Cartoon Character Workshop: 8 Ways to Draw Eyes

Both in real life and in artistic form, the eyes are capable of conveying much more than words. This is true even when drawing cartoon eyes. No matter if the subject matter is silly, cartoon eyes can silently conveying mood, emotion and expression in your composition. 

8 Ways to Draw Cartoon Eyes

Learn eight easy ways to draw cartoon eyes.

Artwork via CakeSpy

Here, we’ll explore eight different approaches for how to draw cartoon eyes. Shown on the same character, you can really see what a profound difference the eye style you choose can have on your finished artwork. Try your favorites and see what kind of effect they have on your finished cartoon characters!

8 ways to draw cartoon eyes

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1. Simple dots

Dot eyes

Perhaps the simplest method of making cartoon eyes is to make two similarly sized, solid dots. It can be as simple as making a single dot using the tip of a pen, or drawing a round circle and filling it in with ink, either leaving it solid or with a tiny bit of white in the center. 

Since the eyes are smaller, dot eyes tend to work best if your line quality is fairly simple and spare, or when your compositions are not too “busy.” These delicate eyes can get lost in very intricate compositions.

2. Dots within circles

Dots within circles

The look is different, but the method is quite similar to the previous style of drawing eyes. Instead of leaving the eyes as simple, solid dots, a circle is drawn around the dot, forming a “white” and leaving the original dot as the eye’s pupil. 

This style of drawing eyes is easy and versatile: The positioning of the pupil within the white of the eye can easily show which direction the character is looking. This style can also make the character’s eye movements work with their physical movements. It’s also a simple way for them to engaging with other characters or objects.

Plus, these eyes “pop” a little more than simple dots, making this style a little bit more visible within more busy backdrops. 

3. Spheres within circles

Sphere within circle eyes

Sometimes, the above method can result in eyes that look too excited or surprised for certain characters. Creating exaggeratedly large pupils that form a semi-sphere within the white of the eye can create a more relaxed look for your characters.

Start by drawing circles, and then fill in hemispheres of darkened ink to form the pupils. Align the pupils to face what the character is looking at. Note how the larger pupils show a more relaxed, gentle expression. 

4. Kawaii eyes

Kawaii eyes

This style of drawing eyes is particularly popular in the Japanese style known as “kawaii,” a term used to describe cuteness in Japanese culture. These expressive eyes are perfect for creating cute characters or to give characters a naive, hopeful expression. 

It’s easier than it looks to draw kawaii-style eyes! To make these eyes, start by drawing circles. Then, draw one or two circles within the first circle. Leave the inner circles unmarked, but fill in the larger circle with ink. Voila, you have instant sparkling, kawaii-style eyes. 

5. Over (or under) the horizon eyes

Horizon eyes

If you look closely at each eye in the above illustration, it looks almost like a little sun rising over a horizon — hence the name. Drawing eyes in this style adds an element of joy and delight to a character’s face. On the flip side, drawing the same eye shape in reverse (pictured below) can give your characters a sleepy, mischievous or somber look. 

Under the horizon

To draw this style of eye, draw a slightly curved line with the ends aligned downward (as if you are drawing a frown), and then draw a semi-circle above it. Fill in the “pupil” as either a dot or a semi-circle within the white space, and you have an over the horizon-style eye! Follow the same instructions in reverse to create the more somber variation.

6. Cat eyes

Cat eyes

For eyes that look somewhat true to life but still have a cartoon slant, create a shape similar to cat eye glasses. This eye shape is versatile and can work for a variety of characters, from cartoon people to even characters like this cupcake. I find it particularly well-suited to creating feminine eyes, as eyelashes on the top or bottom of this style work well with the eye shape. 

As with round eyes, the pupils can be filled in as dots or as larger semi-spheres to fill in the whites, depending on your preference.

7. Googly eyes

Googly eyes

For a goofy, classic cartoon character face, googly-style eyes are always a great pick. Their exaggerated form is dimensional and expressive, and they work well to create human or animal eyes. You might recognize this style of eyes from some of the classic Disney characters! 

To create goggly eyes, start by drawing one circle or oval. Fill in a second circle or oval next to it, as if the first round shape is overlapping it. Fill in with pupils that are dots or hemispheres, to your preference. 

8. Uni-eyeUni-eye

For a variation on googly eyes, consider what I call the “uni-eye.” In essence, this is one large shape that suggests two separate eyes. It’s useful for a variety of cartoon characters and has a unique, stylized look.

To draw this type of eye, draw a number 8 shape on its side, inverting the space in between the circles rather than closing it. Draw pupils within each individual rounded portion to create the illusion of two eyes.

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