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Lackadaisy Expressions by tracyjb Lackadaisy Expressions by tracyjb
Boy, I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I started this. I've had requests for some sort of expressions tutorial dating back a while now, so I figured, "Sure! I can explain expression drawing...and I'll make it way better than all those tutorials out there that are nothing but charts of generic expressions. Yeah! Just give me a day or two to whip something up..."

Um. Sometime a lot more than two days later, I have this messy behemoth and the realization that I haven't a clue how to teach expression drawing. There's just so much material to cover, and so much of it is like intuitive language translation, I can't figure how to put it into tutorial form any more than I could draw a picture of how to speak Russian. I guess that's why expression tutorials are mostly just charts of what happy, sad, and confused look like.

Anyway, I found all I could really do was try to explain ways to teach yourself...and then add some pictures. Hopefully that makes for something at least marginally informative.

And if you haven't seen it yet, check out this very illuminating look at expressions by alexds1.

Lackadaisy Volume 1 is available here

Other Lackadaisy stuff can be found at the web site.

Site updates are announced on Twitter and Facebook now too, usually before they happen here.

Wow. Thank you to those who suggested this as a DD, and for featuring it. Thanks for all the comments too. I'm both thrilled and honored that this has been deemed helpful or informative by so many!
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Daily Deviation

Given 2011-01-25
Considering the thought, time and detail that obviously went into *tracyjb's design of Lackadaisy Expressions, it's no wonder why this tutorial became an instant favorite for so many. As several of this tutorial's DD suggesters have observed, this is a useful guide to creating expressions, which will benefit a wide variety of artists within any range of skill. Suggested by ~lyzeman, ~dA-aml, ^sphilr, ~Armonah, ~Chris-Garrett, *Master-Futon, ~P3dy, *12sunlyn, and ~havefaith3x. ( Featured by FantasyStock )
Enderbrah1 Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Professional Digital Artist
You are now cursed. You must send this on or you will be killed. Tonight at 12:00am, by Bloody Mary. This is no joke. So don't think you can quickly get out of it and delete it now because Bloody Mary will come to you if you do not send this on. She will slit your throat and your wrists and pull your eyeballs out with a fork. And then hang your dead corpse in your bedroom cupboard or put you under your bed. What's your parents going to do when they find you dead? Won't be funny then, will it? Don't think this is a fake and it's all put on to scare you because your wrong, so very wrong. Want to hear of some of the sad, sad people who lost their lives or have been seriously hurt by this email?

Annalise [Surname Removed] :She got this email. Rubbish she thought. She deleted it. And now, Annalise dead.

Louise [Surname Removed]: She sent this to only 4 people and when she woke up in the morning her wrists had deep lacerations on each. Luckily there was no pain felt, though she is scarred for life.

Thomas [Surname Removed]: He sent this to 5 people. Big mistake. The night Thomas was lying in his bed watching T.V. The clock shows '12:01am'. The T.V misteriously flickered off and Thomas's bedroom lamp flashed on and off several times. It went pitch black, Thomas looked to the left of him and there she was, Bloody Mary standing in white rags. Blood everywhere with a knife in her hand then disappeared. The biggest fright of Thomas's life.

Warning... NEVER look in a mirror and repeat -'Bloody Mary.Bloody Mary.' Bloody Mary... I KILLED YOUR SON' Is it the end for you tonight! YOU ARE NOW CURSED 

We strongly advise you to send this email on. It is seriously NO JOKE. We don't want to see another life wasted. ITS YOUR CHOICE... WANNA DIE TONIGHT? If you send this email to...

NO PEOPLE - You're going to die.

1-5 PEOPLE - You're going to either get hurt or get the biggest fright of your life.

5-15 PEOPLE - You will bring your family bad luck and someone close to you will die.

