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Lackadaisy Expressions by tracyjb Lackadaisy Expressions by tracyjb
Boy, I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I started this. I've had requests for some sort of expressions tutorial dating back a while now, so I figured, "Sure! I can explain expression drawing...and I'll make it way better than all those tutorials out there that are nothing but charts of generic expressions. Yeah! Just give me a day or two to whip something up..."

Um. Sometime a lot more than two days later, I have this messy behemoth and the realization that I haven't a clue how to teach expression drawing. There's just so much material to cover, and so much of it is like intuitive language translation, I can't figure how to put it into tutorial form any more than I could draw a picture of how to speak Russian. I guess that's why expression tutorials are mostly just charts of what happy, sad, and confused look like.

Anyway, I found all I could really do was try to explain ways to teach yourself...and then add some pictures. Hopefully that makes for something at least marginally informative.

And if you haven't seen it yet, check out this very illuminating look at expressions by alexds1.

Lackadaisy Volume 1 is available here

Other Lackadaisy stuff can be found at the web site.

Site updates are announced on Twitter and Facebook now too, usually before they happen here.

Wow. Thank you to those who suggested this as a DD, and for featuring it. Thanks for all the comments too. I'm both thrilled and honored that this has been deemed helpful or informative by so many!
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Daily Deviation

Given 2011-01-25
Considering the thought, time and detail that obviously went into *tracyjb's design of Lackadaisy Expressions, it's no wonder why this tutorial became an instant favorite for so many. As several of this tutorial's DD suggesters have observed, this is a useful guide to creating expressions, which will benefit a wide variety of artists within any range of skill. Suggested by ~lyzeman, ~dA-aml, ^sphilr, ~Armonah, ~Chris-Garrett, *Master-Futon, ~P3dy, *12sunlyn, and ~havefaith3x. ( Featured by FantasyStock )
KittyWarlord Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
OH MY GOD is the mirror pic under Reference foreshadowing for what happened to Rocky??
FantalecGateway Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Best help for expressions I've seen yet!! This looks amazing and the little tips for each are great ^~^ If a tutorial i spires me to gO DRAW NOW then it's a good one, for sure
Xanedis Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2018
This is an absolutely superb resource, even for a comic writer. And I read Lackadaisy back in the day, the writing and the art are stellar.
yainedraws Featured By Owner May 15, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
HOLY SHIT THIS IS AMAZING!!!!!! Your control of portrayal of emotions is the most complete I have ever seen. Thank you so much for this tutorial!
MarisolHackett Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2018
Great one
markferh Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2017
thank you!
Lizaandre Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Bea-The-Cat Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2017
This is utterly amazing!
FoxiFinnick Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2017  Student General Artist
The subtle cat call pun
DubaiBunniesUAE Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2017
Amazing Picture!
RMAlexis Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! Your style is really cool and lovely :)
LaughyTaff Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
This was really fun to look at! Thank you!
JNerd300 Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
This helped a lot thank you for making that!
AlexandraAlex Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2017  Student Filmographer
i was wondering, have you ever read blacksad comics? they have really good animal expressions!! u can use them as references!! :D
AlexandraAlex Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2017  Student Filmographer
mitzi reminds me alot of betty boop!! XD
JaiDeeWorth Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2017
has to be one of the best/comprehensive 'single page' emote tutorials I have seen. Thank you.
asyra04 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2017   Writer
If it helps anyone maybe start watching Lie to Me? It's a tv series about micro expression and reading into peoples motivations based on those hidden emotions. It's really great for seeing and having explained to you exactly what goes on in your face and your body when you feel something, especially when your character is trying to hide it.
jeanistor Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2017
Huh, this seems quite interesting, especially since I'm interested in both art and criminology. Will do watch it, thanks.
UnbridledMuse Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
This is wicked cool! Thank you! :happybounce:
Chameleonade Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2017
This is so funny and usefull, thank you for spending time on this!
evil0verlady Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow! This is the best presentation of emotional expressions I've seen!:love:
VenetianCloud Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
One thing I need to say to you.
SO MUCH WORK Danisnotonfire 19 Danisnotonfire 19
hacktrickworld Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Alien Keys ... :)
TheBoldBlowfish Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2016
This is amazing! By the time I had  taken in only half of it I had already learned so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
AphelionMars Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Your expressions have always impressed me, thanks for making a tutorial! 
Ufsu Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's an excellent tutorial! Thank you so much! :)))
DiekeDrake Featured By Owner Edited Oct 17, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I looked this up to improve my character's expressions. But now all I want to do is draw your characters. They're soo likeable. :3
arsyiza Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
fuck deviantart for not showing this image
i tried everything but the image won't appear
RebelInBlue Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I paused reading this to favourite the moment that the grandmotherly cat smacked the smarm off his face, then continued to read. Also thank you so much for pointing out the focusing of the eyes, because now I realize that I was drawing people with 1000 yard stares unintentionally, and I have spent sooooo long knowing something was off, but couldn't for the life of me figure out what.
Sheepgirl145 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2016   Digital Artist
thank you for help! :3
Lu-Di Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2016  Student Photographer
Thanks \ o /
TehSmolOne Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks! This is so helpful!
VeeAmpersand Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
very helpful. thank you
Star--Tracer Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Smarm brow, otherwise known as Dreamworks DVD Cover face. I'm guilty of overdoing that expression at times. XD
Saphira1334 Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2016  Student General Artist
i love all the stuff about mouths i'm absolutely horrible at them and i found so much more variety here than in most other tutorials and books! THANK YOU! this is an excellent guide to keep handy- especially since i desperately want to get better at character expressions!
SimplyCookie Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I just spent the last half hour reading this and your journal post about character design and I just wanted to say thank you f^^ Your work is incredible and I feel like I learned so much - I will definitely be coming back to this often for inspiration and advice. I hope you have a wonderful day~ :)
saffronrestaurantoxf Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2016
I think we really need this here..Thank you so much..
Enderbrah1 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
You are now cursed. You must send this on or you will be killed. Tonight at 12:00am, by Bloody Mary. This is no joke. So don't think you can quickly get out of it and delete it now because Bloody Mary will come to you if you do not send this on. She will slit your throat and your wrists and pull your eyeballs out with a fork. And then hang your dead corpse in your bedroom cupboard or put you under your bed. What's your parents going to do when they find you dead? Won't be funny then, will it? Don't think this is a fake and it's all put on to scare you because your wrong, so very wrong. Want to hear of some of the sad, sad people who lost their lives or have been seriously hurt by this email?

