<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Drawing Facial expressions



Colour and the six basic facial expressions

When you're drawing facial expressions, you have a big advantage if you're using colour. Take a look at this identification parade. These are symbols of the six basic human facial expressions: Sadness, Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Surprise.

<emoticon faces>

Half shut your eyes until the faces turn into blobs. Well, even more like blobs than they are already. Given good eyesight, you won't need a degree in physiognomy to pick out who's feeling blue, who's seeing red and who's going a little green. Sunny-Smile and White-With-Fright should present few obstacles. Admittedly Surprise is a difficult one, but you can't have everything. (I've never quite understood why the exception proves the rule, but it's a good excuse.)

Expression lines

Without colour you can see below that each face contains only the features that most express the emotion it represents. Or rather, that I feel most express it. If you don't agree, good. That means you'll reach for a bit of paper or a tablet and start doodling yourself. In no time at all you'll be involved in a revealing and fascinating game.

If you don't think you can draw, bear in mind that there are two kinds of drawing. And you only need to learn one of them. You've been able to do symbol drawing ever since you could hold a crayon.

This face-drawing game is very like a procedure that one of the earliest cartoonists, Rodolphe Topffer evolved a century and a half ago. He maintained that to draw emotions, you didn't need to spend years of slavish copying from models and marble busts, as art students did in those days.

When you come to think of it, drawing a posed subject is the last thing you should do if you want to learn how to draw emotions. Even the word, e-motion, implies movement.

Still, before news photography and freeze-frame video were invented, images of people in the grip of genuine emotion were hard to come by, even if you went out in the street and sketched from life. How did artists find the expressions for those highly dramatic scenes they so often had to paint? You could act them in the mirror or sketch in the theatre, but the results could be - well, theatrical.

All but the most resourceful and perceptive artists relied on few and all too often inaccurate pattern books, or on imitating each other's work. The resulting emotional expressions were often stagey and unconvincing.

...Where was I? Ah yes. You were just about to draw a rough shape with eyes and a mouth...

More about this easy way of drawing facial expressions

Frightened face . Sad face . Angry face . Smiley face . Universal expressions . Drawing expressions . Draw a face .

(c) Valerie Beeby 2000 - 2013

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