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April 6, 2010
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Expressions Tutorial by woohooligan Expressions Tutorial by woohooligan
EDIT: Wow! I got a DD! Sweet! Thanks guys! :boogie:
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Some of you may know I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (a form of autism) in 2008. This makes reading people a particular challenge for me, so to help me with that, I read this book called Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman. After reading it, I thought this stuff might be useful for the rest of the community, so here it is. :D

Here's the book on Amazon: [link]

This tutorial is only based on information from the book, not directly copied. All images and text are mine, except the photograph of Duchenne, which is public domain.

Drawn in Illustrator CS4

EDIT 2: Added a Creative Commons non-commercial, share alike license.

EDIT 3: Pitty-Free Zone! :D

While I appreciate the sentiment from some of you, who've said things like "I'm sorry about your diagnosis" or "I'll pray for you", I feel there are more constructive ways to express your support for those of us on the autism spectrum. Has my life been all rainbows and sunshine? No, of course it hasn't. People with Asperger Syndrome have notably increased rates of depression and social anxiety as well as often co-morbidity with sensory processing disorder (SPD), attention deficite (ADHD) and obsessive/compulsive disorder (OCD). And I want to tell you all right now - I LOVE MY LIFE!

To be perfectly honest, it's not just despite my autism, in some ways it's actually BECAUSE of my autism. So I'm clumsy in social situations, so I've ticked off a lot of my former bosses, so crowds and loud noises are intensely difficult for me to deal with. I've also been able to see things in my own way and do things in my own way. During the past decade that I spent as a software engineer, I had a long history of doing "the impossible" as proclaimed by people who had degrees (I don't) and credentials the length of my arm! I was able to do those things because I wasn't restrained by the need to conform to someone else's idea of what software engineering ought to be, but rather, my experimental nature and my understanding of what it could be.

When I get working on a project, I'm able to focus on what I'm doing to such a great degree that everything around me vanishes. There have been so many times that my girlfriend Tiffany has had to call my name several times, from only a few feet away, in order to get my attention, because I was so focused on my project that I didn't hear her until the 4th or 5th time she called. That's not a bad thing, that's a GOOD THING! I'm able to immerse myself in my projects with such depth that it makes most people jealous! That's BECAUSE of my autism.

Receiving the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome in 2008 wasn't a downer for me at all! It was a huge sigh of relief! It gave me the understanding I needed to finally make progress on a variety of challenges in my life that had been holding me back for decades! And in truth, it's helped to fill up my life, to give me purpose that I lacked before. Yes, I have to work harder to learn the social skills, and I welcome that challenge! :D

So what I ask is really simple. Please don't feel sorry for me. :D If you really want to help those of us in the autistic community, check out the AutLabs project I started, and get involved! :D [link]
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Daily Deviation

Given 2010-04-11
While there are many expression tutorials floating around, the beautiful thing about Expressions Tutorial by *smolderingremains is that it takes a more scientific approach. This is a resource that can be helpful on many different levels, one of which is especially true to the artist (I suggest reading the description)! Also suggested by =atky ( Suggested by Crickatoo and Featured by UnicornReality )
:iconskillzombie:
Emotions. Emotions are one of the primary building blocks in artwork. The better the show of emotion in an image, the quality of the image could grow exponentially. Unfortunately, there are some who just don't know how to go along with creating a convincing emotional element in their character's faces or what have you. The "Expressions Tutorial" by smolderingremains has given a very in depth and detailed way to show beginners or intermediates a different method of creating emotions and facial expressions for human/humanoid charcters.

The primary charm of the whole tutorial is the fact that it carries its own style and simplistic explanations. There isn't any complex messages or techniques, the instructions and depictions are easy to understand and pick up for anyone wanting to brush up on their emotions. To add even more to the detail, there are even descriptions of how the facial muscles react and configure to the current emotional state, giving the view a great reference for designing in the future.

All in all, this is a well done and greatly explained tutorial piece by smolderingremains. Good work! :D
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The Artist thought this was FAIR
44 out of 45 deviants thought this was fair.

