expressions

My favorite part of drawing characters is their expressions.

Often-times, with indie games and limited budget, characters can appear too static or robotic.

In an ideal situation, you would redraw the character’s body language, but it’s that’s not possible, at least let’s give more nuance to the face.

I’m going to go over my process for facial expressions. I hope you find it useful!

eyes

Even tiny changes in the eyes can indicate a lot about the character.

For a basic set, I like to use: neutral, closed, half, narrowed, avert, avert-half, surprise, and sincere. <image>

Half and narrowed may seem similar at first, but for narrowed, you bring up the lower lid a tiny bit. Likewise, with sincere, you bring up the lower lid, while raising the upper lid just a smidgeon.

Additional eyes can be added, depending on the story genre. AKA fear, murder glare, kawaii, dizzy etc.

A simple smile can change from genuine to suggestive, nervous to sadistic — depending on your character’s eyes.

<image2>

brows

For brows, I use seven basic ones. Neutral, serious, angry, confident (or irritated), raised (happy or surprised), furrowed and confused (or suggestive).

Obviously there’s more than just those available, but they cover the basics.

mouths

With mouths more-so than the brows or eyes, I tend to customize it to the specific character. Reserved characters, for example, may not be suited for a wide open smile.

The basic ones I do tend to use though are :| :) :] :( :{ :T :/ :D :o D: :[]

FX

Tears, blush, sweat, a popped vein, sparkles, depressed gloom, disgust — you can enhance the severity of expressions with small fx.

unconventional combinations

Even though I name the mouths and brows with associated emotions, don’t feel limited! You don’t have to use them only for their namesake emotion. Play around until you get the perfect combination for your story.

Ultimately, the art is only helping express what’s there in the writing. Once you have a well constructed story, characters you adore, then go to town. :P Still, don’t spend forever playing with the expressions lol. It won’t be perfect.

have fun !