How to Draw Anime Eyes and Eye Expressions

There are many ways of drawing anime eyes. This tutorial illustrates how to draw anime eyes with different expressions in one style from the front view.

draw anime eyes
Example of how to draw anime eyes

Step 1 – Draw The Shape of The Eyes

Anime eyes line drawing
Anime eyes line drawing

One defining feature of anime eyes is that they are usually much bigger and wider than real eyes; so that is how we will draw them.

The eyes should be far enough apart that you can fit a third eye in between.

For a normal expression draw the iris slightly covered by the top eyelid while just touching the bottom eyelid. Draw the eyebrows slightly above the eyes in a smooth curve.

When drawing different expressions the eyebrow shape and positions and the positions of the pupils can be different.

For drawing different kinds of eyebrows see:

How to Draw Anime & Manga Eyebrows

Step 2 – Draw the Pupils and the Reflections

Anime eyes reflections and pupils line drawing
Anime eyes reflections and pupils line drawing

Draw the pupil in the middle of the iris.

The positions of the reflections will depend on the the position of the viewer.

There can be more than one reflection depending on how many light sources there are. In this case we have two. One for the main light source and one from a secondary light source.

For example if you are drawing a character that is standing outside on a sunny day the main reflection in the eyes could be caused by the sun while the secondary could come from the sun reflecting off of another object.

Step 3 – Add Shading

Shading anime eyes step by step
Shading anime eyes step by step

To shade the eyes as in the above example you can pretty much make everything excluding the inner part of the iris and the reflections black.

Leave the reflections white and make the iris area grey.

Drawing Different Anime Eye Expressions

anime eye expressions
Examples of how to draw anime eyes with different expressions

The factors that determine the expression of the eyes are:

  • The position and shape of the eyebrows
  • The position of the pupils
  • The position of the eyelids

One major difference between drawing realistic eye expressions is that in anime and manga the size of the pupil can be changed to create a more dramatic expression (really scared eye expression for example).

Below is a breakdown of each expression.

Drawing Normal Anime Eyes

Anime eyes
Anime eyes

Draw as described above in the first part of the tutorial.

Drawing Angry Anime eyes

Angry anime eyes
Angry anime eyes

For an angry look draw the eyebrows with their inner ends pointing down and a wave like shape . Draw the top eyelids slightly lowered down as well and draw the pupils slightly rolled up.

For a more detailed tutorial on drawing (slightly different) angry looking anime or manga eyes see:

How to Draw Angry Anime Eyes (8 Steps)

Drawing Bored Anime Eyes

Bored anime eyes
Bored anime eyes

For a bored look draw the pupils rolled up and the eyelids slightly lowered.

For a step by step tutorial on drawing slightly different looking bored anime/manga eye see:

How to Draw Bored Anime or Manga Eyes

Drawing Shy/Embarrassed Anime Eyes

Shy anime eyes
Shy anime eyes

For a shy or embarrassed look draw the eyes looking down and draw the top eyelids slightly lowered.

Drawing Sad Anime Eyes

Sad anime eyes
Sad anime eyes

For a sad look draw the eyes squinted. Draw the bottom eyelids in a slight upside down arch. Draw the outer edges of the eyebrows lower down with less of an arch than normal or even in an upside down arch.

For a full tutorial on drawing sad anime eye see:

How to Draw Sad Anime & Manga Eyes

Drawing Surprised Anime Eyes

Surprised anime eyes
Surprised anime eyes

For a surprised look draw the eyes wide open with the eyebrows raised. The wider you draw the eyes and the farther you raise the eyebrows the more surprised the character will look.

For a detailed tutorial on drawing eyes with a surprised expression in a slightly different way see:

How to Draw Surprised Anime or Manga Eyes

Drawing Scared Anime Eyes

Scared anime eyes
Scared anime eyes

For a scared look draw the eyes wide open and the eyebrows raised. You can also draw the pupils smaller than normal. The smaller you draw the pupils the more scared your character will look.

Drawing Happy/Content Anime Eyes

Happy content anime eyes
Happy or content anime eyes

For happy or content anime eyes closed with the shape of the eyes in an upside down arch. This is probably the easiest example of drawing anime eyes as there are almost no details to worry about.

Placing Anime or Manga Eyes on the Head

Anime eyes placement on head
Anime eyes placement on head

Real eyes are located in the middle of the head. Anime eyes are often draw much farther down the head.

A good guide for drawing anime eyes is to draw a horizontal line through the middle of the head as shown in the above example and to draw the eyes below that.

It’s important to note that if the eyes are closed or squinted the top eyelashes will need to be drawn further down from the horizontal line in the example. If the eyes are wide open then the eyelashes will need to be drawn further up.


There are almost countless variations of anime eyes but the guidelines and tips used in this tutorial can still apply no matter what style you choose.

For more information on drawing anime and manga eyes you can also check:

For specifics of drawing male and female anime eye see:

For drawing various facial expressions you can see: