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Activities for kids: Playing with facial expressions

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To really make your character look alive, you're going to have to give it an expressive face. Anger, joy...there's no shortage of emotions!

1. A few examples

  • Playing with the eyes and mouth is the secret to creating a successful expression.
  • Feel free to exaggerate the size and shape of the eyes and mouth to convey what your character is feeling.
  • And don't forget the eyebrows, which as you can see are a vital part of the look!


Have fun playing around with different pairs of eyes and a variety of mouths. You'll quickly realise the myriad possible combinations at your disposal...

2. Drawing anger

  • Draw a face as simply as possible: make a cross in the middle to be sure you properly line up the eyes, nose and mouth. For the moment, your face has no expression.
  • To make it angry, simply exaggerate the lines of the eyes and mouth bit by bit.

3. Exaggerating your character's expression

Here are some tips for bringing out your character's feelings

  • Make the eyes or mouth bulge out You mustn't feel confined to the boundaries of the face - quite the contrary, the expression on your character's face will only stand out that much more.

  • Use hatches to portray confusion, and drops of sweat on or off the face to express discomfort, surprise or even fear.
  • Play around with the "flexible" parts of the face. You can convey surprise or fear with a pair of whiskers or some hair that stands on end!

4. Experiment with the nuances of the expression

The rest of the expression must of course be logical and coherent. Practice moving gradually from one emotion to another: for example, your character can go from having a doubtful expression to one of amazement and finally one of outright surprise!

5. It's your turn!

Print or use this image as inspiration to complete the missing expressions with your own personal style.

  • Remember that the feelings you portray on the face of your character must follow one another in a logical fashion (candid laughter should not be followed by rage, for example).
  • If you are unsure, look in the mirror with the expression you wish to portray, and a sheet of paper within arm's reach.

A little anecdote: Bill Watterson, the cartoonist of the extremely expressive Calvin et Hobbes, couldn't believe he was getting paid to spend his days making faces in front of the bathroom mirror to draw Calvin.