Eyes Q&A: Eyeball inside the head + Eye motions
In my last eye article I stated that I was open for any questions about eyes in animation. And I got questions – a lot of them… Our reader Mahesh alone posted a ton of them and every single one would be worth an article. Now I’ll try to answer them, but I have to admit that I am probably not experienced enough to respond as confidently as I would like to for all of the questions. So I invite all of you to join the discussion and comment if you have any ideas or advice! Let’s get to it.
在《如何画出目视方向 》文 章中，我们开设了有关眼睛动画的问答环节，现在我们手中汇集了许多读者的问题。光是读者Mahesh一人就po出了一大堆问题，而且每一个都值得用一整篇 文章来解答……下面我们就来一一解答，不过我必须承认的一点是，我可能没法胸有成竹地对所有问题都给出完美答案。因此我邀请大伙儿一起来参与讨论，将你的 观点和建议大声发表出来！
How do you make it look like the eyeball is inside the head under skin?
Well the key to this questions is to imagine that the eyelids always lay on top of the eyeball and that they are actually pretty thick. If you give them that thickness and keep in mind that the skin around the eyes squashes and stretches with eyelids (and might even show a little roundness from the eyeball) you should be able to get the right impression.
A technique that works well for me is to draw the eyelids first when I do the clean up (in the scribble phase the direction of the eyes and the right expression should have priority):
Keep in mind, that not every style calls for this. There are a couple of beautifully reduced styles that don’t need that kind of volume in the skin.
Now lets get to Mahesh’s questions. I pulled some of them together because they fit to the same topic.
What are the most common or basic things you look for in eyes (eye movements)? […] what are 4 most frequent things you see in eyes in badly animated acting scenes?
First of all: Video reference is the best thing to look at concerning eye motions – whether you are just studying it in general or filming references of a shot that you are doing. Usually we are totally unaware of our eye motions and blinks, so we need to look at it from the outside to see what we are actually doing there. So if you have the time, making and looking at video references is a great idea. (Just try to act natural if shooting reference! Don’t force it.)
首先，就眼部动态的制作而言，最好的参考即参考视频——无论你是在学习动画还是在制作镜头参考，都可以采用参考视频。通常我们都不太在意眼部动 态和眨眼，因此要从外部参考中学习如何制作。如果时间充裕的话，做参考视频或是观看参考视频都是一个不错的选择。（但在制作时务必注意动作表情要自然！别 太做作！）
An important thing to understand is how fast our eyes usually move and then stop (maybe making tiny little scan motions) and then jump to the next thing. Especially in amateur 3D animation the pupils float around weirdly.
Another common mistake that happens especially in 3D is that the eyes stay focused too long while the head moves (like when you look into a mirror and move your head). This might happen for a few seconds if a character cannot take his eyes off something, but usually the eyes lead the head movement and only stick to something for a few frames during a motion.
Have a look at this head turn – it’s pretty rough and exaggerated, because I just made it quickly for demonstration purposes.
Notice how the pupils move first in a fast jump leading the head turn motion, then jump again when they readjust as soon the object that she wants to look at comes in clear sight (this is not necessary and probably too exaggerated in this example – but it’s just to show you what you can do). And then when the head motion cushions there is a little moment where the eyes can stay focused while the head is still moving.
I already mentioned the tiny little scan motions that our pupils do. Our field of view is much smaller than we think. The picture that we “see” is actually a patchwork of many small “scans” for which the pupils move abruptly just a tiny little bit. Especially in 3D (in some 2D styles you don’t do this) this can improve your animation a lot. You can use it when a character is examining something, say searching for a hint in another character’s expression or to make an inner thinking process more vivid. Playing around with the timing and smaller and bigger jumps can really pay off.
刚才已经提到了瞳孔的微小扫视动态，我们的视野实际上比我们想象的要小的多。我们所“看到”的图景其实是因瞳孔不断地做出快速微动而看到的许多 小“扫视图”图拼合而成的全景。在做3D动画时要特别注意这一点（在某些风格的2D动画中可以不予考虑），可以显著提升你的动画水平。可以在角色正在检查 某物时（如仔细观察另一个角色的表情来猜测其情绪，或在脑海中思索某事时）使用这种方式。适时地调整时间节奏和空间节奏还能增添动画的趣味性。
You can intentionally not do those little eye motions for intense stares, very determined eye contact, as well as very relaxed expressions. But be careful because there is the danger that it will feel dead if your character’s eyes don’t move for too long without any good reason, especially in 3D.
In general you have to work with the timing between two eye motions to create a slow, fast, heavy or light rhythm. This rhythm is determined by what feeling you want to achieve overall and can be found in the motions of the whole body as well. Often the eyes take on the rhythm when the body comes to a stop. Break the rhythm to set accents (and check out more about rhythm here). Sometimes a well placed motionless stare is the most powerful thing you can do, and this is a great opportunity where less is a lot more.
