Sunday, 23 February 2020

How to Animate Eye Darts

"Eye darts" are fast moving micro-changes of eye direction. Eyes are the window to the soul - it's the thing the audience will look at most, and one of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is fail to pay enough attention to their character's eyes.  Our eyes are very expressive, and the eyes are what we look at when we watch a character on the screen.  When we talk, we seek signals for how another person is thinking and feeling - we watch their eyes, and we often dart form one eye to another.  So, how does an animator animate eye darts?

Animating Eye Darts
The human eye is directly connected to the brain, and the audience will watch your character's eyes. There are endless variations on eye expressions, and it's important to get it right.  The timing of eye darts is important - eye darts tend to be very fast.  Below is a short video using the free Eleven Rig, on how to animate eye darts. 

Eye Darts
When people think, their eyes often dart from side to side. For example if they are talking on the phone, they are thinking, and their eyes move around rapidly. These micro-darts are often very fast, just one or two frames - rarely three.  CG eyes tend to look dead if they go still, so animators use "eye darts" just to keep the eyes alive. If the eyes move too much they look soft and floaty. But…too little movement and they seem dead and lifeless.

For more on how to animate eyes, read this blog post on why animators should hang on to each others' eyes

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