Sketching Facial Expressions | Lisa Griffin | Skillshare

Sketching Facial Expressions

Lisa Griffin, Illustrator

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5 Lessons (13m)
    • 1. Welcome

    • 2. Reference & Tips

    • 3. FacialExpressions

    • 4. Using the Worksheet

    • 5. Class Project


About This Class


Sketching Facial Expressions was designed with a focus on drawing different facial expressions to convey emotion. Using a combined technique of simplified sketching, use of reference and short demonstrations, students will be encouraged to grow their own skills through a dedicated practice. A worksheet will be provided as a PDF download for students. Class can be applied using either traditional or digital mediums. All skill levels are welcome to join. 

The first in a planned series, classes are meant to encourage a positive sketchbook practice through drawing demonstrations, specific topics and exercises. Each class will be under 20 minutes in length to foster creative habits, even when short on time. 


1. Welcome: Welcome to the sketch Hable. Siri's classes focused on short drawing exercises to promote a sketchbook practice. This will be about facial expressions. My name is Lisa Griffin, and I'm a Children's book illustrator. I want to show you how easy it is to create a simple sketching practice from home. Think of sketching as playtime. It should always be fun when you're sitting down and starting to create choose supplies that make you happy and that you're comfortable with the's. Convey either digital or traditional. Dont be nervous about experimenting with different materials, either. Even crayons can be fun to explore within your sketchbook. 2. Reference & Tips: Welcome to the first class in the sketch Hable Siri's. This class will focus on practicing simple facial expressions in our sketchbooks before we begin. I would like to recommend what I think is a very handy resource toe have in your home or studio. It's a book by Preston Blair, and it's called Cartoon Animation. It's just a great resource packed with sketches, drawings, tips and it's not just handy for animators, but I truly feel it's a great resource for artists, hobbyists and illustrators as well. If your local library doesn't carry this book, then I would recommend going online and checking out some reference that can be actual photographs of humans and people head shots. But it also can be these magnificent character design sheets. You can find them online thes air done by Disney artists, and they show you through repetition, just using the head how they can get a really ah, very firm character design but also a wonderful depiction of emotion. And this is something that we can emulate and try to do in our own sketchbooks and with our own characters in this class, you are going to hear me talk about practicing a lot. I am a firm believer that the more time you spend in your sketchbook, the better you'll be. It really is just a matter of setting aside time to play in your sketchbook, and that's really how I want you to think of it as playtime Don't get caught up on If you're going to make the most pretty perfect drawing, it really isn't about that. It's more about creative exploration and creating very loose, sketchy work to start and fine tuning later once you've come up with a character that you're really happy about or even, you know, down the road a composition. So it really should be equal parts off practice and fun is so If it's not fun, get up, walk around a bit and then come back to it because it really should be something you're looking forward to doing. My other suggestion is to keep up mirror handy for this class. If you aren't, you know quite sure you haven't found the perfect reference. Using your own face as reference is a wonderful tool. Stick to a single character. It will make it a lot simpler if you're focusing on emotions and not hairstyles and body shape. Make sure you use reference and don't give up 3. FacialExpressions: when tackling facial expression and approaching it in our sketches, I find the easiest thing to do is focus on the defining characteristics of that emotion. And once you have that, how can you embellish it? I mean, we're not taking photos of subjects were sketching. Those subjects were sketching these characters, so we have creative freedom, So why not use it to our advantage Sketching happiness? Is it a big grin? Is it a small grin? Is it a full tooth smile and the shape of the mouth? How does that affect the eyes? What is it due to the eyebrows or the eyebrows raised? These are the things you can work through if you're sketching. And if you have a solid grasp of the emotion you're trying to sketch, and if you know which are the defining characteristics that you're choosing to embellish. The other thing, I suggest, are if you have kids in your life. If you want to look for great reference, search Children's photos online. They are extremely expressive. They're so open with their feelings. It makes it fun and easy to sketch from Children. And if you're still stuck on an emotion truly, the easiest thing you can do is look in a mirror. Just act out whatever emotion you're stuck on in a mirror and use your own visual cues to help you with your sketches. All right, so now it's playtime. I want you to dig out the sketchbook. Whether it's a tangible sketchbook or you draw on your iPad or tablet, I want you to tackle a few emotions on your screen. I did a quick speed demo just so you could see how I approached some early warmup sketches . And this is just focusing on heads. I drew out for simple shapes and started sketching. And then I took the one shape I found most intriguing, and I went over it to do a more fine tune sketch. I don't do this with all of them. I usually just do it with one. It may not go anywhere. This was just a creative exercise. It wasn't for a client. It wasn't for a project or even a promotional piece. It was just play time in the sketchbook. So this little gal I wanted to make just a happy, little, fun loving child and, you know, the cheeks air are raised up into the eyes. Ah, big wide smile, little pointy chin. The eyebrows air up to reflect just the joy in her face. I added the gap e to smile, because personally, I just feel there's nothing cuter. And there's the little suggestion there of of her tongue