, or refer a book on art.

Step 5: Final Touches - Shading

For the final touch, just shade the dark areas and there you have it!

Written by

Seh Hui Leong

Python programmer by trade, interested in a broad range of creative fields: illustrating, game design, writing, choreography and most recently building physical things. Described by a friend as a modern renaissance man.