View Full Version : Flashback to Challenge #7: An Eye for an Eye

03 March 2009, 05:08 AM
Please enjoy reading through this thread as an archive, but it is closed to new posts. You can still download the old models and also post your entry in order to ask for feedback here (

The deadline for this challenge is April 10, 2009. Post your images in this thread by the deadline if you want a chance to get your work into the updated gallery.

Eyes can make the difference between an appealing character and a zombie. The challenge here is to shade, texture, light and render a close-up of an eye. To get started, download the scene here:

This model was built for this challenge by Serguei Kalentchouk. Please credit him as the modeler if you post your renderings on a website or showreel.

All shading and rendering techniques are fine, as long as your model is lit in 3D. Any tweaks or additions you want to make to the scene are OK. We all love seeing great work, but we also appreciate constructive feedback for other people's posts, and break-downs of your scenes and techniques!

This is our first Flashback Challenge. The original Challenge #7 was closed in January of 2007. Now you get another chance to create your best entries yet. Post images in this thread by April 10, 2009, and your work could be added to an updated gallery.


03 March 2009, 02:49 PM
Wow, I think this is the first time I've had the first post. I had a little fun with this one. No Texturing done yet but this is what I have so far.

03 March 2009, 04:25 PM
Why not ;) ?

03 March 2009, 04:37 PM
I've never done any work with eyes before, so I'm a little lost. Could someone tell me which parts of the eye model need to be transparent, and which need to be glossy? Also, which parts should I apply my eye texture to?

This challenge is quite challenging. Thanks Jeremy.

Cheers and God bless.

03 March 2009, 05:19 PM
I've never done any work with eyes before, so I'm a little lost. Could someone tell me which parts of the eye model need to be transparent, and which need to be glossy? Also, which parts should I apply my eye texture to?

We could all use a few hints! I'll start, but I hope others follow and post useful info.

When you're trying something new, keep it simple. You don't need to use all of the parts that are included in the download. You could even start by texturing just a sphere, not using any transparent layers in your first version, and hiding all the other parts for now.

Find photo reference on or other sites, or study your own eyes in a mirror. The parts of the eye each present their own challenges:

Tear Duct: Challenging because it needs to look organic and wet, and if you study photo reference it seamlessly blends into the eyeball and the eyelids. Keeping that seamless and wet looking is tricky when things are all different objects in 3D.
Sclera: Also called the white of the eye, this is a little reflective, but needs a nice sense of contact with the eyelids, and some shadows or reflections or reflection occlusion from the lashes. For reflections on the eye, usually the reflections of the eyelids, lashes, and nose are the darkest part of the reflection. The environment beyond the face should be the brighter part of the reflection.
Iris: The iris is the "colored" part of the eye. You might like this site for texture maps:
The iris tends to have a dark defining ring separating it from the sclera.
A note about iris gleam: The iris gets a bright gleam on the opposite side from the key. For example, if your eye is lit from above, and the highlights are on the top of the eye, the iris gleam will be brighter on the bottom. In real life this is caused by caustics refracting through the lens of the eye, and brightening the opposite side of the iris compared to where the light entered. In 3D one approach to this is to build eyes like the eyes in Challenge #10, where the iris model slopes inwards, like a funnel inside the eye, so that the bottom of the iris is facing upwards to catch more light.
Pupil: The pupil is the dark part in the center of the iris. These get retro-reflective in some flash photography causing red-eye, but mostly you want them to look black. If the reflections on the eye are too bright so the pupils look grayed-out, it really hurts the character. When eyes dilate to adjust for dim light, the pupils will look bigger, but it's really the iris that gets rigged to expand and contract, revealing more or less of the pupil behind it.

03 March 2009, 08:24 PM
It's good to be back at these challenges. I am working on materials right now, and I'm pretty satisfied. This is rendered from within Blender, and has no post-pro but tone correction. I will now begin to work on lighting. All shading is mine, except for the skin material, which I got here ( All advice appreciated.

03 March 2009, 09:52 PM
Interesting... I took part in the original contest (the below entry is from then). I really need to get back into these lighting/texturing challenges, but always seem to check in at the close of a challenge.

I'm just wondering if I should improve on what I did originally, or start new and fresh. If I were to start fresh, I'm curious what other direction I could/should go... Hmmm...

For the life of me, I can't get the image to resize, so I'll just place the link here (

03 March 2009, 02:02 AM
My advice would be to start fresh, seeing as it's been awhile, but if you want to improve what you got, I'd be interested to see it. Your original entry is very good.

03 March 2009, 03:52 AM
kanooshka - Congratulations on the first post! I'd say get some photo reference, and really focus on the issues from post #5. For reflections on the eye, usually the self-reflection of the eyelids or eye lashes or nose is the darkest part of the reflection. What the eye reflections beyond the face should be the brighter part of the reflection.

BlenderFan - That's a good skin shader. For reflections on the eye, usually the self-reflection of the eyelids or eye lashes or nose is the darkest part of the reflection. What the eye reflections beyond the face should be the brighter part of the reflection.

quasiagent1 - That's a nice scene. If you're going to put some more time into it, starting somewhat fresh has its advantages, especially if you're going to put time into things like the eyeball and skin shaders in isolation before you work with the whole scene. For reflections on the eye, usually the reflections of the eyelids, lashes, and nose are the darkest part of the reflection. What the eye reflections beyond the face should be the brighter part of the reflection. Your reflections have a dis-continuity at the upper left edge of the iris, as if there are two different reflective surfaces. You could probably make something that looks more like an eyebrow and looks less painted-on.


03 March 2009, 06:07 AM
Here is my first draft. Max 2009/MR.
I have not addressed the eyebrows, and the skin texture needs some work. Any C&C welcome. Also, I am not sure about the B&W, but untill the texture is finished it helps disguise it;) .


03 March 2009, 06:11 AM
It is really nice getting back to the old challenges which we had missed.
So this is the first take on the challenge hope I am able to complete it as I am busy on some project..
I will be keeping the out put as balck and white and this is the basic lighting setup that I have done.

03 March 2009, 08:49 AM
Teachers pet right back at ya :D
I like the mood, like a person sitting infront of a campfire, but the reflection feels
more like an atomic blast ;)

Wow, I think this is the first time I've had the first post. I had a little fun with this one. No Texturing done yet but this is what I have so far.

03 March 2009, 09:09 AM
Here is my first draft. Max 2009/MR.
I have not addressed the eyebrows, and the skin texture needs some work. Any C&C welcome. Also, I am not sure about the B&W, but untill the texture is finished it helps disguise it;) .

Hey nice start the color lens looks good on a black and white image

03 March 2009, 09:39 AM
This is the only flashback I didn't want to do.

But after a little thinking realized it could work based on an old idea that never materialized. Nothing is solid it's all pre-viz prep, still alot of work to do.

I'm a failed writer by nature so everything, including a still, has to tell a story.

Edited: Better general view.

03 March 2009, 04:37 PM
@MikeBracken: That looks great. Could you share a little about how you did the eye material? That is driving me a little crazy right now. I think you should keep the B&W.

03 March 2009, 05:14 PM
Basicaly the eye materials are.........

Sclara.......Semi glossy, not to reflective. I also used a tiny touch of bump for the veins.

Iris.......Very glossy (blurry), about 50% reflective. Also a touch of bump, VERY slight.

Cornea(?).....very slightly glossy, and very reflective. I have added thickness to get a bit of refraction.

Tear Duct....About 50% glossy and about 60% reflective.

The skin.....Is MR fast sss +
I use fresnel type BRDF curves on almost every material I make. I also always gamma correct the textures.

I am using an HDRI that comes with Max in the environment slot of most of my materials. I have a area spot light and a skylight using a blurred, lower res version of the reflection map.
I am rendering with final gather.

Hope this helps.


03 March 2009, 06:16 PM
@MikeBrackin - It looks like you've done some manual texture painting with some specular highlighting, bump, and a bit of diffuse coloring as well for skin and its looking great. And I was wondering if your model included Eyebrows or did you add hair simulation?

The iris looks a bit large for the eye sorta.. but it still looks cool..

03 March 2009, 06:43 PM
Here's my first attempt. Yes its a purple person:

03 March 2009, 09:43 PM

Hi everyone!!

This is the first attempting for this challenge.

03 March 2009, 10:14 PM
Hello everybody,
this is my first challenge (

03 March 2009, 12:03 AM
Here's my first draft,
Used HDRI in vray and a single omni from the left to pick some shadows out on the upper lid and lashes. Still needs eyebrow and wrinkles in the eye creases and under the eyes.
And need to liquify and pinkish up the tear duct but otherwise going ok.


