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Tutorial: Building A Better Eyeball


eyeball1.jpgJon McKay (Ammusionist) has posted a pdf on BA about creating an eyeball.  Been there, done that you say?  Think again.  Jon breathes new life into creating an old favorite.

From the thread:

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

    1. Singe mesh:  I wanted to be able to append a single object into any project.
    2. Procedural Textures:  I didn't want to have to rely on image maps that could get lost.
    3. Versatile:  One single model to be used for any type of character, be it human, alien or whatever.
    4. 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
    5. 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!

This intermediate level tutorial covers the modeling, materials, UV Mapping, and the ever-powerful shape keys.  You can find it here (pdf).  If you want to see what you can do, check out the demo video (quicktime .mov) of the result.  And if you're having trouble, Jon also let everyone take a look at the .blend.  Well done Jon!

About the Author


Just a guy really into 3D, especially where Blender is concerned.


  1. Waw!! This eyeball tut is bloody fantastic!! Much easier to follow than the original Pixar-eye blender tut with all the separate parts!! Great job! Thanks, buddy!

  2. Thanks.

    I know it's not anatomically perfect, but I hope it'll be useful.

    By the way, the Blend file is included as a reference. If you want to use this eyeball in your models, and I hope you will, then I ask that you follow the tutorial and build one of your own.

    I believe that if you build a model by following a tutorial then it is considered your own work and the copyright in the model is yours. Either way, I hereby license this tutorial as freely available to copy and redistribute in its current form with no further restrictions.


  3. Pretty nice tutorial there. Its easier then the pixar tutorial to put together and has animaition ideas + a red eye effect.

    does anyone know of a tutorial detailing how to make an eye socket that fits an eye and allows blink etc? Mine always look rubbish

  4. Very cool!

    I recently worked on a web 3d eye visualisation, which had to include the inner parts of the eye.

    Mac and PC users with Shockwave can see it here...

    It was interesting watching the recent speed modelling in Blender, how the artist started with the section of the face around the eye, rather than modelling the overall head shape first.

  5. Looks good, at a quick glimpse anyway. If it is also (and I have no reason to believe it isn't) I can finally stop loosing my mind with "Pixar style eyes".

    Thanks for the contribution!

  6. Well, Its a good well-explained tutorial, But the iris, looks fare from realistic.. Its a very smart method, but nothing I would use... (Or maybe a changed version).
    4 **** :)

  7. I've changed the UV mapping to ORCO in the iris multifractal texture and it looks more realistic, IMO.
    Congratulations, it's a very good tutorial and the result is very compelling.

  8. It's great to see people experimenting, and thanks for the positive response.

    I'm going to have to gather all my old tutorials that I've written over the last couple of years and put them on a website!

    BTW Gez; ORCO does look better in static images I agree. The reason I used UV mapping at all was so the texture would follow the scaling and shape of the iris in animation like a muscle.

    Nice tip.


  9. Hi,
    Just starting out with blender and 3D modeling, so this tutorial is like gold.
    One question though...
    How do I adjust the circle of influence on the proportional editing controls? I see a circle, but it's about the size of the initial sphere. Am I missing something.
    Thanks again for the tutorial.

  10. @Streep
    After selecting the proportional editing control, grab (G) and use pageup and pagedown to alter the circle of influence.

    I just did an eye using this tutorial, its lovely i must say.

  11. That eyeball would be useful for a cartoon feel, but I've yet to see a photorealistic eyeball created in Blender.

    Check out Alex Alvarez's Gnomon Workshop tutorial on creating believable eyes. It's done in Maya, but there's (theoretically) nothing about it that couldn't be replicated with Blender. I'm trying to figure out the details of how it translates over (especially with regard to materials). I'll post a tutorial in the wiki if I get it all figured out.

  12. Excellent tutorial, but it will not render for me.

    After finishing the tutorial and rendering, the eyeball is just black. I have a light placed in front of the eye. I have even tried the .blend example with the same result. I noticed that if I remove the cornea, the eyeball will render and looks beautiful but I suspect is not as shiny as with the cornea. The preview on the materials buttons shows the cornea material to be transparent. What am I doing wrong? I've spent a lot of time trying to fingure it out.

  13. Alright, I answered my own question, ironically from the Pixar Eyes tutorial. I had to de-select the 'Traceable' button under the 'Links and Pipeline' buttons section for the cornea material. Once done, it rendered beautifully. Thanks for this really well done tutorial!

    I am new to Blender so I stumbled a bit around the part where the iris is to be sunk into the main body of the eye. The tutorial was a bit confusing as it appeared that I was supposed to use a straight grab and move for the iris but in further pictures of the mesh displaying the cornea, it was apparent that it is necessary to use proportional falloff. I am not complaining at all, I just wanted to give a perspective from someone who is just starting but had some trouble with the tutorial.

    Thanks again!

  14. I agree with Sean. I'm new to all of this, and there seem to be two key steps left out, one being that Traceable needs to be turned off on the Cornea, and that falloff was needed when moving the area of the iris and pupil back into the eye. But likewise, I'm not complaining that it's a failure on the tutorials fault, it's a very good tutorial. I'd like to see a more realistic iris though that still is UV mapped.

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  15. Hi, I've tried to follow this tutorial and it didn't work that well for me. I have Blender 2.48a which is newer than the one used in the tutorial. And in my Blender version there are more settings to change in Mirror Transp. I wonder if that could give me some problem with the eye?
    There are also some new settings for UV Mapping. I would be very happy if someone could help me with this.

    Thanks in advance

  16. it seems the links for the .blend and the tut its self are dead, can you re-post them or reply with a new link for them?

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