Flashback to Challenge #7: An Eye for an Eye


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.



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.


Why not :wink: ?


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.


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 flickr.com or other sites, or study your own eyes in a mirror. The parts of the eye each present their own challenges:

[li]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.[/li][li]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.[/li][li]Iris: The iris is the “colored” part of the eye. You might like this site for texture maps:[/li] http://www.art-dept.com/artists/rankin/portfolio/specialprojects/eyescapes/portfolio.html
The iris tends to have a dark defining ring separating it from the sclera.
[li]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.[/li][li]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.[/li][/ul] -jeremy


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.


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.


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.


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.



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;) .



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.


Teachers pet right back at ya :smiley:
I like the mood, like a person sitting infront of a campfire, but the reflection feels
more like an atomic blast :wink:


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


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.


@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.


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.



@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…


Here’s my first attempt. Yes its a purple person:


Hi everyone!!

This is the first attempting for this challenge.


Hello everybody,
this is my first challenge