03 March 2009, 12:43 AM
Hi. My first approach to the scene. Very nice to work on!
greets kerschy

03 March 2009, 03:56 AM
hi done some work on the eye next step texturing the skin..

03 March 2009, 11:12 AM
Done with the skin texture, will now work on the tear drop from her eyes and gonna also work with the color of eye lashes and add an eyebrow...

03 March 2009, 03:03 PM
wasimattar - Nice image! I like the color in the iris, and having interesting reflections is always nice. I think the image lacks warmth, if the shadow areas and the edges of the eyelids and the tear ducts could have more red and pink and warmer tones in them, the whole image could look more natural and organic. Work on getting rid of hard edges between the tearduct and the eyeball.

kerschyb - That's great! Nice skin texture, nice iris texture. The eyelids need work: find some photo reference (or get a mirror) and look at the transition between the eyeball and the upper eyelid, I think there should be more consistent darkness and more warm tones in the skin there. Move the reflection off the pupil of the eye, maybe all the way to the right side of the iris on that. It really hurts a character if a reflection or highlight covers her pupil.

Phil-roberts - Great scene. I agree on the pink tearduct idea. Actually, all the black and dark gray in the skin could go into deeper warmer tones. Study some photo reference to see how much scattering should be there, but the desaturated shadow areas are a dead give-away that this is CG. I think the bump map on the sclera might bee too heavy, maybe just use that pattern for a shift into warmer colors instead of bump. The bump on the skin in the lower left corner looks too much like a bump map to me, maybe the bump should only influence the specular and not the diffuse, and you could use a little more color variation in the skin texture?

zbyg - Welcome! Great start! Try to get rid of the black edges on the sides of the eyeball, and see if you can fill-in the black in the eyelid fold with a warmer fill color. Your scene could use some shadows. Try to soften the transition between the iris and the pupil.

PETER3D - That's great! The skin texture is wonderful. On the right side some of the wrinkles don't seem to align perfectly with the lower edge of the eye or the fold of the eyelid, maybe you can tweak those. The bottom of the eye could use some occlusion where it meeds the lower lid. On the left side, the tear duct is disappearing into blackness, try to bring back some warmth and presence there.

brookselliott - Good start. Having two highlights is fine, but you'll still need some iris gleam in there. The right corner has a gray triangle in it, maybe you can smooth that whole right side of the sclera out into a continuous gradient?

MeanPi2 - That looks like a layout for an interesting scene. Keep going!

MikeBracken - Great start! Use color if you want color, B&W doesn't really hide that much. :) The edge of the iris should blend into the eye white, usually with a darker defining ring. The reflections and lash occlusion looks good. Try to move the highlight out of the pupil, maybe to the right side of the iris, and look into getting some iris gleam.


03 March 2009, 09:54 PM
I am finding that if you paint your face purple its much easier to make it look natural. That is natural for a purple face. :D. This is one of the tougher challenges I think. Texturing skin for close ups is not an easy task. I think it would be better to use a zbrush approach with ramp shaders for specular and color. It would be interesting to hear what others are using to get some of the wrinkles to look like real wrinkles in close ups like PETER3D and kerschyb examples.

03 March 2009, 03:33 PM
Hey Everyone,

I guess i'll give it a shot...count me in.

03 March 2009, 05:14 PM
i like eyes, so i gave it a try..

my first cgtalk lighting challenge contribution.
i don't get the eye lashes to work.. anyway, here's my result so far.. 1 and a half days work.
everything just very roughly touched.. i spent the most time on shading the eye to get this proberly working.

Maya 08 - Mentalray.


03 March 2009, 01:50 AM
Here's another rough version. I'm trying to create more specular texture at the eye eyelid area.

03 March 2009, 06:20 PM
this`s mine.
skin shader almost done:

03 March 2009, 11:54 PM
nice to see a flashback challenge i miss this the first time so here is my entry

03 March 2009, 12:26 AM
Hi all. It's been a lot of fun working on this eye. More work has gone into it than I would like to admit. :) I hope I will have the energy to put more time into it.
Edit. hope the image works better now.

03 March 2009, 11:14 AM
Hi all, stuffs from you guys. Btw, Jeremy can I join this challenge once again just for fun..? Coz' it's just a flashback on my memory 2 years ago..

03 March 2009, 11:53 AM
neonbulbs - Everyone is welcome! If you entered 2 years ago, I hope you can do something new this time.

n3m72 - Welcome! Because of spammers, your first 4 posts or so on cgtalk get approved by moderators and can't have attached images. I know that's annoying, but I assure you it gets better! If you're having trouble posting images, try uploading to imageshack or your own website and just posting a link here, or read this thread

swag - Nice job! The eyeball seems more brightly lit than the skin around it. Try to fill-in the fold in the upper eyelid with a warm color to make it look like flesh. The edge of the eyelid touching the eyeball should also have some warm tones, the make-up applied to eyelashes does not go all the way to touching the eyeball. The eye has a nice texture, I think the pupil looks a bit too perfectly black, in a close-up a tiny bit of reflectivity over the whole eyeball might help.

PUMEL - Welcome! Good start, keep going!

brookselliott - Good start. All the little squares of light look a bit unrealistic on the eyeball, maybe you could use fewer of those or find a new reflection environment? Try to reduce the reflections in the pupil itself, a bright highlight should stay on the iris or sclera, not in the middle of the pupil.

Sorath - That's great! On the skin, you have a nice texture. It needs some warmth in the fold and shadow areas, just enough to simulate subsurface scattering. Some warmth on the edge of the eyelids where they contact the eye would help too. The eye itself has a nice look, good textures. There seems to be too much black areound the edges; see if you can fill some of the black areas in. The pupil stands out a little too much, maybe the iris/pupil transition could be blended better, maybe it just shouldn't hit such a dark black.

phil-w8 - Welcome!


03 March 2009, 12:46 PM
Hi Everyone,

This is my first entry for this challenge.

Your comments are more than welcome.



03 March 2009, 03:12 PM
hey jeremy, thanks for your input.
I'm currently struggeling around with a deadline, if i'm not too busy afterwards i'll maybe improve the shading a bit. It's hard to do so because the eye lash -hairs seems to be a bit to thick and for applying a good shading it is too thin :-(
and still missing is the fluid which is producing those nice specss on the inside of the eyelashes. so still enough to do for me :-).

03 March 2009, 04:08 PM
Jeremy thanks for the comments. My second try: (

03 March 2009, 04:26 PM
You give me another chance! Jeremy Birn
This time I will finish it before deadline!!
Really love this thread, thank you Jeremy Birn!

03 March 2009, 05:49 PM
Hi Jeremy and all,

Thanks for your comments.
Took a completely new look at the skin shader and made my own diffuse, bump and specular maps from reference.
Pinked up the tear duct and made the eyelashes slightly transparent to try and knock them back a bit, they seemed really harsh and thick.

Moved the omni over the right to get more shadow on the left and made it a warm orange colour to help with the skin tones.


03 March 2009, 05:58 PM
hey guys, this is my first post here. i am really enjoying it. In this challenge, my working approach on the eye is to deliver an expression of "Fear" right before a murder. i am still working on it. i am using max for this. i created eye ball and iris for the scene. but eyelashes and head skin part is the same. i textured it re touched some uvs and here is the first render. i hope u will like it and all c&c welcome. :)

03 March 2009, 07:02 AM
Hi Jeremy and all,

Thanks for your comments.
Took a completely new look at the skin shader and made my own diffuse, bump and specular maps from reference.
Pinked up the tear duct and made the eyelashes slightly transparent to try and knock them back a bit, they seemed really harsh and thick.

Moved the omni over the right to get more shadow on the left and made it a warm orange colour to help with the skin tones.


@Phil-roberts: I really like your skin shader, do u mind if i ask how'd you do it?

03 March 2009, 08:02 AM
Hi Phil,
Thanks for the comments,
Basically the the main diffuse map is a mixture of photographic and clone stamp tool retouch.
I took all the shadow and specular outputs on the base image off to produce a flat tonally consistent base.

Then for the bump map I desaturated the image to black and white and boosted the levels to get more contrast for my bump.

Finally for the specular I reused the bump map but took to contrast back down to a more grey tone overall so there were no spikey areas.

Then just played around with the settings in max for the material until it looked OK.

Here is a tutorial link I found that may help:

Heres my final settings below.


03 March 2009, 09:24 AM
Wow, thks Phil-roberts for the great explanation.

I'll give it a shot in a bit. :)

Great work !!!:D

thanks again.

03 March 2009, 12:07 PM
My attempt at this challenge. Rendered in Maya. Lit with a portal light and "ye olde kitchen.hdr" for reflections. Shaders are still very basic. For the time being mostly concerned with colour and values.

03 March 2009, 09:22 PM
Been quite busy of late, but managed to put up a quick "sultry stripe" lighting setup. Apologies for the PLE watermarks, but I thought I'd give this one a try in Maya :)

Will work on the textures next...

