"Imitation is the sincerest (form) of flattery." ~ Charles Caleb Colton (English Writer)
No matter how original or unique a person can think of himself/herself, we always start from imitations. I started when I was 3 years old, I used to "draw" (more like scribbling) characters like Batman, Donald Duck, Goku, etc. copying from my older brother's notebooks (not the computer... back in my days it meant paper you write notes onto). Ever since then, I've been obsessed in particular by one detail, which was always my starting (and ending) point of most of my drawings: the eyes, "the mirror of the soul".
"Keep Reading. Comment and Share. Or else..."
Nowadays I feel like I could learn the key points of any style of eyes if I put some effort. So, as I was trying to backtrack my learning process to hopefully find something useful for anyone passionate about eyes (aka someone crazy enough to trust me and try it out), I came up with those steps/phases/stages.
I suggest you don't read the next step until you've finished doing the previous one.
The difference in eye styles are expressed through the change of certain patterns in a few key elements:
- 1) Eyebrows.
- 2) Eyelids.
- 3) Iris.
- 4) Eyes' size and distance.
- 5) Wrinkles.
I'll walk you through the process by following the steps for the manga Toriko, which I've never drawn before, as an example.
Search and save a lot of reference images
Step 1: Research
of your favourite anime/manga character. Save different angles and expressions images. If you're interested in Toriko: Toriko Ref Images
Step 2: Trace
- Open a new file on your drawing program (Photoshop, Sai Paint Tool, Clip Studio Paint, Gimp, etc.)*
- Put a few reference images in it, make them fit in and put them on lower Opacity (~30-50%).
- Create a new layer on top of them and start tracing the eyes (yes, the dreadful sin of artists), copy the exact same eyes just like they were originally drawn.
- Do it for multiple reference images and keep them in the same workspace.
For Traditional Artists, it's still possible to trace but you'd have to be more creative, like attaching the paper on the computer screen or print the images (remember the transparency) and then trace on top of it, or use a lamp underneath your paper.**
For those who're already thinking "Yeah, everyone is able to trace, this is stupid/pointless/wrong/I'm out"
Keep calm and continue reading.
Everything is dumb and pointless if you just stop at the first exercise drill.The purpose is to fast track your ability to recognize the patterns of the style, with 100% accurate repetition.
In my case, I noticed that Toriko has:
1) Gull Wing Eyebrows that are thick in the first part and thin at the end, and at a very high angle.
2) One extra line for the upper eyelid, separated from it. One distinctive oblique line at the lateral canthus (the external meeting point between the upper and lower eyelids), usually it gives an asian look.
3) One small white circle in the Iris, which sometimes is totally black and sometimes it's white with a black dot.
4) The distance between the eyebrows is small, it's compensated by the thickness of them. The eyes are thin and sharp.
5) There is usually a wrinkle under the eyes and sometimes 2 lines, close to the nose, when he is more serious or angry.You can collect those informations with observation but if you trace them, your hand will also catch the correct movements you have to make to draw the lines. It's up to you if you want to skip this step. If you're a beginner I recommend staying on this step a bit longer.
* I use Medibang Paint which is free: medibangpaint.com/en/
** You can try this video I just found on youtube: [6 ways to copy, trace, or transfer any image onto paper]
Step 3: Copy
- Keep all the references and your traces in sight, find some empty space and now try to copy a new pair of eyes without tracing, but with the reference close in sight. They can be the previous eyes you've traced (easier) or new reference images.
- Now, put the reference images invisible and try to reproduce the exact same drawings, this time without a visual aid, just from your memory. Wouldn't it be cool to surprise your friends and draw a famous character's eyes right off the bat?
Take your time with this step, if you really don't remember you can just take a look back.
The purpose is to reinforce the patterns you've discovered and re-draw the images without guidelines, kinda like taking off the wheels from a bicycle, and also to train your eye-hand coordination which is always useful even when you want to draw something from a high-resolution (not really for me) 3D game called Real Life.
Step 4: Create
Now you're going to create eyes from scratch, in the style that you've always liked. You can start with the reference in sight to check that whatever you're making up, it won't seem "too out of style".
- First, try drawing the eyes from different angles that you haven't seen so far, with the same expression and patterns used so far (keep in mind Eyebrows, Eyelids, Iris, Eyes' size and distance, Wrinkles).
- Next, you can improvise different emotions, expressions, but you need to understand better the mechanics of the facial muscles, the shape and tendencies we have when we experience certain emotions.
Congratulation! You've finished how to draw any fanart eyes! The result still depends on your personal drawing skills, the lines control, your memorization abilities and practice time. The Tracing step could prove crucial to the speed of learning.
This process could actually be used to learn how to draw more stuff in a vacuum, out of context, which is rarely a good idea since it can easily disrupt the proportion and positioning balance.It's much better to do the opposite, learn how to draw top-down, the whole first, and then zoom in to details.
1) Full-body from head to toe
2) Upper Body or Lower Body
3) Face, Bust, Arm, Legs, or Feet
4) Eyes, Nose, Hair, Hands, and so on...
If you've read so far and you've decided to give it a try, share the results and let me know in the comments. If you have questions or problems with anything, let me know and I'll find you... a solution.
Lucid Nightmare: medibang.com/book/we1702102052…
World Wide Manga: www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/…
Dungeon Bondage: shight.deviantart.com/gallery/…
Adventures in Distress: shight.deviantart.com/gallery/…
My Youtube Drawing Videos
Blog #1: The BeginningBlog #2: The importance of Internet Blog #3: Review of the week Blog #4: Review of the weekBlog #5: 3 steps to improve your artBlog #6: Review of the week Blog #7: Review of the weekBlog #8: How to track progress in your artBlog #9: Review of the weekBlog #10: 5 Questions to write your own storyBlog #11: How to commission an artistBlog #12: How to avoid lower back pain for sittingBlog #13: How to Draw any Manga Fanart EyesBlog #14: How to measure progress in your drawings
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