This step by step tutorial explains how to draw some of the more popular anime and manga facial expressions. The examples are of a female anime face but some of the same principals can also be applied to drawing male faces.
For drawing chibi anime expressions you can see the 16 Examples of How to Draw Chibi Anime Facial Expressions.
Different Types of Anime & Manga Facial Expressions
Basic Guidelines for Drawing Anime & Manga Faces
Wen drawing the head in the front view first draw a vertical line (this will be the middle of the head). This line will help you get even proportions on both sides of the head. Next draw the overall shape of the head.
How to Position Anime & Manga Facial Features
The facial feature can shift slightly over these lines with changes in facial expression. The positioning can also vary due to style but these are good guides to start with.
For more detailed instructions on drawing and positioning anime eyes and mouths you can also see:
Positioning the Eyes
Draw a horizontal line though the middle of the head and draw the eyes below that.
Positioning the Nose
Draw a horizontal line between the middle horizontal line and the bottom of the face. This will be the position of the nose.
Positioning the Mouth
Draw a line between the nose line and the bottom of the face. Draw the mouth slightly above that. The reason for this is that the line will actually determine the position of the bottom lip.
Drawing Normal Facial Expressions
Draw as described above.
Drawing Angry Facial Expressions
For an angry face draw the eyes squinted, the eyebrows down and closer together and the mouth in an upside down arch.
Drawing Content/Happy Facial Expressions
For a content and happy face you can draw the eyes completely closed (basically you just draw the eyelashes with a hint of the eyelids) in an arch. For the mouth just draw a hint of the teeth.
Drawing Gloating Facial Expressions
For a gloating expression draw the eyes squinted and the eyebrows in upside down arcs.
Drawing in Love Facial Expressions
For an in love appearance the eyes are the most important aspect. Draw the iris bigger than normal and add more reflections to the eyes.
Drawing Surprised/Confused Facial Expressions
For a confused facial expression draw the mouth open in an “O” shape. Draw the eyes wide open as well with the eyebrows lifted. You may also need to draw the pupils (and everything contained in them) small than normal. Finally you can draw the pupils slightly closer together than normal as well.
Drawing Upset Facial Expressions
For an upset face draw the eyes looking. Draw the mouth in a slight upside down arc. Draw the eyebrows as slopes raised towards the middle of the face.
You can also see 4 Ways to Draw Crying Anime Eyes for drawing really upset characters.
Drawing Grinning/Plotting Facial Expressions
For a look like the character you are drawing is plotting something draw the eyes squinted and the eyebrows down. Draw the mouth with a light smile.
Drawing Scared Facial Expressions
For a scared expression draw the eyes wide open with the eyebrows raised. Draw the mouth slightly open and draw the pupils far smaller than normal. You can also draw the pupils slightly closer together than normal.
Drawing Embarrassed Facial Expressions
For an embarrassed look draw the eyebrows in a slight upside down arc and raw the eyes looking down. Draw the mouth with a light smile.
Drawing Puzzled Facial Expressions
For a puzzled expression draw the eyebrows and the eyes raised, draw the mouth slightly open with an “O” shape.
Drawing Smiling Facial Expressions
For a light smile draw the mouth in a light arc slightly wider than a normal mouth. Draw the eyes slightly squinted.