03 March 2009, 07:26 AM
I tried to fix the reflection problems by not using YafRay and photon lights and just use Blender's renderer.
Skin textures look a lot different at higher resolutions and much more difficult.

03 March 2009, 08:52 AM

Hi jeremy and everybody~

This is my second post for challenge. As jeremy's advices, I tweaked it.

03 March 2009, 09:52 AM
PETER3D - That's terrific! The skin texture is spot-on in most of the image. Only in the lower right does it look a little fake. The tearduct isn't really visible, it looks like just clear liquid there. I love the highlight on the bottom of the eyeball, that's a terrific touch that a lot of people skip. Given that the whole image looks so bright, I wonder if we wouldn't see alittle more light on the eyelashes?

brookselliott - Yes skin is difficult. Try toning down the bump mapping, and filling in all the areas that go dark gray or black with warmer, softer fill light. There's a very hard-edged line on the eye itself that might be a shadow, for such a reflective surface a shadow shouldn't be that dark, and the highlight shouldn't be inside of the shadow. Try to fix the black edges around the eyeball so they look more like how an eyeball connects to eyelids.

bshao - If you're going for sultry, try less diffuse light on the eyeball, so the pupil will be darker, and the reflections of the lashes will be darker. Keep going!

pap87 - The reflection of the window would look better without the white rectangular highlight in it. If you want a brighter reflection, you could brighten the window, or add a soft-edged sun reflection that looks like it could come from the sky outside the window. Try to soften the transition between the pupil and the iris, and between the sclera and tearduct, those lines look too sharp to me.

shahabsy - Nice scene! I think fold of the eyelid could use some warm fill, and all the skin could use less bump. The eye white could be brighter, at least it should be brighter than the tearduct. If the point of the image is how big the pupil has gotten, then take the reflections and highlights out of the pupil itself so it becomes a more pronounced black form, and put some more gleam into the iris, with a defined edge between the iris and the pupil.

Phil-roberts - That's great! I like the little tear. Maybe you could fake subsurface scattering by adding some warm fill light into the fold of the upper eyelid. The tearduct might not need to be that bright, but it should have a much softer edge where it blends into the eyeball, it doesn't need that dark defining edge. The edges of the eyelids, where they touch the eyeball, could be warmer. Parts of the sclera might be too bright, especially in the upper right area where it should be occluded by the upper lid and lashes. (Thanks for sharing your settings, too!)

zsjasper - Welcome!

zbyg - Great! Really focus on the edges where the tearduct connects to the eye, the eyelids connect to the eye. Get photo reference or use a mirror to closely study how the surfaces fit together.

phil-w8 - Good start. The eye looks a little washed-out now, I wish the pupils didn't have so much gray reflections or light in them. Try to soften and darken the transition between the iris and sclera. The tearduct and edges of the eyelids could be warmer and more pink, I think. Maybe the skin could use some warm fill in the fold of the upper eyelid, too.


03 March 2009, 02:10 PM
Thanks for your advice Jeremy.

Here's an update. I will fix the veins in the eyeball, they dont look good right now. And the skin bump is just temporary, just something to break it up.

03 March 2009, 08:50 PM
hello all!

here's my first render of the current lighting challenge. at the moment, i only have the color maps applied to the objects and i'm currently working on the bump and spec maps. i'd like to add some hair for eye brows to the face but i'm not quite sure how do it. any suggestions?

with an image overlayed onto the skin's color map, this is how i'd like the eye brow to be positioned.

03 March 2009, 11:20 AM
Another update with some fixes for lighting under top eyelid, warmer lighting and lower bump map settings :

03 March 2009, 12:36 PM
This is my first contribution after arriving too late in another challenges. I made it with 3dsMax and Mental Ray

03 March 2009, 02:40 AM
@yorestes: All I see is a bunch of html code, no image. Try inserting it again.

Cheers and God bless.

03 March 2009, 07:08 AM
It has been long since I didnt post my entry as i was busy with some of the project we were working on but then this is my latest update only thing remaining now will be the tear drop...

03 March 2009, 10:05 PM
Hello people, here is my eye. I never imagined how hard was to light a close up of an eye, I did a lot of color correction in After Effects so I guess I am a cheater :)

03 March 2009, 05:26 AM
Hi everyone,
This is my renders

03 March 2009, 02:33 PM
Here's a BW version. I am trying for a more relaxed emotion as most of my attempts have looked more like some one who's had 20 cups of coffee.

High res here (

03 March 2009, 07:27 PM
Jeremybirn Thank you for pointing me in right direction!
In my First WIP post, I tried to show a man's silhouette in the eye who is going to kill him but this time its not there coz that silhouette was also a part of reflection in the eye.
I've tweaked my scene accordingly. here is my second WIP render. I hope u will like it. :)

03 March 2009, 11:45 PM
Hey, Amazing works, this is a very nice challenge and there are great entries posted here... :love: I worked this weekend on the eye and this is what I've been doing. All the eye with procedural textures
Area lights: One Key light (left up-a bit Yellow warm), one fill light (right down- a bit redish) and one environment light for the sphere with the background reflected.
Same that before, but the key light is a spot light to try with MR and caustics but still :I don't work on it. :wavey:
Regards, D.

03 March 2009, 02:41 AM
stridiggio - Interesting images! I think you are getting unique looking eyes with from using procedural textures instead of a bitmap, but you could keep tweaking them a little. Try to make them look less swirly, right now they almost look like they are spiraling out a bit. The eyes look very bright compared to the skin. Try to make the tearduct more transparent on the right edge, so it fades organically into the eyeball, without any line there. The top edge of the eye should get darker, where the lashes and eyelids block reflections.

shahabsy - Nice work! I think the top edge of the eye should get darker, where the lashes and eyelids block reflections. The pupil looks really grayed-out, try to make the pupil dark and well-defined. The edges of the iris often has a dark defining ring around it, too, before you get into the white of the eye. The white seems very dry and diffuse, a little more reflectivity and less diffuse brightness could help.

brookselliott - Nice image! In black and white, part of the image looks almost like a photograph, but then the eye white is brighter than it should be, and has too much occlusion making a dark line along the bottom edge. The lashes also look too dark and contrasty for that scene. The reflections in the eye look good overall, except for the nose reflection on the left side. You expect the nose reflection to be darker than the environment reflection beyond it, but here the nose reflection seems bright, then the environment beside it looks dark. (I am working backwards and saw your B&W one first. I like the color one a little better.)

shivahegde - That's a really nice image! Your skin is nicely textured. I think the reflections seem to hit too close to the top of the eyeball, where they should be blocked by the upper eyelid and lashes. That whole edge between the eyelids and the eyeball often needs some occlusion, something to help blend the two surfaces. The transition from the tearduct to the eyeball could also be softer and more organic.

JohnPGiancarlo - Interesting image. Yes, this challenge really is a challenge. The white stripes on the right look more like sand than skin to me. There seems to be some extra red light hitting the eyelid, lashes, and maybe coming out of the right corner of the eye, perhaps this is a subsurface scattering shader misbehaving? I usually try to keep the brightest part of a reflection or highlight in the eye out of the pupil, so the pupil can go more dark. The edge of the iris could use a dark defining ring around it, before you get into the white of the eye.

wasimattar - That's a striking image. The contrast between the bright eye and the dark edges of the eyelids around it is very abrupt, you could make a softer and more believable eye if there was some light and warm tones in that transition. I like the colors in the iris.

yorestes - Nice work! Your textures are off to a good start! I think the eyeball has too much bump mapping, too much diffuse, and not enough reflectivity. Focus on the reflection environment and getting the eyeball to reflect the lids and lashes well, and it'll look more believable.

MonicaKruse - Welcome! There are lots of ways to add eyebrows. You could model a surface and use a transparency map with your eyebrow texture. You could use the hair or fur functions that probably exist in whatever software you're using. You could model them the same way the lashes are modeled. Or you could just make them a part of the main surface of the skin, although that might not be the most realistic way to do it. (For more advice specific to your software, you might ask a question about eyebrows on the forum for whichever program you're using.) Try to make the pupils darker, so they don't look grayed out. Dark pupils make a character look smart, grayed-out ones make her look like she has cataracts or something. The reflections of the lashes look very light, as if there might be too much diffuse illumination on the eye, and not enough reflectivity.

pap87 - Wow, that skin's starting to get a warm, soft feeling. Making soft looking skin is not easy. The fold of the eyelid still has a hard edge to it, where it gets lighter above the line and darker below it. You could texture map the edges of the eyelids, where they touch the eyeball, to a pink or red color. The eye itself has a nice depth to it, I wonder if it couldn't be a bit brighter, at least in terms of the reflection environment for the area outside the window? The area in the upper right where it gets very bright, right up to the edge of the eyelid, seems unnatural to me, as if there's a refleciton or highlight that should be blocked by the lid or lashes more.


