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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 )
ask-waluigi-time Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love this!

And the Chronic C-Mouth panel looks like Seth Macfarlane's style....which no one should copy if they want to improve.
SiennaBlue Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
This is brilliant, thank you!  Your skills are impressive!  :)
Siriusly-Moony Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2015
This is the only helpful tutorial for expressions I've ever found. I am indebted to you.
7-WasabiPerson-7 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2015  Student Artist
This is great! You totally deserved the Daily Deviation... ^w^
Keep up the the amazing work!! :D
MsBlackrobin Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I just.... I just love this page. So much. Thank you for blessing us with this creation.
(On a side note, I now have the giggles for obvious reasons :3)
EisArt Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2015
Brilliant work!! Very skill-full, creative and disciplined :-) Great stuff. FAN!!
Leoren Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Just looking at all those beautiful and creative expression alone is an adventure! Thank you so much for making this, it's so helpful!! :heart:
SirFoxington Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2015  Student General Artist
wow this is amazingly helpful and really funny!
Ponentguy Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yeah, this will help!
Anton42 Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2015
Amazing work, thank you so much!
92CaptainWolf Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I love this drawing! :D
hina-star Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015  Student
the expressions r wonderful :D i've been having a hard time doing them but this seems to help a lot. thanks ^^
pennyfarthing4 Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2015
Oh god is that Rocky foreshadowing? That looks like Rocky foreshadowing. Besides that initial horror I can only state that these are always helpful and just plain fun to look at....... but thats most of your stuff anyway. ....
meokami Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2014
This is one of the best expression tutorials that there is, thank you so much! :) It helped me to find inspiration again. 
RebellingLemming Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Love this!
Ghastasaur Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2014
komet-a Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Woah, this is so helpful! Thanks a lot!
FishingJB Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so lot! I need that! :meow:
Myrethy Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Beyond amazingly helpful... aaaaaand a very aggressively hilarious comic as well!
angrypunkcake Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2014  Student Digital Artist
this is so great! thanks so much
DarlyRose Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2014
Legs! ahaha
Skitzomniac Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Oh Bless you. I will be using this. thank you so much. 
Gabcat Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2014
3 years later I finally get it. They're cats. And they're cat calling.
*high fives self and misses*
Meta-josh Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014  Student Digital Artist
This tutorial is amazing! :La: in Love with :Dummy:  
SamDelaTorre Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014   Digital Artist
Sweeet!!! Thanks for this very helpful tutorial! :la:
LostbunniesofWendy Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
You are the master! I love this!
dartsumaru Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2014
awesome this will help :D :la:
ClaudesOfCoffee Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
amazingly helpful! And such a beautiful and amusing way to explain it as well! Makes me want to read it just for fun, and then learn some.
IcexWolf1 Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Inspiration for expression practice. I'm a flounderer. u.u
problematicfave Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
regarding the smarm brow: it is legit when designing a character that can't control expressions well for whatever reason (i do it all the time because of schizophrenia bluh)
but other than that, there is no reason for it to exist
neverett5 Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
YiskaXIII Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This helped me :)
cereal-in-a-bowl Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the tip :)
Stegomasaurus Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is definitely my favourite drawing tutorial out there. It helped me evolve my skills more than any other source, helping me to get out of a "facial structure comfort zone", make characters more unique through their expressions/poses, and of course learn to make use of the endless variety of expressions there are to prevent visual monotony. Thank you so much for making this, I truly appreciate it.
 Is it alright if someone draws a "smarm" expression on their character if it's because of confusion/disappointment? Think the Spock eyebrow raise.
tracyjb Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2014
There's nothing wrong with a character raising a brow or looking quizzical - I wouldn't really classify those as the same expression as smarm brow.  There's nothing even really wrong with the smarmy expression itself except its overuse as stock shorthand for 'look at the edgy tude this character has, kids'.  There's no rule you can't use it and despite joking about it with a little comic here, I'm not even really advising that you never ever use it. I'm just warning about limiting a character's facial repertoire by relying too much on easy, ubiquitous, non-specific expressions-du-jour like that one (because no matter how often Dreamworks and Disney promo posters reuse it, most people don't tend to make that face unless they're mugging for a camera).
Flameysanbakadesu Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2014
Alright. Thanks for clearing that up!
Blue-The-Fox Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2014   Digital Artist
this is a really good tutorial! I have a question though;

My character named blue has a high-functioning mental disorder known as aspergers or autism, which in real life causes some slight differences in expression. A normal person would show different body language than a person with this disorder. The problem is; that even if i could figure out how to draw the expression properly, people might write it off as not very well drawn due to the natural uncanny effect that the disorder has on expression.

How would i go about finding a happy medium between normal expression and the somewhat uncanny expression of an autistic person?
Ayior Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  Professional Filmographer
My personal suggestion (random deviant popping up, yay) would be exaggerating it. Find out what exactly makes the expressions uncanny and emphasize it. It doesn't need to be comical exaggeration, but as said also in the tutorial (I think) a comic style itself is an exaggeration. Also, study eyes especially. This "eyes are a mirror to your soul" thing, it's true. In my comic I have a character who doesn't even have a mouth, where I communicate the emotion mostly through the eyes (and pose) and I think it works!
...I hope that helps!
Blue-The-Fox Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014   Digital Artist
thanks! it should help plenty. :)
serenityrose007 Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2014
Really nice tutorial. Thanks!
Ujalasocks2001 Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
And hopefully useful.
Lavender-chan Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
This is the most helpful tutorial I've ever read :D
Thank you!
Lebgar Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh I really love your expressions tutorial!! I didn't see your work before but I remember the movie "Cats don't Dance" :heart: I watch you to see more about your beautiful work :)
D-idara Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Amazing! Thanks a lot! Although you shouldn't completely rule out emoticon expressions...they're often good for comedic effect, although I rarely use them, they're useful sometimes when you don't rely too much on them.
Crimson-Wolf2323 Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
this is very helpful 
calomviih Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2014
truly helpful!! thank!!
tracyjb Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2014
glad to hear it - thanks!
Tankitha Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014  Student Artist
Every time I look at this I am just amazed again.  Your handle on expressions is amazing.
canadianbounty Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is really helpful and awesome!
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Submitted on
January 18, 2011
Image Size
1.7 MB


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