15 -25 OR MORE PEOPLE - You are safe from Bloody Mary
Seunggkwan Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist
jeez shut up
Gabrianne Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2016  Student General Artist
I'm a big fan of your art, its really impressive! I'm learning a lot with you and I thank you for that. I've been practicing lately and thanks for your guides I improved a lot. Right now I'm practicing the expressions in a wolf character of mine, what takes some trouble because of the muzzle, doing that I realised why cats are far better for that job hahaha.
Titeufii Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2016
Thanks you very much ! Especially for the smarm brow. I admit that I used that very much. But now, I'll try to change thanks to you.
melekain Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
bluzky Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2016  New Deviant
It's really helpful, thank you.
Rexart35 Featured By Owner Edited Jun 27, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey, I love anime expression, they're NOT a medieval plague and they're not generic. Anime expression are awesome. I'd rather enjoy and NOT unlearnd doing Chronic C mouths that are cool and toony, genri-spression which is NOT like a medieval plague, flonderface disorder which IS a style and a good excuse to avoid learning expression in profile and the smarm brow thing. I'm sorry but disagree with this tutorial   
night-howl Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Dude, chill. She said those expressions aren't necessarily wrong, which means it's not a bad thing to use them but it doesn't hurt and can be helpful to learn other ways of expressing emotions. The anime expressions aren't being called a medical plague, just that they spread like one and thus used and seen a lot. I like this expressions too, but they are generic. Why? Because they are very simplified (nothing wrong with that). But she's pointing out that a problem with too much simplification is that it doesn't allow the artist to include the unique facial features of a character which leads to every one's face looking the same. Similar to how in some animes every or almost every character looks the same in face, and chances are, in body too. Or how in some animes a character looks 16 but the artist intends them to be 30 years old (Ex: Clannad). So again, while there's nothing wrong with simplification it does has its cons. That extends to the C- mouth. It's a great way to emphasis emotion but it gets boring seeing the same expression over and over again.

Using anime as an example, a character can look angry with his brows furrowed, his eyes completely white, the red vein popping sign, and it's teeth clenched and strangely extended outside the face. But the same character can also look angry with his pupils smaller (no completely white eyes), lines between the brows, the face is contracted and within the face. These different ways of expressing the same emotion is appropriate depending on the mood of the scene. Google Natsu from Fairy tail to give visual examples.

As for the flounder face disorder, whether it's a style or not is not the point. The point is, style or no style, it's anatomically wrong. Even cartoons with exaggerations follow basic anatomy. If the line separating the lips connect to the mouth then it would be ok. And there is never an excuse to avoid learning expressions in any profile or angle. Will it get you by, maybe, will you expand and improve as an artist? Not very likely. The whole point is that while sticking to the same stuff is fine, it's always a good idea to learn new stuff because it'll help you in ways you know and don't know. What I've said earlier also goes for the swarm brow. There are different ways to express the same emotion. And repetition can makes things not very lively. Look at anime, is the same expression for anger, joy, sadness, confusion, etc used everytime the scene/situation calls for the emotion? No, it can range from toony to serious.

If you disagree with the tutorial, fine. Every artist as a way of looking at things and have their own opinions like yourself. But you can learn something from every artist, amateur or professional. And at some point an artist will come to the conclusion that there are some "rules" that should always be followed like using (even if simplified) correct anatomy no matter the style.
vxwarrior Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2016  Student Digital Artist
There's a recent face that has been spreading faster than Somebody making a sandwich on fastforward (that's... a statment).
Basically that smug grin that Nick Wilde has. Half open eyes, raised eyebrows, cocky smirk.

xVixenxx Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist General Artist
i have to agree, as much as I love zootopia and the expression, its that characters signature expression, and other people using it, sadly, isn't helping define their characters other then implying they have the same personality as someone elses character.

