Blush drawing reference

Blush drawing reference DEFAULT


“[The cheek is the] external arena of the emotions of the soul – that focus of every involuntary exhibition of internal feeling and sympathy”
Thomas Burgess, The Physiology or Mechanism of Blushing, 1839 (Burgess 115)1

1My title comes from a passage early in Hardy’s third published novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, serialized in Tinsleys’ Magazine between September 1872 and July 1873, and issued in volume form in the latter year. Elfride Swancourt, the owner of the blue eyes, persuades a reluctant Stephen Smith to agree that if forced to choose he would save her, and leave his mentor, Henry Knight, “the noblest man in England”, to drown: “‘There; now I am yours!’ she said, and a woman’s flush of triumph lit her eyes” (Hardy 2009, 62). The phrase is a striking one, and poses a number of questions: in particular, what is the connection between the emotion (“triumph”) and its physical manifestation (“flush”)? Are we to assume that the triumph occurs independently of the flush, of which it is then the cause, or instead that the emotion and its expression are mutually constitutive, two sides of a single coin? How, if at all, does a flush of triumph differ from (say) a flush of rage or jealousy?2 If, as we like to believe, emotion is at least in part under the control of the will, is that also true of the flush that expresses or accompanies it? And conversely, if the blush is “involuntary”, as Thomas Burgess proposed and common experience seems to suggest, what does that imply about the degree of our freedom to refuse or to allow the emotions that trigger it?3

2The aim of this paper is to explore the blush or flush as it appears in Hardy’s fiction, and to do so in relation to Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published by John Murray in November 1872 – the month after the instalment of A Pair of Blue Eyes narrating Elfride’s triumph: neither work can have influenced the other – and an immediate bestseller (Richardson 69-79). Darwin had planned to discuss the emotions and their expression in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, published in 1871, only to find that he had too much material and needed a further volume; the Expression can thus be read as an extended coda to the Descent. Central to bothbooks is an assertion of the continuity between (in Hardy’s noticeably relaxed phrase) “the human and kindred animal races” (Hardy 1976, 557). In the Descent Darwin argued that what we call the “moral sense” – a phrase often used to posit a separate mode of apprehension, like those of sight or touch – had in fact developed gradually from the various social instincts, including “love, memory, attention, curiosity, imitation, reason”, that we share with non-human animals. Our capacity to act as moral beings, on the basis of sympathy rather than the struggle to survive, affords no evidence for the existence of some special faculty, whether mental, emotional, or spiritual, unique to humanity. His conclusion is unequivocal: “the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, is certainly one of degree and not of kind” (Darwin 2003, 126). One of his aims in Expression was to add substance to this claim by documenting the numerous points of likeness between the human emotions and the manner in which they are expressed – joy, grief, fear, and so on – and those of the higher animals. The significance of the blush in this context is that it seems not to meet the general rule: unlike other familiar forms of expression, such as the smile or frown, blushing occurs only among human beings.

3Darwin set out to provide a natural history, in evolutionary terms, of the expression of the emotions. He offers three kinds of explanation. The first, the principle of “serviceable associated habits”, proposes that expressive behaviours that were useful to our progenitors have over time become innate, and continue to be called into play through association. So, for example, our ancestors learned to raise their eyebrows to increase their field of vision and take in new information; Darwin observes that we continue to raise our eyebrows in surprise, or “when we earnestly desire to remember something; acting as if we endeavoured to see it” (Darwin 1998, 224). The second is the principle of antithesis: some expressions and gestures have developed in opposition to other and more basic ones. In Darwin’s example, we shrug our shoulders to suggest impotence or uncertainty, as the antithesis to raising our arms to show readiness to fight. The third principle is the “direct action of the excited nervous system on the body” (69): a venting or overflow of excess psychic energy in otherwise purposeless movement, independent of the will, as for example when we writhe with misery as if in physical pain, or when intense happiness quickens the circulation and thus stimulates the brain, which in turn reacts on the whole body, as we see in “our young children, in their loud laughter, clapping of hands, and jumping for joy” (80).

