Top tips for drawing expressions! Part 3 – sadness

In this series of lessons, we’re going to be introducing various ways to make your characters’ expressions look more attractive and “manga”-like!

This time, we’re going to be focusing on sadness, and seeing how characters look when they’re a bit down or upset.

Let’s learn how to draw these expressions in our work!


When a character is feeling down, inside their head is a whirl of sadness, loneliness, worry, doubt… all these negative emotions. This kind of emotion is often triggered by negative situations, like failing, being told off, or breaking up with a partner.

When a character is sad, the corners of their mouth turn down, their eyes droop downwards, and their whole face turns dark. We’ll sometimes see comic symbols, or “manpu”, such as a sigh mark or a sweat-drop mark to further stress the character’s negative state of mind.

Front view

Point 1

The outer corners of both the eyebrows and the eyes are drooping down to show sadness.

Point 2

The smaller the mouth, the more sad we can make the character look – a small mouth makes for a kind of quiet, forlorn sadness, and contrasts well with the large, tearful eyes.

3/4 view

Side view

Low view

High view

Practical techniques

Point 1

Here we have a more “sulky” kind of sadness. We see the mouth is angled in a pouty shape, and their eyes are looking off to the side to emphasise their sulking. The eyes looking off to the side shows how the character doesn’t want to meet eyes with anyone, and it’s a common method for showing someone sulky and upset.

Here we see how loosening up some areas that can sometimes get raised and tensed when stressed, can help to portray disappointment or sadness. Here the character’s eyes, eyebrows, shoulders and head are all drooping down. This is a kind of resigned, exhausted sadness, and we see the character is sighing too, through the use of a little cloud comic symbol, or “manpu”.

There we have it! I hope these explanations and reference images will prove helpful to you in your work! Sad, depressed and disappointed expressions come up in manga and anime a lot, so we’re sure you can put them to good use in your artwork. Good luck!

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Top tips for drawing expressions! Part 2 – anger and rage

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Top tips for drawing expressions! Part 4 – Crying