REMARK: It is highly recommended that users of this tutorial use the diagrams for learning purposes and eventually develop their own style.
Creating the eye style in AKIRA is not unlike forming an 8-sided polygon, the difference being rounded corners. The eye lids are simple enough that both eyes can be drawn with just two strokes.
The eye structure used in the anime AKIRA is very simple in nature. Basically, you have a top lid, bottom lid, and the iris.
If you want to classify this style of eye, it's called abbreviated realism. Manga style eyes or "big eyes" as they're sometimes called, is not abbreviated realism. The difference between the two styles can be determined by comparing them to the real human eye structure. The closer the resemblence, the more realistic. And the farther away, the more styalized or manga it becomes.
The reason I started with an example from AKIRA was to make a point. AKIRA was created in 80s, so some may think that this style of abbreviated realism is old hat. This notion is false. If you want a recent example of abbreviated realism, just take a look at Jin-Roh, a recent release this year.
Rurouni Kenshin OVA (male)
The eye structure in Rurouni Kenshin is probably one of the more mainstream styles used today with male heroes associated with fighting or action anime. It's important to note the major differences between male and female eyes.
Size: Male eyes are almost always smaller than female eyes. The reasoning behind this is somewhat cultural and traditional in nature.You've heard the saying that eyes are "windows into the soul"? Well, this applies somewhat. Larger eyes = innocence. You have nothing to hide. Smaller or narrower eyes = distrust. You'll notice that evil characters or villains almost always have smaller eyes than the hero of a story.
That's why children are always given large eyes regardless of sex to point out that they are innocent and have no experience with the evil or corrupt nature of the world. Old characters always have tiny eyes, because they have seen too much and have that squinty "wise" look.
Females in anime, on the other hand, have larger eyes to better express emotions. After all, it can be said that females are much more outwardly emotional and physically social than males.
However, there are always exceptions to the rule. If you have watched Spriggan, you'll note that the main villain is in a child's body. How do his eyes look? From what you've learned, what does that say about the character?
Rurouni Kenshin OVA (female)
The female eye is usually more detailed because they almost always have prominent eyelashes. Sometimes male characters have eyelashes, but they're either thicker, shorter, or in very small numbers.
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (female)
While I'm on the topic of eyelashes, a note-worthy exception to the eyelash rule is Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. Both male and female characters have long eyelashes. However, the difference between the two is that the male eye is usually a lot wider and vertically smaller than the female counterpart.
Important note: The author is not a natural English speaker and there is a high chance of mistakes in every way. Corrections and comments are welcome.
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