More faces using Adobe Illustrator and the digital tablet. I’m now feeling sufficiently confident managing groups of objects and layers to play around a bit with colours. I also took advantage of some downtime during an improv training class this week, and asked for some friends to pose for emotional snapshots, so I have plenty of source material.
While I was playing with this I was also listening to a BBC programme, part of an excellent series on lying. They discussed the history of emotional ‘coding, and spotting faked emotional expressions, which is just what I’ve been reading about over the last week or so. I may use the info in Gary Faigin’s Facial Expression book* to add in more of the involuntary muscle twists that my posing friends just can’t fake.
* That’s The Artist’s Complete Guide to Facial Expression, by Gary Fagin, the version I have is the 2nd ed, published by Watson-Guptill 2008. Highly recommended!
Next in the ‘universal’ emotions set, anger. It was oddly difficult to find non-fake/cartoony reference images of anger, particularly of women. Key features are wide eyes under a furrowed brow, and a squared-off open mouth, pulled back and down.
I intend to sculpt some of these exaggerated expressions in clay, once my mildly injured hand (there was a frozen dog food incident I can’t go into here) is fully recovered.
As part of my ‘mask’ background research, I’ve been reading about facial expressions and how we express and recognise emotion. This included The Face by Brian Bates, the book of a BBC documentary from a few years back, The Artist’s Complete Guide to Facial Expression by Gary Faigin, and several articles quoting Paul Ekeman, the psychologist who also discovered micro expressions and is an expert on lying. One much discussed idea is that there is a a set of innate expressions of emotion that are universally recognisable across all human cultures.
I could discuss some of the theories around the evolution of emotional communication starting with Darwin’s clever insights, but for now, to summarise wildly . . . while 10,000 different expressions of emotions have been allegedly been identified, there are just a few that are unambiguously recongnisable by different people in different cultures as meaning the same thing. These seven (Fagin argues six) universally recognised emotional expressions are said to be anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise.
Annnyway, I thought as an exercise I’d try illustrating each of these universal emotions at various ages, the essential human masks. Continue reading