Character Expression

Facial expressions

The face is by far and away the most expressive part of the body, and as such you will need to make absolutely sure your expressions are clear and comprehensible. Don't be afraid to exaggerate your expressions to the limit, in keeping with the general theme of fantasy art! A bold, clear expression is not only easy to decipher, it is also striking and exciting. Small glitches, such as an unintentionally raised eyebrow or corner of the mouth, can be misleading, and give your character's expression subtle nuances which may be confusing, or just look bad.

Sinister Smile Male

A Sinister

The brow is furrowed and the eyes half closed, but here the downturned mouth and the position of the head make the character appear more sinister and thoughtful.

A Smiling

Here we can see our character's teeth, which would usually be interpreted as a show of aggression in nature. However, the relaxed eyes with raised eyebrows, and the specific shape of the mouth tell us that our character is blithe and calm.

A Confused

Most of the basic human expressions are symmetrical, so when we get one like this we know there must be quite a sophisticated specific emotion behind it The raised eyebrow and corner of the mouth coupled with the sideways stare tell us our character is either confused or disgusted about something.

Raised Eyebrow Sideways

A Shocked

This expression is unmistakable. By simply opening the eyes and mouth as wide as possible, raising the eyebrows, and focusing the stare straight ahead we get a striking impression of shock and amazement.

Cross Hatched Eyebrows

Fully rendered face

Pastiche lantern jaw that's that's much simplified, using color detail to express the emotion.

Simplified using cross-hatching for shadow

Fully rendered face

Pastiche lantern jaw

Male Action Figure SketchesMale Action Figure Sketches

M The female face

The differences in features between male and female characters are immediately remarkable. Whereas a male's features are generally large and slightly crude, a female's tend to be smaller, with more finesse and contrast in color. Notice how fine the eyebrows are, how well the eyelashes stand out, and how defined the shape of the mouth is.

► Gritted teeth

In fantasy art it's generally assumed that female characters are more thoughtful and less aggressive than males. Here the exaggerated shape of the mouth and slightly raised eyebrow give the character's otherwise angry visage a sassy twist

< Smiling

Notice how the mouth retains its smile even though it's open wide. To make sure you don't end up drawing something you don't want, be patient and use your mirror to figure out which subtle nuances will give your character the desired expression, and focus on getting those just right.

► Sideways glance

Drawing a relaxed expression from a commonly used viewpoint is as useful as drawing an extremely unusual expression from a very abstract angle, and it's always a good idea to make sure you're comfortable with the basics before you move on to more complicated approaches.

Shorthand Worksheets

most important features.

In this exercise, you can see how developing a shorthand approach can help capture the essence of an expression, lis can then be buiit up to a fully rendered face.

anger joy

-—i surprise sadness fear

lliilllil a face disgust v /

This sequence shows how the shorthand example perfectly captures the essence of an angry face. Compare the rendered example with the shorthand version and note the similarities.

to key characteristics—

deeply furrowed brow, eyebrows about to take off.

ies in

JFii m

,J'ip^^jfe details, giving ley __ m m\ ^c ^t m emphasis to the

W&Ssm it More detail

■/jM) I added—wrinkles appear across the

forehead and the ip

cheeks start >ulge.

gtgsBK■■ ■ ■■■■■■■ ■ i to ill

The fully rendered face—eagle-wing eyebrows in full flight, and anger seeping from every pore.


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