also making a sandwich on fastforward is a new one, i might use that xD
Rynneer Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2016  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is so useful! I love it!
FadedShadowFox Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2016
TV Tropes brought me here. The page is DreamWorks Face, and I'm glad I found it. I've been trying to make unique expressions in my drawings. It is very difficult, but I'm doing it more and more. Thank you for making this!
katharia31 Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2016
This is very helpful thank you!
bioxyde-N-terer Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Wow that is definitely quality content, a great encouragement for me to get back to drawing!
p1nkam3na Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2016  Student General Artist
this is super duper extra helpful on so many levels thank thank thank you for making this!!!!❤❤❤❤❤
jacobjohn121 Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2016  New Deviant
jacobgraves Featured By Owner May 31, 2016  New Deviant Hobbyist Interface Designer
Zandiazz Featured By Owner May 27, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I gotta say
This is my absolute favorite deviation on DeviantArt- and I really mean it :>
I go back to looking at this one because it's just so amazingly drawn and aahh I just love it!
I'm sure this is one of those things that I'll tell people that I've seen if they ever ask if I have a favorite piece of artwork.
I love this so much, and I also love how hard I'm trying to sound professional cx
FrostedCanid Featured By Owner May 24, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The crack in the mirror-I see what you did there
Aquafolie Featured By Owner May 14, 2016  Hobbyist
One of the very best tutorials I've ever come across! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience :D
NikySHouse Featured By Owner May 10, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for this reference! It's good, beautiful and 'happy'! Huggle! 
Saurav-Harsh Featured By Owner May 9, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
holy stuff!
Shadow-Chu Featured By Owner May 7, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I need this as a poster on my wall.
Davidecristiana Featured By Owner May 3, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
good one
kavinjose Featured By Owner May 3, 2016
Pokekid963 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
liela188 Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
WOW! this is fantastic and so HELPFUL!!!!:happybounce:  Clawhauser icon I also love your art style to deathHell yeahhh skeleton 
aokitsune-kun Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2016  Student General Artist
so useful and cute!
Alliancelimo Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2016  Hobbyist Interface Designer
good work
OMadHatterO Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2016  Student General Artist
dammnnnnnn maammnnn I simply LOVE THING THING! *.* i am so really looking at this all day long and read every single thing..
*looks at the first portraits in the very top of the corner*
*bursts in laugh*
*already enjoys everything about your art*
tjacksondesign Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2016  Student Digital Artist
This is so well done! Wow! Love your art style!
Hipilolo Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist

Tracy you are so inspiring, your art is so expressive and amazing. 

LexiHRoberts Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2016
Brilliant! So glad this got a Daily Deviation :D Incredibly helpful and entertaining at the same time! Thank you <3
ThunderWarriors97 Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2016
These are very good expressions! They are definitely great advice on facial positioning! Nice work! :D
Jalieu Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is the most helpful expression chart I've ever seen. Thanks for making it! :D
I'm trying to make a webcomic but haven't quite reached the comic-worthy level. This will help me a lot!!
queenelen Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
helping so much
Stormwolf35 Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow...those are amazing!!!Clap 
TzaoTao Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2016
can't help but love all the different types of expressions, thnx for the tutorial
i-love-daisy Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2016
This is amazing and very detailed
i'm defiantly reference this in the future 
TheMeekWarrior Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Okay, first of all, I haven't seen your artwork in YEARS and I still remember how charming and amazingly detailed it was, so I'm both surprised and not to see this on the front page today. Second of all, this is probably the best guide on facial expressions that I have ever read! This is extremely useful and I'll probably use it in the future as well. Thanks for your insight and wonderful work!
AyRayus Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2016  Student Digital Artist
I feel you have such envy worthy talent in depicting your sytle and your expressions are just wow
Grell2001 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
Nice art. Check me out.
oakstudios Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2016   Filmographer
This is a great tutorial. You can tell a lot of care went into it.
blagra1679 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow this is wonderful tutorial!
ducklingg Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Lovely :D (Big Grin) 
Ras723 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
"Watch people; watch the HARD' nearly killed me, thank you VERY much. . .
0takuPanda Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, This is amazing! It's already helped me with facial positioning (Something I was having trouble with)! This is my favorite totoriel to its helpful facts and pictures to the small jokes! Thank you Llama Emoji-23 (Shyness) [V1] 
0takuPanda Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Tutorial* Golly, you heard that? .: Toriel :.   
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Submitted on
January 18, 2011
Image Size
1.7 MB


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