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:iconelianoretta:
elianoretta Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013
used your tutorial here: elianoretta.deviantart.com/art….  It's just some really simple faces,  though, nothing fancy.
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:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Oh, cool. Glad you enjoyed it. :hug:
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:iconcrystal-of-ix:
crystal-of-ix Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is such a unique tutorial! Thank you so much :)
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:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks, Crystal! :hug:
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:iconcrystal-of-ix:
crystal-of-ix Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome!
Reply
:iconagenteyumi:
AgenteYumi Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
When I started a story (which main character was an Aspie boy), this boy -Joszua- had a friend who helped whim with an "expression notebook". I think that this was an crazy idea but now I now that it's very useful (my boyfriend is an Aspie too...)
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:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Ahh, cool! Thanks for the note. :hug:
Reply
:iconjburns272:
Jburns272 Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great tutorial. Very helpful. :)
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks, Josh! :highfive:
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:iconjburns272:
Jburns272 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome! :)

Um. If you don't mind, may I pick your brain a little about your Asperger's?
I'm doing some research for a story and one of the characters has Asperger's. I've looked into it but I haven't much of a chance to talk to someone with it yet.
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
No I don't mind at all. I enjoy helping people learn about things I know, whether that's autism or something else. :nod: You can note me if you'd like to ask privately.
Reply
:iconhorror-of-pavlov:
Horror-of-Pavlov Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2012
I really enjoyed how you used shapes to express the emotions. "Simplification is the key to cartooning", my grandpa used to say.
My father also suffers from Asperger Syndrome, he has his whole life. He has often been through bouts of depression, but he's learned to make the most of it. He also was very gifted with computing work and still continues it even though he's retired. He too loves the focus it gives him.
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks, Miller! :highfive:
Reply
:iconotterdisaster:
otterdisaster Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2012  Professional General Artist
Very nice tutorial. I like to use the Grimace Project [link] as a reference. It has sliders that let you set varying degrees of one emotion or a mix of two which is useful if you are trying to convey surprised joy or angry disgust.
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks, Otter!

Yeah, I think you're the second person who's mentioned Grimace to me... I don't remember if they gave me the URL before. It's an interesting project and a decent start. I'm not sold on a few of their interpretations... Here are a few things I noticed:

:bulletblue: The nostrils don't flare with disgust like I would expect, it just moves the laugh lines.
:bulletblue: There's no way to show contempt (a subset of disgust)
:bulletblue: There's a discrepancy on the eyebrows in fear -- according to Emotions Revealed, the eyebrows should push upward all the way across -- Grimmace by comparison does some odd stuff with them for fear, bringing them down at first into what looks to me like "determination" just as the mouth starts to curve and then as the mouth gets wider like it should, the brows stay down and twist a bit but remain mostly straight but wrinkle in the middle like they do in "concentration"
:bulletblue: Sadness in Grimace is okay, but the presentation of the "grief muscle" that tents the forehead in the middle seems weak to me... there's no real notable tenting until the very end in extreme anguish. Seems to me like mild tenting should start sooner and extreme anguish should have more tenting than you see there.
:bulletblue: Combinations of Joy and the negative emotions don't seem to offer a very convincing (to me) "masking smile" where a person is using a broad smile in an attempt to disguise a strong negative reaction like fear or anger. I think this has to do with the fact that it only shows open teeth for joy, so the corners of the mouth never get up very high to accommodate the open jaw. And most of the time people use a close-teeth smile when they're trying to disguise some other emotion.

It's definitely a cool project though, and one worth keeping an eye on.

Anyway, thanks for the link! :D

Oh, p.s. you might also be interested in this other comics & cartooning group I created.
:iconcritoons:
Reply
:iconwastelander7:
Wastelander7 Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2012
Awesome tut! I always need a refresher on it so I appreciate this and the work you put into it. :D
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks, Michael! :highfive:
Reply
:iconwastelander7:
Wastelander7 Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2012
Welcome! :highfive:
Reply
:icontadpole7:
Tadpole7 Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2012
Congrats on your D.D. I've enjoyed the tutorials you've crafted and shared with us. :)
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks, Jason! :aww:
Reply
:iconalicesacco:
AliceSacco Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2012
Good job with expression. I also have a book about expressions, but personally i think all expression look the same, for this i prefer cartoon expression. Is funny that most of us people with ASD can't read facial expression properly but we are still able to draw them :D
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
lol... yeah, well there are limits to how expressive a human face can be... but in a cartoon, we can stretch the eyes or the mouth way outside the head. ;P

