Facial Expressions and Animation

Facial Expression In The World Of Animation

Emotions are the feeling which could be expressed through facial expressions, facial expressions are generally forms of non-verbal communication.

Non-verbal communication is the way of communicating without words. The non-verbal communication includes the behaviors of the character’s body parts such as the overall facial expression which includes the eyes, lips, touch, eyebrows, nose, teeth, head movement and tongue besides the facial expression are the tone of voice, postures and the distance between the people or the character which are involved in the communication. As we all know communication is basically the transferring of information between one or more number of people.

The non-verbal communication is of four categories which include:

  1. Aesthetic
  2. Physical
  3. Signs
  4. Symbols

Here in the article, we are going to learn all the ways of non-verbal communication which are used to give any caricature the feel of real life character with the help of expressions which mainly includes the facial expression of the character. The facial expression in the world of animation is very important because it is the basic thing which would be noticed in any animating character.

Examples of non-verbal communication include smile, wink or wave. These three examples include communication without the use of the word. Without saying a word you can communicate your feeling in a nonverbal way.

Now let us see what are the basic non-verbal types of communication.

Aesthetic Communication:

This  Aesthetic type of communication includes the creative world of expression like music, dance, art, painting, craft, play, sculpture. In this, communication is dependent on facial expression and body gesture.

Physical Communication:   

This type of communication is named as physical communication as it included the physical movement of body parts like smile, wink, frown, touch, smell, salute, gestures and much more.

Signs :

This is a type of communication which is done with the help of some signals which are involved in the communication process like flags, signals, horns etc.

Symbols :

This is a way to communicate using some symbolic representation like dress-up, social status, religion, financial status etc.


As we use all the above-mentioned categories of nonverbal communication in our real life to express our feelings and emotions, the animation world needs the same type of technique to make them feel real and to make them look as real as a person in the real life.

The character is a graphical representation of a character in animation. Now to animate any character we require various techniques to give a nonliving graphical character a feel like real living character which has life feeling and emotions to communicate and let its audience to know what exactly the character is trying to convey a message through its expression which includes facial expression and body movement.

In this article let us talk about the most important and basic type of nonverbal communication which is the facial expression for animating a character which will include the movement of eye, eyebrow, eyeball, nose, lips, tongue, ear, and head movement.

Let’s discuss each part listed above one by one so that we get a clear concept of how we can animate each different part so the facial expression of the animated character can be made according to the need of the character behavior in a particular scene.


Let’s now discuss how facial features are responsible for showing our feelings.


Eyes :

Eyes play a very important role in the process to show the facial expression and feeling of a simple character graphic to animate according to the behavior.

The eyelid, iris, pupil creates very small but noticeable difference in expression since eyes are the main focus point in a face. Eyes are the part of the face which dominates the whole expression.

Let’s see some eye expressions with some drawings.

  1. Sleepy eyes:  In this eyes are partially covered by eyelid and pupil and iris are both semicircle can be seen.Sleepy Eye2. Relaxed Eyes: In this type of eyes, the eyes are as the regular opening eyelid. In this only pupil is slightly hidden from the eyelid from its top position while the iris is at is complete circle. relaxedeye
    3. Alert Eyes :
    This type of eyes are same as relaxed appeared eyes but only the eyelid in this eyes expression is omitted because the eyelid gives a non-alert due to the audience, pupil and iris same as relaxed eyes.alert-eye4. Wide Eyes: The wide eyes shape is kind of rounded with both pupil and iris seen at its complete circle. The eyes seem big in this eye expression.


Note: Even the pupil have three important sizes.


  1. Regular

  2. Dilated

  3. Contracted



Eyebrows :

Eyebrows is considered important though eyebrows changes are very small but only a slight change in eyebrow can bring a major change in the expression of the face.


To see the changing expression of the face lets divide the eyebrows into three parts.


  1. Head

  2. Arc

  3. Tail


The changes in the all three parts complete the expression of eyebrows.


At Rest:


At Raised:

Lowered or frown: 


In these diagrams all the three parts are moved to give the complete expression of the eyebrow and with the correct facial expression.


Mouth after eyes is also a major part to show the facial expression, the mouth expression contains movement and details of lips, teeth, dimples etc.


  1. Happy
  2. Very Happy
  3. Fear
  4. Jaw drop
  5. Angry mouth


Nose :

The nose doesn’t play any significant role but still, it becomes a bit wider during anger, crying etc.


In this article, we are going to explain three primary facial expressions with an animated video as to tell you to know the character emotions are made with graphics and animation software.


The three primary or the basic facial expression are :


  1. Happy Facial Expression

  2. Sad  Facial Expression

  3. Angry Facial Expression


  1. Happy :  Happiness is the type of Facial Expression which has the same meaning all across the world. The happy face is generally represented by a curved smile and crescent shape of eyes.


  1. Sad : Sadness is an expression usually denoted by slanted eyebrows and downwards curved lips. This sad Facial Expression represents a feeling of loss and helplessness.



  1. Angry : Angry Facial Expression is where eyebrows play an important role as they squeeze together to form a crease and eyelids are tight and straight. Anger  is an unpleasant, irritable and frustrating situation, Due to anger the facial features are seen tightened. The facial Expressions looks tense and strained.

That’s all for now. See you in our next tutorial.    

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