6 great tips for mastering facial expressions

In this article we will explain, in detail, what these 6 fabulous tips to master facial expressions consist of and what they are. You must learn to master them.

To convey a mood, you need the facial expression, the feeling. What better, than to be able to represent it clearly in our art?

While it may seem difficult to read, it is often entertaining to see the expressions of our characters. So keep reading this post, it’s a must read!

Clear expressions, be convincing and convey your emotion to the reader.

If there is one thing you must master to make a convincing comic, it’s facial expressions.

The characters we draw, go through different moods, this we must convey to the reader of our story. Faces can help us convey these emotions.

Contrary to what is often thought, to achieve this, the most important thing is not the detail that we dedicate to each part of the face we draw. It will be the mastery of a code, with certain basic elements, for the recognition we are looking for.

These are the 6 universal facial expressions, learn to master them, with these 6 fabulous tips to master facial expressions.

dibujos de todos las expresiones en el dibujo, y 6 fabulosos consejos para dominar las expresiones faciales

Researcher Paul Ekmnan compiled a list of as many studies on facial expressions as he could find.

To our amazement, in all the research, the same 6 expressions were repeated: sadness, anger, joy, fear, disgust and surprise.

Charles Darwin wondered why people from different cultures express these emotions in identical ways.

He concluded that expressions are innate and fall into the category of instinctive behaviors.

So, facial expressions can be traced back to our prehistoric ancestors, or why not, to our childhood!

These tips will help you to draw these 6 facial expressions:

1. First facial expression: Sadness

dibujo con expresion facial de tristeza

An emotion that we try to avoid, but that you should know how to draw!

The heroes of our stories are often sad for different reasons, like, for example, finding out about their pet’s illness.

In our sad character, the inner area of his eyebrows curves upwards.

He draws his eyes slightly closed, this is due to the downward pressure of the tissues on the eyelid and the upward movement of the lower eyelid.

The mouth should never be tense, but relaxed. The forehead will have horizontal creases, and vertical lines will form between the eyebrows.

2. Second facial expression: Anger

dibujo con expresion facial ira

If you think of drawing a horde of angry bikers in the style of Mad Max, pay close attention to the following:

For characters in a state of anger, draw the ends of their eyebrows pushed up, and close together. Very important, don’t forget, to add vertical wrinkles between the eyebrows.

Draw the eyes somewhat open, but, without showing the white of the eye above the iris. This is due to the pressure exerted by the forehead. Continuing along the upper eyelids, horizontal creases will be formed.

A great tip, which cannot be missed to represent expressions of anger, is to draw the upper lip of the mouth, slightly compressed.

3. Third facial expression: Joy

dibujo con expresion facial de alegria

If you had to draw a child receiving his dream comic book as a birthday present, how would you do it?

Well, his expression of pure joy should have relaxed eyebrows.

You should pay attention to the eyelids, the upper one should be slightly lowered, and the lower one should be straight, raised by the cheek. This will result in a crease in the shape of a smile.

At the ends of the eyes, you have to remember to draw crow’s feet.

The child will already have a completely happy look, but there are still a few things missing. The lips of his mouth will thin out and press against the bone.

If you want to accompany that smile, you can draw a dimple, and don’t forget to incorporate a crease from the nose to the chin.

4. Fourth facial expression: Fear

dibujo con expresion facial miedo

Many times, we draw scared characters. Imagine adapting the famous scene from Psycho to a comic book, where the woman is taking a bath, and suddenly she is terrified as her killer approaches.

You should draw the woman’s eyebrows raised and together, and her lower parts curved upwards. The eyes will be fully open, as well as the mouth.

We will make the upper lip relaxed. It is of utmost importance to draw the lower lip well stretched, to the point of showing the lower teeth (if the character is really terrified, like this woman).

Draw the wrinkle that goes from the nose to the end of the lip (nasolabial fold) almost straight. Then, to finish, make folds in the form of parentheses, at the sides of the lower lip.

5. Fifth facial expression: Disgust

dibujo con expresion facial asco

Let’s suppose that your character smells an unpleasant odor, it’s his roommate who hasn’t bathed for 3 days.

To draw the facial expression of disgust or rejection, you have to show how his eyebrows are lowered, especially, at the lower ends of the eyebrows.

You can draw the character’s eyes, almost closed, and, crow’s feet at their ends, but, pay close attention to the mouth. Make the upper lip very high (if the mouth is open, the upper teeth can be seen), and the lower lip slightly raised.

If you want, on the character’s chin, a bulge can appear.

6. Sixth facial expression: Surprise

dibujo con expresion facial sorpresa

This is perhaps one of the most entertaining facial expressions to draw. Let’s suppose you have to draw the surprised expression of a child who realizes he has superpowers.

It is essential, that his eyebrows are raised straight, as much as possible, and, draw the horizontal creases that form on the forehead.

Make the upper eyelids open as wide as possible, and the lower eyelids relaxed.

The character’s mouth should be open, this can be opened completely, and form something like an oval.


Any of us can draw a face, but, really, to transmit the emotion, or the expression to the reader, it is not so easy when we try to do it, isn’t it?

For this reason, we leave you throughout the article, the 6 facial expressions that you must master, to convey to the reader, what you really want to capture in your drawing.

We invite you to read the post as many times as necessary, this way, you will learn faster to make wonderful expressions. If you have any doubts, you can go back to the beginning of the article.

In following posts, we will reveal more secrets of each of the 6 facial expressions, as well as all their variables!


Facial mapping of synthetic emotions, Raquel P. Conde López, 2005.

The Artist’s Complete Guide to Facial Expression, Faigin Gary, Watson-Guptill Publications, 2008

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