Stylizing Eyes - Unlocking the Secret to Drawing Eyes in Any Style | Arleesha Yetzer | Skillshare

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Stylizing Eyes - Unlocking the Secret to Drawing Eyes in Any Style

teacher avatar Arleesha Yetzer, Watercolor Illustrator & YouTube Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Overview - Parts of the Eye


    • 3.

      Get Inspired!


    • 4.

      The Eyes Within the Head


    • 5.

      Semi-Realistic Eye Examples


    • 6.

      Anime Eye Examples


    • 7.

      Cartoon Eye Examples


    • 8.

      Class Project - Let's Put it All Together!


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About This Class

You may have seen some of your favorite artists drawing eyes in seemingly magical ways. The truth is that all professional artists - whether they be cartoonists, manga artists, comic book illustrators, etc. -  started with the same fundamental concepts, and I’m going to show you how to unlock those secrets!

In this class, you will learn:

  • A brief overview of the parts of the eye
  • The secret of warping reality
  • How to place various styles of eyes into the head
  • Style examples, including: 
    • Semi-Realistic
    • Manga and Anime 
    • Cartooning

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Arleesha Yetzer

Watercolor Illustrator & YouTube Artist


Arleesha is a watercolor artist and YouTube creator based in the northeastern United States. Her work primarily features dynamic and whimsical representations of the human figure. Primary professional endeavors include her budding YouTube channel with a current subscriber community of over 100 thousand as well as this growing library of Skillshare classes!

Here, you'll find classes on anatomy, figure drawing, and watercolor techniques - all directed to help you improve your portrayals of the human figure. 

If you'd like to connect with me and see more of my work, you can follow me on Instagram or check out my YouTube channel, where I post videos every week. 

