How To Color Anime Eyes

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Written by Juha

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Hi there, and thank you for checking out this anime and manga art tutorial for both beginners and advanced digital artists.

In this post, I will be showing you how you can color anime eyes and the kind of things I like to focus on when coloring them.

If you want to see a video version of this tutorial, please do check the video below:

I will start by taking a look at this very basic anime eye. This is what I will be coloring today.

I will go step-by-step to demonstrate the best way to go about this and to get the best results. To start, I have placed a shadow for the eyebrow.
Then I created an eyelid and base color for the white area of the eye.

To make everything fit well together, I will be changing the colors during the coloring process. I will create or color of the shadow for the eye white. I will create a new layer and set it to “multiply,” then creating a clipping mask to the eye white.

This is nothing special or unique, just a regular shadow due to the upper eyelashes.

Next, I’m going to show you what options look best when coloring. This technique is not necessary for a realistic eye, but more for a fictional eye that fits this type of art.

I will be creating the base color for the eye itself. To do that, I will make a layer and a clipping mask on top of the base color.

Then I will select a really nice looking color for it. I can change the base color later on. For now, the eye white looks pretty good with this base color.

So to start that, I will create a very basic shading. I will make another layer and create a gradient for the base color, and for this, I will use multiply layer mode. This feature helps the colors work well together and will keep the colors kind of correct.

Next, I will reduce the opacity a little to get the underlying color more visible so that it comes through.

I will create another shadow that can be colored the same way the gradient color was. This part is yet another new layer. I can place it there and reduce the opacity.

You can clearly see when I reduce the opacity; the layers begin to add up slowly and look fantastic. However, if you feel like the color was not the exact way you wanted. You can just keep tweaking the color and opacity until it looks just right.

Next, I will create another highlight layer. I will try a slightly different color. I am not exactly sure which one yet. However, I will use this just under the pupil.

Now, you can test different layer modes and see which creates the best results. However, if I wanted to make it a bit more unique, I would use a mask and erase some parts.

Next, I will create a small highlight. I will use a different color this time, and I will use something like a complementary color scheme to create an effect that looks really good.

You can then select different layer modes until you find something special that you think is visually appealing.

If you want to emphasize the shadows more, you can create another layer and set it to “multiply.” Then use a gradient, or you can also create a type of gradient results using an airbrush.

Next, I will add a few highlights to the iris to make it look magical and to give it some depth and needed variety.

To truly give the eye some needed candy flavor, I create a new layer and set the layer mode to overlay. Then I just draw few speckles around the iris to give that authentic anime and manga vibe.

The eye is undoubtedly starting to look good now, and I will make some final adjustments. I would not say it is complete just yet, so I will slightly modify the eyelashes’ color.

I will also soften the eye white a little. Next, I will blend the line art a little to the eye somewhat more. Things are finally starting to look right now. A few adjustments here and there, and I believe it’s finished.

Now at this point, I have been able to show you that the whole eye was drawn layer by layer. So when drawing or coloring anime eyes, it should always be done this way, one layer at a time.

I do not usually or always draw or color precisely this way with regards to the anime eyes. However, when coloring them and wanting to emphasize the eyes, you should dedicate a folder specific to coloring eyes so that this level of quality is the final result.

It is apparent that this was done layer by layer and just trying different layer modes and layering effects. I could go even further if I wanted to, but this will now do.

This method is how I approach coloring anime eyes. Hopefully, this provides value and knowledge with regards to how to color anime eyes.

Please check out my Patreon page for even more anime and manga art and resources, and I look forward to seeing you online.

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