Character Illustration: From Feelings to Faces | Christine Nishiyama | Skillshare

Character Illustration: From Feelings to Faces

Christine Nishiyama, Artist at Might Could Studios

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8 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. What's That About?

      2:33
    • 2. Project Assignment: Draw a Series of Facial Expressions

      0:41
    • 3. Emotion Tree: 5 Primary Emotions

      2:35
    • 4. Emotion Tree: 15 Secondary Emotions

      5:10
    • 5. Quick Drawing Tips

      5:04
    • 6. Speed Drawing: Core Project

      2:36
    • 7. Speed Drawing: Bonus Challenge

      5:57
    • 8. Wrapping Up

      0:58
50 students are watching this class

About This Class

Learn how illustrator Christine Fleming visualizes emotions and injects genuine feelings into her illustrated facial expressions.

This 30-minute class is broken up into two parts: Learning and Drawing. In the Learning section, Christine will introduce the 6 primary emotions—like joy, surprise, and  anger. Then, she’ll expand each primary emotion and discover the 15 secondary emotions—like excitement, wonder, and rage. As you go through each emotion, Christine will point out universal physical changes in the face that communicate with each emotion using photo references. These physical features are vital in understanding how to draw strong, recognizable emotions.

Then you'll put that knowledge to work in the Drawing section, where you and Christine will draw emotions together through speed drawing exercises! You can choose to complete the Core Project and draw the 6 primary emotions, or go for the Bonus Challenge and draw all 26 emotions! This style of speed drawing is a great way to loosen up and get comfortable drawing expressive emotions.

By the end of the class, you’ll have a full set of facial expressions drawn in your own style that you can use as a reference for future character design projects, or just drawing people for fun!

You don’t need any prior knowledge of drawing or character illustration for this class, and no software is required. All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil, and 30 minutes!

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WANT MORE?

You can see more about Christine and her work at might-could.com

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Hope to see you in there! :D