4In developing these principles, Darwin insists on the physical basis of the emotions, the universality of their expression, and the extent to which humans share forms of expressive behaviour with other, non-human animals. This gives a particular interest to Chapter 13 of Expression, covering “Self-attention – Shame – Shyness – Modesty: blushing”,4 in which he identifies the blush as “the most peculiar and most human of all expressions. Monkeys redden from passion, but it would require an overwhelming amount of evidence to make us believe that any animal could blush” (Darwin 1998, 310). Earlier theorists, such as Thomas Burgess in The Physiology or Mechanism of Blushing (1839), had argued that the capacity to blush proved that humans had been gifted by their creator with a conscience, and knew when they had crossed the line between right and wrong.5 This is consonant with the idealist theories of Johann Lavater in the 1780s, and later of the anatomist Charles Bell, which held that by a wise decision of the deity the human face was essentially legible: the “moral life of man”, wrote Lavater, “reveals itself in the lines, marks, and transitions of the countenance” (Lavater 9)6. Darwin instead offers a naturalistic explanation, implicit in his chapter title: blushing derives from the habit of “self-attention”. Crucially, however, it also has a social dimension: “It is not the simple act of reflecting on our own appearance, but the thinking what others think of us which excites a blush” (Darwin 1998, 324). Darwin’s hypothesis is that the blush originated among our ancestors in theheightened self-awareness that occurs when we realise that others are regarding our personal appearance, and especially our face. This self-attention reacts through the vaso-motor system on the facial capillaries and causes them to relax, with the consequent familiar reddening of the cheeks. Reiterated through countless generations, the process has become so far habitual that we have learned to blush whenever we suspect that any one is blaming, praising, or simply noticing, not only our physical appearance but also, through the power of association, “our actions, thoughts, or character” (343). Whether in relation to our conduct or our appearance, the precondition of the blush is the belief that we are or might be observed by other people. It is this inter-subjectivity, the capacity to think of the self as seen by others, or thought of by others, that Darwin sees as distinctively human7.

5At this point, a comment on terminology is necessary: my title refers to the blush but, inconveniently for my purpose, the quotation within it speaks of Elfride’s “flush of triumph”. Darwin makes a physiological distinction between the flush and the blush. The former, he suggests, is produced by strong emotions such as anger or great joy, which cause the face to redden by increasing the flow of blood to the heart, whereas what he calls the “true blush” is owing to changes in capillary circulation in the facial skin. At times Hardy seems to make a similar distinction, associating the flush with more urgent or violent emotions than the blush, but he is not consistent in doing so. Thus, for example, Stephen “flushes hot with impulse” when he proposes that he and Elfride should marry in secret, while she responds with “quick breathings, and hectic flush, and unnaturally bright eyes” (Hardy 2009, 93);8 Knight flushes “with mingled concern and anger at [Elfride’s] rashness” when she walks on the parapet of the church tower (153). However, Elfride’s “slow flush of jealousy” when she overhears a kiss and wonders if it was given by Stephen, and if so to whom, seems not to be of this sudden and overpowering kind (66). Later, when Knight recalls telling Elfride that he had never kissed a woman, he experiences a flush “which had in it as much of wounded pride as of sorrow” (284). This accords with Darwin’s argument that the blush arises from self-attention in relation to the opinion of others, and it’s not clear that any significance attaches to calling it a flush. When Elfride realises that Knight is allowing her to win at chess, she starts up with an “angry colour”; this might be an intense form of blush, but the fact that her heart is beating so “violently” that the table is “set throbbing by its pulsations” suggests the flush is dominant (159). The same point might be made about her “flush of triumph”. Whether this is wholly a flush, caused by an excited beating of the heart, or a blush, produced by the sense of her self as seen by others – and triumph seems to imply an awareness of others, whether as an audience to one’s success, or as rivals to be vanquished – is difficult to determine; perhaps there are elements of both. In this paper the flush is considered only when the context suggests that it might equally have been named a blush.

6There is no evidence that Hardy read Expression (or indeed that he read firsthand any of Darwin’s work, since none of Darwin’s books were in his library), but if he had he would have found it congenial. Like his own notebooks, Expression is a treasure-trove of curious details, anecdotes and observations, intermixed with bold speculation, and Hardy’s natural history of the blush chimes closely with Darwin’s. The narrator remarks that Stephen Smith has “a boy’s blush and manner” (Hardy 2009, 14); Stephen is twenty years old, but he is, as Hardy confessed of himself, late in development9, and his propensity to blush is a sign of his immaturity. Darwin notes that blushing is more common among women and the young, and the tendency is one of the characteristics shared by Elfride and Stephen:

“The truth is,” said Stephen blushing, and rather ashamed of having pretended even so slightly to a consequence which did not belong to him […] (Hardy 2009, 33)

“I suppose you are wondering what those scraps were?” she said, as they bowled along up the sycamore avenue. “And so I may as well tell you. They are notes for a romance I am writing.”
She could not help colouring at the confession, much as she tried to avoid it. (36)

7In both instances the blush reflects a fear of interrogation and subsequent exposure. Neither character wishes to colour up; the reaction is involuntary, and, if anything, intensified by the effort to control it. As Darwin noticed, one cannot blush at will: an actor can simulate a frown or a smile, but not a blush. Nor can we cause a blush by physical means, in the way that we can cause laughter by tickling: “It is the mind which must be affected” (Darwin 1998, 310). So far is this the case that among the causes of blushing is the fear that one might be about to blush, or is told, untruthfully, that one is already doing so.

8Perhaps surprisingly, given his insistence that expression was bound up with sociality, Darwin shows little interest in the possible communicative power of the blush. A cultural or evolutionary explanation might be that it serves as a signal, however reluctant the signaller: the blusher implicitly acknowledges social norms or boundaries, such as the age one ought to be to carry out a professional task as an architect, or the qualifications one ought properly to have before appearing as an author; confesses that these norms have been overstepped; and through the blush tacitly apologises for the fault in doing so. The evolutionary benefit lies in the way the blush placates the group, and thereby lowers the chance of conflict.

