How to Draw Exaggerated Cartoon Eyes, Tutorial by
Personally, I love drawing large, stylized eyes. Doing so can bring additional emphasis to that part of the character or composition. It can also change how your work communicates. Generally speaking, cartoon eyes tend to take advantage of exaggeration for expressive or aesthetic reasons.
Here are some basic examples of how the eye could be exaggerated to create emphasis or to further craft a stylized aesthetic. I tried elongating the eyes, enlarging the eyes, and shrinking/minimizing them.
Keep in mind that line, itself, can be quite communicative. For example, sharp or straight lines might convey a harshness, while flowing, curved lines could make for a much softer aesthetic. We can use this general idea to craft different aesthetic approaches to cartoon eyes.
The iris is arguably one of the most important parts of the eye—it's generally where we look when we're looking someone in the eyes! Likewise, it's how we know where someone is looking. Our eyes generally look at the same spot, together.
Here are some different examples of how one could exaggerate this part of the eye. Each of these examples is identical, with the only variation in the iris.
Expressions are often exaggerated when drawing cartoon eyes, as well. As an example, let's experiment with "surprised eyes".
I associate surprise with being "wide-eyed", so I'm going to start by putting emphasis on showing extra whites in the eyes. We could do this in a number of ways, like opening the eye wide or perhaps making the iris smaller. We can also use the eyelids and eyebrows to help push the emotion we're trying to convey further.
So, how do you know what aspects to exaggerate?
Personally, I think it depends a lot on pushing the qualities we know and recognize to effectively communicate.
For example, think about what your face does when you smile. Your facial muscles likely move, which could affect the appearance of the eyelids. On the other hand, sad eyes might be partially closed or even tensed, if they are filled with tears.
As we discussed earlier, keep in mind that the eyelids "wrap around" the eye. They stretch and move, just like the other parts of the face. These aspects can also be exaggerated!
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