How to animate blinks and eye darts
Blinking and eye movements gives life to a character, even when it’s standing still. Each animator develops his/her own blinking style, but in this video I’ll show you some of my bread and butter blinks and eye darts that never fail.
The video covers:
- Reasons for blinking.
- 4 types of blinks.
- Eye darts.
Why do we blink?
A blink is not a random thing. Yes, we sometimes blink because our eyes are dry, but there are a few universal reasons for blinking that an animator needs to be aware of:
Try something right now: look to your left and then quickly look to you right. Did you blink? Odds are you did. A head turn (or any fast head movement) would almost always cause us to blink.
A change of thought
When a character realizes something or thinks of a solution to a problem, a blink would emphasize it and convey that emotion.
After a long lingering look a blink can help keep things alive.
Types of blinks
1) Regular blink
Closing lids (2 frames) hold eyes closed (1 frame) opening lids (3 frames).
- Head movement
- Character is bored
- Keeping the character alive
2) Fast blink
Closing lids (2 frames) opening lids (3 frames)
- Character is anxious
- Something went past the character’s face
- Character is angry
3) Long blink
Closing lids (3 frames) hold eyes closed (2 frames) opening lids (4 frames)
- Long head movement
- Thought change
4) Eye batting
Close lids 3/4 (1 frame) opening lids (2)
Eye darts are those quick movements of the pupils. They usually take 3 frames: The original position of the pupil, a transitional frame, and the ending position. there are 3 types of eye darts that I use:
- Left to right
When a character is having a conversation, the left to right eye darts conveys the character looking in his partner’s eyes while they talk.
- Up and down
When a character is sizing up the person they’re talking to. Can be used when a character is dismissive or fearful.
When entering a new place, the triangle eye dart goes from left to right and then up (forming a triangle shape) conveying that the character is examining the room or the environment around him.
Changing point of interest
This eye movement occurs when a character is shifting his gaze from one point of interest to another. This should take 3-4 frames.
Bonus video: The Pixar Blink