Transcripts

1. What's That About?: Hi, guys. I'm Christine Fleming, Illustrator at Might Could Studios. I graduated from North Carolina State University with a BFA in Graphic Design, and I'm now working as a freelance illustrator in my own studio, Might Could Studios. My illustrations have been published in magazines, literary scenes, blogs, and educational workbooks, and I tend to work in the children's and science markets. This class is called Character Illustration: From Feelings to Faces. We're going to walk through how to visualize emotions, and inject genuine feelings into illustrating facial expressions. This 30-minute class is broken up into two parts: Learning and Drawing. In the Learning Section, I'll first introduce the five primary emotions, like joy, sadness, and anger. Then, we'll expand each primary emotion and discover the 15 secondary emotions, like excitement, depression, and rage. As we go through each emotion, I'll point out the physical changes in the face that communicate the emotions using photo references. These physical features are vital in understanding how to draw a strong, recognizable emotions. Then we're going to put that knowledge to work in the Drawing Section where you and I will draw emotions together. Here's how it works. The name of an emotion will appear on your screen. You'll have 15 seconds to quickly sketch out a facial expression to match that emotion in your own style and I'll be drawing right along with you. You could draw your own faces or use the blank face template that I've created for this class. At the end of the 15 seconds, you'll see what I came up with and then we'll move on to the next emotion. You can choose to complete the core project and draw the five primary emotions, or go to the Bonus Challenge and draw all 15 emotions. This style of speed drawing is a great way to loosen up and get comfortable drawing expressive emotions. By the end of this class, you'll have a full set of facial expressions drawn in your own style that you can then use as a reference for future drawing projects. You don't need any knowledge of drawing or any software to complete this class. All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil, and 30 minutes. Let's get started. 2. Project Assignment: Draw a Series of Facial Expressions: The project assignment for this class is to draw a series of facial expressions. You can use the template that I've provided or draw the faces on your own. You can choose to complete the core project and draw the five primary emotions, or if you're feeling up for it, go all out for the bonus challenge and draw all 15 emotions. There are two videos here titled Speed Drawing, and these videos are where the project assignment will be completed. By the time you finish watching the class, you'll be completely done. Remember, the best way to learn is by doing, so take a crack in drawing with these videos. 3. Emotion Tree: 5 Primary Emotions: Emotion tree: five primary emotions. First off, let's get a short disclaimer out of the way. I am not a scientist, and even if I was, scientists vary greatly in how they talk and think about emotions and what they know and don't know. Emotions and just about everything else about the brain, is still pretty mysterious. So just realize that though I am basing my information here on scientific research, this is not a science class, it's an illustration class. I'm not presenting on all information ever on emotions. I'm just talking about what I think is most important about emotion as it relates to illustration. So boring stuff over. Now let's move on to the nitty-gritty. Here's my list of the five primary emotions: joy, surprise, anger, sadness, and fear. We're going to go through each one and look at a photograph representing each emotion. Then I'll point out some physical features to notice in how each face communicates that emotion, such as eyebrow movement and lip curving. So let's jump in. First, let's start with joy. The physical features of joy are wrinkles around the corners of the eyes, the cheeks rise up and push the lower eyelids up, and the lips are upturned. You may also have some smile lines around the corner of the lips. For surprise, the eyebrows are raised, the eyes are wide and rounded, and the mouth is open or puckered. The jaw is also relaxed and slightly dropped. For anger, the eyebrows are pointing down with a furrowed brow, the eyes are also focused, and the lips are tightened and pursed into a hard line. You could also see nostrils flaring and ears reddening. For sadness, you have drooping eyelids, the inner eyebrows are raised and together, you have a relaxed focus in the eyes, and the mouth is slightly downturned. For fear, the eyebrows are raised, the eyebrows are pushed together, the eyelids are open, the lower eyelids are raised, the lips are open a little bit, and the jaw is slack or dropped. 4. Emotion Tree: 15 Secondary Emotions: Emotion tree; 15 secondary emotions. We can now break down those five primary emotions into our secondary emotions. These are more specific emotions and I've selected three secondary emotions that stem from each primary emotion giving us 15. We'll go through each set in order of intensity. Let's jump in. For joy, we have cheerfulness, excitement, and laughter. For cheerfulness, you see the wrinkles around the corners of the eyes, the cheeks rise up and push the eyes, and the mouth is upturned. For excitement, we see the eyebrows raised, wide eyes, open mouth, and lips upturned. For laughter, we see eyes shut, eyebrows raised and rounded, head thrown back, mouth wide and open, the tongue can be seen, and you can possibly see tears of furrowed eyebrow, possibly the head tilted forward or the nostrils flared. Our secondary emotions of surprise are wonder, amazement, and shock. For wonder, we have the eyebrows raised and rounded, eyes normal or wide, and the mouth is open or puckered. For amazement, we have eyes wide, eyebrows neutral still or rounded, a slack mouth, and the jaws relaxed or dropped. For shock, we have eyebrows extremely raised and rounded, wide eyes, an open mouth and an O shape, and the jaws relaxed or dropped. For anger, we have irritability, exasperation, and rage. For irritability, we have lowered eyelids, lowered eyebrows, eyes focused, and downturned or twisted lips. You can also see nostrils flared and a pursed lip. For exasperation, we have eyebrows pointing down and a furrowed brow, eyes focused, lower eyelid raised or squinting, tightening pursing of the lips into a hard line, and possibly flaring nostrils. You can also see some wrinkles in the chin and the lower lip might be pushed out. For rage, we have eyebrows furrowed and arched, veins possibly showing in the forehead, wide focused eyes, a wrinkled nose, a hard open mouth frown, the teeth are probably visible, lines forming from the nose to the mouth, and wrinkles in the chin. For sadness, we have depression, shame, and suffering. For shame, we have drooping eyelids, the inner eyebrows are raised toward the center of the face, we have a relaxed focus in the eyes, and the mouth is slightly downturned. For shame, the eyes are often looking down and away, the head is turned down or to the side, you have relaxed slightly lowered eyebrows, and the lips form a small straight line. For suffering, we have the eyebrows furrowed and the heads are raised, the heads are the inside of the eyebrows, the eyes are closed, the lower eyelids are raised, the lower lip is pushing up while the corner is pushed down, there are lines around the corner of the lips from the nose to the mouth, the skin in the face might be flushed or red, there may be wrinkles in the cheeks and possibly tears, and wrinkles in the forehead. Finally we have fear, where we have worry, panic, and horror. For worry, inside of the eyes are furrowed and raised, we have forehead wrinkles, and the lips are slightly downturned. For panic, the eyebrows are raised, we have wide, rounded eyes, the mouth is slightly open, and the jaw is slack or dropped. For horror, the eyes are wide, the eyebrows are raised, there might be wrinkles in the forehead, lines from the nose to the mouth, and the mouth is open with the tongue visible. 