Coloring Tutorial on Bright Facial Expressions





[1] About this tutorial

How do you control the impression a character gives when you draw their face?

The slightest change to a character's face, for example, cheek color and placement, can considerably change the impression the character gives off.


Introducing “Coloring Tutorial on Bright Facial Expressions” by illustrator Kihiro Yuzuki. I will explain how applying makeup or coloring to a character's face can give off various impressions when drawing.


[2] Control the impression your character gives with eyes and eyebrows

Allow me to explain how you can change the impression of the character's face just by modifying the eyes and eyebrows.




■ Various kinds of eyebrows


In the illustration below, the parts other than the eyebrows are the same for all four faces.


▼ Standard thin eyebrows


▼ Thick eyebrows

Even though most of the facial parts are same, thickening the eyebrows changes the impression drastically.


▼ Short rising eyebrows

"Short rising eyebrows" gives a character an active impression. The impression also changes depending on the angle of the eyebrows.


▼ Maromayu, Hikimayu

“Maromayu” is the practice of shaving the eyebrows and painting them higher in a circular shape. Although it isn't commonly seen in the present, it can be seen on modern characters in animation and manga.

Even though the Japanese wore "Maromayu" hundreds of years ago, it may be a good idea to consider it as a character design style for portraying cuteness even now.




■ Around the eyes


You can control the impression the eyes give off by adding slight shadows or effects around them.

The following illustrations introduce basic natural eyes and other eye characteristics with added colors.


▼ Natural eyes

This is the most basic natural eye.


▼ Gorgeous flashy eyes

This kind of eye gives off a gorgeous impression by darkening the color around the eyes. A character with these kinds of eyes looks as if they are wearing eye makeup rather than just having natural eyes.


▼ Eyes with added color

You can change the eyelash color according to the color of the eyes as well. It's particularly useful to apply when there is a sense of incompatibility due to the difference between the eye and the eyelash color.


[3] Control the impression your character gives with eyelashes and cheeks

Let’s discuss eyelash variation and cheek color!




■ Eyelashes


▼ Natural eyelashes

First, Let’s take a look at natural eyelashes. Even with thick eyebrows, natural eyelashes are more than enough to brighten the character’s facial expression.


▼ Rounded eyelashes

Recently I have been seeing eyelashes with rounded tips. Although it may seem like a small difference, the character's impression changes from that of natural eyelashes. I think that it is a good option to keep in mind when designing characters.


▼ Longer flashy eyelashes

There are other kinds of long eyelashes like this. I think they are most compatible with a character that has a strong will or is quite mature.

As with the color around the eyes, it is also important to adjust the color inside of the eyelashes as needed. Character eye color comes in many shades and options but you can further control the impression the character gives off by harmonizing the color of the eyelashes with that of the eyes.




■ Cheek color


Next, I will explain ways to portray a character’s charm through cheek color.

Since the cheeks occupy a large proportion of the face, they significantly influence the impression it gives off.


See below for the typical approach to using pink to color the character’s cheeks.

This is a good option if the character is surrounded by flowers or if you want to express a more eye-catching impression but if you are looking for something a bit calmer, this kind of pink color might stand out too much.


I recommended using a bright orange as shown below. This color compliments the skin and portrays youthfulness.


Next is color placement.

In the middle illustration, the cheeks have a natural shade of red. Notice how the impression changes as the color placement is moved to a higher position as shown on the left.

As shown in the illustration on the left, coloring the upper cheek gives the impression of an office worker. As shown in the illustration on the right, coloring the middle of the cheek in a circular motion gives a more youthful impression.


[4] Control the impression your character gives with eye highlights

Finally, let’s take a look eye highlights.


I like eyes that sparkle so I'm pretty meticulous about drawing them. Although it sometimes becomes unnoticeable when scaled down, even so, I often draw them with a lot of detail.


Next I will add highlights. Fewer highlights portray a more adult-like impression. Highlights on the upper right give a childish impression.


I think that the shape of the highlight can be more than just circular, for example, I think drawing other shapes like a diamond is nice.


Since eyes have a spherical shape, you can add highlights from any direction. There is no problem as long as the eyes retain a spherical shape.

Also, please note that the pupil is not independent of its surroundings. I think it is good to blend it with the white of the eyes. You can also brighten up the border of the pupil.


[5] Palmie video tutorial

So how was it going through the various ways of controlling the impression of a character’s face?

In the Palmie video tutorial, I will also talk about facial shadowing and highlights. (By just adding highlights, the character becomes more realistic!)


Please also check out our video tutorial!

※ The video is in Japanese.


Over 200 free lessons are available on the drawing tutorial website, Palmie! Please check it out!


・Artist Profile: Kihiro Yuzuki

I am an illustrator drawing under the pseudonym of Kihiro Yuzuki. I am also known as Yunkeru. The main software used is Clip Studio Paint; processing is done with Photoshop.



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