How To Draw and Animate Facial Expressions Easy Step by Step Tutorial

Want to capture emotion in people's faces? This tutorial shows how to draw and animate facial expressions such as happy, angry, worried, mischievous, confused, and surprised.

It's a good idea to start studying different faces if you want to be a cartoonist, illustrator, artist, or just good at drawing. It's also a good idea to practice making silly and crazy faces in front of the mirror to study your own look. 

It's a lot of fun, and it's a good drawing and animation exercise for beginners.

Facial expressions animation tutorial blog cover with four different emotions in colored rectangles.

Table of Contents

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How to Draw Facial Expressions and Animate Them


Let's have fun and animate a character showing different facial expressions- happy, angry, worried, mischievous, confused, and surprised.

Changing the size, shape, and relationship of the eyes, nose, mouth, and other parts of the face such as eyelids and brows can easily create most facial expressions.

You can also follow the instructions in the video tutorial below.

Materials

  • 10 pieces of small rectangular papers
  • 1 pencil/pen

Step by Step Instructions


I. Making our flipbook

If you do not have a pad of paper for our animation, we can make our very own flipbook!

(Overview)

Rectangle with perpendicular grid lines in front, size arrows on the sides, and indicators

Step 1. Fold and cut a paper (letter size) in four equal parts.

rectangles on top of each other with number one on the upper right side.

Step 2. Divide 2 more papers into 4 parts each, then number the 10 cut papers at the upper right corner.

II. Drawing the different expressions

 

6 icons of different emotions: happy, angry, worried, mischievous, confused, and surprised

Let's start by drawing six facial expressions – happy, angry, worried, mischievous, confused, and surprised. You'll use these drawings as a reference to what you are animating. 

You can use a mirror to look at how you make other facial expressions, then draw them for your references.

III. Drawing the frames.

Frames 1 and 2 showing a happy character moving his head to the right.

Step 1. Draw Frames 1 and 2.


In Frame 1, let's draw a circle for the head and downward curved lines for the body. Draw a
happy face on your character who is looking to the right.

In Frame 2, your character faced the right side. For the face, draw a side-eye and mouth, then draw a pointed nose on the right side of the head. Draw the right arm in front of the body.

Frames 3 and 4 showing a confused character

Step 2. Draw Frames 3 and 4.


In Frame 3, your character starts to move back in place. The scenario here is like your character heard someone called him, so draw a
worried face. 

In Frame 4, your character is back to the center. He still doesn't know who called him, so draw a confused face.

Frames 5 and 6 showing a surprised and happy character

Step 3. Draw Frames 5 and 6.

 

In Frame 5, your character already saw the person calling him probably a good old friend or his favorite relative. Draw a surprised face.

In Frame 6, our character was relieved and happy seeing the person. He starts to bow his head. Draw a slightly smaller head and eyes looking downward.

Frames 7and 8 showing a happy and excited character that raised his hands in the air.

Step 4. Draw Frames 7 and 8.


In Frame 7, your
happy character raised its hand. Draw the arms and hands along the middle, on the sides of the body.

In Frame 8, your character was excited. Draw stretched arms upward and a big opened mouth.

Frames 9 and 10 showing a happy character going back to original position

Step 5. Draw Frames 9 and 10.


In Frame 9, your character started to go back to a resting position. Draw the same image as to Frame 7.

In Frame 10, your character went back to the resting position. Draw the same image as to Frame 1.

GIF of facial expression animation

Step 8. Flip it!


Arrange the cards with 1 at the bottom and 12 on top, then flip. You'll see your character do the floss dance!

Wow! Your character sure is having fun! Great job!

Tips for art-mazing success:

  • If you want to do it digitally, try FlipaClip. It is an amazing app where you can do your If you want to do it digitally, try FlipaClip. It is a fantastic app where you can do your animation just like a flipbook.
  • Try applying different types of emotions to your character, then create a story out of it.
  • You can add other features like hair, eyelashes, clothes, and many more to increase appeal.
  • You can also add colors to make your animation extra wonderful.

Here are facial expression animations made by our young artists at the Creativity School.

GIF of a girl reading a book and was hit by a ball.
GIF of a facial expression animation using a flipbook

Facial expressions animations at Creativity School by Sindu N (top) and Yuja J (bottom)

Which of these six expressions do you enjoy drawing the most? Tell us about it in the comments section!

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