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Arleesha and welcome to my stylizing eyes class on skillshare. In this class, I'm going to be showing you how to use the basics of realistic human anatomy, to draw eyes in any style you like. We're going to go over the fundamental parts of the eye as described in detail in my previous class, as well as several examples of eyes drawn in popular styles. But if you haven't seen my previous class, no worries. We're going to go over the basics today. By the end of this class, you're going to be ready to dive in and start experimenting with drawing eyes in your very own style. You may even discover a love for a new and unexpected style of drawing. I am so excited to see what we can create together. Let's get started. 2. Overview - Parts of the Eye: To get started here, we're going to briefly go over the parts of the eye using the same color coded system I did in my previous class on drawing realistic eyes. If you haven't seen that yet, I would highly recommend checking it out as it's going to show you all of these different parts in more detail, as well as how they function together and look at different angles. But today, we're just going to go over the basic names and terms for these parts so that as we move forward, we'll all be on the same page. The parts I'm going to be referring to today are the socket, the eyeball, the tear ducts, the eyelid, the brow, and the crease of the eye. While this may seem like a lot of parts altogether, the more you practice eyes, the easier these things are going to come to you. While it may seem like everyone's drawing eyes completely differently, any one who has been studying art for a long time is going to be manipulating these core pieces in different ways to create their own styles. Even though they look completely different, I promise you, they all started with the same building blocks, and that's what I'm going to be teaching you. 3. Get Inspired! : I would recommend taking a couple minutes now to get inspired. You may have appreciated how some of your favorite artists draw as a whole before, but never really honed in on this specific anatomical feature. While we will be focusing some on the eye in proportion to the rest of the head, I would really recommend taking some time to dive into specific artists and look at how they draw eyes. It may be simpler or more complex than you had originally thought, but it's a really good idea to have some reference material nearby and look at some things that really inspire you moving forward. But of course, all of your references and inspirations don't have to be in digital format. As I've said before, books are an incredible reference and there's so much to see when you can sit down with a book and look at inspirations from tons of different artists. Then to be honest, it's nice to not have to sit in front of a screen all the time. Works by masters like Andrew Loomis will give you a wonderful understanding of the actual human anatomy. Compilation books like this character design masterclass and 21 draw are a great way to see what modern artists are putting out. A lot of these tools will also give you an insight as to how they create characters in general. As I've said before, I'm a huge supporter of local libraries, so do some digging, find out what your libraries have available to you. You might be surprised to find that there's more than you thought. 4. The Eyes Within the Head: Before we talk about the specific styles of eyes, I thought it would be fun to show you a general overview of three very broad categories. Starting from the far left, we've got a semi realistic, and then in the center here this is going to be like an anime head, and then on the right we're going to have a cartoony style. Now, all of these categories are very broad, I think the greatest variance comes from the cartoon style, so I've got an oval square short head here, but with this style you can literally do anything. You could have a realistic head with cartoony eyes and all the heads, square head or a triangular head. There's a massive amount of variance here, and it's just the nature of the style, and as you go progressively this way, things start to become a little bit more concrete. Anime tend to generally be shaped the same but there's still a lot of variance stylistically and then of course, the closer you get to realism, the more you're going to have a head shape that doesn't vary as much. But of course, with all of these, they are open to your own interpretation and your own variation. The reason I wanted to start here and get back to the table and get back to just using pencils and paper, is because it's really important to have an understanding of how the head fits in proportion to the eyes that you're going to be drawing. Real quick, I'm going to sketch in just some general shapes, I have some center guidelines here but we're going to focus in, and I'm going to show you the shape of the eyes within the head so you can see how that works. Zoomed in a bit, and hopefully you can see the guidelines that I've added here. For each one, I've just gone in and added a socket and eyeballs with the exception of the anime one because you don't want to place the socket and the eyeball are generally the big though they're the same shape, they are so large. But anyway, as you can see, over here on the more realistic side, these eyes are going to be higher on the head and it's a much smaller compared to our anime's size, which seem to take up almost half of the head and they sit lower on the head overall. Quite near the center of the head, we've got the eyes and they've very larger proportion, and the cartoony style, really, this is going to vary depending on your preferences. I here have done technically smaller eyes in relation to the head, and I've also placed them very far apart, and this one is going to be totally open to interpretation. I'm actually really excited to see what you guys come up with in terms of this last style, and even if you think that you're only really interested in one of these three, I would highly recommend at least drawing out head shapes for all of them to get an idea of the variety because really, you don't want to get yourself stuck in one particular way. I know I end up over here on this side a lot, but it's really fun to just try a variety of things. I'm going to switch up to my red pencil now and I'm going to go ahead and go in and put some lines over top of our construction lines here specifically focusing on the eyes. I probably won't add in any other features just because I don't want to get too distracted. Now that you can see, but better than general proportions of the heads, what we're going to do now is jump into specific style examples, so I can show you how the warping of reality to create different files actually works, and we're going to start with semi realistic. I know I said I wasn't going to do this, but I couldn't help myself and I went ahead and I drew in faces for the rest of these characters. I'll go ahead and put these guys down in the class project, and this would be a great time for you to start yours as well. Go ahead, draw some heads, put some eyes on them. You can go ahead and design them out further if you'd like to, but that's totally up to you. I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys are going to create, so go ahead, go do it, go do it right now, go start a project. I'm so excited to see what you guys make. 5. Semi-Realistic Eye Examples: [MUSIC] As you can hopefully see here, I've drawn some very, very intricate circles that we are going to be putting eyes on top of. We're in the semi-realistic category right now, and you may be thinking that there's not a lot of variance here, but there