9This is plausible, but evidently the blush does not always or only function as a signal: as Darwin points out, we can blush when alone, or in the dark. Even in these cases, however, the cause of the blush “almost always relates to the thoughts of others about us – to acts done in their presence, or suspected by them” (Darwin 1998, 334). In the opening chapter of Far from the Madding Crowd, published two years after Expression, Bathsheba (the reader has yet to learn her name) looks round to make sure there are no spectators before she studies her face in her mirror: “she blushed at herself, and seeing her reflection blush, blushed the more” (Hardy 2002, 12). It is enough to raise a blush that she is regarded by herself, or by her own image in the looking-glass; though as much as shame, shyness or modesty, what we witness here is perhaps also a quasi-conspiratorial feeling of shared delight.

10Elfride and Stephen colour up, in the above examples, with a sense of shame or fault, but as both Hardy and Darwin notice we can also blush at praise or admiration, even when unspoken, as Elfride does when playing and singing to Stephen: “So long and so earnestly gazed he, that her cheek deepened to a more and more crimson tint as each line was added to her song” (Hardy 2009, 21-22). The use of “cheek” rather than “cheeks” may have been off-hand, but it is intriguing; there is some evidence that where an observer’s attention is directed to just one side of the face, as Stephen’s is here as he watches Elfride in profile – he has just moved from her right to her left, so she must be aware of this – that side will turn a deeper red than the other.

11If it is true that women and the young blush more often than (for example) a man of Knight’s assumed maturity, one reason might be that the pressure to obey social conventions weighs more heavily on them. In his professional life at least, Knight sets the norms, rather than having to defer to those set by others. Away from his work, however, he is hardly less vulnerable than Stephen: when he tells Elfride that he has never kissed a woman, “The man of two and thirty with the experienced mind warmed all over with a boy’s ingenuous shame as he made the confession” (Hardy 2009, 270-271)10. The “experienced mind” belongs to the reviewer and barrister-at-law, not to the first-time lover, who in this respect is little more than a boy – and, as appears later, has an adolescent terror that the woman he loves might be able to compare him unfavourably with a rival. The reviewer, his identity consolidated within the “huge” editorial “WE” of The Present (60), does his work invisibly, while the lover is all too painfully aware of being seen: when Elfride remarks that she thought he was “rather round-shouldered”, “Knight looked slightly redder” (165). He “get[s] red” again (282) when Mrs Swancourt tells him that his comments in praise of amatory clumsiness merely reflect his lack of experience. The key element in each case is the sense of exposure, as he finds himself stripped of the role in which he had clothed himself.

12For the most part Victorian fiction treats the blush as a unitary phenomenon: heroine after heroine grows red, with no further detail offered11. Both Darwin and Hardy, however, discriminate between different physical kinds of blush. Elfride’s blush at the piano deepens by degrees as she becomes increasingly conscious of Stephen’s gaze, and her own reaction to it. Hardy anticipates here a distinction made by recent commentators between the classic and the “creeping” blush, which typically develops more slowly and lasts longer (Crozier 2010, 2012). The term itself occurs twice in The Woodlanders. When Fitzpiers pays a medical visit to Felice Charmond, he observes “a blush creep slowly over her decidedly handsome cheeks” (Hardy 2005, 169). Her blush develops in tandem with a process of mental reflection, as she wonders if Fitzpiers recognizes her from their earlier meeting, years before, and concludes that he does not. The interplay between an unspoken thought and a gradual change of colour is repeated when Grace Melbury reads the letter telling her that she will soon be free to marry again: “a creeping blush tinctured her white neck and cheek” (246). By contrast, when she guesses that her father has also written to Giles, urging him to renew his courtship, “the discovery sent a scarlet pulsation through her for the moment” (251). The three elements here are analytically distinct – a mental act (“discovery”), an internal physical response (“pulsation”), and its external manifestation (“scarlet”) – but they are experienced as virtually instantaneous.

13Darwin asserts that the “tendency to blush is inherited” (Darwin 1998, 311). Hardy had reached the same conclusion. In Far from the Madding Crowd, the unlucky Joseph Poorgrass is an inveterate blusher, despite various attempts to cure him, including putting him to work as errand-man in the “horrible sinful situation” of the Women’s Skittle Alley at the back of a Casterbridge public house – presumably in the hope of inuring him to embarrassment, rather than as a form of aversion therapy. His affliction may reflect no more than Hardy’s desire to differentiate the minor characters, comparable with Andrew Randle’s involuntary alternation in the same novel between stammering and cursing (akin to Tourette’s syndrome, though this wasn’t identified until 1885), or Jan Coggan’s “multiplying eye”, but as Joseph explains with some complacency, “Blushes hev been in the family for generations” (Hardy 2002, 60).