This is pretty much everything I have in mind during my everyday work, while animating eye motions. Of course complex scenes demand research in which you will definitely find something in self-shot tests or film scenes with similar content, that you would never have thought of. So study life often!
What do you exactly look for in video reference regarding eyes? […] Do you have any recommendations for eyes?
Or some specific scenes & what should we be studying – looking while watching talented actors eyes What are the things we should note down?
In references you look for irregularities, actions that break the rhythm, actions (or holds) that catch your attention because they indicate something meaningful in an notable, surprising or unusual way. Sometimes the way someone does a blink or stare has an interesting feeling, an intensity to it and you can try to copy that. Sometimes you notice weird twitches that you would never have planned to put into an animation. Reality is often more “daring” with those things than any plans we make in our animation theory. Often we don’t push things far enough, and reality does.
观看参考视频时应注意观察不规则性，即那些打破了韵律的动作，以及那些隐含特定意义从而引起你注意的动作，比如一些非常大幅、唐突或令人费解的 举动。有时候，某些演员会做一些意味深长的眨眼或凝视，可以尝试着将这些动作融入到动画中。而有时，你也会发现一些非常诡异的扭曲动作，这就不必再做到动 画中了。
The best thing you can do after you’ve found something awesome in a reference (or just randomly watching a video) is to try to do it yourself with a basic 3D rig or a roughly scribbled animation. Often there is no time for that, so you should at least have a note book where you write down what you noticed, where and why you think it works, how it works. This way you can always check it out again later.
The question of where you have to look for reference is best answered with: Everywhere! You have enough people around you where you can notice interesting motions and reactions – not only in their eyes. Of course in films you can better stare at people’s eyes all you want without appearing like a total weirdo. Every film – no matter if live-action or animation done by decent actors/animators can be inspiration. Watching your favorite movies and actors is the most fun anyway. Everything by Disney and Pixar – awesome. Tom Hanks has great control over his eye motions and blinks, but there are many more talents. Sometimes I also like to study live-action series, because the actors build up a long term identification with their characters. “The Office” lives because of (often wonderfully awkward) pauses where people just exchange looks. Personally I can’t wait to check out Wreck it Ralph on DVD because they really used Venelope’s big child-like eyes for some amazingly timed blinks and eye motions.
至于“去哪里寻找参考资料”这个问题，答案是：到处都是！你身边就有许许多多可以作为参考的人群。当然还有 数不胜数的电影，尽管放心大胆地盯着演员的眼睛看吧，一点都不会让人尴尬难耐。每一部真人或动画电影都可以作为参考，可以研究那些你最喜欢的电影中角色的 眼神变化，迪斯尼和皮克斯的作品更是无比给力。汤姆汉克斯对自己的眼睛动态有着非常棒的控制，当然也有许多其他天赋异禀的演员可供参考。有时我也喜欢研究 真人电视剧，因为演员需要长期适应角色，建立起稳定的关系。《办公室》就是部非常不错的参考剧目，剧中演员经常（往往是出于尴尬）以眼神交流。我也已经迫不及待地想要研究《无敌破坏王》的DVD，尤其是云妮那双扑闪扑闪的大眼睛，眨眼节奏和眼部动态控制得异常精妙。
How do you plan/animate eye movements with respect to head and entire body motion ?
I already mentioned above that the eyes usually lead a head motion and they often give the push for other motions before they happen (as we saw with the eye jump before Sintel’s lips open in the head turn example). If it’s a broad motion the push or drag for the head motion is most likely connected to the power center – which in some cases can also be the head (e.g. Goofy often gets pulled by his head).
If there are eye motions that you don’t want your audience to miss, you should do them after the body comes to a hold. First the strong reaction and then the meaningful blink that shows that your character just understood something or is thinking. In general it’s good advice to do one action after another, not all at once (see here for more on that).
For posing it’s interesting that a lot of expressions highly depend on the head turn/tilt and that the direction of the eyes can completely change the overall meaning – especially when the direction of the eyes and the head tilt are not in sync.
When there is a contradiction between the surface emotion of the character and a hidden subtext (you mentioned “lying” in your questions) the eyes are the place to tell the real story. A character might force his body into a pose that says (more or less) “not afraid, not nervous,” but his eyes will still look around nervously. If a character lies the eyes are not doing the occasional looking here and there thing during a conversation but reveal a more tense rapid thinking motion that also shows in more forceful head motions.
Okay, enough for this week. I hope I could answer some of your questions. If anybody has any ideas, remarks and advice please contribute to our discussion via the comments below.