Regarding the eyes in the anime character course

I was expecting that at some point we’d learn how to create - or at least fake - a solid sclera for the eye, but I’m up to the texturing/painting portion of the course and I have…concerns.

Take a look:


From certain angles, you can see the back of the iris. Does the course eventually cover this situation and how to resolve it, or is this simply a limitation of this approach?

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It is just the style and simple way of doing it. Can’t say I liked the idea of a hole for the eyeball but it works generally for such odd stylised amine stuff. So yes I guess it is a limitation of the approach, simplicity.


Alas! Any recommendations for doing these kinds of eyes with a solid eyeball, or at least a solid sclera? Something tells me a standard sphere is a poor match for this style…

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I think if there was an easy solution people would have cracked the formula by now. The biggest problem with depicting anime/cartoons in 3D is that what works on paper doesn’t translate 100% into 3D space. What I mean is that while the proportions of anatomy are kept consistent between angles their depiction isn’t and “morphs” depending on our perspective, which works and is much easier to do in 2D than it is in 3D.

What anime would look like without morphing:

For best results, my best advice here would be to look at the most successful depictions of 3D anime characters and try to copy what they’ve done. Think Genshin Impact, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 or recent works from studio MAPPA such as Chainsaw Man or 2nd season of Zombieland Saga. Though I think most of them use some form of 2D eyes.

That said, while I’m not sure what the model is like in this course, I don’t see what’s stopping you from just using a couple of spheres for the eyes and shaping the eye sockets around it. This is what I did for my model, though I was going for a more “Disney” style:


If you cannot fit a full sphere inside the skull you can go for partial ones, cut off the excess and only keep a small amount to show the roundness of the eye. This is what I did for this chibi version:


You can leave a little more excess if you want to rotate the actual geometry of the eye, but in my case, I settled for “animating” the texture instead.

I think there is some potential to do something smart here with the Decal Machine plug-in but I’m not willing to experiment right now. Decal machine lets you bake 3D geometry onto a flat plane that then shifts in what it displays based on the angle you look from. It’s most commonly used to compliment hard surface modelling or quickly stamp extra details but I can somehow see it potentially working quite well for anime eyes.


The flat texture idea is appealing. What would be the best way to go about it? Just…animating UVs? Is that even a thing that’s possible?

I don’t think animating UVs is something you can do but you can actually keyframe most if not all material properties so you could just keyframe position in a mapping node. That said for longer animations I could see this being rather inefficient, both when you’d want to make adjustments and just trying to work it.

A better way to do this would probably be to set up an empty “focus” object parented to the eyes in a similar way that you would do so to animate actual spheres but instead have the material properties of the eyes adjust based on its local position.

I would have to experiment a bit to get a working setup and it’s already quarter to two in the morning for me so I’m not really in the mindset to do it right now. I’ll see if I can get a prototype setup working later on though.


Mostly I’m interested in doing expressions on a game character, like, having them be able to look around in animations and whatnot.

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The Blender organization creates movies to test, and show their new Blender functions.
All those assets are in the public domain. There you can see there how pro’s do it.

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Ok, the first thing to note is that if you want to do this in a game engine, you will have to write a solution in code since while Blender can keyframe its material properties, those animations cannot be exported. They’re for Blender use only. It might still be worth getting a “prototype” working in Blender just so you know what you’re doing in code but it may also be easier to just get it done with code straight away. It depends on your experience really.

With that out of the way here is an example node tree that you could use with an empty to shift the eye texture around:


I’m taking the object coordinates of the empty and feeding it to the location vector of the eye texture through the mapping node, the texture itself uses its own UV coordinates. In the Image Texture node I’ve changed the third dropdown from the default “Repeat” to “Extend” instead so that the white of the eye gets extended out instead of having the iris/pupil repeat over.

That said this setup isn’t perfect, if you go too far there is some stretching to the texture and I had to disconnect the nodes up top responsible for converging the eyes because I couldn’t get it to easily work with them looking side to side.

With some refinement, it could be done but I’m not really willing to perfect this just for an example, especially since it wouldn’t be one-to-one transferable and adjustments would have to be made based on your character.


Ooh, neat!

On this topic: is there anything to disrecommend using shape keys for what I have in mind? Like, can I use shape keys to animate in a game engine?

Say I made the pupil as an object but instead of attaching it to a bone to animate it, I used shape keys to define its movement instead. Would there be anything troublesome about that? (Likewise for eyelids?)

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Shape-keys can be exported and are commonly used for facial animation and character creators so there should be no problem, however, you should still parent your eyes to the head bone so that they follow its movement and rotation.

Keep in mind that just like animating eyes with a texture, using shape-keys will take some extra finesse over simply using bones since you won’t be able to use “look at” functions to have them focus and will have to do some custom math instead. It may even be beneficial to have actual bones for both eyes still in the rig, just not actually bound to the eye meshes, but you could set them up to work like standard eyes and use their rotation to drive the shape-keys. Basically, use them for control.

I did find that setting up hitboxes for objects with shape-keys can be a challenge because, well, they change shape… but this shouldn’t be a problem if you want to use them for eyes.


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