14Enough has been said to show how often Hardy and Darwin agree in their observations of the blush. One final example will suffice. Darwin remarks in Expression that “Every one must have noticed how easily after one blush fresh blushes chase each other over the face” (Darwin 1998, 312). Hardy certainly had: when in Desperate Remedies Edward Springrove invites Cytherea Graye to go rowing with him, the narrator, as so often in Hardy’s fiction, chooses to describe her physical response rather than her thoughts: she “looked uncertainly at the ground, then almost, but not quite, in his face, blushed a series of minute blushes, left off in the midst of them, and showed the usual signs of perplexity in a matter of the emotions” (Hardy 2003, 41). Between them, the naturalist and the novelist offer a detailed typology of the blush, both as experienced by the blusher and as interpreted by the beholders, but whether its various forms – the sudden blush, the creeping blush, the series of blushes – arise from or can be traced back to different mental states, remains for both an open question.

15Hardy’s interest in how and why men and women change colour runs throughout his work12. This emphasis on what is visible on the body, and more particularly on the face, is not fortuitous. It is an aspect of his resistance, as Havelock Ellis noticed in one of the best contemporary essays on Hardy’s fiction, to the direct representation of the consciousness of his characters. His usual method of narration is instead impersonal: as Ellis puts it, “he is only willing to recognize the psychical element in its physical correlative. This dislike to use the subjective method or to deal directly with mental phenomena is a feature in Mr. Hardy’s psychology which has left a strong mark on his art” (Ellis 358-359). Hillis Miller makes a similar point in Thomas Hardy: Distance and Desire when he observes that almost every sentence Hardy wrote is “objective”: “His self­awareness and that of his characters are always inextricably involved in their awareness of the world. Their minds are turned habitually outward” (Miller 1). We learn what characters think or feel either through their bodily reaction, or through what they see, or the novelist sees on their behalf13. Consider, for example, the scene in whichClym confronts Eustacia after having discovered, or so he supposes, her part in his mother’s death. She is coiling her hair, and sees his face reflected in the looking-glass, “ashy, haggard, and terrible”: “And while she looked the carmine flush with which warmth and sound sleep had suffused her cheeks and neck dissolved from view, and the deathlike pallor in his face flew across into hers” (Hardy 2006, 269). Clym’s conclusion is that she “knows what is the matter”, because “[he] see[s] it in [her] face”. But the narrator tells us no more than her change of colour: we have no access to her thoughts14. As the scene progresses, we “see” a number of physical reactions: a “shudder” which causes the fabric of her nightdress to shake, a “slight laugh”, a deep flush (“the red blood inundated her face”), a fit of sobbing. There are individual words suggestive of her feelings (“weary”, “bitterness”, “indifferently”), but there is no attempt to get behind them. Finally we are told that her hands “quivered so violently” that she is unable to tie her bonnet-strings: moments later, she leaves (270-274).

16This is a method of narration all Hardy’s readers will recognize15. My point, of course, is that the blush is one of the physical actions he finds most helpful to this method. In A Pair of Blue Eyes, taken here as a representative text, Elfride, Stephen and Knight blush, flush or turn pale with pique, triumph, jealousy, perplexity, mortification, embarrassment, vexation, anger, gladness, and shame; their faces become rapid red, vivid scarlet, crimson, vermillion, lively red, an angry colour, lily-white, livid, cold, heated, and bright. We are told a good deal about the precise physical change, as when Elfride reacts to seeing Stephen Smith again for the first time after her engagement to Knight: “She pressed a hand to her eyes, as if to blot out the image of Stephen. A vivid scarlet spot now shone with preternatural brightness in the centre of each cheek, leaving the remainder of her face lily-white asbefore” (Hardy 2009, 248). But it is left for the reader to judge how this specific change of colour correlates with the psychical event that in some way prompts it.

17That way of putting it leaves open several questions: in particular, whether the relation between the emotion and the blush is causative or merely associative. In Notebook N, begun in 1838 and marked “Private”, Darwin proposed that emotions could be described as “effects on the mind, accompanying certain bodily actions”, but then hesitated over the verb: “but what first caused this bodily action. if the emotion was not first felt?” Yet he was reluctant to assign priority, and a clearly causative role, to either mind or body: better, perhaps, to regard an emotion and its expression as a single event, each a constituent part of the other. The note continues: “without <slight> flush, acceleration of pulse. or rigidity of muscles. – man cannot be said to be angry” (Darwin 1987, 581-582)16. Or, as Hardy might have responded, without a sudden flush and a brightening of the eyes a woman cannot be said to feel triumph.

