expressions

My favorite part is doing emotions & expressions. With indie games, I know it’s common practice to commission a set of static faces, such as ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘surprised’ etc. But emotions span such a wide spectrum, oftentimes I feel static faces don’t do the story justice.

Given time and budget constraints, I’m going to go over my method for more nuanced facial expressions.

Same mouth, but different brows & eyes will change the expression entirely. (Character from AetherGunner)

Same mouth, but different brows & eyes will change the expression entirely. (Character from AetherGunner)

Basic set: neutral, sincere, half, narrowed, surprise, fear, avert, avert-half, closed and ^ ^

Basic set: neutral, sincere, half, narrowed, surprise, fear, avert, avert-half, closed and ^ ^

eyes

Even tiny changes in the eyes can indicate a lot about the character.

I like to use a basic set (shown on the left) for most the main characters in a game. Certain characters due to either personality or plot, will end up having extra eyes.

pop-tart-eyes-extra.png

Additional eyes such as wincing, a teary breakdown, excitement, >.<, murder glare, sleep deprivation, etc. might also be added, depending on the story’s needs.

Basic brow set: neutral, raised, annoyed (or confident), angry, sad, furrowed, serious, confused (or suggestive).  Mix &amp; match brows, eyes and mouths to get unique combos.  (Megumi from  Ayako Go! Go! )

Basic brow set: neutral, raised, annoyed (or confident), angry, sad, furrowed, serious, confused (or suggestive).

Mix & match brows, eyes and mouths to get unique combos.

(Megumi from Ayako Go! Go!)

brows

For brows, I like to use eight basic ones. There’s obviously more than this in real life, but I find this covers enough ground for a wide range of emotions.

I name them in the .psd file with certain emotions, but they definitely don’t have to be used only for their namesake. Have fun playing around with different combos!

mouths

Extroverts of the cast might have twice as many mouths as their introvert counterparts. A reserved character might limit their smiles to :) or :], whereas an open character might go =D

Basic ones I tend to use for all main characters are :| :) :] :( :{ :T :/ :o :O D: :[]

Other faces could be :c :P b: :D :B :v :f :< :3 etc

It really depends on the characters’ personality.

Small FX: Sparkles, gloom, blush, sweat, etc can help enhance certain moments. Not all characters will have all FX. I’ll usually look over the character profile &amp; include ones that fit. More is not always better. (Daisuke from  Ayako Go! Go! )

Small FX: Sparkles, gloom, blush, sweat, etc can help enhance certain moments. Not all characters will have all FX. I’ll usually look over the character profile & include ones that fit. More is not always better. (Daisuke from Ayako Go! Go!)

small FX

Tears, blush, sweat, a popped vein, sparkles, depressed gloom, disgust — you can enhance the severity of expressions with small effects, customized according to your character.

try unconventional combinations

Don’t feel limited by anything. Try a bunch of combos- maybe you’ll find a new, more fitting face than you had envisioned previously. Play around~

have fun !