How to Draw Feelings: Facial Expressions 101

The key to drawing great facial expressions comes with the artist’s ability to show different sides and degrees to an emotion.

For example, there are smiles that come wholeheartedly across the entire face, full of joy. There are also smiles that are forced. Smiles with a hint of sadness. Mischievous grins. Angry sneers.

Great facial expressions will be able to express these distinct changes in emotion.

Plus, being able to draw nuanced facial expressions is an important way to create interesting, well-rounded characters beyond just the dialogue.

That is why I wanted to create a blog post dedicated on how to draw facial expressions of all kinds.

I hope that these drawings can help any beginner artists interested in learning how to draw characters, whether you are interested in character design or starting off your own cartoon or manga story.

how to draw feelings

How to Draw Happy, Smiling Faces

Eyes on happy faces can be draw open or winking.

Add a little sparkle or more light in the eyes to express more joy or excitement.

Eyebrows can be drawn raised, arched/straight unless the character is grinning. For grinning faces, the eyebrows will slant downwards.

I also like to add blush lines to happy faces.

Mouths can be drawn so many different ways, so I have included examples below of several happy, smiling faces to draw.

how to draw smiling happy faces anime chibi

How to Draw Sad or Crying Faces

When drawing sad faces, I like to make sure that the eyebrows curve upwards.

For eyes, I like to show in some way that are tears in them, whether that be by adding tears to the edge of the eyes or making the eyes appear swirly.

As for the mouth, I like to draw them a bit uneven with a trembling hand to express that the mouth is quivering.

It’s a bit difficult to explain in words so I have included down below some examples of how I draw sad faces.

how to draw sad crying faces

How to Draw Angry Faces

When it comes to drawing angry faces, the eyebrows will usually slant downwards.

Eyes can be drawn various ways depending on the degree of anger you want to show in your character.

Mouths can be drawn in a frown, open, or with teeth clenched.

Below are various angry facial expressions to try drawing yourself.

how to draw angry faces

Understanding Eyebrows

Eyebrows complete the facial expression!

In fact, the shape of the brows can completely change the emotions written across your character’s face.

I feel it is important to say this because it’s easy to put a majority of attention into drawing the eyes and mouth, but well-expressed eyebrows are important too!

In general,

  • Arched brows: happy, at-ease, excited
  • Straight brows: neutral, attentive, nervous, staring
  • Downward brows: grinning, angry, glaring, concentrating, upset
  • Upward brows: sad, confused, upset
how to draw facial expressions

More Facial Expressions to Try Drawing

more facial expressions chibi cartoon manga
facial expressions anime cartoon
how to draw feelings

Related Blog Posts:
How to Draw Hands
60 Easy Things to Draw
How to Overcome the Fear of Making Art
How to Draw Anime Eyes

Thank you for stopping by this blog post!

I hope this little collection of facial expressions helped you get a better idea of how to draw expressive feelings in your characters.

Until next time, take care lovely readers and artists!

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