Building a better eyeball. Now with Tutorial !

Having made some characters recently, I wanted to build an eyeball that had the following requirements:

  • Singe mesh
    I wanted to be able to append a single object into any project.
  • Procedural Textures
    I didn’t want to have to rely on image maps that could get lost.
  • Versatile
    One single model to be used for any type of character, be it human, alien or whatever.
  • Easy
    Any effects needed to be quickly accessible. I don’t want to be wasting time faffing around with colourband settings at the texture level
  • Impressive
    This sucker needs to look good any way it goes.
    One other thing I really wanted was the iris musculature to follow the pupil dilation!

I came up with this after a lot of experimentation.

The eyeball took about 2 months on and off, the animation took 5 minutes (Including rendering time)
HERE IT IS - The long awaited Eyeball Tutorial. 9 glorious pages of modelling, UV mapping, texturing, shape keys and heaps of screen shots.

Well - this tutorial still remains popular after 2 years. My ISP has not been as faithful! - I’ve had to move the tutorial to a more stable location.

And the test video is now on YouTube:

–UPDATE 1 Feb 2012–

Well - It looks like that link is down now.
I may still have a copy of the pdf in my archives somewhere, but I have a better plan;

As this tutorial relied on a specific use of a texture that may not function any more, and the interface is very pre-2.5 redesign, it’s going to be better if I recreate this tutorial from scratch.
Using 2.6x…
And cycles…
In Video!

Hopefully I should be able to get something together around March April 2012. See how I go.


HOLY MOLY DUDE! Thats AWESOME! Is it possible to explain briefly how you did it?

Great work though!

A tutorial for some thing like THAT is much needed and would be greatly appreciated!

Again though, EXCELLENT work!


Briefly? um… no. But I think a HOLY MOLY rates a tutorial.

I’ll do this tonight when I get home from work. Should be up within 24 hours.

In the meantime, who wants a BLEND FILE of the animation? Treat it nicely, it’s been a long time hatching.

that’s very impressive.

I agree. .

That is really good. You are really generous for posting the file - i’ve learnt so much from it about texturing. By the way, do you know how to import other blender files into the one you are currently working in apart from having to export to, say, a .obj?

Thanks for the file, it was highly informative!

I agree: Tutorial Time!

Use the Append function in the File menu.

More info here

must agree, that is way cool.
The only fault i can pick is the rim around the iris makes the iris look indented.
oh did I say that it is waaaay cooool.:slight_smile:

Bump - Added tutorial to first post.

The tutorial was excellent, thank you for making it

Thanks for the great tutorial, Ammusionist :slight_smile:
I will try out the iris texturing. The flattened seam around the iris in both your eye and my current one bug me, though, so if creases don’t work, I’ll go with a separate mesh there.

Oh, BTW, subsurfacing an UV sphere seems to stretch it a bit, so right now I’m considering to use a relatively high resolution and no subsurf.


Thanks for sharing!

This is quite good for procedurals, but it’s still a much better idea to use image maps…

I really think the texturing hurts it badly. It’s highpoly, so you can’t get away with anything. You’ve got to pull out every trick up your sleeve.


Look up some eyes, or even look at your own. Irises rarely have only one colour; a combination between blue and gray is hardly visible, but must blue eyes have patches of orange/brown in them, some more than others. The actual colour blue is much, MUCH less saturated than in your texture as well.

Perhaps your monitor is darker than mine, because the pupils on your model are more of a dark gray than black. They’re always either black or red; no way in between, especially no gray (and so you might want to darken for the people with lighter monitors).

The iris is darker around the edges, both on the in- and outside. Yours does go darker around the outside, but it’s way too gradual and way too big. On the inside, where it hits the pupil, you’ve left it out entirely. The iris also isn’t lighter towards the pupil, but it’s lightest somewhere around the center.

Lastly, I’d say the smoothing of the eye-white messes up where it nears the iris, because in reality it doesn’t bend in (which the model doesn’t either, but the smoothing suggests that it does).

It’s not bad, but I think you should use more reference next time. It’s highpoly, so you have no limits to blame for any inaccuracies.

Thanks for the comments.

One or the original goals for this project was to use procedurals only. I wanted to be able to append a single object which would bring along it’s own textures without having to locate external image maps. The work I do is more character than realistic, so I developed this in that context.

Having said that; to simplify the tutorial (which is already quite long) I left out some additional customizations that those of you who want to experiment will be able to discern:
The colorband that defines the shading of the iris (that is, the blend texture) is made far more versatile by adding additional control points. A darker one further to the right for instance makes a darker inner ring which may or may not be necessary.

Citing a single exceptional image is fine, but I did have references of my own. This, for instance, is my daughter’s eye and as you can see the line between pale iris and dark pupil is much sharper than your reference.:slight_smile:

You can also add far more complexity by more texture layers to the iris, not to mention what you could do with material nodes. I was, however, writing a tutorial, not a novel.

If you have a rendered image you have modeled yourself using procedurals, perhaps you could post it for comparison.

Although this eyeball is precisely as I intended it to be and I use this model as it is, please don’t feel that what I’ve given to the community is an end to itself. Feel free to make it your own. I believe that a model you make by following a tutorial does not come under the copyright of the tutorial itself, so go ahead and build one, then use that as a starting point, go wild and make it your own.:wink:


Very nice tutorial! Very nice execution of goals. Thank you for sharing.

I’ll post the results of my endeavors in this space tomarrow!

Great job! Thanks for the TUT

Just WOW!

I love the changing shape of the iris, great for lizards etc.

It’s amazing that you can do something like that without images…

Thanks a bunch for sharing.

I can’t get the iris lines / musgrave texture to work correctly Looks like the one on the right. I’ve copied every setting I could find and gone through this part of the tutorial several times. What did I miss???