Days 69 to 70 – Facial Expressions, Encoding and Autism 1#2

So in the last few days I’ve been working on drawing facial expressions in manga.   It’s something I’ve been avoiding for years.  When I paint or draw people I like to draw them with a plain face – no particular expression.  If I can,  I prefer even more to paint people with masks on.  This is because  (1) I think masks are really cool and (2) I don’t have to engage with any facial expressions at all.

Facial expressions are one of those things which I find really confusing because of the autism.  I can’t decode what all of them mean, especially at the time.  If I could constantly record the expressions people make and then go back and analyse what I see with the help of someone who can read this stuff, I think I could come up with an algorhythm to predict facial expressions, but I can’t record people like that.


To learn other bits of social interaction I have in the past recorded many complete series’ of an Australian programme called ‘Nothing to Declare’.  It’s about the Aussie border protection services.  I have used this programme to learn a lot about social interaction.  I like it because the customs chaps say straight-out what they see in a person’s behaviour and what that means to them.  They also model an assertive but fair and compassionate approach to interaction which fits with my faith and values.  Once they’ve explained a bit of behaviour and ‘decoded’ it for me I can spin the recording back a bit and watch it over and over until I can remember it.  Then when I see behaviour that fits what the customs people described, I can think about using some of their responses.  It has helped me to deal with more difficult situations a bit better.


manga books crilley


So, anyway,  given all of this, I certainly felt a certain amount of trepidation in trying to draw twelve different facial expressions.  Firstly I drew the 12 expressions which Mark Crilley has in his first ‘How to Draw Manga book’  (it’s the book on the left in the picture above.)

Here are the pictures:



I drew them in pencil, then inked them with my multiliners and then added shading in pencil.



6 thoughts on “Days 69 to 70 – Facial Expressions, Encoding and Autism 1#2

  1. Hey Jo, there are a lot of good YouTube clips about facial expressions. These are used not only to read peoples expressions but to teach actors how to do them correctly so they are believable.
    here is one that I thought you might find helpful


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your lovely comment! I worked directly from Mark Crilley’s book to draw these so I think the credit for them goes to him. 🙂 When I read what you said about the symbolism for smile and frown and emojis I could really relate very much t what you’re saying. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, your expressions are wonderful !

    I’ve watched my fair share of anime in the past and you really caught the emotions in that slightly exaggerated anime / manga style.

    I have Mark Crilley’s books, but haven’t worked through them yet. He seems quite good.

    I don’t know much about Autism, but I find expressions / emotions hard too. I think I see them / interpret them in people at a subconscious level, when I try to think consciously how to draw an expression I have no idea! I just have the stupid symbolism in my mind for smile / frown etc. – just like emoji or like a child would draw.

    Liked by 1 person

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