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Submitted on
January 18, 2011
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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 )
cereal-in-a-bowl Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the tip :)
Stegomasaurus Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2014  New member 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).
NotsoregularFox Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2014  Hobbyist General 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  Student Digital Artist
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!
NotsoregularFox Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  Hobbyist General 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!
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