This tutorial explains how to draw anime and manga style eyes from the side view in different states and with different expressions using step by step examples.
Anime eyes are usually drawn much larger than real eyes in relation to the head and often tend to be vertically stretched. However anime still are based on real eyes and understanding how real eyes and eyelids function can be helpful when drawing anime eyes.
Understanding How the Eyes and Eyelids Move
Eyes are basically a sphere (3d circle). The eyes rotate upwards when looking up and downwards when looking down. The eyelids act as a sort of cover pulled around the eyes. In their natural position the eyelids move closer together when the eyes squint and farther apart when the eyes open wide.
When the eyes look up the top eyelid raises.
When the eyes look down the top eyelid lowers.
When the eyes close completely in a relaxes state (not squinting) the top eyelid actually moves all the way to the bottom eyelid while the bottom eyelid remains in place.
Placing Anime Eyes on the Head in Side View
To place anime eyes on the head form the side view (or front view) simply divide the head in two vertically and draw the eyes below that line.
Real eyes are located directly on the halfway line. If you are drawing in a more realistic anime style you may consider moving the eyes further up.
Drawing Anime Eyes Side View
For normal open anime eyes in the side view draw the top of the pupil lightly covered by the top eyelid and draw the eyelids in a natural state slightly above the eyes.
Drawing Startled Anime Eyes Side View
For startled anime eyes from the side view draw the pupil slightly smaller than normal. Draw the top eyelid raised so that it just barely touches the top of the pupil. Draw the bottom eyelid below the pupil. Basically you want to draw the eyes wider open then normal. Draw the eyelids slightly raised.
The reason for making the pupil smaller is that because anime eyes are often vertically stretched making it hard to put enough distance between the eyes and the eyelids to give that startled look.
Drawing Embarrassed Anime Eyes Side View
For embarrassed anime eyes from the side view draw the pupil looking down with a large part of it covered by the bottom eyelid. Draw the top eyelid slightly lowered than normal but not touching the pupil. Draw the eyelids in an upside down (compared to natural state) curve.
Drawing Determined Anime Eyes Side View
For determined anime eyes from the side view draw them slightly squinted and the eyebrows in a “wave” sort of shape lowering towards the direction in which the eyes are looking.
Drawing Surprised Anime Eyes Side View
For surprised anime eyes from the side view draw the eyes wide open and draw the eyebrows raised.
Drawing Tired Anime Eyes Side View
For tired anime eyes from the side view draw the eyes looking down. Draw the top eyelid about halfway down covering a large part of the eye. Draw the eyelids with a lighter curve than a normal expression.
Drawing Angry Anime Eyes Side View
For angry anime eyes from the side view draw the eyes squinted and draw the eyebrows lowering down towards the direction in which the eyes are looking. Draw the lowest part of the eyebrows so that it’s basically lined up with the top of the eyes.
Drawing Upset Anime Eyes Side View
For upset anime eyes from the side view draw the eyes squinted and looking down. Draw the eyebrows in an upside down curve raised towards the direction in which the eyes are facing.
Drawing Scared Anime Eyes Side View
For scared anime eyes from the side view draw them wide open and draw the pupil significantly smaller than normal. You want to leave a lot of space between the pupil and the eyelids. As already mentioned it can be hard to leave enough space between the eyes and the eyelids when drawing anime eyes as the pupils are often vertically stretched. For this reason you can draw the pupils smaller for certain expressions.
Drawing Puzzled Anime Eyes Side View
For puzzled anime eyes from the side view draw them looking slightly upwards. Draw the top eyelids raised but still covering a significant portion of the pupil. Draw the eyebrows slightly raised as well.
Drawing Relaxed (Closed) Anime Eyes Side View
For relaxed closed anime eyes from the side view draw them as pretty much just the eyelashes. In this example it may appear like there is a lot of empty space between the eyebrows and the eyes but remember that it’s the top eyelid that lowers down so that blank space actually represents the eye covered by the eyelid.
Drawing Content Anime Eyes Side View
For content anime eyes from the side view draw them completely closed. Unlike the closed eyes in their relaxed state though you will have the bottom eyelids slightly raised. The slightly raised bottom eyelids will also cause the eyelashes to be angled slightly upwards so draw accordingly. Draw the eyebrows raised as well.
It’s not too difficult to draw anime eyes from the side view as long as you are aware of how eyes behave in different states and expressions as well as some tricks specific to anime eyes (such as drawing smaller pupils for scared eyes for example).
For drawing different eye expressions in the front view you may want to see: