Tuesday, April 22, 2008


"Hey, all you artists out there! Since I have a face model I thought I'd take a crack at describing how some simple expression plays out on the face. How about a smile...that's pretty basic!"

"I mugged in the mirror for a while before writing this, and I'm already forgetting what I saw, so I better hurry up."

"OK, in the mirror I leaned back and registered surprise before smiling but I need to simplify things so I'll skip the lean. Here I just tried to look mildly surprised. You can see that all the features are flattened out. "

"My type of smile begins with the eyelids. They close softly and gently. It happens fast but if you could see it slowed down you'd be impressed by how innocent and tranquil the expression looks."

"Now the cheeks begin to dominate. They go up, out and in under the eye, describing (in the picture above) the letter "C" It's not symmetrical...one cheek usually gets a head start on the other. While all this is going on, the eyebrow begins to push the eyelash area farther down."

"This is the part I like the most. There comes a point when the scrinching eyes and cheek look like they've gone as far as they can go. It looks like the smile is over, but wait...."

"....it's not over at all! The eyebrow unexpectedly becomes dominant and violently forces a farther, deeper, more intense squinch. Even the cheeks are drawn into it. It fattens and wrinkles up the whole area around the eyes. But that's not all!

Toward the end of all this, before the face is completely wrinkled, the mouth suddenly springs to life. It had been busy traveling outward in order to help push the cheek upward, but now it asserts itself and makes a bid to dominate. It redoubles its effort, forcefully stretching the chin waaaay back and really far up before it settles to a red hot, smoking stop. When that ends, that's the end of the smiling mechanics. Fascinating, huh?

To summarize all this, what we have here is a quick fight for dominance. First the eye lids dominate, then the cheeks, then the eyebrows, then the mouth. It all happens very fast and a lot of it overlaps. I had to do this over and over before I could isolate the steps.

Of course, this is how I smile. Maybe you're different."

"Well, that's it! See ya next time on....'Science Corner!' "


Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

I guess this is why Worm Paranoia and Ren and Stimpy have such unique expressions: such good study and observations.

I've heard that Pixar artists have mirrors by their desks, but I've never seen any evidence of this. Meaning that, if they analyzed as well as you did, Eddie, they might be more unique and fun to look at.

What's the point of a Disney animator putting a mirror on their peg board? They end up drawing everything the same anyway.

Sheesh. That's like when Walt drew for the camera. World's worst draftsman, and the mirror by the desk and Disney drawing the mouse is all for show.

Anyway, that's a bit long-winded... but I feel it's true.

- trevor.

bunbungirl said...

Hi. Is the Japanese animated cartoon good?
Your site is interesting for me
I want to often visit your site from now on.
If you are interested in Anime, please link to my site.
My site has information about Japanese culture
(For example, Japanese manga, animation, games).
Would you introduce information(URL)in your site if you like it?

James said...

Beeee-you-ti-ful! Great job uncle eddie! HJope you make some more science corners!!

Jennifer said...

Why Uncle Eddie's site is the best blog in the galaxy...you get to learn EVERYTHING!

johnf said...

Eddie - Thank you very much for the hard work that you put into your posts. They really make me think about drawing in different ways. Even if I don't use what I learn from you right away, ... I feel this information gets stored away for future use.
Have a good Wednesday !

Anonymous said...

"What's the point of a Disney animator putting a mirror on their peg board? They end up drawing everything the same anyway."

Yeah, sure. Idiot.

Pete Emslie said...

Hey Eddie, you forgot to mention the stage where the front teeth part in order to allow the mirth to flow joyfully out into the room. :)

American cartoons of the Golden Age are great at showing all the stages of smiles and laughter in such a lively, exaggerated way. Perhaps we could export this knowledge to bunbungirl so she can teach her fellow anime artists how to animate actual emotion in their characters.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

"Yeah, sure. Idiot."

Sounds like a CalArts graduate, or Disney animator.

They draw everything the same, and the ones that work at Disney think they're brilliant because they inherently believe that the studio's mantle of quality is still at that 'Snow White'/'Fantasia' level.

But then, there's the other possibility, which is that I'm an idiot.

- trevor.

Fuzzy Duck said...

Eddie: You have single-handedly inspired me to get out of my rut from the past few weeks and freakin' DRAW AGAIN! I feel so vibrant all of a sudden. Your encouragement and extraordinary facial expressions; too damn good. Thank you so much, sir!