Have you ever taken in a piece of manga or anime and instantly felt like you knew what the characters were thinking? If so, what you experienced was the result of an artist's understanding of the medium. Anime and manga make use of visual cues that help consumers subconsciously figure out what characters are thinking and feeling. A lot of those visual cues are related to the eyes.
Needless to say, the eyes play an important role in anime and manga. That is not without reason. Perhaps you've never noticed, but much of the character emphasis in anime and manga is on the face. Other physical features are still depicted, but artists put a lot of effort into character faces because they truly tell the story. That brings us back to the eyes.
In real life, the eyes are considered the window to the soul. Manga and anime artists adhere to that principle religiously. They use the eyes to convey emotion and thought. They depict eyes in such a way as to reveal a character's personality, morality, etc.
Eyes Help Depict Age
Did you know that how a character's eyes are drawn influence the depicted age? Larger, wider eyes are associated with younger characters. The larger and wider, the younger the character is. Likewise, older characters tend to have smaller and narrower eyes. However, there is some overlap here between older male characters and somewhat younger females. That is a different topic for another post, though.
Choosing Eye Placement
Artists tend to place the eyes lower on anime and manga characters. This is one of the characteristics of the art form. However, that doesn't have to be the case in every case. An anime or manga artist looking for a more realistic effect would draw a line directly through the center of the face and place the eyes on that line.
Why the difference? Because artists strive to depict relevant characters within their stories. If an artist is telling a very realistic story meant to reflect real life scenarios consumers would experience, they might prefer more realistic looking characters. Higher eye placement would be expected.
On the other hand, a creator looking to portray a more fantasy-like vibe might not want extremely realistic faces. They would choose a lower eye placement in order to disproportionately accentuate the head.
It turns out that symbolism incorporated into the eyes also makes a difference too. For example, anime and manga creators tend to make extensive use of tears. Tears are often exaggerated by depicting them as streams of water flowing from a character's eyes. How tears are illustrated matters.
A larger and more pronounced stream, even though it still depicts sorrow and sadness, is more likely found in a piece intended to be humorous or sarcastic. If an artist wants the mood to be more serious and somber, the stream is depicted as more narrow and perhaps longer.
It's Intricate Artistry
Anime and manga by no means qualify as random illustration. Both art forms are actually intricate artistry that rely on all sorts of facial expressions, symbols, and other visual cues to express what is happening in a particular scene. You can see it in all in our anime clothing and apparel. Every image is created through a combination of artistry and adherence to anime and manga standards.
Hopefully, you have learned something new by reading this post. Hopefully you'll never look at our anime T-shirts and anime hoodies the same way. Take a closer look. Study the faces and see what they say. You might be surprised by what you learn.