18The mind, Darwin remarked elsewhere in the notebook, “is function of body” (Darwin 1987, 564). Hardy didn’t have access to Darwin’s early thoughts, but he did read and take notes from Auguste Comte, and from G. H. Lewes expounding Comte’s ideas, including in 1877 an abridged quotation from his essay on “The Course of Modern Thought”:

Physiology began to disclose that all the mental processes were (mathematically speaking) functions of physical processes, i.e. – varying with the variations of bodily states; & this was declared enough to banish for ever the conception of a Soul, except as a term simply expressing certain functions. (Björk I, 92; Hardy’s underlining)

19Comte in particular was so far persuaded of the physical basis of our affective life that he saw no reason for a science of psychology: physiology alone would suffice. That Hardy had some sympathy with this position is suggested by the tendency of the novels to register subjectivity somatically, in terms of physical sensation or changed perception of the outer world, rather than through introspection or free indirect discourse, as in the work of George Eliot or Henry James: hence the recurrence in Hardy’s fiction of such words as “palpitating”, “irradiated”, “faint”, “trembling”, “listless”, “tremulous”, and the frequent references to the waves of the blood, and the throbbing of the pulse. Deleuze suggests that Hardy’s characters are not so much “people or subjects” as “collections of intensive sensations” (Deleuze 39-40). So, of Bathsheba, kissed by Troy in the hollow amid the ferns:

That minute’s interval had brought the blood beating into her face, set her stinging as if aflame to the very hollows of her feet, and enlarged emotion to compass which quite swamped thought. It had brought upon her a stroke resulting, as did that of Moses in Horeb, in a liquid stream – here a stream of tears. She felt like one who has sinned a great sin. (Hardy 2002, 185)

20Similarly, Tess Durbeyfield is such “a sheaf of susceptibilities” that her blood is “driven to her finger-ends” by Angel’s touch (Hardy 1986, 253); the “highly charged” Eustacia Vye is alternately “fired” and cooled” by a “cycle of visions”, each change visible on her features (Hardy 2006, 102). As Hardy noted from Comte’s Social Dynamics, “Feeling” is “the great motor force of human life”, and feeling takes its origin in the body (Björk I, 68).

21But Hardy was reluctant simply to assign priority to the body over the mind. In 1882 he transcribed part of a Spectator review arguing that the external “framework” of the universe might have “inner qualities analogous to those which we call mental” (Björk I, 148). The context here is W. K. Clifford’s proposition, in an essay of 1878 entitled “On the Nature of Things-in-Themselves”, that while a molecule of inorganic matter does not possess consciousness, it does possess “a small piece of mind-stuff […] When matter takes the complex form of a living human brain, the corresponding mind-stuff takes the form of a human consciousness, having intelligence and volition” (Clifford 57-67).Lewes’s essay on “Modern Thought” reaches a similar conclusion, albeit by a different route: “all physical facts are mental facts expressed in objective terms, and mental facts are physical facts expressed in subjective terms” (Lewes 321; italics in original)17,These ideas appealed to Hardy, as ever anxious to oppose “our old friend Dualism”18, though it is not clear in either case that they are a solution to the problem of the mind-body relation rather than merely a restatement of it. But as Hardy often insisted, he was a poet and a novelist, not a philosopher. Physical and mental facts are not identical in his fiction, but – so far as he could come to a conclusion – they appear as twin halves of a single event. It may be that the ambiguous work done by the little word “of”, in “a woman’s flush of triumph”, reaches as far as the more formal discussions of Clifford, Bergson, Lewes, or Herbert Spencer19.

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How to draw Anime and Manga expressions

Drawing Anime expressions comes down to lots of practice and memorization of certain patterns in the facial features. Once we internalize how the elements of expression work – the eyes, the eyebrows, the nose, and the mouth, we can adjust to convey a set of varying expressions. Understanding how facial features come to form expressions such as laughter, confusion, anger, happiness, sadness, excitement and so on, we can become confident and comfortable at drawing Anime expressions from our memory.

This guide is less about the technique of drawing, and more about how the facial features adjust to various facial expressions.

Let’s start by studying the most common facial expressions in Anime and Manga art. We will use a classic example Neon Genesis Evangelion, as well as some others.

How to draw Anime and Manga expressions

For each redrawn frame in this guide, we will go through the analysis of the composition of the facial features that provide for a specific expression.

Without further ado, let’s then start on our important work of identifying how features are adjusted to achieve the desired emotion in an Anime drawing.

Table of Contents:

  • Elements of Expression in Drawing an Anime Face
  • Happy/excited and content
  • Sadness
  • Anger and rage
  • Blushing
  • Crying/distress
  • Shock/feelings of surprise
  • Charming
  • Confident
  • Concern
  • Hurt and in pain
  • Disgust/being appalled
  • Drawing Anime and Manga expressions – Conclusion

Elements of Expression in Drawing an Anime face.

