Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Facial expression Tutorial
DOUK at 12:53AM, July 22, 2009
(online)
posts: 82
joined: 12-12-2008
My first submission in the Drunk Duck Tutorials section, just in case people don't see it there, putting it here will hlep it get seen more. Keep in mind that i'm not doing this to actually secretly advertise my comic, no no any mention of my comic will be quickly edited ou-

Hello, call me Douk. Well, don't call me anything, I'm just a bunch of words on a screen. Chances are I'm sleeping or out at work or something when you're reading this. But I'll be thinking of you no matter what. You, who reads this and learns, just what makes a character really scared, or angry, or thoughtful. These faces will never give you up, never let you down…

Anyways, this is split up into Two Parts: Different Styles, The Actual Faces, Part 1 is a brief explanation on how your faces should be in your own style, and not a stock ‘square mouth circle eye scream’ (unless that IS your style, then by all means go for it). Part two is the meat of the Tutorial. The lovely Mizumi will be warping her fine face for us in this, as images to refer to.

Part 1: Different Styles


Different Styles for Different folks, its takes Different Styles to move the world, so they say. Chances are you've got your style down and you know how to pull off the basic faces. Like :|, :), :D, and :(. I can't teach how to assimilate the faces in your style, that's your own observational responsability, but I can teach you how to tell if you go too far.
A trick that helps me is to make a collage of all the faces (of a single character if its a story comic, otherwise just all the faces) through out your best work or most of your archive. Skim through all the faces and try to group them in your head. If any look like they don't belong, or in some cases seem like they were drawn by someone else, chances are one of your readers noticed that too. This doesn't mean you should keep your faces relatively normal, a little craziness won't hurt, as long as it fits in your comic.
Imagine if the head from the left side of the image (from Awkward Zombie) was used in a comic from the right (El Goonish Shrive). It would look out of place and not in the style of the author, because its so radical. Likewise, if the author of Awkward Zombie uses animesque, smaller faces more often, the audience will feel underwhelmed. Keep that in mind when trying to use faces as the main humor point or to signify an important plot point being revealed.

Part 2: The Actual Faces

Image: From left to right, proud, awe-inspired or dumbfounded, positive, heartbroken, disappointed, furious.

Finally, the bread and butter. Lets get to a few examples shall we?

HAPPY: As a person gets happier and happier, their mouth becomes bigger. Either in a :D or just a crazy grin. If a character is ecstatic they won't just be standing around, their body will be either jumping for joy, raising hands in the air, something to signify high adrenaline. Try to remember the last time you were thrilled at something, you may have thrown a fist into the air if it was a result of your actions, or closed palms as if thanking an angel for your luck.
Depending on the situation, their bodies will be as happy as their faces. Remember that if a characters is pretending to be happy, their eyes should show that they're pretending. Unless you want the audience to be fooled too, the mouth should be smiling but the eyes perhaps in a worried state, or sad. They will most often bare their teeth this way, accompanied with a ‘heh heh, yeah sure.’

ANGRY:Anger, madness, grrtality, whatever you want to call it. Expect to use this a lot in a story based comic, and occasionally in strip-a-day. There are many reasons one could be angry, they learned something bad, they did something bad, or they're just cranky. If your character is cranky it can be used as humor by scrunching up the face more than normal, exaggerating the anger. The mouth shouldn't be like in the above image, it should be a big pout, so mouth=sad, eyes=furious.
If they're genuinely angry, they can show it by raging their mouth or body. If they decide to scream, mouth sizes can be messed with! If they're angry and are going to fight, they should grind their teeth with a slight under-bite in some cases. Large frowns are for when they're at a loss for words, but female characters tend to angry-pout more than males. Experiment to see what mouth sizes work for your style.

SAD: did someone call whine-one-one? Because I think i hear a WAAAAAAAMBULANCE! Yes, your character is sadder than a bunny whose mom was shot by me in front if its eyes. Stupid rabbit I hate rabbits. … Anyways, there are many types of anger and happiness, but only a few, if any, types of sadness (that can be distinctly shown). If your character is just bummed out, a simple frown should do. nothing special. Crying is often regarded (to me) as one of the ways to really show your style and make it fresh or unique. The anime-style “large mouth with waterfalls of tears” or the “wavy mouth, shining eyes”. The “Large eye with quivering puppy dog lip” is sadness that implies that you are trying to make it better. Usually when a character does the ‘puppy dog’ face they are trying to convince someone to do something other than the undesirable outcome.
'Manly' or tough characters and ‘feminine’ or soft characters have different ways of showing the same sadness. Eyebrows slanted like <:( are common for both. A tough or manly character should try to hide his sadness by keeping a straight emotionless mouth. Like fake happiness, the eyes will always reveal the true emotion. Softer or younger characters will no doubt let the waterworks go, starting from a tear with a quivering lip (for younger) or a frown (with older). Your style, like I said, is put to the test when you draw a sobbing character. You can choose how the tears flow, down the cheek, or up in an arc. Characters don't usually talk when they're crying, only to yell about what they're crying about (eg: You killed him!, I wanted the last slice!). Soft characters will bury their face into their arms, while tougher ones look away or stop the tears. Sadness can be varied greatly on the sliding scale, so its up to you to decide how greatly a tragedy or other plot device affects a character.
Tip: A single tear is usually used to show that a stone faced, not-caring character can show emotion, albeit when everyone's away of course. Its not cliche, its part of a formula for drama, and it works.



So there you have it, how to use faces to shape your character. If you feel that this wasn't indepth enough, or if I missed something big, or flat out told wrong information, drop me a line at 1-800-IDONTCARE. Just kidding, tell me any thoughts you have, I'd be glad to see how you used this tutorial!