Thanks, Alice! :highfive:
Reply
:iconstappledpopcorn:
StappledPopcorn Featured By Owner May 27, 2011   Traditional Artist
Cool! :iconeeeeeplz: thnx so much for your help!
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner May 27, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Welcome! :D
Reply
:iconstappledpopcorn:
StappledPopcorn Featured By Owner May 27, 2011   Traditional Artist
Thnx! :huggle:
Reply
:iconayior:
Ayior Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2010  Professional Filmographer
I really love the first part, putting the emotions into shapes, that is an awesome idea
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks Luisa! :D
Reply
:iconmonomanada:
Monomanada Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2010
I just found myself doing every single grimace while reading this tutorial.
Its really great and helpful, thanks a lot.
And now i have a cramp in my face.
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
lol... thanks Mona! :D
Reply
:iconscara161:
Scara161 Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I like this! Its very helpful!^^
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:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks Maria! :D
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:iconscara161:
Scara161 Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha, youre welcome^-^
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:iconlammebill:
Lammebill Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you very mucht !This is very useful!
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks Yoshi! :D
Reply
:iconlammebill:
Lammebill Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Welcome!^^
Reply
:iconsaiyan-frost:
saiyan-frost Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Very interesting, a great tutorial/guide for sure; I am glad something like this got a DD and was exposed to a wider audience.
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks Bridie! :D
Reply
:iconsaiyan-frost:
saiyan-frost Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome :la:
Reply
:iconbigtimesynesthete:
bigtimesynesthete Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2010
I have more issues reading the slight expressions than the major ones. Usually I can tell if a negative or positive emotion is felt by someone, but it is difficult for me to tell exactly the degree. For instance, I scared the crap out of my mom one day while playing a joke on her, but she did not seem that scared, since her mouth was not wide open nor was her forehead very wrinkled. She said that was pretty mean and vicious of me to play that joke on her, since she is not used to me having any sort of devilish attempts.
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:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
That makes a lot of sense to me... yeah, the subtle emotions are a much bigger challenge for everyone, autistic or NT. And really the book was written primarily for dealing with the subtle emotions rather than the strong ones, because even most autistic people can typically understand the really strong emotions. Usually... the thing with your mom would be an exception. She might have a bit of a flat expression though -- you know, autism is very genetic, so she might not express emotions as strongly, the same way we often don't.
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:iconbigtimesynesthete:
bigtimesynesthete Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2010
It is always more fun to read emotional and social guides that are not specifically directed to autistic individuals. That way, we do not feel singled out by our disability. My friend used a textbook from a Communications class and learned more from it than most of the Michelle Winner books.
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:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, I haven't actually read any books on socialization that were written specifically for autistic people... at least not yet... I may... Heck, I may write one if I find that all the available ones are of really poor quality. I would think that a book written for autistic people would be better coming from someone else with the same condition -- I think we'd have a better understanding of the knowledge gaps that someone not on the spectrum might leave out of their books.
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:iconhuskadoo:
Huskadoo Featured By Owner May 22, 2010
thanks for this your awesome :hug:
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner May 22, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks JM! :D
Reply
:iconkarlarei2003:
karlarei2003 Featured By Owner May 12, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Electrodes are the best way to study ANYTHING.

Fabulous tutorial! Thanks for making it ^.^
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner May 12, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks Karla! :D
Reply
:iconkarlarei2003:
karlarei2003 Featured By Owner May 12, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You are very welcome!
Reply
:iconbl8antband:
BL8antBand Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I see why you got the DD! Very interesting tutorial even for us abstract artists. I love knowledge. Thanks my friend!
Reply
:iconwoohooligan:
woohooligan Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you! :D
Reply
:iconeli-miwa:
Eli-Miwa Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2010
Hey, thanks !
I'm dyspraxic, now I improved but when I was younger reading people's faces was also very difficult for me. Now it's better :D
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