5. Quick Drawing Tips: Quick drawing tips. Let's go through a few quick tips on how to visualize emotions before we jump into the speed drawing videos. Tip 1; the most important features. The eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and cheeks, are the most important features to focus on when you're drawing. That may seem like the whole face, and it pretty much is, but thinking about it broken up into pieces like this is sometimes helpful. The nose is also pretty bland at expressing feelings. Tip 2; universality. Universality is a term I learned about through the comics creators Scott McCloud. One way he describes this phenomenon is the more cartoony a face is, the more people it could be said to describe. He goes on to talk about how we don't see ourselves as the same as other people see us. Our mental picture of other people is pretty clear and accurate, but our mental picture of ourselves is vague and just a sense of general placement of features almost as if we were a simple illustration. McCloud says that this is why people are attracted to cartoons and not so realistic illustrations. When you see a photograph of a person, you see another person. When you see an illustration of another person, you can see yourself. This concept is vital to my drawing style. I want my illustrations to be visual representations of myself and my thought processes, but I also want other people to be able to relate to them and see themselves in the illustrations. For example, I drew this illustration of me, but if you're a girl with brown hair, which is a pretty common description, you might be able to see it as yourself too. You can use this concept when drawing emotions too. If you can get your audience to relate and empathize with your character, then they'll be able to feel the emotions that you draw, making a very strong illustration. But by all means, if you prefer to draw realistically then go for it, there's no wrong way to draw. Tip 3; squash and stretch. This is an animation technique that has seeped into illustration. In this case, I'm referring to how the face squishes and stretches with each expression. For example, when you're feeling angry, your facial features generally squish and pinch into the center of the face like this. See how the skin is pinching in the center of his face between his eyes, and then when you're feeling surprised, your facial features will stretch and pull to the outer sides of your face like this. See how the skin is pulling and stretching across his face and the face is elongated. You can use this knowledge to push your facial expression drawings and really squish and squash the face to show different emotions. Tip 4; exaggeration. This goes hand in hand with squash and stretch. When you're drawing feelings, you're trying to communicate something abstract, so it helps to really exaggerate the expression when you're drawing. Push it farther than you think you should, make him ecstatic not just happy. You can always dial it back if you went too far for what you're trying to communicate. But generally in illustration, you want to go a little farther than what might be considered realistic. Tip 5; adding symbolism. You can add symbols to your emotion drawings that allude to the feelings in an iconic way rather than a realistic way. This is a more abstract way of visualizing emotions and these things vary from culture to culture. A symbol that means love to an American might not mean the same thing to someone from Japan. Symbols can add a lot of personality and spunk to a drawing, but don't let yourself rely on them too much or your work won't be as strong and empathetic as it could be. Tip 6; make the face. Something that happens to me whether I want it to or not, is that I generally end up making the face myself while I'm trying to draw an emotion. Though, this could be embarrassing if anyone looks over at you while you're drawing, I think it's actually helpful. If you're making the face while you're drawing, you'll have a innate sense of the feeling and that will translate into your drawing. You can also have a mirror handy and use your face as a visual reference to help you know what the emotion really looks like. 6. Speed Drawing: Core Project: Speed drawing, core project. Now let's dive into the project assignment. This video is part of the core project where you'll be speed drawing the five primary emotions we just talked about. Here's how it works. First, before you continue on this video, make sure you have either printed out the face template from the Project Assignment page or you have a blank sheet of paper to draw on. After this slide, the speed drawing will begin. An emotion will appear on the screen and you'll have 15 seconds to quickly sketch a facial expression to match that emotion. Feel free to draw in whatever style you like and I'll be drawing right along with you. Just keep it simple because you only have 15 seconds. At the end of the 15 seconds, you'll see what I came up with and then we'll move on to the next emotion. Ready? Go. Joy, surprise, anger, sadness, fear. Awesome job. You now have a full set of emotional characters. 7. Speed Drawing: Bonus Challenge: Speed drawing, bonus challenge. Now let's dive into the bonus challenge. This video is a more in-depth project assignment where you'll be speed drawing the 15 secondary emotions we just talked about. Here's how it works. First, before you continue on with this video, make sure you have either printed out the face template from the project assignment page or you have a blank sheet of paper to draw on. After this slide, the speed drawing will begin. An emotion will appear on your screen and you'll have 15 seconds to quickly sketch out a facial expression to match that emotion. Feel free to draw in whatever style you'd like. I'll be drawing right along with you. Just be sure to keep it simple because you only have 15 seconds. At the end of the time limit, you'll see what I came up with and then we'll move on to the next emotion. Ready? Go. Cheerfulness. Excitement. Laughter. Wonder. Amazement. Shock. Irritability. Exasperation. Rage. Depression. Shame. Suffering. Worry. Panic. Horror. Awesome job. You now have a full set of emotional characters. 8. Wrapping Up: Thanks for taking this class, and I hope you've picked up some helpful techniques for drawing expressive emotions. If you'd like some more practice, I'd suggest checking out comedians and stand up. Comedians make outrageous exaggerated expressions during their stand up and it's really good practice for drawing crazy emotions. I hope you'll complete the speed drawings along with the videos, and I'd love to see what you come up with. Whether you did the core project or the bonus challenge, you can upload your project to the project gallery by clicking "Start your project" on the class project page. You can also check out your fellow students' work and check out how they tackled drawing emotions. I look at every project that's posted in all my classes and I'm always thrilled to see your work. Have fun drawing emotions and feelings, and I can't wait to see all the faces you come up with.