Is That A Genuine Smile?

Is that a true smile
or just the cheese variety?

What made the smiley smile?

Like them or not, use them or not, smileys and emoticons can be useful. They can show your mood more directly than words when you are not talking face to face.

Smiley faces have been about for years. The first smileys had no eyes. They were just a big yellow disk with a smile.


You pinned the grin on your lapel, which was supposed to cheer people up as you walked along the street. It left so much to the imagination that everyone thought, yes, they were looking at a genuine smile.

Add a couple of dots and there’s the smiley we know today.


The circle is traditionally yellow so can stand for the sun. Maybe another reason why the symbol is so popular.

…But is this a genuine smile?

It’s easy enough to make one of these symbols yourself. Grab a bit of paper or a tablet. Draw a circle. …Er, well then, draw a potato or trace round a coin. Now add two dots and a smile, then widen the grin.


Surprise, surprise, the face looks even more pleased.

Now black those eyes in. Make them bigger and darker.


The pupils of our eyes dilate when we see something we like. Bigger eyes increase the sensation of gratification.

Phew! Spooky isn’t it? That smiley’s getting positively steamy.

..But wait a minute.

Take a look in the mirror and give yourself a false smile. Maybe you’ll notice you’re only moving the lower part of your face. Your eyes hardly change at all.

In contrast, think of how someone looks when they’re really delighted. Their eyes almost disappear – in fact they are so bunched up that they crease around the corners.

You can’t ‘do’ a genuine smile in the mirror. It’s unconsciously controlled. You may crease up your eyes, but you can’t fake the way your eyebrows move of their own accord.

Something to remember when you’re taking a selfie. When you are on your own, your face can go to sleep.

It’s easier to improve the smiley you just drew.

Just draw another face with a couple of upturned crescents for the eyes.


Can you go even better? You can if you break a rule. Who says all smileys have to be circles?

This time draw a wide oval, (or oval potato) and add all the features so far.


Your symbol may not look like the sun any more – but it’s over the moon!

You can draw the essence of all kinds of expressions with these few lines.


I made this face by accident and called it ‘Aw Shucks!’ because it looks so bashful.

The Seven Faces of Fear


One way or another, fear is part of almost any dramatic scene. If you are painting or drawing characters in action, whether for cartoons, anime, fine art or whatever, you need to know the elements of drawing a frightened face.

There are many degrees of fear, from a vague sensation of worry to stark terror. Oh well. If you need a few guidelines for drawing a frightened face, we might as well jump in at the deep end. Let’s start with drawing seven faces of fear, escalating from first alarm to terror, reduced to their elements in cartoon form.

What are the reasons for the symptoms of fear that can show in somebody’s face?

Fear produces the famous Fight or Flight syndrome.

Let’s say you are walking along, humming a happy tune…


…when suddenly …

Continue reading The Seven Faces of Fear

How to Draw a Sad Face.

Do you really know how to draw a sad face?

Courage! There’s nothing for learning a thing or two like doing a thing or two.  Take up your pen – or preferably your tablet or phone and finger or stylus – and draw a sad face, here and now.  Scribble a few even sadder faces.

If you instantly get stuck for capturing a sad expression, help is at hand. Just remember the simple rules for creating a smiley.

The sad face smiley is simply a reversal of the familiar smiley smile.

Hang on though. Is that right?

You know the accepted wisdom of the smiley world.

1.  A smiley can be any colour as long as it’s yellow. Round yellow sad smiley face
I hate to disillusion you, but a sad face smiley to use when you are blue is more effective if it’s – well, yes. Round smiley face coloured blue

2. Furthermore…

Continue reading How to Draw a Sad Face.