03 March 2009, 03:05 AM
thanks jeremy!

i'll definately look into modeling the eye brows. although i've had some problems when using maya's painteffects eyebrows. the individual eyebrow hairs were either out of proportion or went straight through the skin's surface to the back side in some areas. O___o;;

here's my latest render of the lighting challenge. i've gone back and tweaked the color maps and added bump and spec maps. there are some areas that i intend to change and/or areas i'm currently working on for example corner of the eye needs to be glossy and eyebrow skin texture (it's looking to much like painted clay to me). i've also toned down the reflectiveness of the eye so that the pupil appears darker.

software: maya 2009
renderer: mental ray fine trace

03 March 2009, 04:06 AM
wasimattar - That's a striking image. The contrast between the bright eye and the dark edges of the eyelids around it is very abrupt, you could make a softer and more believable eye if there was some light and warm tones in that transition. I like the colors in the iris.
Thanks Jeremy for the comments I will post my next update pretty soon.
Thank You

03 March 2009, 04:17 AM
Hi Jeremy , thanks for the comments I will post my next update.

03 March 2009, 05:00 AM
How did you guys get that hightlight around the edges of the eye?

03 March 2009, 05:58 AM
Hey guys,

I didn't have at all a bit of time to work on this challenge after my latest reply. :(

I see some new amazing posts, so good job everyone.

I'll try to post a render before the deadline.

Good luck to all


03 March 2009, 01:08 PM
Thanks again for the helpful comments Jeremy. Here's my next update. Am still trying to work on the tear duct area. And eventually I'll make a proper bump map for the skin.

03 March 2009, 06:33 PM
Hi all,
I've been working on using misss_fast_skin--so far no work on the eye itself or any attempts to get that nice glistening wet look on parts of the eye. So this needs some small wrinkles in the bump map and a subdermal color map, and probably some detail on the epidermal color map. And of course everything for the eye and tearduct. But it's a (late) start.

04 April 2009, 02:40 AM
Hi pap87! How did you get that litter wet hightlight near the lower edge of the eye ball? Did you add an additional mesh there?

04 April 2009, 03:07 AM
Shellfish - I used the mia_roundcorners texture node to achieve the look of the eyeball kinda blending with the eyelid. It's a mentalray texture node that is applied in the bump map slot of the eyeball shader and from what i understand it perturbs the normals where two objects intersect to create a smooth blend between the two.

04 April 2009, 04:11 AM
Wow...Thanks pap87!

04 April 2009, 07:19 AM
Has been great challange so far, Nice works have been posted here is my post,Will be waiting for critics and comments from every one.

04 April 2009, 07:18 PM
I've been looking at trying to create a realistic bump map but am kind of at a loss. First I tried some procedural things (based on Rusty Williamson's tutorial (

Then I tried drawing my own using reference photos I found on the web. For guidance, I looked at several sites.
I looked at George Maestri's tutorial (, but that's really for a reptilian creature.
There was Patrick Eischen's (, which looks great, but he uses ZBrush (and refers the reader to a cool Ryan Kingslien video tutorial on the technique).
There's Jame's Busby's ( really, really excellent tutorial, complete with all the texture maps, but the resolution is insufficient for the detail needed for this challenge. This one had a valuable tip about how to paint out specular from photographic elements.
Needless to say, I searched high and low in the forums here as well.

I have a photo that I think might provide good reference. I'm just at a loss how to get the kind of detail some of the posts here have (I'm thinking especially of shivahegde's, peter3d's, phil-robert's, swag's, and kerschyb's). How do y'all DO that? Are you somehow using photos directly? Painting by hand? Some combination? Can you show us a part of your bump map (not the whole thing, of course--that'd be cheating--but enough to get a sense of what to shoot for in our own bump maps)? What kind of reference did you use? Any tips will be GREATLY appreciated.

04 April 2009, 10:44 PM
Sciortino - I've found the same issues. For this type of extreme close-up work standard skin texturing procedures don't work because there are many more variations in texture, coloring and specularity right next to each other. The only way to do it is to have a good photo reference and try to mimic not only texture but coloring as well. Bump and Spec Texture alone just won't cut it. My opinion is that a Zbrush technique and the careful application of shading is the right way to do it at this macro like close-up level. Bump and Spec maps just don't cut it if you are to expect higher resolution in my opinion.

04 April 2009, 10:49 PM
Am I on the right track?

I've got a bump map that kinda looks ok in parts. Most of it is still pretty nasty--scribbles mostly. But here's what I'm doing.

I'm using Photoshop for the bump map. You can see it applied in the test render at the end of this post. The map itself consists of a seven layers (from left in the image below):

(1) A "softness base" layer made following Rusty Williamson's procedure (see link in earlier post). It's the bottom layer, Normal blending mode, at 50% opacity. It probably doesn't add much in this context, but I've left it in.

(2) A blank 50% black layer. Again, I started by following Rusty's tutorial, and from here he goes on to use dodge and burn tools. I tried that, but ended up just using a brush for the next layers. This one is Overlay, 100%.

(3) A fine wrinkles layer I made using a 1-pixel brush (my map is about 2700x2700) using 75% black, and just pretty much drawing a lot of not-quite-horizontal-and-definitely-not-vertical lines very close together. Normal, 100%.

(4) A coarse wrinkles layer. Used the same brush, but drew lots of lines nearly on top of each other to create a few thicker wrinkles. This wasn't from tracing any photographic reference, just my impression of how wrinkles might go from looking at a bunch of photos. Normal, 100%. This didn't really give me thicker wrinkles though, so...

(5) Another coarse wrinkles layer, but this time setting the brush to 4 pixels and going over the areas I went over in layer 4. Normal, 100%.

(6) A skin "cell" layer. This is one I made based on part of a photo. I desaturated the photo (actually, not a necessary step), traced over the microwrinkles, then blurred the tracing several times so that I ended up with more or less a gradient within each "cell". I made this a pattern and filled my bump map with it. Overlay, 20%.

So here's what the bump map of the area under the eye looks like.

And here's the full-size rendering. Right track? Wrong track? Suggestions? Any tips from the bump mapping wizards here would be truly, truly appreciated.
Thanks again,

04 April 2009, 11:07 PM
brookselliott--Thanks--You're so right--it sure does seem pretty hard without Zbrush.

Phil-roberts--thank you too for your earlier explanation. And it sounds like you're not using Zbrush and it looks great! If you could post a just a teeny, teeny, tiny part of the photographic reference you used, maybe I could get a sense of what I should be looking for in reference, and I could perhaps experiment a bit using the technique you described (remove specular and shadows, desaturate, increase contrast for bump map, lower it again for specular map).

Shivahegde, peter3d, swag, and kerschyb--are y'all using Zbrush?

04 April 2009, 12:12 AM
MonicaKruse: Good work so far, I like the directionality of the light. A big part to eyes is reflection, I'd like to see some strong reflections on the outer eye. Also, the eye looks very grayed out. You may want to increase the transparency and/or decrease the diffuse value of the outer eye.

pap87: Thanks for the tip with the roundcorners, I never knew that worked between multiple objects, it's great! I really love your eye shader, and I really look forward to you working more on the skin.

I like your study, it looks like you're off to a good start. I agree that ZBrush or mudbox is probably your best bet at creating the texture you are looking for but, as with anything there are countless means to get to the end you want. Another suggestion I can give you is to try taking some photographs of your own eye, aligning them with your uv's and enhance them in photoshop or even just using them as a starting point. For bump, a useful filter in PS is the high pass filter. This removes a lot of subtle coloration and keeps the extreme values. This here links to some free alphas for zbrush that could be helpful and can be used in PS:

On that note , here's mine so far. Most importantly the skin needs work.

04 April 2009, 07:59 PM
I used my own version of this method:

And I think it turned out ok but resolution is still a problem as Sciortino pointed out.
This exercise is quit different than normal skin texturing.
I don't think I have seen any WIP here yet that looks realistic but I think Perer3D and MikeBracken have come the closest to reasonable simulation in my opinion. And I do like where pap87 is going with the mia_roundcorners texture node. mia_roundcorners seems like a really useful feature.

04 April 2009, 08:48 PM
A quick update--gotta run, but here's some work on the eye itself. Nothing new here on the skin yet. All the transparent parts have Fresnel, some fractal bump on the outer eyeball, displacement on the iris, photographic iris color map, a transparency ramp controlling the transition from white to iris.

04 April 2009, 04:59 AM
Hi Jeremy
Thanks for your advice ,Here's an update. I fixed edge between the eyelids and the eyeball ,also corrected reflections on eye.

