Facial expression is a universal language. That fact has not been lost on designers of informational signs and posters, who use highly simplified faces to communicate to a broad audience without the use of words.
It's refreshing to see such emoji-based signage well done, as in the Food Safety Rating chart, shown in Figure 2. Published by the Public Health Department of King County (where I live), these signs warn customers about the food safety practices and number of violations cited for a restaurant's kitchen. I have no quarrel with the designer's facial expression progression from Neutral, to Slightly Happy, to Very Happy, to Laughing. It's very readable and it easily tells me which establishments to patronize, or avoid.
Public Service EMOJIs Get a Face Lift
The Blank Face : NEUTRAL may be the Most Difficult Expression of All
Figure 1. An actor, a criminal and an artist (the author) pose for "mug shots".
What do the three faces in Figure 1 have in common?
The Subtle Signs of SADNESS
The FACE of TERROR : Secrets from a Haunted House
Annoyed to ENRAGED : An Illustrated Guide
Five Rules for creating ANGRY Eyebrows
Maximize Emotional Impact : LOWER Face "Hot Spots"
Maximize Emotional Impact : UPPER Face "Hot Spots"
The Animator's Challenge: Innovative MOUTH SHAPES
Monster “Mike” Wazowski has one bulging eye, no nose, lips or ears, but his mouth shape is recognizably human.
As animated characters descend down the imagery ladder from realistic to stylized, the design of almost every facial feature can be highly-original and still depict an emotionally-believable creature: head shapes can morph into monsters, robots or teapots; noses can be replaced by a snout or a ball; eyebrows can disappear or hover above the head; eyes can be reduced from two to one… It’s not terribly difficult to create a full range of expressions without an eyebrow, or a nose; even eyes can be elongated into towering ovals with tiny irises and still be read coherently.
But mouths are a different story.
SMILES : For Animators, Less can be More
Notice the gleaming smile on the woman behind the speakers!
Why do stylized expressions work so well? The whole world laughs along with Mickey Mouse, and grins along with Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird, even though their faces are visually a long ways from their human counterparts. We immediately and unambiguously identify with their emotions, and relate to them as though they were flesh-and-blood actors. Small children "get it," as well as octogenarians.
So many faces. So many ways to express emotions. Faigin examines facial expressions in movie stills, cartoons, fine art, illustrations and photographs and shares his insightful analyses in his monthly blog.
FACE BLOG INDEX
with hyperlinks by topics.