How to Draw Facial Expression - Happy


Who doesn’t like a happy character? Even grumpy or evil characters have a thing that make them happy, even though they might only be happy on the inside. But that’s a different story! Here, we will look at how to draw happy and smiling character. I will show you how tiny changes can make a huge difference.

STEP 1: Have a Character Designed

First, we have an expressionless character. The eyebrows and mouth are relatively flat - we cannot see what he is feeling or what his personality is. He’s just there…. staring blankly into space… and into your soul! Facial expression plays an important roll in manga, what the character is thinking, feeling and expressing should be clearly shown on their face - and we can do this by simply changing the brows and mouth. 



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STEP 2: Brows and Mouth - Basic

Here is a simple happy character - the character isn’t overly happy or excited about anything. The expression on his face is rather content. When drawing this face, raise the eyebrows upward and make sure that there is a visible upward arc, and the mouth should be inverted shape of the eyebrows - a gentle downward arc.

The higher the eyebrows the younger the face will look, and lowering the eyebrows will make the character look more mature. However, if you raise the eyebrows, be careful not to make them too high off the forehead or they can look disproportional. 

This type of smile is well-suited for characters who are demure, quiet, calm, etc.

STEP 3: Mouth - Open or Close

What is important when choosing what type of mouth to draw is to consider the personalities of the character and how they would likely respond to the given situation. Below are some examples of just a few different types of mouths.

Open Mouth

The mouth and now slightly wider and is open - the upper row of teeth, as well as the bottom row of teeth and tongue. What detail of the inside of the mouth is drawn is chosen by the artist and their preference.

(*Note that the bottom row of teeth looks like a C. The top row of teeth is C-shaped when the angle that you are looking at the character is lower).

This type of smile is well-suited for characters who are innocent, playful, child-like, easily excited, etc.


Showing Teeth

This time, I draw the mouth open, but the teeth are clamped together. Here, the mouth of the character is even wider than the ones in the previous drawings. The size of the smile determine how big the personality is - the wider the mouth the more clear their personality are shown.

This type of smile is well-suited for characters who are cheeky, playful, child-like, energetic, etc.

Tilted Mouth

This is an odd one, isn’t it? This is an “off-sided” smile. Although the character is technically smiling, the happiness on his face is kind of wishy-washy! While some people might say that he has a satisfied smug on his face, other might say that he is just being goofy - either way, those are all positive emotion related to happiness, right? 

This type of smile is well-suited for characters who are fun, awkward, and/or generally goofy or funny, etc.

"W-Shaped" Mouth

Here is another sample of a happy character with closed mouth. This type of mouth is a little different from what you saw in the beginner - there are more curves here. The overall shape is a "W", it mimics the shape of animals' mouth.

This type of smile is well-suited for characters who are innocent, playful, and/or have animal like behaviors or features, etc.

STEP 4: Brows Matter

The eyebrows on 2 and 4 are focused in the center and closer to the eyes and the outer tip of the brows point up. This change the character from innocent, playful, cheeky and child-like to wild, mischievous, spoilt and even arrogant. There are so many different types of eyebrows that you can draw, so give that a try; then try drawing the at different angle to show different types of happiness. Such small changes will make a huge difference!

Below are some example of other emotion mixed with happiness that I have drawn by changing the eyebrows to the 4 main types of mouths which I have previously drawn.


It is nice to see our characters happy or at least smiling - a raised, upwardly arced browns expresses this best.

However, you should change the mouth and eyebrows to match the personality and even create mixed emotions.

Have a go and drawing all type of happy faces to create an expressive character with personality! Have fun! 


★ Click HERE to download BLANK FACE TEMPLATE


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