Annalise [Surname Removed] :She got this email. Rubbish she thought. She deleted it. And now, Annalise dead.

Louise [Surname Removed]: She sent this to only 4 people and when she woke up in the morning her wrists had deep lacerations on each. Luckily there was no pain felt, though she is scarred for life.

Thomas [Surname Removed]: He sent this to 5 people. Big mistake. The night Thomas was lying in his bed watching T.V. The clock shows '12:01am'. The T.V misteriously flickered off and Thomas's bedroom lamp flashed on and off several times. It went pitch black, Thomas looked to the left of him and there she was, Bloody Mary standing in white rags. Blood everywhere with a knife in her hand then disappeared. The biggest fright of Thomas's life.

Warning... NEVER look in a mirror and repeat -'Bloody Mary.Bloody Mary.' Bloody Mary... I KILLED YOUR SON' Is it the end for you tonight! YOU ARE NOW CURSED 

We strongly advise you to send this email on. It is seriously NO JOKE. We don't want to see another life wasted. ITS YOUR CHOICE... WANNA DIE TONIGHT? If you send this email to...

NO PEOPLE - You're going to die.

1-5 PEOPLE - You're going to either get hurt or get the biggest fright of your life.

5-15 PEOPLE - You will bring your family bad luck and someone close to you will die.

