Anime. When I say that, I bet you think of cute and illustrative girls, animals, and twinkling stars. Maybe you're one of those people that thinks of expressive, wild, and loud action characters (usually with some type of crazy hairstyle). Even if you didn't think of these things, you must admit that there is one thing that ties all manga and anime together: the expressive style, especially in the eyes.
Characters in anime tend to be expressive. The artists behind these expressions all know how important the eyes are when portraying emotion or personality. In this article, I'll be taking you through a detailed step-by-step process of drawing female anime eyes!
Did I mention this drawing tutorial is beginner friendly?
VIDEO ART TUTORIAL: If learning from an article isn't your style, check out my in-depth educational video on how to draw male and female anime eyes:
Step 1 - Sketch the basic eye shape.
Draw the basic shape of your iris, which is a circle or slight oval! Keep your pencil pressure relatively light in case of mistakes.
Step 2 - Sketch the lash lines.
Draw a curved line on the top and bottom of your circle. Note that the top lash line is longer than the bottom, and has a more severe curve near the inner corner of the eye.
Step 3 - Sketch the pupil.
Following the shape of the circle or oval you drew before, draw a smaller version of this shape in the middle of the eye.
Step 4 - Mark in the reflections of the eye.
Mark in the reflections of the eye. For this drawing I chose two circle shapes, with one being smaller than the other. You can choose to draw different shapes too, such as a star, rectangle, or something organic!
Step 5 - Thicken the top lash line.
The thicker the lash line, the cuter! Notice how I sharpened the inner and outer corners of the eye while doing so? You may also note how I "flicked" the outer corner of the eye (like winged eyeliner).
Step 6 - Add the lashes (optional)
Although optional, adding wispy eyelashes to your anime eye will make it appear cuter, and more "feminine". Note the direction of the lashes: because the perspective of this eye is front-facing, the eyelash in the middle is coming out straight, while the inner corner is curving left and up, and the outer corner is curving right and up. Also note how the base of the eyelashes are thicker than the tip, because eyelashes are tapered.
Here I chose to add a variety of long, thick lashes, and short, thin lashes. This adds more depth to the eye. For a in-depth explanation on drawing eyelashes, go to 1:55 of my instructional video.
Step 7 - Add an eyelid (optional)
Eyelids can be used to make your character look sleepy, alert, or neutral. Although a subtle detail, it adds depth to the eye. Note how the eyelid is slightly further from the lash line near the outer corner of the eye, and closer near the inner corner. Also notice how the line is darker and thicker near the outer corner.
DRAWING TIP: Higher eyelids can make a character look tired, bored, or uninterested, while lower eyelids (combined with smaller pupils) can make a character look shocked, surprised, or scared.
Step 8 - Thicken the lower lash line & add a triangle.
Thicken the lower lash line, but not to the same extent as the upper lash line. Roughly sketch out a triangle that attaches the upper and lower lash line on the outer corner of the eye. Try not to allow this triangle to touch the lower lash line, and instead like it is about to.
Step 9 - Fill in the triangle & draw the lower lashes.
Do you notice how the triangle curves into the upper lash line? This gives the eye a more "eyeball" like shape, or the illusion of it. The lower lashes follow the same steps as the upper lashes, but this time they're slightly shorter.
Step 10 - Fill in the pupil.
Take care not to colour in the reflections of the eye -- those stay white. The pupil and lash lines should be the darkest part of your drawing.
Step 11 - Add a gradient to the iris ✨
Take your time in this step! This is what adds beautiful depth to your eye. Keep your pencil pressure harder near the top, and gradually relieve pressure as you go down. This shading technique takes some practice, and you may need to go over it a few times. Make sure your pencil is sharp. It's better to push too little than too hard.
Step 12 - Add a shadow under the eyelid.
Add a curved shadow at the top of the eyeball to add depth and create a 3D illusion. It's optional, but I like to lightly shade in a tear duct underneath the eye, and on the sides of the eyelid to show even more depth!
The final step that I do some last minute touches. Here I also made the lash line darker, and cleaned up some lines.
Then... VOILA! Your female anime eye drawing is complete! If you want to draw the other eye, just repeat the same steps but mirrored. Be sure to leave about the width of one eye in between the eyes. I recommend drawing both eyes at the same time to make sure they're even!