because her mouth is so wide open . So this is You don't have to do it exactly this way, but I hope what you can take from this is that it really doesn't necessarily need to amount to something. It's just practice. It's play time. It's working on emotions so that it gives you more confidence in bringing life to your characters. And it really should be thought of just like that. You don't have to share it with anyone if you don't want to. So it's all about what you want to practice and explore in your sketchbook. In wrapping up this little quick demo with her happy, bouncy ponytails and freckles, I want to leave you with one last thing, and I know sitting down isn't always easy, but if you can create that creative habit where you're sketching and getting to the point where you're comfortable sketching and working with expression. It can really help flush out characters. It can flush out your portfolio. This is just a sampling of character sketches that I had done for an online prompt. It was based on the witches of Oz, and through research and lots of sketching and thoughts of practice, I was able to flush out these characters in a way that I could then bring them to life in a full color illustration. I thought sharing this piece with you would be a good example of emotion on these characters, but also to encourage you that through sketching it can lead to a final piece that you're really happy with and proud of. I hope you're feeling inspired and that you're excited to do more sketching with facial expressions. 4. Using the Worksheet: I'd like to take the time to demo with you the worksheet that is included in this class. It's a free PdF that's available for download. You can use it digitally or print it out and use it in a more traditional manner. Don't treat it as something precious, though, because you have it. It's yours. The's can be Throw away, or you can keep them in a folder and watch your progress. So here I'm just going to show you how I use thumb. I try to do very basic sketches to start off, so I'm really focusing on the emotion thinking about eyes, eyebrows, mouth. Then I moved to shape a face or hair as I'm fine tuning. So for worried small, tight mouth turned down, you know there is concern and worry. The eyes, um, would definitely have the a little bit of a troop to them, a little bit of a downturn to read that concern or worry on the face. Very simple, very basic, but this is how you practice, especially with emotion, so that you can go through very quickly and challenge yourself different ways that you can show it moving on to more off a sad character similar to worried. The eyes would be heavy down, turned the eyebrows, thinking the same, showing weight pressing down on the eyes. The sadness the mouth would be down turned a swell. You know, you could go crazy with this. You could add tears. You could have drama to it. It really is a fun exercise, and I feel the more that you work with this worksheet, you really will see a progression. So it's a you print out 10 of these and number them one through 10. You will see a great per progression from where you start at one to where your creativity takes you on worksheet number 10. I included tired on this worksheet because I do think this is a little bit of a challenge. Emotion, I think, a lot of times with tired. If we're trying to show that in an illustration, you can really rely on gesture, you're showing it in a film or movie. You're relying not on gesture alone, but sound. So if you're only focused on the face, you can start with the Iand, the droopy, heavy lids to show tired. You don't also have to use this in just a basic format like I just did. You can become a little more detail. Do you can change the shape off thes faces If you feel that it's going to help push the emotion you're striving to achieve further, you can add more details. You can add hair. You can had accessories you'll find. Like I said, As you move along, you'll the creative juices really start to flow. As you become more comfortable in practicing emotion, you're going to become a little more brave, and you're going to experiment more so with this character. I wanted to show sad again in a different way, a little more detail, adding, Ah, hair style to it. It's a little reminiscent. It's actually polar opposite of the girl I did in the previous, um, demo. But I was thinking along the same lines. I like showing hair style as part of the emotion. So the opposite of happiness, where her hair was fun and joyful and lifted and showing movement. I thought with this character I wanted to ah, long gate, the weight, the face, the heaviness that oh, she's feeling in the depth of her sadness. So yes, the eyes air down, turned the mouth is downturned that lids or heavy but the ponytails air just hanging there and droopy and sad. I did alter her jawline because I was also thinking, if her mouth is in a frown or down turned, it would affect the shape of her jaw. There would be a little more tightness in her draw, so adding the hair style, adding some shading and dimension. Think of the things, the color, the shading that the technique you want to use to really push those emotions even further. Yes, you're limiting yourself with only the face. You're not applying gesture yet, but there's so much you can do in your character just by using the face. And these work sheets really help you to find Tune that in practice that so you will become more comfortable with it. If you do work off of hard copies, please don't throw out your progress. I think it's a great thing to look back on and see how far you've come through dedicated practice, good luck and have a great time sketching 5. Class Project: for our class project. I want to encourage you to show your work. Share your sketches with us. That's it, whether it's a page out of your sketchbook or it's the completed download for this glass. Either way, pop it up in the classroom and let us all see it. I think it's a great way to foster community and encouragement with one another if we can freely show our work. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day. You're busy week to try out this glass. I hope you found it useful. I hope it helps to foster a better sketchbook practice for you and that it shows you can accomplish a lot in 15 minutes. You really can and just have fun with it.