Creative Strategies: Modelling the eyes in Maya

When researching ways in which I could create eyes for our characters, I came across a set of tutorials provided by the GNOMON WORKSHOP, that teaches you how to make seemingly realistic eyes in Maya (with mental ray) from start to finish.


Summary of creating believable eyes: Chapter One: Alex Alvarez

  • In this tutorial we’re given a brief project overview, including modelling, texturing and rendering methods that will be covered at a later stages of the project.

-Create a Nurbs sphere for the outside of the eye like so:


Eyeballs have bumps at the front, they aren’t just circles or spheres. So in order to create this bump at the front of our eyeball mesh we’re going to add more Isoparms to our mesh by selecting our mesh, selecting Isoparm, drag it to a desired location on the mesh and then go to Surfaces-Insert Isoparms  (under the modelling menu in Maya 2016)


This is what I ended up with.

Next, I created a poly torus to be used as the Iris


I then flattened,scaled and smoothed the torus appropriately (subdivisions 10×10) and placed inside the eyeball mesh, I based the Iris position off the several reference images mentioned in previous posts.

To keep my scene organised I placed the Eyeball mesh and the Torus Mesh into separate display layers. (titled-Eyeball and Iris)

After, I converted the poly torus mesh to a subdiv mesh to get a better idea of its scale within the eyeball mesh. (Modify-Convert to Poly to subdiv)

I wanted to make the Iris concave (going inwards towards the back of the eye). I did so by selecting the vertices and scaling them inwards and moving them backwards)

A video showing the before and after modifications of the Iris.

Next I blocked out the shaders for both the Eyeball mesh and the Iris in the hyper shade editor.

I applied a blinn material to both the Eyeball and the Iris

An Iris isn’t very specular as in it doesn’t reflect a lot of light however the eyeball is quite specular and therefore will have a tight highlight on it.

Eyeball Specular Shading values:

eyeball settings

Iris Specular Shading values:


I then applied a transparency map to the eyeball mesh for the corneal bulge of the eye.

Under the eyeball shader settings I applied a U RAMP as a texture within the transparency attribute, set it to ‘smooth interpolation.’

IN order to see the ramp as a texture I set the texture channel (found under hardware texturing) to Transparency.

The next step was to map out the UV’s for the Iris so I could texture it appropriately.

In this case I used planar mapping to obtain for Iris’s UV’s after which the UV’s were exported into photoshop and textured over.


With the UV’s texture I then applied the texture to the Iris mesh and got the following result.

The detail seen in the Iris was achieved by applying a bump map to mesh under it’s material attributes.

Image converted using ifftoany

Finally, to finish off the model, I added a halved sphere,coloured black, to the back of the Iris to ensure the Iris would stay dark with the addition of light to the model.

final out_eye1


Really happy with the outcome


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