Before we get into specific expressions and how to draw them, it is important to discuss exactly what we will be working with. When developing a new expression for your Anime characters, realize that you are working with specific elements. Here they are:

  • The main facial features: We can manipulate the eyes, the eyebrows, the mouth and lips, and also the nose to an extent.
  • The silhouette of the head: Realize that the shape of the head will change depending on an expression, specifically around the cheeks and the jaw. (Some expressions where the mouth is wide open will cause the jaw to open up (move down), and other expressions may cause the cheeks to fill with air. ) Well, of course, Gvaat! That sounds rudimentary. Yes, it is. But what is important to realize is that given this change in the jaw and cheeks of the character, we may see a change in the overall silhouette of the head – and this is a bit more subtle. This means we have to watch out for and evaluate the silhouette of the head at all times depending on the emotion we are trying to convey. The best way to do this is to start with references and examples in both real life and Anime and Manga art.
  • The camera view: we will also see that the camera view, above or below or directly at eye level with the face, will go a long way to communicate expressions and feelings. The camera view is calculated ahead of time, specifically to target the emotion in question.
  • The hierarchy: Another thing I want to mention before we get into drawing Anime expressions, is that there is a hierarchy to employing facial features to create expressions. The eyes and the mouth will communicate the most to the viewer, followed by the eyebrows, followed by the nose in certain expressions, finally followed by the silhouette of the head.
How to draw Anime and Manga expressions - happy

This means as we evaluate expressions, pay attention to the eyes and the lips first. How were they drawn to express happiness, anger, sadness, excitement, surprise, and so on? Try identifying them separately. First, segment the features and look at them separately and also look at them in that order: eyes and lips, eyebrows, nose, then the silhouette of the face.

Further, when we set out to redraw some expressions, or design expressions of our own, try this approach of designing elements in a sequence:

  • first, have a plan for the expression you want to draw. The faces drawn with the least intent, end up with the most ambiguous results regarding expressions. Try writing down what expression you are drawing next to the drawing first.
  • Start with the design of the eyes and lips
  • Identify the design of the eyebrows that will best fit the eye design already in place
  • Check to see if nose and silhouette of the head will be impacted with the design you created, if so, draw it as such.

11 Most common facial expressions in Anime and Manga artwork

1. Anime expressions: happy/excited and content

Excitement, happiness, laughter are all interrelated emotions and represented very closely in Anime art. Laughter and general feeling of happiness is usually accompanied by an open mouth, closed eyes that follow the roundness of the eyebrows and some indicator of emotional spike on the cheeks – usually a form of crosshatching is employed, or change of color to show blushing.

Happy and content feelings are similarly represented, mostly with the lips closed. Lips are drawn in an arc curving up communicating that the character is pleased or content.

One of the ways to draw a content or happy face when drawing Anime expressions is to create a careful half-smile with the lips closed, and draw the eyes open not too wide, as well as have the eyebrows follow the shape of the eye.

To show laughter or joy, we can further manipulate the facial features. Remember, we are working with the eyebrows, the eyes, the nose, the lips and the shape of the cheeks/jaw in orchestrating our emotions on Anime characters. In the example right above, the eyes are closet shut, the jaw is open (except in many angles, instead of moving the jaw down, the nose moves up on the face to make space for the open mouth, note this is not the case in real life. In reality, the bottom of the jaw moves down, and the top (above upper lip) and the nose stay stationary). The teeth are showing.

How to draw Anime expressions - happiness

In the example above, a female character is drawn in a similar way: the eyes are closed, and the teeth are on display. Feelings of joy are largely expressed by the eyebrows and the corners of the mouth. Also, notice the tilt of the head, she is kicking her head back, as people often do when they are laughing or smiling.

2. Anime expressions: sadness

How to draw Anime expressions - sadness

Sadness is usually represented with the eyes shown as staring into the distance, as if staring at something beyond the tangible materials items in the vicinity. The above frame can express sadness or concern. The lines that develop the lips are carefully designed and drawn to indicate displeasure. The eyebrow is lowered close to the eye. Both work in tandem to create a foreboding feeling.

How to draw Anime expressions - sadness

In Anime, expressions of sadness are visualized through closed eyes, and a couple of small marks for the lips. Notice the edge of the mouth is pointing downward.

3. Anime expressions: anger and rage

Anger is perhaps the easiest to represent in Anime and Manga art. Features determining this emotion are easy to identify: the eyebrows are lowered and slanted to the center of the face. The mouth is open – the character is often shouting in anger. The whites of the eyes are visible as the eyes are open wide.

How to draw Anime and Manga expressions - anger

Really intense and emotional spikes of anger are highlighted by a shouting mouth in Anime, perhaps just like in real life. In this expression, the jaw will move down substantially in real life, but no so much in Anime and Manga art. The silhouette of the head stays the same in most examples. However, a lot of the faces showing anger in Anime are drawn with the nose higher on the face, making space for the open-shouting mouth.

How to draw Anime and Manga expressions - fury

A drawing of a character shouting at another, or a character leaping into a fight with a battle cry is characterized by a forward-moving motion. Notice how in the image just above, the head is drawn to show forward movement. Inevitably, if this drawing showed up in Anime frames, we would see the character moving forward (to our right) on the screen.