15 -25 OR MORE PEOPLE - You are safe from Bloody Mary
ZiddersRoofurry Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Stop posting this shit. It's obnoxious. 
Enderbrah1 Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
i like how retarded you are.
damn this is nice.

i did this about a few months ago, man deviantart is so retarded sometimes.

people don't take jokes 

ZiddersRoofurry Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Stupid jokes are stupid. 
Enderbrah1 Featured By Owner May 28, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
i abandoned this account lmao

i don't know why im still on it

sadly you still can't understand this was so long ago lmao

Seunggkwan Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2016  Hobbyist
jeez shut up
Enderbrah1 Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
ok i don't care.
Gabrianne Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2016  Student General Artist
I'm a big fan of your art, its really impressive! I'm learning a lot with you and I thank you for that. I've been practicing lately and thanks for your guides I improved a lot. Right now I'm practicing the expressions in a wolf character of mine, what takes some trouble because of the muzzle, doing that I realised why cats are far better for that job hahaha.
Titeufii Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2016
Thanks you very much ! Especially for the smarm brow. I admit that I used that very much. But now, I'll try to change thanks to you.
melekain Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
bluzky Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2016
It's really helpful, thank you.
Rexart35 Featured By Owner Edited Jun 27, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey, I love anime expression, they're NOT a medieval plague and they're not generic. Anime expression are awesome. I'd rather enjoy and NOT unlearnd doing Chronic C mouths that are cool and toony, genri-spression which is NOT like a medieval plague, flonderface disorder which IS a style and a good excuse to avoid learning expression in profile and the smarm brow thing. I'm sorry but disagree with this tutorial   
night-howl Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Dude, chill. She said those expressions aren't necessarily wrong, which means it's not a bad thing to use them but it doesn't hurt and can be helpful to learn other ways of expressing emotions. The anime expressions aren't being called a medical plague, just that they spread like one and thus used and seen a lot. I like this expressions too, but they are generic. Why? Because they are very simplified (nothing wrong with that). But she's pointing out that a problem with too much simplification is that it doesn't allow the artist to include the unique facial features of a character which leads to every one's face looking the same. Similar to how in some animes every or almost every character looks the same in face, and chances are, in body too. Or how in some animes a character looks 16 but the artist intends them to be 30 years old (Ex: Clannad). So again, while there's nothing wrong with simplification it does has its cons. That extends to the C- mouth. It's a great way to emphasis emotion but it gets boring seeing the same expression over and over again.

Using anime as an example, a character can look angry with his brows furrowed, his eyes completely white, the red vein popping sign, and it's teeth clenched and strangely extended outside the face. But the same character can also look angry with his pupils smaller (no completely white eyes), lines between the brows, the face is contracted and within the face. These different ways of expressing the same emotion is appropriate depending on the mood of the scene. Google Natsu from Fairy tail to give visual examples.

As for the flounder face disorder, whether it's a style or not is not the point. The point is, style or no style, it's anatomically wrong. Even cartoons with exaggerations follow basic anatomy. If the line separating the lips connect to the mouth then it would be ok. And there is never an excuse to avoid learning expressions in any profile or angle. Will it get you by, maybe, will you expand and improve as an artist? Not very likely. The whole point is that while sticking to the same stuff is fine, it's always a good idea to learn new stuff because it'll help you in ways you know and don't know. What I've said earlier also goes for the swarm brow. There are different ways to express the same emotion. And repetition can makes things not very lively. Look at anime, is the same expression for anger, joy, sadness, confusion, etc used everytime the scene/situation calls for the emotion? No, it can range from toony to serious.

If you disagree with the tutorial, fine. Every artist as a way of looking at things and have their own opinions like yourself. But you can learn something from every artist, amateur or professional. And at some point an artist will come to the conclusion that there are some "rules" that should always be followed like using (even if simplified) correct anatomy no matter the style.
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Submitted on
January 18, 2011
Image Size
1.7 MB


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