Drawing eyes to express emotions

Different cartoonists draw in different ways. Almost all use some trick or other to quickly and easily express emotion. Most cartoonists use the eyes as the quick way that they show emotions to their readers.

And it really isn't difficult to do. If a character is happy, sad, tired, cunning, or even in love, all these things can be expressed by changing nothing but the eyes. here, let me show you...


This simple character has eyes in my usual style (a couple of ovals the same size with a smaller black pupil) and he looks basically happy. This is also how I would also draw the eyes when he is 'neutral'; i.e. not happy or sad.

But look at the next picture...


Everything is the same apart from the eyes. Now that they are half closed, you can see him as any of the following: sleepy, sneaky, seductive or cheesy. It is the perfect face to draw when a character has just said something that they think is funny but nobody else does. The characters in Garfield by Jim Davis are often pulling half closed eyes.

Next we can try full on, drunk as a skunk.


Or how about thinking it through (just get your character to look up). Watch your friends and see what they do with their eyes when they are thinking.

And finally, 'in love'. Simply make the pupil as big as you dare. Of course, 'in love' can be used in situations other than when two characters meet. You can use the big pupils when your character sees any new thing he wants like a car, tv or triple cheeseburger. I added the eyelashes for extra emphasis but they are not totally necesary.

I hope you enjoyed this tuorial. Why not combine one of the eye positions here with some different mouth shapes and positions and see what new faces you can come up with? You will shortly find you can now draw a vast range of facial expressions. Good luck and keep on drawing cartoons!

thnk you from brent windsor, cartoonist.