The jaw is dropped down at this angle (unlike in the two examples above). We are looking up from below at this character – as indicated by us seeing the bottom of the nose, and the bottom of the chin, and not seeing the top of the hair/head.

This is a good time to talk about the angle from which the face is drawn (or served up to the viewer). It is unusual to see emotions of happiness or joy to be drawn from this angle of looking up at the character. This tells us that Anime artists carefully select the camera for each frame, harnessing the camera angle to work for them in conveying emotion.

How to draw Anime expressions

In the example above, the eyebrows are tipped down to the center of the face, showing displeasure. The eyes are open wide, focused on the object of dissatisfaction (often another character in the story).

How to draw Anime and Manga expressions - anger

In the above example, anger is depicted in another way. Here, there is no shouting of visible rage, instead, the character is silent and focused, yet we feel anger brooding in their mind. Pay close attention to the lines of the mouth. That single dash of a line between the lips represents the lips clenched tightly together. It is very subtle to the eye, but our mind picks up on it right away.

Pay close attention to the distance between the eyes and the eyebrows, the distance is shortened in faces showing anger, hostility, and so on.

Finally, take a look at the shape of the eyes. In each eye, the iris is seen through underneath the upper eyelid. The upper eyelid has been manipulated to generally follow the curve sloping downward toward the nose. While we might not find eyes shaped this way in real life, we can find examples of this expression when we look at the eyebrows in an angry face.

Above is another example that can be staged to describe fury or anger or alarm. Much also depends on how the rest of the body is drawn. This character could be trying to get the attention of others and the face can be described as expressing alarm.

Alternatively, the face could describe anger or fury. Ambiguity in this example comes up through the eyebrows. If the eyebrows were to be drawn slightly higher up, the resulting expression would signify definite alarm, if the eyebrows were to be drawn pointing down to the nose, the expression would signify definite anger.

How to draw Anime and Manga expressions

It is worth noting, that when expressions of anger are taken to the extreme, like in the above example, we end up with a face expressing rage or fury. In this case, Asuka’s mouth is open even wider, the eyes are also open wider, and the eyebrows are sloping down further.

4. Anime expressions: blushing

Bushing faces in Anime are expressed with cheeks turning rosy red. When the artist wants to demonstrate that someone is really shy, they may extend this rosy blush over the bridge of the nose. Blush could be added to expressions of surprise, shyness, dismay, or if someone is upset or angry until they are “red in the face”. A character who is shown to be an extreme introvert will often be drawn with some blush in many scenes.

5. Anime expressions: crying/distressed

How to draw Anime and Manga expressions

Drawing an anime character upset comes down to manipulating the same features: the corners of the mouth are down, the eyebrows are low on the eyes. A crying character can be depicted in various ways, usually, the eyes are semi-closed, and the tears are built up in circular drops on the corners of the eyes, and some are shown rolling down the face.

If you pay attention to your favorite Anime next time you are looking at the screen, you will notice that any kind of expression showing distress or exertion of effort will usually involve the display of clenched teeth. You can see this in the image above and below. This expression of discomfort expressed with the teeth showing is accompanied with eyes shut, and eyebrows slowing towards the nose.

Some indication of teeth being clenched together is created by the illusion of teeth overlapping, you can see that in the incomplete line starting on the right in the image above – this line indicates where the bottom and the top teeth meet.

6. Anime expressions: shock, feelings of surprise and apprehension

Facial expressions demonstrating surprise are almost always shown with eyes and mouth open wide. In the image below, surprise is combined with feelings of apprehension. This is accomplished with the shape of the mouth, and eyebrows descending low onto the eyes.

7. Anime expressions: charming

How to draw Anime and Manga expressions - charming

Anime and Manga drawings of charming characters usually involve template-like posing of the entire figure, a half-smile, and disarming non-threatening eyes. Eyes and lips lead the effort in communicating the emotional direction. Often hands drawn in a delicate fashion are depicted touching the face, playing with hair, or holding a personal object or accessory like glasses.

How to draw Anime expressions - charming

Hands, and the pose in general play a critical role in completing the expression in Anime art. Although you could get the expression without the hands just by looking at the face, it is the rest of the drawing that defines the expression further, buttressing it at every opportunity.

When drawing playful or charming expressions, and observing them in Anime, notice just how much the addition of proper support with the hands and figure helps to tell the story.

How to draw Anime expressions - charming

Above and below are examples of characters playing with their hair. The head is drawn tilted towards the viewer, and the hand is twirling curls of hair, lips are drawn with very slight beginnings of a smile.

Often, characters are depicted winking at the viewer or another character as seen below.

A wink is accompanied with a pleasant smile.

How to draw Anime expressions - playful

Below is an example of how a charming expression is reiterated with the expression in the hands, and the figure.

8. Anime expressions: confidence

Two unusual ingredients are paired together to express confidence in Anime faces: a smile and eyebrows sloping down to the nose. We are borrowing the lips from the expression of being content or happy, and adding the eyebrows from the expression of anger to produce confidence, but with one caveat. The eyebrows usually do not slope down to the nose as much as they do when drawing angry or enraged faces.

