Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Basic emotions, part of Character Animation: Dialogue.
Let's talk a little bit about the basic emotions that your character can take. Now when you animate a character, you're posing the face to convey specific moods and emotion. Now these facial poses will give the audience some information on your character's emotional state, and it can move the story forward. So, specific face poses can create specific emotions. So let's go ahead and look at some of the basic or classic facial poses and we'll start off with the really broad emotions.
So we're going to start off with probably the nicest emotion and that's happy. So we can start off with just a very simple smile. So in this case the corners of the character's mouth are lifted. Now we can push this pose a little bit further and let's do that by getting the eyes and the eye brows involved, as well as opening the mouth. Now in this pose, we've got a little bit more going on with the brows. We've got the brows kind of a nice relaxed brow.
One of the things with a smile is that the cheek will push into the under side of the eye, so we can have a little bit of a line here that goes up into the eye and that will show that the cheek has volume. We can also open the mouth a little bit and create a more of a toothy type of smile. Now if we want, we can also get the body involved with an emotion so if we do something just as simple as tilting the characters head back little bit that will show that he's a little bit more relaxed. Now let's move on to another emotion here and this is the opposite of happy so this will be sad.
So as with happy the position of the mouth is the main indicator of this emotion. So in this case, we've got the corners of the mouth pulled down and so he's sad. But as with any emotion we can push this a little bit further. And we can get the eyebrows and the eyes involved. So one of the things were doing here is we're giving a little bit more of a weariness to the eyebrows. So were making the eyebrows a little bit straighter. A little bit more up in the corners. We're actually narrowing the eyes just a little bit here.
And then, of course, we can also pull the corners of the mouth down just a little bit more. Show a little bit of teeth. And, again, that will accentuate that feeling of sadness. Now we can also get the body involved. In this case, we can drop the chin, divert the gaze. So when a character is sad, his chin will be down, he will be in a down position, he won't want to look people in the eye, so he'll divert his gaze. So when we add that to the pose, again it conveys more information.
Now with all of these poses we're just trying to communicate information about the character. Now let's go back to neutral and let's go to a more extreme emotion, and that is anger. Now anger is violent emotion, it's where you kind of are in attack mode. So, we have a lot of thing happening in the face. We have the teeth bared, here. And what that does, is it kind of gives more like fangs bared, he's ready to attack. We've got the brows down in the classic angry brow.
So, dropping the brows like this almost always conveys anger. And then the eyes are fairly open, but again, I’ve pulled up this line here just to give him a little bit more in that pose. So let’s go ahead and move on to the next emotion. And this one’s a little bit more shocking, it’s surprise. Now surprise is a very open emotion. You’re basically trying to gather as much information as possible. So in surprise typically, you're going to have something where the eyes are wide open here and again, the brows are almost at maximum, so we've got a very high brow, and, you know, a lot of times the mouth will be agape.
Now we're not showing teeth here because this is not a threatening emotion. This is more shock, surprise, that sort of thing. Now if we start to shut surprise down a little bit. Let's go ahead and close the mouth, and you see that we have the beginnings of another emotion. And if we go a little bit further, you'll see that we have what's called disgust. Now disgust is the emotion where you don't want sensory input. You want to kind of shut down your senses. So, in disgust we have kind of the mouth pulled up and closed right here.
So, it's kind of not accepting information. You're kind of pinching the nose, right here. And again, we're bringing in the brows. Narrowing the eyes. We're trying to shut down the senses a little bit, so that way, the character is, you know, not bringing in information. because if you're disgusted, you don't want to smell, you don't want to see things. So again, you're shutting down your sensory input. Now finally, another emotion here, is fear.
Now this one looks a little bit like shock, but if we put it a little bit further you can see that we've got more of a fearful expression. Now fear is a highly alert sort of emotion, so we're going to have the eyes fairly open here. And typically we'll pull down the corrugators, which are the muscles that give the, this sort of emotion. So we kind of want that line there, for the mouth. The brows themselves are going to be kind of pulled in a little bit, but up and this will give a nice fearful expression.
Now all of these expressions are fairly broad. You can add a lot more subtlety and variations to your expressions, but if you understand some of the basic, broad emotions, you can dial in your character's emotional state from those.
- Understanding the role asymmetry plays in facial expression
- Conveying basic and mixed emotions
- Planning shots
- Blocking out timing
- Reading dialogue
- Animating lip sync
- Adding blinks and eye movement