actually is, and in all of these categories, there's so much potential variants, and I'm only one artist, so I can only generate what is in my own mind or what I see from reference. I'm really excited to show these guys to you. I'm going do some slight variation in style on all of these, keeping it within that semi-realistic category. Once I have finished sketching all of these out, we're going to talk a little bit about how I had Warped Reality to create these different styles. Let's do it. With our four semi-realistic eyes here, as you can see, they're all pretty different. We're going to talk a little bit about what makes the styles vary and as well as what puts them into this category. A big part of what puts semi-realistic eyes into this category and of course the categories even are all up here on this creation is going to be their composition within the head. All of these eyes are intended to be sitting a little bit further up on the head and also smaller, and that's going to help with your overall style, and then you'll see that they vary individually, so not all of them include individual hairs for the eyebrows, that's going to pull you more towards realism. A personal favorite of mine is, I don't always actually include both the iris and the pupil, I'll just include one solid I suppose pupil for the eyes. I really like the look of that. The key to varying in style is going to be choosing to include or omit certain features of reality and then also to stretch those. Having an understanding of reality to start out is going to be the key for all of this and it's going to give you the power to stylize however you'd like. This one over here, you can see that I tried to focus a little bit more on communicating a shape language. Instead of just drawing the eye, I started to think about the individual lines I was making and also the shape of everything overall and I feel like this one is one of the more effective in that regard. We've got a lot more flowing lines here and the more you stylize the more you're going to think about individual lines that you're making and how those lines create a shape, instead of just going, "I'm going to draw an eye." Again, this one is like that too, where I've got block your solid lines with solid features. The more you just look at an eye and try to draw it, the more you're going to end up closer to realism. This one here, I also have that solid pupil, but I did a little bit of a gradient inside here, so darker on top, lighter on the bottom, that gives us hazed look overall. Tried to add a little bit of shading to each one just to keep it into that realistic category. 6. Anime Eye Examples: All right, we're going to jump straight into eye anime eyes here. As you can see, starting out, I've got a wider variety of shapes here as we get away from realism and more into a cartoony style we're in the middle of the arc right now. You're going to start to see a lot more variation in the shape of the eyes and the features in that. But there's still going to be some key things that mark these eyes as a anime or manga, anime or whatever. You've got these big arching shapes here which are going to represent simultaneously, the eyelid. These arching shapes here are eyelids and then these of course, are your eyelashes. This is one of the greatest reasons why understanding reality before you start to stylize is so important because if you're following a step-by-step guide that says draw this line, then draw this line, then draw this line. Really, you're not learning what the parts are and how to represent them in different ways. But if you draw a line going, I know this is an eyelid and you understand how an eyelid curves and how it looks, it makes it so much easier to just tailor it to your will. Then to be less frustrated with not understanding why things didn't turn out a particular way. I've got a few eyes here and the things I want to focus on again, the arching shape is very common in anime, where it's like this varying line width shape for our eyelids is creating a sense of appeal and that's really important. We also have very large pupils, sometimes in cases like this where there's not even really a distinct difference between the pupil and the white of the sclera, which technically would be this area out here where this is also the eye, but very large pupils. Inclusions of lots of highlights and of course, like we talked about before are proportions. These eyes are going to sit very large and very low on the face and so that's one of the key defining features of anime eyes. Something that's also very interesting and this varies a lot. Of course you can still have massive bushy eyebrows and anime but oftentimes especially with younger characters, you're going to see very thin, wispy eyebrows that sometimes or even overlooked or excluded. But so tiny eyebrows, massive eyes that sit lower on the face with very, very large pupils or very, very large irises rather I should say and the pupil itself sometimes is only hinted at with like a semicircle. It's not actually this full oblong shape, and again, you can see some variants where this is round and this is all along which wouldn't occur in reality. But with anime, there's a ton more variety and the shape varies, so this almond eye maybe closer to reality, but then the larger oblong shapes appear a lot more too. 7. Cartoon Eye Examples: I've gone ahead and drawn in our cartoon eyes here. As you can see, this is the category where you're going to see the greatest amount of variance. I thought these eyes would be better represented in pairs because they really are a team and the two eyes work together to really convey the style here. We'll go over briefly how I've changed things up for each of these and how I've warped reality again, as I've said so many times, to create a style here. For example, in this small eye set here, you can tell that it's all just one big pupil. There's not really the white of the sclera or the iris or highlights or anything like that. It's just super simple pupil and then a couple of lines to denote bags under the eyes and very simple eyebrows. Once you know the parts, you're really able to stylize that as much as you want. Over here I've got one big solid line for the eyebrow. Over here I've got of course, a very tiny pupil. No iris inside of very long oval shaped eyes, tiny eyebrows. Again, when making small marks like this, when you understand what it is that you're trying to represent, it makes it a lot more believable and a lot more relatable as a style. Down here I've incorporated some more components of the eye. I've got of course, an iris, and a pupil, and a little highlight, some eyelashes. Really, it's totally up to you how you interpret these things. I would highly recommend if you're interested in a style like this, just looking at some popular cartoon styles and seeing how they represent eyes in different angles, different shapes, different sizes. The sky's the limit in this category. Up next we're going to jump right into the class project and I cannot wait to see what you guys create and I'm going to be showing you mine. So if you'd like to draw along with me, get your sketchbooks out and let's do it. 8. Class Project - Let's Put it All Together!: For my class project instead of just drawing a pair of eyes, which is super fun and I did in my last class I thought it would be fun to create an illustration that focuses on the intensity that eyes can give to a piece. I hope you enjoy and like I said before, I cannot wait to see what you guys create. Please share your projects with me and encourage other students along the way because it's been a massive encouragement. Seeing all of the amazing stuff you guys are creating. See you in the next class guys