How to draw Anime expressions - confident
How to draw Anime expressions - confident

Expressions of confidence in Anime can be drawn as in the image above: eyebrows sloping to the nose (but not as far down as in the expression of anger), juxtaposed with a hint of a smile.

9. Drawing Anime expressions: concern

How to draw Anime expressions - concerned

Feelings of concern can be found expressed with eyebrows raised high. Eyes open wide (but not nearly as wide as in expressions of anger or shock). In the image above, the mouth is partially open in what can be perceived as the beginnings of a gasp.

10. Drawing Anime expressions: being hurt

How to draw Anime expressions - hurt

In the above depiction of a character being hurt, we are looking at the face from above. It appears below our eye level and is foreshortened. Eyes are drawn closed and teeth are on display. When we are in pain, we tend to wince. A wince is an involuntary grimace or shrinking movement of the face out of pain or distress – in Anime, the depiction of teeth grinding serves to communicate this expression. We see an extra line added as the skin folds around the top of the nose to further substantiate the expression.

11. Drawing Anime expressions: disgust, being appalled,

How to draw Anime expressions - appalled

Depicting very specific feelings in Anime drawing can get very complex. Often, we get context from the plot of the story itself, (what was happening right before an expression appears on the face of a character), we also get audio feedback accompanying the visual. Often, as I mentioned above, we also get to see the entire figure and the gesture of the hands support the expression of the face. Finally, we get to see the lighting and color choices of the artists who worked on the scene, these too are designed to help communicate the expression in question.

In the above example, you can notice the shoulders going up as the character communicates the feelings of being disgusted or appalled. The mouth is semi-open in dismay, eyebrows are sloping down but not nearly as much in drawings expressing anger, fury, or rage.

Conclusion: Drawing Anime Expressions

How to draw Anime and Manga expressions

Drawing anime expressions comes down to working with the same elements of expressions: eyes, eyebrows, lips, nose, ears, the position of the jaw, the cheeks. Then fortifying these elements with, gesture and figure, camera view, light, and color, (and in Anime sound and movement).

When drawing Anime expressions, each one of these elements must be employed insubordination of the overall feeling or expression you are trying to convey. So if you want to convey a happy feeling, you must evaluate each drawn element under this standard. Ask yourself, are eyebrows positioned to express joy, or are they drawn in conflict with that feeling? Are the eyes communicating the state of being content, or am I drawing them in a way to shows concern and alarm? Answer these questions for each individual facial feature and adjust accordingly.

Once you see that a particular element of your drawing is not hitting the right note, look at examples. Let’s say you are drawing a face that shows anger. Then you go through the evaluation as discussed above, and find out that while your drawing of the lips and eyebrows communicate anger, the eyes do not. What to do?! Go through examples of Anime you love, and look at how the eyes are drawn in a moment of anger (hint: most likely they are enlarged, wide open, with the sclera (white of the eyes) surrounding the iris on all sides. See my Anime eye drawing tutorial at this link).

Finally, don’t rush your drawing. Build up every facial feature, every element to stand in support of the emotion you are trying to communicate. There is more to it than just the facial features – think of the angle at which you want to show your scene, think of the lighting.

A drawing of a face experiencing happy emotions can be drawn during a bright sunny day, while a drawing of an angry face could be drawn with dramatic lighting further developing the menacing feelings the drawing aims to capture.

Don’t rush, plan ahead, try to envision your drawing on a page before you get started, get plenty of good references.. and then, just draw! Draw a lot, look back at your progress, and fix errors along the way. Don’t get too stuck on one particular drawing, you can learn from it and move on to the next drawing, and fix old errors in a new way.

Below, some of the expressions from this tutorial were redrawn. See if you can spot which ones, or feel free to use the chart below as a reference guide to draw your own Anime and Manga expressions!

Best of luck, time to get drawing!

How I Draw: Facial Expressions

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Reference blush drawing

Tutorial Time!

Well first of all I use this brush:


I called it “chmura” which means “cloud” in Polish. I use a lot actually, it’s one of my favorite brushes ever. Ironically, I don’t use it very often to draw clouds. But it works great for many things!


But let’s go back to drawing a blush! First of all:

  1. When you got the right hue change the saturation. I tend to work with the brightest colors but don’t be afraid to experiment!
  2. Make a layer above your layer with flat colors.
  3. Layer-clip it just in case.
  4. Draw a blush with the chmura brush! (don’t worry if it looks weird or too bright for now, it will change)

Without changing a brush click on the little square, this one:


Now your brush is an eraser! Erase the edges of the blush a little bit to make it look more soft.

Last step! Change the blend mode of your blush layer to “multiply” and change the opacity to however you see fit (it’s 40% in my case). And that’s it! :D


Hope it helps! <3

How to Draw From a Reference - Full body (Shorts)


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