04 April 2009, 06:40 AM
thanks for your advice Jeremy. I did some changes in the outer eyeball to make more reflection.

04 April 2009, 11:12 AM

04 April 2009, 11:23 AM
Made a double post sorry people.

04 April 2009, 11:34 AM
Hi Jeremy and all,

Thanks for your comments.
Softened up the tear duct where it meets the eyeball, and reduced the intensity of the HDRI to stop the burn out on the eye. Also added a lower highlight on the iris with a small omni right up close with all excluded but the eyeball. Added a ambient occlusion pass in post and put some warm lights along the crease at the top of the eyebrow to fake SSS.

I found a great little script for producing the AO pass in max and v-ray without having to change any settings at all !!! Here's the link:
Hope it's usefull to someone :)

Thanks Phil

Hi Sciortino,
You requested a look at the maps I am using, so heres a selection of the main ones that I have used to complete the above image.
Hope this helps and if you have any more requests just ask.

04 April 2009, 12:37 PM
Hi everyone.

This is my try on this challenge, it realised to be more difficult than I thoght :)),
but I like it and tried to do my best.

04 April 2009, 04:25 PM
Thanks very much! Nice presentation too.

Can I ask how you made your bump and spec maps (I mean, did you start with photographs, use zbrush, paint from scratch)?

Also, is there any chance you could post a small part of the full size bump and spec maps like from something like the highlighted areas in the attached part of your earlier post? Seeing even a small piece of the full size maps I think would help me know what I'm shooting for in my own. (I understand everyone is busy and has real responsibilities beyond this challenge, so if you don't have time, I'd completely understand.)

Thanks again!

04 April 2009, 04:38 PM
I'm nobody's expert on this, obviously, but here are some things that occurred to me looking at recent submissions.

shivahegde - Your submission looks great. If I have any crit at all, it's that it somehow looks too perfect. I can't really put my finger on it, but maybe the reflections on the outer eyeball are too smooth? I dunno, but it looks great anyway. Can you share any info on how you got your skin to look as convincing as it does? And are you using zbrush or doing whatever you're doing by hand?

Kunotaku - Nice skin coloration!

kanooshka - Cool light you got there. Nice spill around the main reflection over the iris. And thanks for the tip on the highpass filter.

yorestes - Looks pretty good. Maybe a much smaller frequency or lower level on the bump map on the outer eyeball?

04 April 2009, 06:33 PM
shivahegde - ya I agree there is something strange about the eye itself. It looks like there's no depth and its only texture on the outside of the eyeball. It looks like painted plastic somehow, like its maybe just texture over the outer sclera. I think part of the problem is the highlighted specular spots on the two iris sides. Turning off specular on these light sources might help I think. and its noticable that there are no eye lash shadows.
Skin texture looks great.

04 April 2009, 10:46 PM
hi jeremy,

i wanted to do lighting from long time. finally here is first post. i also wanted to know what happened to old sessions (on-going challange) since it's closed dues to more than 1000 post.
it would be great if people like me can receive comments to their work who didn't get chance to participate those olden-golden challenges.

anyway pls give ur comments in this one. i hope i can be do better than this


04 April 2009, 06:21 AM
Hi to all

This is Ashish and this is my first post in here.I liked the challenges in here and will be participating here on. So,here's my first render and I've worked on the original file without any textures,yeah ! but tweaked the shader to my satisfaction, rest all is original content with my light setup.I used maya 2008 for this and digital fusion for CC.
How does this look originally ? can you please comment


04 April 2009, 06:34 AM
Ok, here's my latest. I'm showing some maps at full size (but just a part of each of those ones). There's still a lot to do obviously, but it's coming. The bump map is still pretty much raw, the AO is way too heavy, and then there are the things Jeremy listed in post #5. But it's come a long way, I think, and maybe this breakdown will give folks some ideas for their own work.

I ended up finding a way to take an extreme closeup of a real eye, and that has made a tremendous amount of difference. I highly recommend this step. And the Liquify tool in Photoshop was indispensible for rearranging the photographic data to match the geometry in the scene.

The capillaries are just painted by hand after looking at photos of capillaries in real eyes for a while. I painted them in layers, and blurred and faded some of the layers to give the effect of them receding into the eyeball.

Bump mapping may have worked just fine for the capillaries, but for some reason, bumps weren't rendering so I just went with displacement (which probably is just a hair better, especially as the eyeball curves away from us).

The iris maps and eyeball maps are cubic projections onto the geometry. The iris is from

Oh, and the "key" layer is actually all my lights, key and fills. I'm using the two lights provided in the scene, and another dim point light right in front just to illuminate the area above the eyelid.


Click here ( for the full size composite.

04 April 2009, 07:38 AM
Hello Mr.Birn

This is my post for the ongoing challenge.I started working for the file,yesterday.
I got a theme,i wanted to show the eye of humanity of today,which is injured by terrorist,and other corruptions.I thought we human beings have nothing owned,all we owe to this world and mother nature,but we still fight for no mans land.though i condemn all terrorist attacks all over the planet.

Thts why i choose to make a blooded eye.
I will be honored for your thoughts and advices

I have done in two light renders,one which is warm mood,and the other is cool,with blue Hue and saturation.
I will post the other passes that i used.
It was very tough for me to use a mouse for texturing,i Painted the texture using color painter and i didn't used direct photo realistic images on skin texture.


04 April 2009, 07:44 AM
I will Post the painted textures and bump maps very soon.I dint got much support from my mouse to texture bump maps for eye wrinkles and the eye circle.Though i plan to get a wacom soon.

04 April 2009, 12:22 PM
its my fast time to take part in lighting compitition
i use maya fore lighting,sheding and rendering
for compositing i use ccombustion and photoshop

04 April 2009, 02:21 PM
Sciortino - really nice work in progress explaination.. I'm learning more in this challenge than most others I've attmepted. Especially about balancing ambient, reflection, and specular lighting..

04 April 2009, 12:32 AM
Hey there,
Jeremy: thank you so much for the advices...,I worked on that topics.
In this case I'm using MR and caustics with one key spot light (outdoor Daylight 5.500-6.500K) I check the area light under MR tab to have more control on the soft shadows for the inside of the eye...I don't know if needs more darkness.
PS: Interesting your book, I didn't know of this and I'm reading right know the chapter 3 of shadows and occlusion (but in Spanish). thanks for share with us your knowledge!. :wavey:

Study of lighting for an eye with MentalRay and caustics: model by Serguei Kalentchouk.

04 April 2009, 06:08 AM
couldn't get my post posted 2 days before. but i see it today.

04 April 2009, 05:39 PM
Hey everybody & Jeremy,
I did those changes in my scene. it was really helpful to understand the mood and expression in the eye. I didn't made any change in the my skin this time but i will review my skin shader in my final submission. this time, I was not feeling comfortable working with the same texture i used before so i changed it this time. I just focused on my eye(lighting/shading). here is my WIP render.


04 April 2009, 06:36 PM
I am first time posting.I am prety nurvious as I am a fresher to the industry.I have used stander lights...........

04 April 2009, 08:45 PM
shahabsy - I really like the skin texturing and lighting for your latest WIP. The iris seems flat across and lacks depth and roundness. It looks like there's no cornea or no outer sclera that encloses the the cornea, iris, and the outer sclera seems a bit rough in that the specular highlites are rough.

aagni3d - I really like your work in that I think its a very artistic take on the challenge. The skin texture, lighting and hair look great. I did notice the eye could use something more in the way of depth. The iris area especially. But I think this is my favorite so far..

04 April 2009, 01:15 AM
Here's another version:
This was an experiment with two different skin textures and very low key lighting to see how skin bump and diffuse maps work when lit from extreme angles.

High res here (

04 April 2009, 02:38 AM
stridiggio - Nice work. There's something strange about the shadow of the eyelid cast onto the eye. If you start at the upper eyelid, the bottom of the upper eyelid is black. (It shouldn't be black, it should be a pink or dark red.) But then right under the upper eyelid, the white of the eye is bright. A few pixels below the bright part, it gets darker again. It's as if there's a bright stripe right where you'd expect the darkest part of the shadow to be. See if you can debug that.

I don't really see what the caustics are doing for you - maybe you could post an image of the caustics by themselves, or else post a comparison of the image with and without caustics so we can see what it adds?

The reflection environment looks good near the top, the bottom looks black, the lower eye seems to reflect the lower eyelid brighter than the environment, which would rarely happen.

aagni3d - Nice image. It has a stylized, anime type look. The reflections in the eye seem to become very distorted on the right side, as if there's something strange about the texture projection. You might move the highlights to one side, so they don't fall right in the pupil, and tone down the reflective in other areas.

There's a horizontal band of darkness running just above the eye, but below the eyebrow. The base has hard edges, and the skin looks more bright above and below that dark stripe. I don't know if you need that dark band or shadow there, but if you want to keep it make it much softer and more subtle.

xayadvIraH - Great work! Normally (for other images) I usually suggest keeping highlights and reflections out of the pupil, so the pupils don't get too grayed out. This kind of case, turning an eye close-up into a POV shot, would be an exception to that, where putting the reflection into the pupil makes sense.

