Monday, August 22, 2005


I'm on a mission to learn all I can about how people move their brows. Something tells me that I'm not doing a particularly convincing job of it in my own work. So that means it's time for me to start observing, studying, breaking things down. So far I'm noticing that brows do not move very much in a grand sense. I mean, yeah, they do move, but not as much as I had suspected. The power is in the subtle shifts and shades of the line. Unlocking that internal engine of thought and emotion seems to be a game of microscopic motion rather than macroscopic motion. The flesh around the eyes and mouth actually seems to be far more expressive and motile.
I like to do that every now and again- force myself to study and really get down inside of a thing. It focuses my energy and I almost always find something new and unique in that cycle of observation, analysis and assimilation. It's a good discipline, I think. We must always be students, always be looking and searching.


David M said...

Cool Keith!

As u said, we will be always students. I really love to study something that helps to my animation. Sometimes is very subtle but hey! It's fantastic when you start to understand what's happing in reality.

Trying to break down a lot of examples, video references and trying to master it.

Good luck with your study Keith! You are the man!

Anonymous said...

In some cases the shape of someone's brows (like Jack Nicholson!) really changes their expression, but I think in a lot of people, it's not about moving the brows so much as how the brow creases up through various expressions. I've also noticed, on some people, the outer part of the brow moves, on others, the inner part. Myself, my outers don't move at all, even when I'm trying.

Anonymous said...

When I started in traditional animation, we all studied the silent film actors like Chaplin and Keaton for eye expressions. Since drawn animation is not as subtle as CG (lack of shadows & all), it made sense to study broader acting styles and adapt it accordingly. I would still suggest for CG animators to rent some Chaplin DVDs and watch his eyebrows. Sometimes it's easier to learn basics from broad acting, then see how more modern and actors get the same expressions across with subtle eyebrow shifts.
If you want great eye acting, by the way, watch the cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond", especially Brad Garret and Doris Roberts.
- T

Lars van Schagen said...

true, true the eyes and esspecially the flesh around the eyes moves alot. If you look at people you can even see if they're thinking alot because A: the eyes make small twitches this may point to concentration on many details but, can also mean somebody is thinking alot internally or B: The eyes often show what kind of mindset they have, if theyre pointing up, the mind is searching the short term/ visual memory, and if the eyes look down the mind is searching the long term memory banks.

Pixar knows this because they have Marlin (Finding Nemo) look down alot as he's traumatised from the whole ordeal at the beginning of the film. While Dory looks up alot barely ever using her long term memory. She does look down sometimes but not many times. A good scene for showing how looking down is used for the feelings on the inside, and looking up is for focussing on the outside in Nemo is the ending scene where Dory gets her memory back. Also when people look left or right they're using they're auditory memory youll see that they will be hearing it on the inside check nemo for that too :) anyways ive read some psychology books mainly behavioural and neuro linguistic programming books, and that comes back alot in those books on how the eyes are triggers for memory may it be auditory visual or otherwise.

just my 2 cents

Anonymous said...

Jason Osipa's book "Stop Staring" really opened my eyes to eyebrow movement or the lack there of. It seems however that in a cartoony character people have come to expect big brow movement. Osipa does a nice job discussing the relationship between the eyes and brows and how even head angle plays a role.. Always something new to learn. I thought I had been watching people all my life, then I started trying to animate and discovered I had observed poorly.

Michael Thoenes..