Day 8 // How to Draw a Happy Expression

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This week we are learning how to draw a variety of facial expressions. Expressions are a result of the emotions a person might be feeling. Watch the tutorial to learn all about how the facial features are manipulated to communicate emotion.

Today we are drawing happy faces! Learn more below and check out the Table of Expressions to see all the emotions and how they can be depicted at a glance. 



Someone happy is feeling cheerful and pleased with life.

Facial Features

EYE SHAPE: a little squinted, bottom edge curves up

PUPIL: normal

EYE GAZE: any direction

BROWS: normal

MOUTH: forms a grin or small smile

OTHER: chin might be titled up slightly

Intense Emotion


Someone ecstatic so full of joy they can hardly contain it!

Facial Features

EYE SHAPE: nearly closed

PUPIL: hidden

EYE GAZE: hidden

BROWS: raised

MOUTH: wide open smile, teeth visible

OTHER: features might be more spread out over face


Draw a face that conveys happiness. Determine your character’s neutral expression and then use the guidelines on this page to manipulate those feature into a happy expression. Draw the emotion as well as the intense version of that emotion, ecstatic. Look up reference photos of happy and joyous faces and figure out as many ways as you can to depict happiness.

Keep researching, observing and learning! I’ve made a Pinterest board full of additional resources to help you learn more about drawing expressions.

This lesson is a part of a month-long series that will get you you familiar with the basics of drawing humans, and help you develop your own people-drawing style. To learn more, check out the People Skills Intro, or continue on to the next lesson below.