There's a big curved line running through the reflection in the eye. It starts at the top of the eye, above the right side of the pupil. It curves around the left side of the eye, cutting the left side of the iris in half, and then meets the bottom left side of the eyelid. It might be a self-reflection of the head geometry, but it looks unnatural and too bright, and it takes away from the image.

Where they meed the eyeball, the edges of the eyelids look pure black. Putting a little pink in there would make the eyelids look more organic and believable. The edges of the eyeball, however, could get darker where it meets the eyelids, for a nice sense of contact. So, both the edges and the left side of the eyeball could go darker.

Sciortino - Good start! The eyelashes cast very faint shadows onto the skin, you almost can't see. But the eyelashes cast a very dark shadow onto the eyeball, so dark they make the eyeball look black. See if you can balance this out.

If the eyeball is reflective, it needs an environment to reflect. The reflection of the eyelids should be some of the darkest reflections on the eyeball, not the brightest.

The bump map makes depressions where eyebrow hairs must have been in your original map. See if you can find different textures for that part. Keep going with everything!

ashes2bones - Welcome! It looks good so far. There's a black edge between the tearduct and the eyeball that shouldn't be there. Look at your own eye in a mirror and see how the tearduct fades into the eyeball. The shading looks very flat, perhaps because the light's coming from the center near the camera, if you move the reflections and key light to one side, and let the other side go darker, you'd get better shaping. The iris is usually brightest on the opposite side from the highlights, though. Keep going with everything!

nugas - Welcome! The flashback challenges like this are the only offer being made to give you feedback on work from one of the old challenges. The next challenge with new models starts right at the beginning of May. There will be other flashbacks in the future, during or between new challenges. Work on reflections in the eyeball, try to give it a nice environment to reflect. Take the highlight out of the pupil so the pupil's nice and dark. Look at all the suggestions I posted on the first page of this thread; things like blending the tearduct together with the eyeball. There's something strange going on along the bottom edge of the eye. If you are putting a surface there to look like tears, then try to make it thinner and more transparent and more varied. The iris looks a little too uniformly lit. There's a funny white outline around the iris on the right side.

Kunotaku - That's great! Your skin texture is nicely detailed. I think parts of the skin are going very black, in places where real skin would be pink or deep red. Look at the edge of the eyelid near the tear duct for example, or inside the fold above the eye. Try to find a new reflection environment for the eye to reflect, this one looks too much like viens on the iris and seems to end at a harsh edge on the left side. Get something that goes all the way around if possible. The transition between the tear duct and eyeball could be softer, and the edge of the pupil could be a little softer as well.


04 April 2009, 06:05 AM
Hi jeremy ,
I had posted my work earlier on page no 5 , but may be there were too many works for you to look at ,so here I am posting it again will be waiting for your comments.

04 April 2009, 07:56 AM
Thanks Jeremy for this challenge I learn a lot making this project, this is my second challenge.

This is my image, it is not photorealistitc eye, but i try to do beauty.

Link 1024x1024

if anyone have any comments, please tell me...

Eduardo R.

04 April 2009, 08:24 AM
Color version

High res here (

Fixed recommended reflection levels and some occlusion problems...
Still has occlusion problems around the eye...
And I think it needs more specular map rework

04 April 2009, 08:57 AM
hey brookselliott thanks, :)
you are right about my iris that it looks flat, i really tried to make it look right but may be because of no highlights and reflection on it that looks flat. if you or somebody can give any idea or technique to make my iris look wet or how i can add depth in any other way without adding highlights and reflection in it. it would be a great help. :)

04 April 2009, 10:19 AM
Hi Mr. Birn

Thank you for ur advice and guidance.
I Followed the mentioned changes,

I kept the outline of the lips of the eye a bit dark blooded red coz i wanted to show blood,i thought a flesh tint or light pink would give it a bit unrealistic appearance.

the reflection which was creating a away from the pic to the image on the eyeball,has been removed.

I will be honored from ur C&C.

Anupam Das

04 April 2009, 07:23 PM
shahabsy - I looked at the iris again and I think one of the issues I noticed was that the specular highlight to the left is actually two separate highlights. One highlight is on the iris and then there's a split between the highlights which seems to say that the iris is on a different plane. If the highlight was continuos and didn't change angles it might say that there's a clear cover that doesn't change angles as abrutly as the iris does. Its an interesting effect and I'm not sure how you would show depth without mirrored reflections where the relfection continues accross the field of view of the iris other than distortion.

04 April 2009, 09:28 PM
Hello to all,

What a great challenge! Its a privilege to be posting among so many talented artists especially for a first timer like myself. All C&C are very welcome :)

Max2009,Mentalray,NoGi/Fg,AllInCamera except ZD.

04 April 2009, 07:24 AM
Sciortino -Hi and thanks feedback, for You and brookselliott .I used real Photo texture for this.I did this steps for diffuse
1 ] Tweaked the photo wherever I want,means depend on UV
2 ] Re skining somewhere used the same photo and photoshop tool (stamp ,eraser)
3 ] Add Detail like end of skin near the eyeball by manual
4 ] last step is very important to fine tune the eybrows and Detailing of skin folds and scraches using photoshop brushes
Same black and white map used for bump map with SSS fastskin shader

04 April 2009, 12:57 PM
Hello Jeremy and everyone!

Very nice posts in here, as always!

Well, I havent posted anything since the train challenge, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Maya, Photoshop, Mental Ray.

For Texturing, I used a hi-res image I found online ( a nice close up pic of an eye and the face skin around it.
Simple Blinn Shader with Bump attached.
Same excactly applies for the eye.

For Lighting, I used an Area Light on the right side to mimic the highlight that was already on the photo texture (of the eye), and of course for main illumination and soft shadows.
Also I used an HDRI for indirect Light and the rest of the reflections.

The straight maya render is almost the same as the render I upload, with the exception of some post work, which is:
An occlusion pass, with reddish Hue, and some transparency.
A Lens correction Filter (Photoshop) for slight chromatic Abberation( makes it more photographic.)
Some basic Levels change
And Last but not least, a nice subtle vignete.

Hope you like it.
C&C all very welcome. :cool:

04 April 2009, 04:11 PM
Update... Fixed the Iris.

And a more Artistic.

04 April 2009, 04:19 PM
Leonikou - looks great.. almost a photograph.
Did you use some of the photo for the eyebrows and a few eye lashes?
I really like the lighting and reflection work on the eye. Really great realistic work!

04 April 2009, 04:31 PM
brookselliott - Thanks my friend.

You are spot on. The eyebrow is a texture, with some bumping.

And yes, there is some part of textured eyelashes. The geometrical eyelashes are kind of overlapping the textured ones, and are right above them. They are slighlty out of place, though, and I need to fix them - {the textured ones need to go up a bit} -
( Hope you wouldn't notice :thumbsup: hehe.)

All the reflections on the eye are coming from the HDRI environment.


04 April 2009, 10:18 PM
Hello again

I have updated the iris, added a little specularity and took the bump down on the upper eye.


04 April 2009, 11:27 PM
blue12 - Nice image. It almost looks as if there's a gap between the eyeball and the eyelids, especially on the bottom edge and the right side. If they do touch, then make sure there's some nice shadowing or occlusion there, and that the eyelids darken the reflection. On the upper left of the eyeball, inside the shadow, the top part of the shadow gets lighter right where it should get darker. The highlight on the tear duct looks clipped and off-color, if that's a part of the map then take it out.

Leonikou - Nice scene! There's a circle running around the pupil, about a third of the way out of the iris, that makes it look as if the eye had an extra lens, or it was a robot eye or something. If that's a part of the reflection then just take it out of the reflection. In the upper left of the eyeball, you can see the reflections of the eyelashes are very faint, but shadows of the lashes are very dark. Really this should be more the other way around: the eyeball should have more reflectivity, and less diffuse response. The skin texture is basically working, you just need to work on the red or pink edges on the edges of the eyelids, and move that orange wrinkle on the upper eyelid so it lines-up with the actual fold in the geometry above it, and remove the tearduct from the texture map where it appears below the model tearduct. There are dark edges around the tearduct that shouldn't be there, try to blend it organically with the eyeball and eyelids.

xayadvIraH - That still looks great. The eyeball could use more shaping, perhaps the right side could stay as bright as it is now, but you could darken the left side more? Also, the iris seems painted onto the surface, try to give the eye an impression of depth so that the iris gleam falls on the opposite side. There are some hard edges, the edge of the pupil and the edge of the iris could both be softened a bit.

brookselliott - The skin might have too much contrast and blackness in it, the part below the left side of the eye looks like cantaloupe. You might move that second window reflection off the bottom of the eye. Once you fix the occlusion and contact between the eye and the lids, you'll be in really good shape!

eduroam - Good start. The darkest part of your image now is that shadow above the eye, I think this draws your eye to the wrong place. Maybe you could darken the pupil and pull the light off to the side more so it isn't so centered.

punytjoshi - Nice image. I wonder if you could rotate the reflection, so the sun in the reflection looked more as if it was coming from the left? You might take the bump or specularity down on the red eyelids, it has so much contrast that it calls attention to itself.

