Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Eyes in animation

They say the eyes are the window to the soul. Well, in a film, the eyes are the first place an audience member looks, the second is the hands. We are trying to connect with the character on screen. The eyes tell us so much about what the character is thinking. It is so important to spend enough time making sure you put enough detail into the eyes and brows. What am I talking about when I say detail? When I was animating on Mike Wazowski, we did some reference to really see how the eye moved. I took lots of notes on the live action footage and applied it to an animated eye. Some of the things I learned were how the lid moves with the eyes, the different kinds of blinks an eye is capable of and many other things. For instance, a lot of the time when your eye makes a bid move fro left to right, your eye lid half closes. We learned that you need to shape the eye lid to help sell eye direction. There is a virtual laundry list of thing to make a cg eye look believable. What I am saying is, do you homework and look at how your eye works and try to get it into your work. In order to get better, its so important to take the time and really figure out how things work.

Here are few tidbits to remember about the eye.

Blinks: No matter how slow or quick they are, remember to add a little cushion at the top of the blink. When you don't and it just stops, it looks a bit mechanical.

Eye Darts: Eye darts vary. Sometimes they are one frame, mostly two frames. But there is no rule. The most important thing to remember about the eye dart is to think why you are doing it. Its usually nice to animate eye darts in a particular pattern. For instance if I was doing a close up, I might dart the eye left to right, then down, then back up. This would be because my character is looking at the left eye, then the right, then looking at the mouth. Its all about thought process.

Hope this helps a bit.



Blogger David M said...

Hey hey!

It's nice to see that SplineDoctors is still alive! Sweet little post about eyes.

Keep rocking!


8:55 AM

Blogger erica said...

Wonderful insights as always! It's always a treat visiting your site and finding these mini-lectures; makes me wish I were back in school. It's great that there are resources like your blog where we can continue to pick up tips and tricks!

9:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks a lot andrew!

9:22 AM

Blogger Young Vo said...

Awsome! Eye darting was something that I was thinking about when I was watching the Incredibles. Thanks you the tip. I feel like I should pay you are something.

10:41 AM

Blogger Jeremy said...

Thanks Andrew, great pointers. Eye shapes and how they change with an emotion is something I constantly struggle with. It's very easy to start isolating the face, working with graphic shapes and then forget which emotion I was trying to express. Mike is a great character and if you hadn't done that research, I'm not sure if he would've held up as well technically so congrats with your hard work!

If you're still thinking about people to interview, my suggestion is John Kahrs. Love the intensity and power in his scenes. Thanks again for the great post!

2:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's back! Cheers Andrew! A great insightful read, as always :D

6:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pointers Andrew, its great that youre really observing these subtleties

3:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

one word: spell check.
now that's subtle

7:12 PM

Blogger Graham Ross said...

Looking foreward to more...

8:24 PM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

Sorry about the spelling. I wrote it and forgot to proof it.

8:29 PM

Blogger blabla said...

Wow I should have talked to you while I wrote my thesis last year. The topic of my thesis was how to create believable eye animations. It's a huge topic so I could only scratch the surface but I learned a lot while writing about it.
Never thought about the cushion at the top of a blink though. I'll keep that in mind. Thnx for the tip!

And this was my thesis short film, a guy talking about eye animation.
I'd be glad if you check it out sometime.

2:19 AM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

your link did not work.

12:07 PM

Blogger blabla said... works over here.
But I got a mirror. How about this link?

11:29 AM

Blogger blabla said...

Hi again, did the link work?

1:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


thanks for interesting post about eyes and brows. can you please tell me what does "putting cushion at the top of blink" mean?


1:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi mr andrew, tnx alot for your sharing!

10:02 AM

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8:32 PM

Anonymous site said...

This can't work in reality, that's what I think.

4:57 AM


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