8 Animation tips
8 Animation Tips

As an animator, you can’t always rely on drawing from your mind. References are very important when it comes to creating believable and appealing animations. I use references all the time as base drawings or “skeletons” before getting in the details. Currently, we’re creating an animation for a client so that they can promote their series and pitch it to networks. It had been a while since I’ve animated, so I pulled up YouTube and started researching what other artists are doing to help their animations come to life.


I came across this tutorial on drawing extreme expressions created by Jazza Studios on his YouTube channel, “Drawing with Jazza”. It was very helpful. Watching his process reminded me of how important references are, and it was interesting to see the tips and guides that he uses. It’s great for beginner artists, or even as a refresher for advanced artists.


Here’s a link to the video in case you want to check it out.


The first tip he talks about is using your own face and a mirror as a reference when drawing expressions. Since your face is always with you, it’s an accessible realistic reference.


The second tip is using “full faced” expressions. This means to think of the expression not only as the eyes and mouth changing, but the angle and position of the entire silhouette of the face.


The third tip is about face and eye position. The entire expression can be completely changed by slight movements like the position of the pupils and the tilt of the head.


The fourth tip is on scrunch points. This is the “in and out” areas of the facial geometry. For example, when you smile, the skin under your eyes will bunch up and push out of the face because the cheeks are pushing up on them.


The fifth tip is eyelid energy. You can show energy or a lack of energy by simply adjusting the placement of the eyelids. For example, when drawing a sleepy character, the eyes are half open showing a lack of energy.


The sixth tip is pupil power. The size of the pupils can be used to express anger, fear, sadness, or happiness. When a drawing an angry or scared character the pupils are typically smaller than the pupils of a happy or sad character.


The seventh and eighth tips are about drawing the mouth. Drawing the teeth as a 3D object inside the mouth not only looks more appealing but can help you see how the mouth around it should be shaped around them. When drawing details on the teeth, you want to make sure it’s not too detailed. It can be distracting, and less is more in this case.
The ninth tip is the order he draws the expressions in. He starts with the construction of the head and draws a basic shape of a head with guidelines of where the eyes and jaw should be. The eyes are the next step, and depending on the size of them, the cheekbones and brows are formed around the eyes. After you have the eyes, brows, and cheeks drawn out, the next feature he draws is the nose. He mentions to not be tempted in drawing the mouth after the eyes, because you need the nose to set the structure of the face first. Once the basic structure is set, he draws the mouth in and then refines the details. Jazza uploads videos weekly, and I highly recommend checking his channel out if you’re into animation.