Rono - Welcome! That's a nice image. Having the iris look very dark is OK, but usually you want the pupil to be darker than the iris. The tear doesn't look very transparent, see if you can make it more transparent so we don't just see black through it.

shahabsy - Nice image! I think the pupil is looked a little too bright and gray, maybe you could find a way to make it darker? The eye probably has too much bump mapping on it, too. If you add a tiny bit of warm-colored bounce light coming upwards onto the skin, I think it'll make it look more organic.


04 April 2009, 02:30 AM
Hey Community, great improvement of everyone, I'm learning so much of each work posted here...xayadvIraH: nice colors of the iris :) Leonikou: good job,,near to get a beautiful eye :)
Thank you Jeremy for the advices, I did the corrections of the shadow for the upper eyelid and also a Test of Caustics for the eye, click HERE" WIP (

The update of the eye are the following images:

With Caustics:

Without Caustics:

I think is better without caustics :D (I can't exclude or break the light link between the eyeball and the light that emit Photons, to avoid receive caustics there like in the test I did. Is like the relationship doesn't work for separate objects to don't receive photons :curious: ) I'll be working to fix the reflection of the lower eye and also in the skin.

04 April 2009, 04:51 AM
This wil be my final entry for the challenge C&C are welcome.
Eagerly awating the next challenge.
Thanks Jeremy for taking us back to some of the old challnges.

04 April 2009, 05:28 AM
xayadvIraH - Thanks for posting that breakdown. It's interesting and I think I learn most from seeing those.

shahabsy - Wow. Nice skin. I agree with brookselliott -- maybe the iris looks geometrically flat, but nice work.

brookselliott - Boy, you've really nailed the skin in your Apr 5 post. The only thing that jumps out at me is the eyelashes. Otherwise, great looking work there.

blue12 - Interesting angle of view (both of the camera and the eye). It looks almost like the person has their head down, enraged? Or maybe they're just looking up and we're looking down.... Anyway, interesting. Looks good too.

shivahegde - Thank you! Thanks for posting your process. It's very helpful to see how you got such great results.

Leonikou - Yeah, what brookselliott said (great work)! The small circular reflection reminds me of those old hard contact lenses....


04 April 2009, 06:04 AM
Sciortino: Thank you.Your work is interesting as well.I also learn each moment from u and all the artist here.

04 April 2009, 06:08 AM
Hi Mr. Birn.

Thank you for the advices.I gave a bit depth to the iris acc to the scene and made the left side a bit dark,but i thought not to do so much so tht it miss match itself.


Happy Easter in advance

04 April 2009, 11:46 AM
Hy everybody.

Thanks for the comments, they are allways wellcome.

Here is my updated image

And my clue maps
Normal Map I made in ZBrush
Color Map is combined from Normal + Oclusion + SampleOfSkin + Color made by hand in Photoshop

04 April 2009, 12:00 PM
Hi folks, my first time at lighting challenge, here is my try
Good luck to everyone!

04 April 2009, 10:07 AM
Hello Everyone!
I am very thrilled as this is my first post ever!!! :)
I have seen very nice rendered images of the eye in here...I hope u like mine...All comments are welcome ...
Good Luck everyone

04 April 2009, 12:54 PM
Hey everyone - Brookselliott - Sciortino and jeremy, Thank you for your encouraging words.

jeremy - I quickly re-checked my shaders step-by-step from start and I came to know that you are right about too much bump mapping. :) And Bump was causing broken highlights and it was looking rough surface as Brookselliott menssioned.

I was experimenting with my scene by using HDR Images and did not liked it very much so I reverted back to my actual scene settings but I forgot to turn off an enviornment reflection map in my shader that was the reason the pupil and eye looked a little too bright and gray(overall).

I have fixed the issues and made some changes accourdingly as pointed out. I am very happy with the final Image. I hope you will like it. :) So I am submitting my Final Images this time.

And I was playing with my render in photoshop, I also aplied a black & white effect on it to see it and I am sharing a grayscale iamge aswell but please consider my coloed version as Final Submission. Thank you.


04 April 2009, 02:37 PM
Hey Party People

I thought it would be interesting for everyone working on the eye to see some MORE eyes. Our studio in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, named Eyemaginations, is a house that works almost exclusively on eyes for the medical industry. Inside, outside, apart, diseases, conditions, LASIK. The things I have seen.......

Have a look! I wish I could have stumbled into this Lighting Challenge earlier! I feel I could have contributed muahahaha.


04 April 2009, 05:59 PM
Hi everyone,

well, this is my last contribution for this challenge. Itīs been great to see all these images.

04 April 2009, 11:19 PM
yorestes - Nice job! Nice, rich textural detail. I think there might be too much bump on the eyeball, it looks almost like crinkled celophane over the eye, and the bump inwards where the eyebrow would be looks as if some eyebrow made it into the bump map on the skin. Since the main light is coming mostly from screen right, it might be better to move the main highlight ot the right side of the iris.

jdrouse - Thanks for sharing your work! We'll have a new challenge in the beginning of May that you might like also. And then for the challenge after that, the character will have big eyes at least. :)

shahabsy - Great work! THe skin is looking awsome. The eyeball is a little flat looking in comparison, maybe from having two lights on it, both somewhat frontal and symmetrical. If you reduced the brightness of the light that's adding the left highlight to the eye, then the left side towards the tearduct could become darker and look more natural.

Voocha - Wow! That's terrific! Great shot! The edges of the eye could use another pass if you have time, starting at the tearduct and looking into the eye it seems as if there are a few stripes of black and deep red that could be smoothed out or made seamless. The right side of the eyewhite could use a softer, warmer decay, just enough that there doesn't appear to be a white ring around the iris on that side.

Kunotaku - Nice job. It looks as if the reflection in the eye of the nose or skin is too bright. Look how the skin reflected in the left side of the eye is brighter than the reflection of the environment beyond it, that doesn't seem natural. Maybe it's a tracedepth problem and shadows aren't appearing in reflections? There seems to be a drop-shadow from the iris onto the sclera, on the left side of the iris. I don't know where that's coming from.

xayadvIraH - Beautiful work!

wasimattar - Great job! Wonderful meld of stylized and yet somewhat photographic elements.

stridiggio - I'm confused. It looks like you did a lot of tests there, but I don't understand the point of them. What are the caustics for? I know that in a real eye, light refracting through the lens creates a gleam on one side of the iris, but I don't see anything like that going on in your scene. Did you need indirect light to refract through something or reflect off something? What path were the caustics supposed to take?


04 April 2009, 11:48 PM
Here's my version of the eye. Render pass: beauty, oclussion and masks RGB (face, eye, eyelashes). Skin - SSS fastskin shader. XSI / MR / Nuke / PS.
Thanks Jeremy for challenge.

04 April 2009, 02:35 AM
Thanks for you advise, I really appreciate.

I made some correction.

Image 512x512

Link 1024x1024

Eduardo R.

04 April 2009, 03:25 AM
Hi everyone, 1st post here. Very nice works and lots of very creative stuff. Ill post my yet unfinished render.

I felt like doing a more animalistic eye, so I got inspired by a cats eye. I'm still running test on the fur, but I'll show you what I already have. Tomorow I'll post my final Render if I can get it in time. I'll be commenting on the other jobs too, not doing it now for it is very late and my eyes are already closing!!!

Hope you enjoy!

04 April 2009, 06:37 AM
Here is a quick start I did today. If I get some time tomorrow I'll put a vein layer in the eye, get the lashes to stand out less, and address fixes from feedback, too.

I put a specular and reflective ramp to the edges of the eyes so it gives off a little more watery effect. Skin is a photo projection that has a subtle displacement map to get the little grooves.

04 April 2009, 09:50 AM I'm new in lightning challenges. I work with C4D. I'll be glad if you have some suggestions for me to follow in my next works. Thanks. ( (

04 April 2009, 01:29 PM
Well, I changed my mind. Now itīs the last image. I would like to make the eye more wet, but I donīt know how. Any advice it will be great.

