How to Draw Kawaii Faces and Expressions

Kawaii Faces on MarshmallowsKawaii faces and expressions are fun to draw. Just a few simple lines, and you have a full face. Amazing! I could have spent a month on this.

I didn’t realise that drawing kawaii faces is more than simply combining different eyes and mouths. A slightest variation of line changes the expression completely.

But after drawing many many faces, I began to understand what makes a face look kawaii. I will share with you what I learned in this post.

This is Week 14 of my personal challenge to learn how to draw kawaii in 6-month. Use this link to track my drawing progress week by week.


How to Make Faces Look Kawaii

When it comes to kawaii faces, it’s all about positioning. The actual skill of drawing kawaii eyes and mouths is not difficult. After all, it’s just circles and curvy lines ;). But the real magic happens when these features are positioned in the right places.

Lets look at the anatomy of a kawaii face.

The image below shows a regular smiley face and a kawaii face. On a regular face, the eyes usually sit halfway down the face, and the mouth is halfway between the eyes and the chin. On a kawaii face, the eyes are still halfway down the face, but they are spread out much more. The mouth is aligned with the eyes, or sits just below the eyes.

Kawaii Faces Proportions

A drawing of a regular smiley face and a kawaii face

The reason kawaii promotions look cute is because they mimic the proportions of a child’s face. Who are the cutest creatures on Earth? Babies!!!!!

Our little son teaches me a lot about kawaii faces :D. When I sketch his face, I tend to leave waaaay too much space between the nose and the eyes, because I forget how close the features are on his little face. The trick to drawing a face of a baby is to make the nose tiny, and to place the nose and mouth very close to the eyes. Also, babies have tiny jaws and chins.

Observe… :)

Cute baby

Cute baby face proportions: eyes, nose and mouth are close together, chin is small

How To Position Features on Kawaii Faces

There is a range of positions at which a face still looks kawaii. Below are 3 examples:

Variations of kawaii faces

1. The first example shows a classical kawaii face. The baseline of the eyes and the mouth are on the same level.

2. The second example shows a mouth that starts at the baseline of the eyes, but extends well below the eyes.

3. In the third example, the mouth is slightly below the eyes. About half the mouth is above the eye baseline, and half the mouth is below. I think, right now this is my favourite proportion.

60 Kawaii Faces and Expressions

Here are the fruits of my labour for this week. I put together 60 kawaii faces by combining kawaii eyes and mouths I practiced in Week 13.

Some of the faces I made up or discovered by accident (more on that later). Others came from a practice sheet created by Zainab Khan a.k.a PicCandle.

Kawaii Faces

Kawaii Faces Game

I practiced A LOT of kawaii faces this week. To make it fun, I created a little game for myself. I use this exercise (I mean game, game!!) as a drawing warm up. And it’s a really fun way to draw with kids, or just doodle while waiting for a bus.

  1. Start by drawing a straight line. Then fill the line with a row of eggheads. Draw more eggheads until you feel there are enough. To make it even more fun, point the heads in different directions!
  2. Fill the eggheads with kawaii faces from this post, or other faces you find.
Kawaii faces game

A fun game to practice kawaii faces and expressions

As you can see, it’s very simple. And it produces very satisfying results. You don’t need to plan or to sketch. Just get right into it with a pen, it’s impossible to mess it up!

This is good way to discover some unusual and wacky faces. Some of them will not make sense, but others will work great!

Kawaii faces are really fun. They are also a powerful way to express emotions.

5 Tips for Drawing Kawaii Faces

  1. EXAGGERATE!! Really, exaggerate the emotion. If you feel the character is smiling, make it open its mouth ten times wider.
  2. Use a mirror to see what a particular face looks. Where does the mouth point? Which way do the eyebrows move? That’s how I discovered many kawaii faces you see above.
  3. Keep a visual diary of the cute faces you see around you.
  4. Practice. A lot. Just draw different eyes and mouths, combine them and see what works.
  5. Look at babies for kawaii ideas. I learn a lot from our toddler. He is my greatest teacher :D.

Materials

Here is what I used this week.

I usually use the Artline pen the most, but this week I found I needed more precision to draw the eyes and other small details. So I used a Copic Multiliner pen. When I first tried it a few weeks ago, I thought it felt too tight. But this week I came to appreciate, that in a pen tightness = precision :).

  • Copic Multiliner pen, size 0.3, black
  • Artline Drawing pen, size o4, black
  • Micron Graphic pen, size 1, black

Drawing References

  • Kawaii faces practice sheet by Zainab Khan
  • Mirror! I looked at my face as I pulled different expressions to see where the eyes, mouth and eyebrows move.
  • Unmasking the Face book by Paul Ekman. This is NOT a kawaii drawing book. It’s a brilliant book on reading emotions from faces. Perfect! Thank you Paul Ekman for doing my homework for me :). Really, the book is so helpful in showing exactly what makes a face look surprised. Or happy, or sad, or angry, or afraid. Or in love.

Drawing Time Diary

Monday, Feb 13: 45 mins
Tuesday, Feb 14: 30 mins, 30 mins
Wednesday, Feb 15: 15 mins, 1 hr
Thursday, Feb 16: 1 h 5 mins
Friday, Feb 17: no drawing
Saturday, Feb 18: 2.5 hrs
Sunday, Feb 19: no drawing

Total drawing time: 6 h 35 mins

What kawaii face is your favourite?

8 Comments

  1. tinitista February 20, 2018
  2. Mimi March 4, 2018
    • Tatyana Deniz March 5, 2018
  3. CrzyJoe April 27, 2018
  4. Lara :3 June 28, 2018

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