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How to Draw Cartoon Eyes

In this tutorial, we’ll discuss the basics of drawing cartoon eyes, how eyes work, and how you could use these concepts to develop and experiment with stylistic renditions of the eye.

For additional guidance, I recommend looking at live or photographic references, even if your goal is not to draw realistically or from life. A mirror can also be a great way to get a quick glance at proportions and how the face generally “works”.

Tutorial by Daisy Ein

Learn also:

#1 Understanding Cartoon Eye Basics

How to Draw Cartoon Eyes

Even when drawing stylistically, it is still important to note how the eye itself works. I like to think of this as a case of knowing the rules so you can effectively break them.

So, let's start with the eyeball. Generally speaking, the eyeball is a spherical shape. Note, we are not necessarily talking about the eye as it normally looks on the human face—just the ball. Note the rounded surface here, indicated with some simple cross contours in pink.

#2 Step

However, we obviously don't normally look at eyes this way—without eyelids and independent of the face. Why, then, should we consider the eye's shape?

Well, I like to think about the relationship between eyeballs and eyelids much like fabric on an object—eyelids wrap around the eye. They are not flat or straight on the eye. Instead, they're rounded, going around the spherical shape of the eye. This premise is illustrated in blue, below.

#3 Step

Take note of the upper and lower eyelid. The shape of the eyes and the eyelids will vary from person to person. Notice how the examples in blue, below, are not straight lines. They still keep the rounded nature of the eye's surface in mind.

#4 Step

The iris is the round shape in the eye that typically has color. The pupil is the dark, round shape inside the iris. It expands and contracts, typically in response to light. Humans have round pupils, but you may see other shapes in different animals. Cats, for example, have slit-like pupils.

#5 Step

Generally speaking, eyes tend to be an equal distance apart, with about one eye's distance in between. Again, this is in terms of realistic proportions—stylistic works may exaggerate these proportions.

Keep in mind, however, that "breaking the rules" can have mixed results! For example, larger eyes might turn out visually appealing, but eyes that don't have a strong, visual relationship to each other could come off as unusual or visually awkward (unless that's what you're going for!).

#6 Step

While we'll focus on cartoon eyes, in this tutorial, it's also important to note the eyebrows. The eyebrow typically falls above the eye socket, on or near the brow ridge. Like the eyes, the brows can come in different shapes and sizes.

#7 Step

Take note of how these ideas affect the eyes when we change the angle in which we view the face. In three-fourths view, we see a little more of one eye than the other. In profile view, we primarily see one eye, but we see the eyelids from a different perspective.

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Written by Anto Mario

I am a staff correspondent of Toons Mag international. Mostly I write about the cartoon and comic related news. Keep reading.

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