04 April 2009, 02:15 PM
Hello to all!

I addressed the comments suggested by you Jeremy. On top of those changes which helped alot! I added a specular highlight in the eye and a subtle water line too. I hope this adds to the image. Thanks for all the C&C. Happy Easter :beer:

04 April 2009, 03:56 PM
All right! Here my final render. It is my 1st experience with furs and I figured out that it can be very tricky, all tips are accepted!! For the eye I used a real cats eye as color map. A HDR was used for illumination and reflections and an additional point light for lightening the scene a bit more. All you see is a raw image of one pass render w/o Photoshop tweaks.

Id like to have a more 'watery' effect on the eye but that didn't work very well, so I gave it up.

Well, any suggestions are very welcome. Cheers for everyone!

04 April 2009, 04:09 PM
Hey jeremy, I retouched my scene. I know, I have declared my last post as final but there is always a room for improvements. After going through your review, Here is the updated version of my Scene. I really learned a lot. :) Thanks


04 April 2009, 06:13 PM
shahabsy - Nice job!

heltonrosa - Nice job. The fur looks a little dark to me. I think even on a black cat it might go a little brighter if the eye were that bright. Maybe if this is Maya Fur you could assign the map that was on the surface in your last version to the base color and tip color, and bake that into fur attribute maps?

blue12 - Great job! I usually try to keep highlights out of the pupil, like to one side of the iris or the other. The phantom eyebrow at the top of frame would look better if it didn't exist. The bottom of the eyeball goes almost exactly the same color as the lower eye lid in places, which seems strange to me, I'd think they would look different.

yorestes - Great job! How to make it more wet? Well, first you need to think about where the wet surface is, especially where the surface curves up from the eyeball to the eyelid for that linear highlights. You might need to model that wet surface, or you might simulate the bevel with a mia_roundcorners shader and get a highlight on it that way. Then the surface needs to be more reflective, less diffusely lit. I can see the shadows on your eyeball are very dark (lots of diffuse) but I can barely see the reflections of the eyelashes. You might need a Fresnel Effect on the reflection, but at least parts of the reflection should be brighter than the diffuse. I wish you could get rid of the black edge between the tearduct and the eyeball, and for a wet look maybe put more reflectivity on the tearduct. The colors from the tearduct can be picked up on the edges of the eyelids where they touch the eyeball, too.

TLobes - Welcome. Good start. The eye looks very bright...

eduroam - Nice job. Pupils don't really have much pigment, try to make the pupil more black. Maybe the liquid at the bottom could be refractive?

genaf1 - Hi! Welcome! That's a nice job. The reflections compete with the iris and pupil for attention, maybe you could tone those down, or at least keep the reflections from lining-up so well with the iris? Try to keep the pupil dark, not too grayed-out.


04 April 2009, 09:03 PM
Just wanted to try a submission for feedback.

04 April 2009, 09:41 PM
Last minute update!

04 April 2009, 09:52 PM
Modeled tweaks, painted and rendered in Modo.

eye_v012_001.png (

Edit: added highres image with a direct link:
High resolution image (

04 April 2009, 09:56 PM
Nice job. Pupils don't really have much pigment, try to make the pupil more black.

I change that. I dark the pupil but only in one part, because the part that the liquid cover it, is not dark because the reflection of the water, is correct right?.

Maybe the liquid at the bottom could be refractive?

It is. I increase a little bit more and now is a bit more refractive, but if I increase the refrection index to high, is more like zoom of the eye.

Res 1024x1024
Thanks for your help.
Eduardo R.

04 April 2009, 11:56 PM
Hi Jeremy and everyone,

Thanks for all the crits and here is my final submission for this challenge.
Really enjoyed doing this one and great to see so many excellent entries.


04 April 2009, 12:11 AM
Thanks very much for the comments. Here's my next effort.

I've been working on eyebrows and more pronounced shadows for the eyelashes, neither of which you see here. For the eyebrows I'm using Maya Fur and there are some more tweaks I need to make before I have something I'll want to post. With the eyelashes, maya's fast sss is making things more complicated than I had planned. So both of these are taking longer than I had planned.

The other thing is that the eyelashes seem too thick at the base to me. I tried using a sort of reverse Fresnel, but applied to transparency rather than reflection. That is, I tried making the edges transparent and the centers opaque. It worked for the outer eyelashes, but the center ones went more or less completely transparent where they attach to the eyelid due to the curve of the eyelash. It was an interesting but time-consuming effort.

On the other hand, the tearduct is looking nice and wet, and blends pretty well into the eyeball I think. And there's the start of a moist looking lining on the bottom eyelid.

So, I'm going to keep working on it, but don't know when submissions close... later today sometime I guess.

BTW, when I have a little more time I'll write up what I did and post that here.

04 April 2009, 12:29 AM
This is my second update..

04 April 2009, 01:51 AM
Heltonrosa: coool, I really love that effect of fur instead of a planar skin, I agree that is a bit dark, but interesting work!
Yorestes: the eye overall looks bettter, I'm trying to do the same wet effect that you are looking for, in the lower eye. Hope you can do it!.
Genaf1: I like the Iris of that eye is beautiful..waiting for more!
Phil-roberts: Nice scene, great tear seems very natural... texturing and lighting, I like it! .
Jeremy and guys: My final for the challenge, thought that I was experimenting in diferent ways to do sparks or to get that effect of the specular ring with caustic in the Iris but instead of that, with the render of the caustics I got a bitmap that I plugged in the incandescent map to simulate highlights there with a texture projection onto the Iris, (I know that the scene doesn't need that kind of effect...but experimenting also I learned things I didn't know :D) still there're things to do, but the deadline is right now so I'll be improving this scene in the spare time.

Many thanks for this challenge I learned and enjoyed too much with each work.
Have a nice day...
Regards. :wavey:

04 April 2009, 03:18 AM
Everyone's eyes look freaking great. I love the variety of stuff being posted. Thanks for doing the retro challenge, Jeremy. Looking forward to more.

04 April 2009, 04:33 AM
This is my second lighting challenge.

04 April 2009, 04:59 AM

eep! i almost forgot to add afew layers when compositing. here's the final.... final version of the eye for the current lighting challenge. ( ( (

04 April 2009, 11:26 AM
Hi everyone.

Thanks for the comments.

It`s my next update, render made in Maya with mentalray

And the same with filter in photoshop

04 April 2009, 04:59 PM
Hi once again

I added an eye brow texture hopefully it reads ok as there is no bump or anything. Im not up on my mr hair fur yet. Its been a pleasure and thanks again Jeremy and everyone for all the comments! :thumbsup:


04 April 2009, 10:16 PM
Amazing blue12, your entry is one of my favorites. Can't wait 'til the next challenge.

Cheers and God bless.

04 April 2009, 12:17 AM
Hey blenderfan,

I don't see an entry from yourself on this challenge... I really liked your scifi entry..very well done... This challenge did take more time than others I've tried for some reason. It is a tough challenge to get the reflections, mirroring, and skin texture to look the way I wanted..
I'm a relative newby to CG so I am not surprised but I learned a ton on this one..

04 April 2009, 03:45 AM
Yeah, I never finished an entry to this one, but that's okay, I will definitely be in on the next challenge. All the entries to this one were so cool.

I'm glad you liked my Sci-Fi entry, I always learn a ton from these challenges.

Cheers and God bless.

04 April 2009, 04:12 PM
Hello again!

I know I've blowed the deadline for this, but nevertheless I'll post my last render of the Cat's eye. Note that this is a raw .jpg direct from Maya, rendered with mental ray. Illuminated with HDRI and a single point light.

My thanks to Jeremy for the tip on how to mapping color to the fur, its now much much better. Thank you!

And cheers for Phil, I liked very much the watery effect of his eye.

Thanks for for the opportunity and for Serguei Kalentchouk for the model.

See you in the next challenge!

Helton Rosa.

04 April 2009, 04:34 PM
Hi Folks- I missed the deadline for this challenge, but I'm finishing it anyway. I have learned much from these posts and look forward to the next challenge. There is some incredible work here. My personal favorites are Phil_Roberts- the realism is incredible, great job.
HiltonRosa- The cat eye is a great idea/ keep combing that fur. The fur on the face isn't as random as your hair simulator makes it. It looks too 'wooly'. I think the Iris wouldn't be so contracted in that light intensity. Just a few more tweeks and you're there!
great job everyone.

04 April 2009, 09:47 PM
Updated with some makeup as long as were sort of waiting. :)
eye_v014_001.jpg (

04 April 2009, 10:05 PM
@n3m72: That's amazing, what you've done there. The top of the eye is a little plastic-looking, but it's barely perceptible. Would that have something to do with the makeup?

Happy Easter!

04 April 2009, 04:01 PM
Hey Everybody -

Great job!

I'm sorry that things get put on pause for 3 weeks, but that's necessary now.

When will the new gallery appear? The first week of May. I can't wait to post these terrific images!

When will the next challenge start? The first week of May. We have a terrific new scene being modeled.

See you all soon!