Put a face on anything, and it looks kawaii. :)
I am excited to practice kawaii faces next week, but first I wanted to learn how to draw kawaii eyes and mouths as a separate topic.
The goal of this exercise is to understand different types of kawaii eyes and mouths, so that I can then draw them from memory. I also want to be able to select the best-fitting set of eyes and mouth for a particular expression.
Here are the pens and drawing references I used this week.
I've included Amazon links to some of the materials. If Amazon is your shopping place of choice, they will throw a few coins into my piggy bank for referring you (no cost to you). And if not, no worries at all. Just buy them wherever is most convenient.
I must say, Artline is becoming my “go to” pen. I like it better than Micron in this size, because it writes smoother and feels “juicier”. But for a bigger size, I still prefer Micron Graphic.
- 1500 Colorful Illustrations book by Shihoka Mori
- Manga for the Beginner Kawaii book by Chris Hart
- 30 Cute / Kawaii Eyes to Doodle video by PicCandle
- Kawaii expressions practice sheet by Zainab Khan
Now, let’s draw!
How to Draw Kawaii Eyes From Memory
We’ll start with the eyes.
First, I researched the web and filled two pages with different kawaii eyes and expressions. I wasn’t trying to remember them or get them perfect — I just wanted to get a feeling for different kawaii eyes.
I was soon able to sort kawaii eyes into 5 categories: 1) kawaii eyes drawn with simple lines, 2) dot-style kawaii eyes, 3) fancy kawaii eyes with solid areas, 4) kawaii eyes as objects, and 5) kawaii eyes with accessories.
Why categorise? To make them easier to remember! I don’t want to look up the eyes every time I need to draw a face. I want to be able to draw them from memory, and to pick the most appropriate eye style for a particular expression. I will explain below.
But first, let’s look at examples of the 4 kawaii eye categories.
1. Kawaii Eyes Drawn with Simple Lines
This type of kawaii expression is as simple as it gets. In the image below I drew 12 kawaii faces with different eyes, but I kept the mouths and head shapes the same. This way you (and I) can really see how different eyes affect the final expression.
2. Dot-Style Kawaii Eyes
This style is a little more detailed and a little more expressive. In essence, these eyes are composed of dot with a line or shape around it.
The line or shape around the dot is like an eyebrow, it amplifies the emotion.
The dot can be solid or open, either way works. But keep the dot small.
Dot-style eyes are really good to use, if you want to show the direction the character is looking at. The third line of the heads below demonstrates this concept.
3. Fancy Kawaii Eyes
This style of eyes is very expressive and bold. I find that it works well with simple mouths. This way the features are not competing for attention.
Solid eyes should (almost) always have a sparkle. Otherwise, they end up looking like black holes, which doesn’t add to the kawaii charm. This is not a rule, but purely my own personal preference. Take it or leave it :)
4. Kawaii Eyes As Objects
These eyes reflect an intense desire of the character, whether it’s money, cheese or diamonds. It’s as if the object is reflecting in the eyes of kawaii, or as if the internal emotion is so strong that it’s coming out through the eyes.
Below are 8 examples.
5. Kawaii Eyes with Accessories
The final way to draw kawaii eyes is to add accessories. Glasses can easily replace the eyes, or be added to the eyes for an different look. Below are 3 faces with glasses: “cool dude”, “nerd” and “victorian era” :)
I guess, eyes can be accessorised by tears too, heh.
This is a fun way to dress up your character. I will look at kawaii accessories in detail for Week 18 of this drawing challenge. But here are a few examples.
How to Draw Kawaii Mouths
For Week 12 of this drawing challenge I purchased PicCandle’s practice sheets for drawing kawaii expressions. In the download, Zainab includes a blank page of heads to practice the expressions. So instead of drawing full kawaii faces, I filled the sheet with different kawaii mouths and kept the eyes as simple dots. This way I can clearly see the effect of each mouth on the overall expression.
This was a good way to experiment with different kawaii mouths. I again saw patterns, which can be used to draw kawaii mouths from memory and to select the best-fitting mouth for the expression.
Once you understand the rules of thumb, it’s easy to remember different types mouths.
Rules of Thumb for Drawing Kawaii Mouths
Here are 5 rules of thumb to help you with selecting and remembering kawaii mouths.
- If the corners of the mouth are pointing up, the character looks happy. If the corners are pointing down, the expression is sad.
- If the overall shape of the mouth is flat, the expression is neutral or unamused.
- If the mouth is sideways, the character smirking. Good for evil faces!
- If the mouth shape is oval or oblong, the expression is fear or surprise.
- Adding a tongue exaggerates the emotion.
The drawing below demonstrates some of the rules. I kept the eyes the same in each of the rows, and changed the mouth to see the resulting expression. It’s fun!
To finish this week’s drawing practice, I decided to experiment with different eyes and mouths. The first row has an expressive mouth that would usually work with grumpy eyes. But I just wanted to see what it would look like with other eyes, like sparkly girly eyes and freckles :)
The second row has an oval mouth showing teeth, which I paired with a few different eyes. I should create another rule of thumb here: fancy mouths work best with simple eyes, and vice versa.
For the bottom row, I used two very similar mouths. But in one case, the corners of the mouth are pointing up, and in the other they are pointing down. The result? A different emotion is expressed, even though the mouths are almost the same.
Drawing Time Diary
Monday, Feb 6: no drawing
Tuesday, Feb 7: 1 h 15 mins
Wednesday, Feb 8: 1 h 30 mins
Thursday, Feb 9: 45 mins, 1 h
Friday, Feb 10: 30 mins, 40 mins
Saturday, Feb 11: no drawing
Sunday, Feb 12: no drawing
Total drawing time: 5 h 40 mins