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Getting Emotional? Expression Study Time!

Hey everyone! I am back with my next animation update.

In this post I will cover my method for approaching "Facial Expressions".


Pixar's "Inside Out"

(Disney - Pixar "Inside Out")

Now we all know that there are a myriad of emotions: love, anger, joy, surprise,... and so on. But when it comes to showing them through animation the task can be quite daunting. Thankfully, psychologists have been doing their homework and managed to boil them down to just a few, for study purposes.

There are several studies on the matter but for simplification purposes I work with the "4 Primary Emotions" model. This study explains that the 4 main emotions are: fear, anger, happiness and sadness (sorry disgust you were not included on this one). Does this mean all other emotions are nonexistent?! Calm down, they do. The purpose of the study is to understand "Human Facial Expressions" and what differentiates one emotion from the other. With this method, psychologists study emotions by the connections amongst them and to the four main ones. Making the analysis process a LOT easier.


So how do I start? My first step is getting a mirror.

Disney Animation "The Illusion of Life"

(Disney Animation "The Illusion of Life" by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston)

Now I am no "Big Shot" in animation but I am sure that if Disney's "9 Old Wise Men" did this exercise for their animations, there must be a reason behind it.

Next, I thumbnail the main characteristics of the expression.

Emotional Expression Study_Shot A

This step helps me single out "what" makes the expression work. And with that I have what I need for the animation.


This is just the first block out of the facial expressions and everything is in "Spline" but the emotions are already clear and believable.

Shot B is still underworks but I will post it as soon as possible.


Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoy these posts and if you have any ideas or questions don't hesitate to write them in the comments section.

Until the next post!

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