Drawing, Drawing Ideas for Kids, Illustration, Sketching

How to Draw Cartoon Faces By Mastering Facial Expressions

May 31, 2014

By Alina Bradford

Cat Cartoon by Milos Milosevic

Comics and cartoons rely on very few words, so the character’s expressions must do a lot of talking for them.

The best way to covey mood though expression is by figuring out what the face does at certain times and translating that into lines on the paper.

Emotions are expressed mainly through the eyebrows and mouth in simple cartoon and comic drawings. It is important to learn these movements before moving on to rendering the eyes, since this can be a more complicated process. In this introduction to facial expressions in comics and cartooning, simple “smiley faces” will be used so that the artists can clearly see the changes in facial movement. Simple instructions on the eyes are included.

How to Draw Anger and Sadness


Anger is conveyed by drawing the eyebrows in a V-shape low over the eyes. The mouth is often a straight line with the edges drawn downward. This denotes a tightlipped anger, like the character wants to say something but can’t find the words. A yelling character’s mouth can be drawn open, but the artists should avoid making it look like a complete circle. The upper lip is curved and the bottom lip is a V-shape when yelling.

The eyes are squinted, so they are drawn smaller than they would be normally.

Sadness is drawn with eyebrows that point upward in an A-shape and are set higher on the face. The mouth is a down-curved line. The edges of the eyes are usually drawn at a downward angle, as well.

How to Draw Surprise

Surprise is drawn much like drawing anger, but in reverse. Instead of drawing the eyebrows in a V-shape, the eyebrows will be in an A-shape and the lines won’t be sharp, they will have a slight curve to

them. They are also set higher on the head, making them look raised. The mouth is generally drawn in an O-shape. The eyes follow suit by being wide-open and rounded.

How to Draw Calm and Sleepy

The simplest of faces is the calm face. A calm cartoon face is often drawn without any eyebrows at all. The mouth is just a straight line and the eyes are looking straight ahead without any special rendering. A sleepy face is drawn as a calm face with half-closed eyelids.

When you’re not drawing smiley faces, this technique can seem more complicated, but it really isn’t. Simply draw your character as you normally would and tweak the features according to the tips above.

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