Depending on the success on this one, I might make a sequel more in-depth. Ciao for naaao!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:13PM
Arico at 9:51AM, July 23, 2009
(offline)
posts: 15
joined: 7-2-2009
You forgot the all-importance of the anime emotions, like ‘oversized sweat-drop’ and that ‘pulsating vein thing’..

(I joke, I joke)

Great mini tutorial, though. I personally found the easiest way of getting down facial expression is by referencing other characters, real life, or even yourself in a mirror. Draw like 20 angry faces, from every style and type. After that, drawing angry characters should be second nature.

Peace man. Nice tutorial, once more. I like the part at the bottom about matching the character's actions with their emotions. In a lot of comics, this relationship is not properly enforced.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:02AM
Eddie Jensen at 1:24PM, July 23, 2009
(online)
posts: 256
joined: 6-7-2007
Doukers this is a good tutorial, but its just not in depth enough for my tastes. You see while you're touching on the issue of how a face moves during certain emotions and the importance of style I feel its lacking in personality.

okay basically what I'm saying is there are various kinds of angry not just one what I personally do when I make an expression is reflect on “why is this person angry or happy” and “what other emotions are thrown into the mix when this happens?” and so on.

heres a quick example to show you what I mean



this is bob your avarage bald teenager with green eyebrows.

frame 1: regular Bob nothing special here move along.

frame 2: Here you have Bob but he's angry, why is Bob angry? Bob is angry because he lost at a game. So he's not enraged theres no extremity in his expression, but what else is bob if not angry? he's also dissapointment so his eyes don't feel as fierce (as Tyra would say) as other types of anger.

Frame 3: Bob's best friend just punched Bobs Girlfriend, Bob is furious but he's also confused at what to do with the situation, and we all know that thinking and anger don't mix so Bob just ends up standing there breathing heavily with his nose Drooling a bit and looking somewhat like he's extracting excrement.

Frame 4: Bobs Highschools Crusty Old Dean has taken Bobs favorite gun, Bob feels this is unfair and he feels supperior to this old man and therefore he's angry but he's also quite cocky and has a bit of an attitude problem.

Frame 5: Bobs dad died this weekend and he arrives at school to taunts of his father being a useless alcoholic drug addict anyways so he deserved to die. This causes Bob to for once in his life feel real deep down ugly emotional anger, so he's not only angry he's also sad but due to his mourning of his father he's also exhausted so he hangs his head grits his teeth and walks away with tears in his eyes.

Frame 6: Bobs been checking out a bottom for quite a while when he makes a note of how fantastic this bottom is at his friend, his friend replies “dude that's a guy” Bob gets angry at his latent homosexuality but he's also quite emberassed for his mistake, and he's with his friend so he also has quite the attitude as he shouts “I knew that, fuck man I was just kidding lighten up!”


….aaanyways this is my input on your tutorial good work though Douk.
if I was a teapot I think I'd be orange.

http://t-k-.deviantart.com/
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:18PM
DOUK at 7:59PM, July 23, 2009
(online)
posts: 82
joined: 12-12-2008
You should make your own tutorial too!

Mine wasn't in-depth because I didn't know how to “instruct people” on making angry faces without stepping on their style. I was going to go into how the muscles work but I wanted to keep the tut short. Thanks for the honest opinion though!


I never really noticed the difference between 4 and 5, you've opened up a whole new world for me mate!
Eddie Jensen
Doukers this is a good tutorial, but its just not in depth enough for my tastes. You see while you're touching on the issue of how a face moves during certain emotions and the importance of style I feel its lacking in personality.

okay basically what I'm saying is there are various kinds of angry not just one what I personally do when I make an expression is reflect on “why is this person angry or happy” and “what other emotions are thrown into the mix when this happens?” and so on.

heres a quick example to show you what I mean



this is bob your avarage bald teenager with green eyebrows.

frame 1: regular Bob nothing special here move along.

frame 2: Here you have Bob but he's angry, why is Bob angry? Bob is angry because he lost at a game. So he's not enraged theres no extremity in his expression, but what else is bob if not angry? he's also dissapointment so his eyes don't feel as fierce (as Tyra would say) as other types of anger.

Frame 3: Bob's best friend just punched Bobs Girlfriend, Bob is furious but he's also confused at what to do with the situation, and we all know that thinking and anger don't mix so Bob just ends up standing there breathing heavily with his nose Drooling a bit and looking somewhat like he's extracting excrement.

Frame 4: Bobs Highschools Crusty Old Dean has taken Bobs favorite gun, Bob feels this is unfair and he feels supperior to this old man and therefore he's angry but he's also quite cocky and has a bit of an attitude problem.

Frame 5: Bobs dad died this weekend and he arrives at school to taunts of his father being a useless alcoholic drug addict anyways so he deserved to die. This causes Bob to for once in his life feel real deep down ugly emotional anger, so he's not only angry he's also sad but due to his mourning of his father he's also exhausted so he hangs his head grits his teeth and walks away with tears in his eyes.

Frame 6: Bobs been checking out a bottom for quite a while when he makes a note of how fantastic this bottom is at his friend, his friend replies “dude that's a guy” Bob gets angry at his latent homosexuality but he's also quite emberassed for his mistake, and he's with his friend so he also has quite the attitude as he shouts “I knew that, fuck man I was just kidding lighten up!”


….aaanyways this is my input on your tutorial good work though Douk.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:13PM
Eddie Jensen at 5:56AM, July 24, 2009
(online)
posts: 256
joined: 6-7-2007
far too lazy to make my own tutorial Douk so I'll just weasle in on yours.
if I was a teapot I think I'd be orange.

http://t-k-.deviantart.com/
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:18PM

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