Sadness Upper Face Only

Mouth olone appears neutral; action of zygomatic minor may be present but is so slight as to be debatable.

Her brows (right) make the rest of her face look sad. Emphasizing details—the platform under the lips, darkness under the eyes— suggest activity in otherwise neutral features.

Mouth alone (below) appears neutral; dark platform beneath suggests pout. Faint, horizontal middle-brow folds (A). Dimple appears where corrugator attaches to skin; kink in brow begins at that point (B). Slight change in value defines bulge at inner brow end (C); no vertical crease in this slight action.

Of all the expressions, sadness requires the fewest movements to suggest. The least twist of the brow in an otherwise relaxed face will do, even without the accompaniment of wrinkles in forehead or changes in eye. But when an expression is so subtle, the message it carries is altered: we sense an ongoing mood rather than a moment of crisis. This stage of sadness—the look of melancholy, resting entirely in upper face—is most often portrayed by artists.

The action (left) is in the top half of the face, though at first glance it seems otherwise. Isolated from the brow, the mouth has no particular expression (right). Only in the face as a whole do we notice the upper-lip shape and the crease in the cheek, which we interpret as part of the sad look. With facial expression, it's important to know what leads and what follows.

Facial Expression

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